BN-W eNewsletter #96



The monitor of the film(s) listed above is farther down in this eNewsletter.   Up front, and surely to no one’s surprise,“Notorious” used the N-word at least 70 times!

Black history is world history and can and should absolutely be celebrated year-round.   But, in honor of Black History Month, which is celebrated during the month of February, the film “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story” airs onFebruary 7th at 8:00pm on TNT.   It is a true story based on the life of Dr. Ben Carson, the renowned neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.   For more on Dr. Carson, view the video/transcript of this January 2008 PBS profileand the in-depth interview with him, read his Johns HopkinsCurriculum Vitae, and visit his non-profit Carson Scholars Fund site.   Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Dr. Carson; Kimberly Elise plays his mother; and Aunjanue Ellis plays his wife.  This movie should be very educational and excellent viewing for all ages, visit the TNT Gifted Hands link for more information.

There will be many wonderful events happening throughout February, so check everywhere.   If you’re in New York City, be sure to visit the Schomburg Center.   And, of course, the BN-W site has a wealth of information on our great history(with thousands of years of successful dynastic rule) that is literally at your fingertips 24/7.   Another great and useful tool is the Hogarth Blake (HB) Timeline, which consists of 8000 years of African and European history starting in 5200 BC in a scroll format.   Look at the HB Timeline Preview and visit its Web site for a video as well as information on its author Paul Obinna, who is lauded by Anthony Browder, James Small, Marimba Ani, the late Asa Hilliard, and other African scholars.   (Learn more about these and other scholars here.)   We purchased this powerful timeline about two years ago and will use it as one of the sources for the upcoming BN-W Ancient Africa timeline, which is a follow-up to the BN-W Historical Timeline.


Politics are politics and politicians are politicians, but in celebration of the final closure of the eight-year Bush 43 disastrous reign and the start of a new beginning with the Obama administration, this issue of BN-W will focus on the positives of the political process just to start the new year off fresh – and before politics as usual kicks in.   It’s certain to be brief, so let’s just savor the moment…

We welcome a new First Family to the White House – President Barack Hussein Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, First Daughters Malia and Natasha, and First Grandmother Marian Robinson!   In the United States of America’s young history – 389 years since 1619 (when enslaved Africans officially began arriving) and 232 years since the 1776 Declaration of Independence – this is the first time there’s (officially) been a president of African descent elected to the most powerful political office in the modern world.   What’s more important, however, is that he’s someone who has the intellectual capacity along with a reasonable and calm demeanor that is necessary to lead effectively.   Do we expect miracles from President Obama?  No!   Do we expect some disappointments?   Absolutely!  But the USA is better with him in office, regardless of his imperfections and flaws.   Read his books – Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope – to get a better understanding of him and where he comes from.   In the BN-W camp, we recommend reading both, but Dreams from My Father by far tells more about the man running this very young nation.

On the BN-W site is a permanent Barack Obama link, which so far includes the video and transcripts of his Race Speech, DNC Acceptance Speech, Election Night Victory Speech, Inaugural Address, his very first interview as president with Al Arabiya Television,  Michelle’s DNC Speech (which includes a link to Marian and Craig Robinson’s introductions), and more.

President Obama’s site is still active but it now officially links to the site.   There are many interesting links on this site – but there are a lot of facts “cleansed” from it as well.   One very important fact that cannot be forgotten is that the White House was built by enslaved Africans.   For those of us beyond our college years, many of us visited the White House during our earlier years, so the site does offer some history that many of us may have forgotten – or were just never really that curious about (until now, of course).   View the slideshow to see photos of all the past presidents (arrow back to #44 – within slideshow – to see the official Obama presidential photo, which is the first to be in digital format).   Also see the link with all the First Ladies and their backgrounds from Martha Washington (1789) to Michelle Obama (2009).    While the site only provides the basics of the White House and Air Force One histories as well as very brief facts on the current and former official residents, it’s still worth a glance.   There are also fellow and internship opportunities as well as the fundamentals on how the government is run through theadministration and government links.

National Geographic provides a few details about living in the White House (the First Family pays for their personal food and dry cleaning bills) and traveling on Air Force One (cargo planes transport the President’s limousine and a spare [duplicate limo]).    See more of National Geographic’sAir Force One special, which includes video, photos, and more.

If you missed any other BN-W monitors, just send an e-mail to and request that it be sent to you.   As always, we highly encourage you to see these films for yourself and, if applicable, make your own judgment call on the N-word usage – appropriate/inappropriate? necessary/unnecessary? sensible/nonsensical? does it add to or take away from the film’s concept? does the N-word have to be used at all? is there a valid reason for doing so? is it mandatory for the scene(s) to be effective? what are the circumstances/situation that necessitate any use of the word? is it just thrown in for humor, fear, crime, insult? are other culturally insulting slang terms used as much as the N-word in the film?   Lots of questions and a whole lot of reasons to wonder what’s the real purpose and thought process behind why these entertainers, writers, directors, producers, executive producers, distributors, and studios/studio heads and executives give the “greenlight” for these crews to liberally use (or allow to be used) the N-word.


N O T   E A S I L Y   B R O K E N

[Release Date:   1/9/09]

Starring Morris Chestnut, Taraji P. Henson, Jenifer Lewis, Maeve Quinlan; screenplay written by Brian Bird; directed by Bill Duke; produced by T.D. Jakes, Curtis Wallace, Bill Duke; executive produced by Morris Chestnut, Steven Brown; studio – Tristar Pictures


NOTE :   This film is the typical fodder we’ve come to expect from T.D. Jakes and Tyler Perry and it did start off shaky but, fortunately, improved midway and beyond.   By the film’s end, all is well with everyone going neatly where they ought to be – acknowledging shortcomings, a marriage mending, a father/son back on track, and friendships re-tightened.   Other than Jenifer Lewis’ character, a big minus is, once again, overkill on excessive weaves and wigs for the women of African descent.   The same hairstyle and bad makeup on all characters is simply not working; it does not highlight or bring out the natural beauty in these Black actresses.   It’s really a shame that these actresses and stylists can’t see the need for change!


[Release Date:   1/16/09]

Starring Jamal Woolard, Angela Bassett, Derek Luke, Anthony Mackie, Naturi Naughton, Antonique Smith; screenplay written by Reggie Rock Bythewood, Cheo Hodari Coker; directed by George Tillman, Jr.; produced by Voletta Wallace, Wayne Barrow, Mark Pitts, Robert Teitel, Trish Hofmann; executive produced by Sean Combs; studio – Fox Searchlight Pictures


NOTE :    Not much positive can be said about a film that’s filled with the N-word and plenty of Black-on-Black violence, with no reference to the Los Angeles cops’ part in the mystery deaths of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace (Notorious).   It’s executive produced by Sean Combs and produced by the title character’s mother, Voletta Wallace, so even the truth of its contents are probably severely smudged.   While Angela Bassett is a fine actress, she’s getting pigeonholed playing the same motherly character over and over again in the past few years.   In this film, she really doesn’t do such a great job either; she messes up on the accent in a major way.   Actresses Naturi Naughton (as a raunchy Lil Kim) and Antonique Smith (as a “faithful” Faith Evans) handle their character roles very well.   Derek Luke (as Combs) and Anthony Mackie (as Shakur) did okay with the characters.   Based on his lyrics, Wallace had serious issues with his looks and the color of his skin (considered himself to be “fat, black [as in dark], ugly”), appeared to have a preference for lighter-skinned women, and the effects of that attitude may have been transferred onto Lil Kim who, today, has had major plastic surgery, lightened her skin, and according to reports was insulted that a Latina actress didn’t play her in the film (how about some remorse for those foul lyrics of her past?).    Although the film grossed about $20.5 million its opening weekend (for a total of about $35 million to date), which is the largest opening ever for Fox Searchlight Pictures, it tanked by about 71% the next weekend.   The film also makes a pseudo attempt at clearing up the N-word usage by playing Richard Pryor’s video denouncing his history of using it; it also showed a “tender” moment between Notorious and his daughter where he discourages the use of the word “bitch.”   It’s easy to see both of these scenes are just thrown in for good measure because here’s Combs bragging about the film’s gross, the unfair portrayal of Lil Kim (do you smell another film in the air?), and doing what he does best – using the N-word.

BN-W Monitor Coming Soon :  “Madea Goes to Jail”[Derek Luke, Keshia Knight Pulliam]; “The Soloist” [Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr.]; “Hurricane Season” [Forest Whitaker]; and more…

Also Coming :   Part II:   Black-Jewish Relations; Music Monitors


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