BN-W eNewsletter #98



[TP] I Can Do Bad All By Myself
9/11/09 NO Mediocre YES
The Taking of Pelham 123
6/12/09 NO Mediocre YES
Imagine That
6/12/09 NO Mediocre MAYBE

The BN-W/Educate-Empower monitor notes and cast/production details of the film(s) listed above are farther down in this eNewsletter.  As noted in BN-W #97, our new at-a-glance chart format above details the pertinent facts up front – N-word usage, BN-W’s one-word film overview (BS, Mediocre, Worthy), and whether we would spend the dollars to purchase the DVD.

The list of films for 2009 with leads or co-leads of African descent remain minimal through year’s end.  The “coming soon” list at the end of this eNewsletter is very short.  For that reason, we’ve temporarily added two genres to the BN-W monitor and they are documentary (Chris Rock’s Good Hair; the late Michael Jackson’s This Is It final rehearsal footage) and animation (Disney’s much debated The Princess and the Frog).   BN-W monitored 42 films in 2008; to date for 2009, it’s 13 films, we expect that number to total about 22 by year’s end.  Let’s hope 2010 brings less of the status quo and more quality film roles along with casting diversity.

In BN-W #92, we promoted the fabulous Off Broadway production of Fela! A New Musical.  We now promote Fela! on Broadway .  This musical is about Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the well known Nigerian musician and political activist.  It is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Bill T. Jones.  The Off Broadway production was regularly sold out, and we can only imagine how wonderful the Broadway show should be with a bigger stage and the ability to produce a higher quality production for the actors and musicians but also an improved seating capacity for a much larger audience to enjoy.  It opens right on time for the holiday season on November 23 rd with previews starting on October 19 th.  For discount tickets, use the code from BroadwayBox and/or Playbill to purchase online immediately (or if in the New York City area go directly to the box office beginning September 28 th).  Tickets, including group discounts, are also available directly from the show’s site:  Fela! tickets.  If you live in the tri-state area or will be visiting NYC, add this spiritually and politically energizing musical to your to-do or must-see list.  You won’t be disappointed.


Many thanks to all those who sent us the very popular N-word speech by 10-year-old Jonathan McCoy, which is now a YouTube sensation with over 855,000 views.  It’s very encouraging to see our youth with such awareness – especially when so many have adult role models who effectively encourage the use of the word by not discouraging its use.   Go, Jonathan!  Here are two links to his N-word speech:   solo or audience.

View the details of BN-W’s powerful presentation:  Imagery & Its Power!  We’d love the opportunity to present it to your school, campus, conference or similar event.

We’ve all heard about Cuba ’s phenomenal public health care system, which is universal and free to all of its citizens as well as has an infant mortality rate that is lower than most cities in the United States .  We’ve also heard about its top-notch medical schooling that’s very affordable.  Ever wonder if it’s really all it’s reported to be, how to find out more about it, what are the qualifications, would you or someone you know be eligible for it or how to apply?  Some of the basic criteria for Americans to apply to Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine (LASM) are (1) U.S. citizen with a passport; (2) under 30 years of age; (3) must have completed one year of college-level pre-med science courses (biology, inorganic/organic chemistry [with lab], physics); (4) physically and mentally fit; and (5) a commitment to return to the U.S. and practice in poor and underserved communities.  If these criteria are met, then the next step is the application process.  If accepted, the full scholarship to LASM covers tuition, room and board, and textbooks for six years.

The LASM  courses are taught in Spanish, but any recipient who needs it will receive instruction in an intensive Spanish language program prior to the first year.  What a win-win – get a quality medical education and learn a second language fluently.  Additionally, LASM is recognized by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, the World Health Organization, and is “fully accredited by the Medical Board of California, which has the strictest US standards.”  For more information, visit the IFCO office at 418 West 145 th Street in New York City ; call212-926-5757; email; or log onto the Web site:  LASM/IFCO or Scholarship Program or LASM brochure.

Anthony T. Browder of the IKG Cultural Resource Center is working on two very important projects that we can all participate in making  become a reality.  The first project is getting a United States postage stamp commemoratingDr. John Henrik Clarke, the renowned educator, scholar, and historian.  The only requirement is a commitment to send one letter or postcard monthly for one year to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee at U.S. Postal Service,1735 N. Lynn Street – Room 5013, Arlington , VA 22209-6432 .  For more information on honoring Dr. Clarke and a sample letter, visit this link:  Clarke Stamp.  Read more about Dr. Clarke.

Browder and IKG are also working on the ASA Restoration Project, which is an “acronym for the Asa G. Hilliard SouthAsasif Restoration Project which is dedicated to the restoration of the Kushite presence in Kemet [now known asEgypt ]and the preservation of the legacy of Dr. Asa G. Hilliard.”  The project will also establish 40 Van Sertima Cultural Circles (see more on him below) and support the work of Dr. Elena Pischikova for the excavation and conservation of the three Kushite tombs discovered in 2006.  One of the primary goals of the Van Sertima Cultural Circles is to teach the history of the “Four Golden Ages” and invoke the interest in that era that’s surely to be generated by Will Smith and his upcoming 2011 film The Last Pharaoh, where he portrays the last king of the 25 thdynasty, Taharqa.  Dr. Pischikova needs volunteer mission members who can commit to a minimum of two weeks in the South Asasif region of Luxor , Egypt in the summer of 2010.  This is an opportunity to not only do some valuable work but to also visit a place that’s filled with some of ancient Africans’ greatest creations.  Contact Dr. Pischikova by January 20, 2010 at  Find out more detailed information on the entire project including tax-deductible monetary pledges for those unable to physically participate by visiting IKG-ASA Restoration Project.  Read more about Dr. Hilliard and Anthony Browder.

The world lost two historians earlier this year who brought a wealth of knowledge based on facts – Dr. John Hope Franklin (1/2/15 – 3/25/09) and Dr. Ivan Van Sertima (1/26/35 – 5/25/09).  Although each had their distinct supporters, one more favored by the “establishment” while the other more feared by the same, and their focus differed – Dr. Franklin more on the American experience of Africans brought to/born in America and Dr. Van Sertima more on world history from an African origin perspective – but both left a legacy that includes invaluable factual data that we can only hope will eventually be properly documented in educational institutions specifically created to accurately reflect the thousands of years of achievement for people of ancient African descent that laid the foundation for humanity; the challenges and successes of the centuries in America where our ancestors severely suffered yet still managed to ultimately thrive under brutal injustices; and the many varied experiences of African people throughout the diaspora.  Read more on and view video from both of these scholars speaking about their own ideologies and perspectives; understand why one was more feared and one was more accepted (but still had views similar to Jimmy Carter on racism!); and then perhaps it’ll be easier to understand why the New York Times felt comfortable enough to write an obituary for one and not the other (see BN-W #77).

Ivan Van Sertima (with video links)

John Hope Franklin (with video links and his autobiographical review in BN-W #52)


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 – or at all – 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.


Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself

Starring Taraji P. Henson, Adam Rodriguez, Hope Olaide Wilson, Brian White, Tyler Perry, Mary J. Blige, Gladys Knight, Marvin Winans; screenplay written by Tyler Perry; directed by Tyler Perry; produced by Tyler Perry, Reuben Cannon; executive produced by [Not Listed]; studio – Lionsgate

It’s great to see Tyler Perry being so productive with having his own studio and doing multiple projects, but his material continues to be formulaic.  Although his films are certainly predictable, they are still heartfelt, emotional, and show life experiences that many can relate to in one way or another.  Gladys Knight’s singing was a high point; seeing sad, lonely,  desperate but easily lovable and easily happy children find peace and a real home was joyful; seeing a hard woman’s heart soften and find happiness within herself and for others was certainly feel-good for all;  and lyrics discouraging blacked eyes, frowning faces, and dealing with married men cannot be slammed.  Perry is so loved by his core fan base because he fights for the underdog in his films, so the loyalty will be there for a long time.  And then throw in that church element, he’s practically cemented.  We just want to see more character development and diversity within the “hood.”  The film was overkill on Ebonics with hardly any characters to counter it, so we hope his future films put a proper balance back in.  With the issue of child neglect also at the forefront of the film, Perry has definitely prepared us for the upcoming Lee Daniels film, Precious, which he and Oprah Winfrey are backing.

The Taking of Pelham 123

Starring Denzel Washington, John Travolta, John Turturro, James Gandolfini; screenplay written by Brian Helgeland; directed by Tony Scott; produced by Todd Black, Tony Scott, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch; executive produced by Barry Waldman, Michael Costigan, Ryan Kavanaugh; studio – Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

For starters, we’re loudly greeted with Jay-Z shouting “99 problems but a bitch ain’t one” at the film’s beginning.  Entertaining film but some scenes are quite frankly truly only made in Hollywood .  A Black man running/walking/standing on a crowded Brooklyn Bridge swinging a gun and not getting shot is just totally unrealistic and cops shooting at a White guy on 34 th Street in Manhattan just ain’t gonna happen.  And with so many trigger happy and gun-dependent cops on forces all across America , it’s hard to believe such self-restraint by officers in the film’s ending scene could take place, especially in New York City .  Nevertheless, the film was gritty and edgy without the use of the N-word, which was used in the original version of this film.

Imagine That

Starring Eddie Murphy, Yara Shahidi, Nicole Ari Parker, Martin Sheen; screenplay written by Ed Solomon, Chris Matheson; directed by Karey Kirkpatrick; produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Ed Solomon; executive produced by Ric Kidney; studio – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies

This film’s budget was $55 million and to date it’s grossed just above $18 million worldwide, which certainly doesn’t put Murphy at an advantage, especially coming so soon after the July 2008 Meet Dave debacle with Gabrielle Union.  The film is appropriate for its targeted age, but perhaps the timing of its opening is the reason it bombed at the box office.  Shahidi plays her character adorably well and the film’s family first message is effectively shown.  Nevertheless the film makes somewhat of a mockery of indigenous culture, although it tries to clean it up at the end with the “truth.”

BN-W Monitor Coming Soon :  Fame [Naturi Naughton, Debbie Allen, Charles S. Dutton]; Good Hair [hair documentary by Chris Rock]; This Is It [Michael Jackson concert documentary]; Law Abiding Citizen [Jamie Foxx]; Skin [Sophie Okonedo]; Precious [Mo’Nique, Gabourey Sidibe, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey]; The Princess and the Frog [animated and voiced by Anika Noni Rose, Terrence Howard, Oprah Winfrey]; Invictus [Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon]; Armored [Laurence Fishburne, Columbus Short]; and more…

Also Coming :  Part II:  Black-Jewish Relations (read the BN-W links on this issue:  Blacks and Jews); Music Monitors


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