Movies

‘Free State of Jones’ | Review | Habari Gani, America!

Free State of Jones is one of the most overlooked films featured this summer. Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight, an AWOL Confederate soldier and Mahershala Ali as Moses, an escaped enslaved African lead the tensions in this Civil War period piece. I viewed this film once for the overall story line and a second time for the details. Sorry, no spoilers here.

Historians and film producers often lean towards either the burdens of old slave narratives or the glorious Civil Rights Era when depicting the African quest for true freedom in America. Besides John Singleton and Gregory Poirier‘s Rosewoodfew mainstream films have touched in detail on the post-Civil War/Reconstruction Black Lives timeline as Director/Writer Gary Ross and Writer Leonard Hartman in the Free State of Jones.

The film juxtapositions the strong presence of self-determined ‘free’ Black lives amidst slavery and segregation against the sub-civil war between wealthy Confederates and poor families, black and white.

The films weakest transitions are forward flashes to a future trial determining the racial identity of Davis Knight, Newton Knight’s second son. The outcome would determine the legality of Davis’s marriage to a White woman according to post-war segregation laws.

Other considerations are the relationship shifts as Blacks are legally free in 1865. Jones County, Mississippi grapples with Military Reconstruction in response to the South’s attempt to re-enslave Blacks through indentured servitude, Blacks gaining voting rights through the 15th Amendment and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Free State of Jones is a worthy film for any historian or film buff to have in their quiver. Below is an excerpt from author Richard Grant’s Smithsonian Institute article regarding the film’s historical value and present day Jones County’s varying sentiments toward Newton Knight and the film.

“ [Professor Wyatt Moulds] described Jones County as the most conservative place in Mississippi, but he noted that race relations were improving and that you could see it clearly in the changing attitudes toward Newt Knight. ‘It’s generational,’ he said. ‘A lot of older people see Newt as a traitor and a reprobate, and they don’t understand why anyone would want to make a movie about him. If you point out that Newt distributed food to starving people, and was known as the Robin Hood of the Piney Woods, they’ll tell you he married a black, like that trumps everything. And they won’t use the word ‘black.’”
[Moulds’s] current crop of students, on the other hand, are “fired up” about Newt and the movie. ‘Blacks and whites date each other in high school now, and they don’t think it’s a big deal,’ said Moulds. ‘That’s a huge change. Some of the young guys are really identifying with Newt now, as a symbol of Jones County pride. It doesn’t hurt that he was such a badass.’ “

“In the Lost Cause mythology, the South was united, and secession had nothing to do with slavery,” said Moulds. “What happened in Jones County puts the lie to that, so the Lost Causers have to paint Newt as a common outlaw, and above all else, deny all traces of Unionism. With the movie coming out, they’re at it harder than ever.”

Source: The True Story of the ‘Free State of Jones’ | History | Smithsonian

16 Impactful Movies & Documentaries Every Black American Should See on July 4th Weekend | blackcinemadb

[BlackCinemadb.com] compiled a list of movies from the BlackCinemadb.com database and found some powerful movies and films that make us rethink the notion of freedom from a social, political and psychological perspective (some of which are currently streaming on Netflix). 

Take a look: 16 Impactful Movies & Documentaries Every Black American Should See on July 4th Weekend | blackcinemadb

How Jesse Williams Stole BET Awards With Speech on Racism | The New York Times

The most talked about experience Post-BET Awards 2016 is Jesse Williams acceptance speech for the Humanitarian Award. Black America will never forget this one.

The BET Awards Sunday featured tributes to Prince and Muhammad Ali, and a performance by Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar. But this year, the actor Jesse Williams commanded the spotlight with an impassioned speech calling for an end to police killings, racial inequality and cultural appropriation.

Please click here to view Jesse Williams’s speech in its entirety: JW BET Awards 2016

Source: How Jesse Williams Stole BET Awards With Speech on Racism – The New York Times

Black Wall Street Pt 1 Of 2 – YouTube | Black History 2015

Black Wall Street Clears The Myth That African Americans Never Acquired Wealth In America.

via Black Wallstreet Pt 1 Of 2 – YouTube.

Watch Shonda Rhimes’ Totally Empowering Women In Entertainment Speech

By now Shonda Rhimes is a universally recognized name in the television industry, so her receiving the prestigious Sherry Lansing Leadership Award is one of many to follow. Her small-screen writing and production of Greys Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder has gained her a prominence in the industry that few women have experienced in the past.  Rhimes wears success well. Never does she forget to tip her hat to women of color across the board. Scandal lead, Tom Goldwyn states that Rhimes “redefine[s] the television landscape.” Social media posts, whether affirming the creative genius in Rhimes’s characters, or bristling over a particular scene attest that nothing about either of her three dynamic creations is ordinary. Check out video at: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/shonda-rhimes-at-thrs-power-755878Watch Shonda Rhimes' Totally Empowering Women In Entertainment Speech

“This moment right here, me standing up here all brown with my boobs and my Thursday night of network television full of women of color, competitive women, strong women, women who own their bodies and whose lives revolve around their work instead of their men, women who are big dogs, that could only be happening right now.

Think about it.

Look around this room. It’s filled with women of all colors in Hollywood who are executives and heads of studios and VPs and show creators and directors. There are a lot of women in Hollywood in this room who have the game-changing ability to say yes or no to something.

15 years ago, that would not have been as true.”

via Watch Shonda Rhimes’ Totally Empowering Women In Entertainment Speech.

Congratulations, Charlo Greene : ‘F**k It, I Quit’ Reporter Celebrates Alaska Marijuana Legalization | #OYRchallenge

charlogreenepicEx-Anchorwoman Charlo Greene (Charlene Egbe) for KTVA celebrates her work with Alaska winning the fight to legalized marijuana for recreational use. Greene’s business, The Alaska Cannabis Club, served as the only clearinghouse connecting Alaskan medical marijuana card holders with legal suppliers. Legalizing recreational marijuana in her state not only boosts her business, but lowers the stats for those imprisoned for non-violent crimes in America.

Women of Power organizations, clubs, and seminars draw hundreds of women, yet no one celebrated Charlo Greene’s explosive  on the air exit from her KTVA Anchorwoman position except the media. Greene’s choosing her business over profitable employment should empower many women — and men to consider free enterprise. The November 5, 2014 Huffington Post article goes more into detail about what this means to Alaskan politics. Enjoy and a hearty Congratulations, Charlo Greene. #OYRchallenge

Charlo Green quits, September 22, 2014 video:

“Honestly I don’t even know what to say right now aside from the fact that we just made history,” Greene said in a video posted to her Facebook page early Wednesday morning. “It’s a fact. We just made history for doing a good thing. Congratulations.

via ‘F**k It, I Quit’ Reporter Celebrates Alaska Marijuana Legalization.

‘Dear White Academics …’ | Vitae

“Wow, you’re so articulate.”
“Are you the cleaning lady?”
“Do you have a Ph.D.?”
“James? What’s your real Asian name?”

Dear White People

You’ve heard or heard of statements like these. Students and scholars call them “microaggressions”—casual, everyday comments and questions that might not rise to the level of a verbal altercation or a physical beatdown, but are rooted in stereotyping and racially-biased assumptions nevertheless.

Some microaggressions are obvious. But it can take a well-tuned ear to perceive the subtleties and nuances in others. The people delivering coded comments might actually intend them as compliments, not realizing that they are holding on to stereotypes that are invisible to them.

As a returning African American and retired Systems Engineer student, after 20 years absence from academia, these microaggressions, not only by whites but surprisingly from other African American professors, raised my blood pressure. The first two weeks with an unfamiliar professor was a tight rope walk between maintaining respect for their proficiency and battling their cultural and class ignorance.

I must add to the author’s short list of microaggressions with these.

The patronizing African American father,
“I know your struggle. We were so poor…”

First day of class,
“You might want to take an easier class.”

The Master’s research meeting,
“We may want to refer to … for more information on the local drug scene, street life, …”

Your eyes bulge, but hopefully not enough to be that one person every African American does not want to stereotype at these venues. The Angry Black Woman or Man. So you recline, count the hours until you can make a hasty retreat, count up how much you are spending for this abuse, open your books at night and push the demons away to let in empirical evidence that this is all not a waste of time. This article places the response to these microaggressions better than I ever could.

“The greatest microaggression, some say, is that they feel unable to express their displeasure. That’s because they don’t want to be perceived as “angry” people of color who constantly play “the race card.” A few others say they’ve learned not to get angry or paranoid: Microaggressions, they say, reflect the flaws of the people dishing them out. Better to invest their time and energy on working on things they can change.”

In business, there is the option of consulting attorneys in the worse cases. Academia does not afford students this option. Students are locked in by a financial and personal investment. These perpetrators know this and find no need to leash their ill-behaviors.

The article points to a book, a supplement to the film “Dear White People,” “Dear White People: A Guide to Inter-Racial Harmony in ‘Post-Racial’ America,” which hopefully all academic professionals and students will absorb. If they cannot find the time, there is also a chart or shortlist to guide them through their internal war with their past and present demons toward a more cultured future.

via ‘Dear White Academics …’ | Vitae.

Link to Dear White People: A Guide to Inter-Racial Harmony in ‘Post-Racial’ America  by Justin Simien, Ian O’Phelan on Amazon.com

Book_DearWhite People

Dear White People and the Myth of the Post-Race College Campus | NewBlackMan in Exile | #OYRchallenge

Dear White People and the Myth of the Post-Race College Campus | NewBlackMan in Exile

In this comprehensive review of Justin Simien’s first film “Dear White People,” published in “NewBlackMan (in Exile)”, Stephane Dunn teases out the academic and cultural notations guiding this redress on post-racialism. The film’s production and acceptance by the viewing public stands as a step forward in the overt race conversation. The title alone, in earlier years and still today, would have whites and fearful Blacks running the other way. Yet, “Dear White People” is making its rounds in theaters across the United States. Progress at least among some populations.

Excerpt:

Dear White People doesn’t merely copy or recycle still relevant cultural critiques about the racist imagery that infuses film and American culture though Simien certainly traverses some familiar ground – racialized representations in pop culture and warring notions of black authenticity, brought up to date with Aaron McGruder-like Boondock boldness. Dear White People adds its own chapter taking on ‘post-racial’ – ‘post-black’ contemporary discourses. However, that and title aside, its concern is with a range of competing social identities, particularly class and sexuality and the intersection of these with race. Race is as much a device as key theme.- Stephane Dunn

Similar to Ferguson, Missouri’s recent protest in the murder of Michael Brown, among other young Black men and women, some in the African American community sit astraddle the discussion of race. Our scholars and young are eager for the discussion to expand beyond academic discourse. The older and fearful or ‘conservative’ wait to mingle among the crowds that gather or recline – if a spark is not ignited. The mixed bag is historic and similar to any community. Still this historic step forward does not require the total capitulation of the African American community. The mere progress of this film speaks for itself.

Read this review. See the film. Then, bring this conversation of race and identity to your dinner table, clubs, and communities.


via Dear White People and the Myth of the Post-Race College Campus | NewBlackMan in Exile.

Racial attitudes are put under the microscope in satirical ‘Dear White People’ | 107.5 WBLS – Your #1 Source for R&B

The film follows four black students at a fictional Ivy League campus, where racial tensions have reached a boiling point over the party.But for star Tyler James Williams, his biggest problem was his hair.

The actor/rapper, 22, says he wishes he had the script earlier so he would have had time to grow out his character’s Afro. He instead had to sport an uncomfortable weave that he yanked out of his hair one morning.“Then a big patch was missing, so a wig got involved,” Williams tells The News. “It was a low point in my life.”

via Racial attitudes are put under the microscope in satirical ‘Dear White People’ | 107.5 WBLS – Your #1 Source for R&B.

Key Figures In CIA-Crack Cocaine Scandal Begin To Come Forward | #OYRchallenge

Gary Webb, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist

Young African Americans during the beginning of the Drug Wars heard whispers of government involvement. It was hush, hush in the media, but on the city streets and in Blacksploitation films like, Cotton Comes to Harlem, this was a reality. In 1996, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Webb published his book, Dark Alliance, connecting the African American Crack Cocaine explosion to a well planned CIA operation. Major news network entities attacked Webb’s research sending him off into obscurity and later suicide in December 2004.

A new film opening this week, Kill The Messenger, is a tribute to Gary Webb and his outstanding research into the attack on the African American community. History tells us that we are never really ready for the immediate truth. We need time and space, especially in attacks on minority groups, to digest our sins, distance ourselves from blame, and face cold realities we can no longer ignore. RIP, Gary Webb and may the force be with you. #OYRchallenge

More than 18 years have passed since Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb stunned the world with his “Dark Alliance” newspaper series investigating the connections between the CIA, a crack cocaine explosion in the predominantly African-American neighborhoods of South Los Angeles, and the Nicaraguan Contra fighters — scandalous implications that outraged LA’s black community, severely damaged the intelligence agency’s reputation and launched a number of federal investigations. 

via Key Figures In CIA-Crack Cocaine Scandal Begin To Come Forward.