Friday Announcements: The Black Girl Project Premiere

Black Girl Project ad

My fab pal, the incredible Aiesha Turman, is premiering (and fundraising for) her documentary, The Black Girl Project, tonight at 7PM at the Spike Lee Screening Room at Brooklyn campus of Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY.

In Aiesha’s own words, from an interview with Arielle Loren at Zora & Alice:

Z&A: Tell us about The Black Girl Project. What inspired you to film this documentary?
The Black Girl Project is both a documentary film and a non-profit organization. I have worked with young people in New York for over a decade, with the past few years being dedicated primarily to high school students. It was in this work, I began to hear the stories of young women, many of whom were outwardly accomplished, but were dealing with a lot of issues from homelessness to sexual assault and depression. I was lucky enough to be trusted enough by them that they would talk to me. Their lives reminded me of mine as a teenage girl. I was highly accomplished academically, but when it came to dealing with issues, many of which were shared with my peers, I turned inward for fear of embarrassment or disappointing my parents. The non-profit is an outgrowth of the film and my commitment to helping young women reach their fullest potential.

Z&A: Who are the young women involved in The Project? What are their stories and backgrounds?
The young women in the film are all from Brooklyn. They ranged from high school seniors to college sophomores. The girls are very diverse in their experiences; they faced everything from homelessness to poor self esteem and feeling ostracized. However, others had amazing life coping skills and were doing well. My intent was to show Black girls as being more complex than what we see in the media and I think I accomplished that.

A sneak peek of the doc:

Tickets are $25. They can be purchased here and at the door.  Aiesha will also hold a premiere in Washington, DC in September.

BTW, she’s also the mom of one of Racialicious’ favorite reviewers, TH.

Marvel Does Right By Runaways

By Arturo R. García

Good news from Racebending yesterday: Marvel Studios responded to questions over the casting of Nico Minoru in the best possible way.

As you’ll recall, the character is one of the core characters of Marvel’s Runaways comic-book series. But the original open call, while specifically asking for African-American actors to audition for Alex Wilder, left Nico’s description open, aside from the problematic description of “uniquely beautiful.”

But as posted on Racebending Thursday, the company sent them this statement:

Thank you for reaching out regarding your concerns over Marvel’s recent casting notice for THE RUNAWAYS. We appreciate your interest in our production and with Marvel Entertainment.

To address your concern over casting for the role of Nico, as we do with all of our films, we intend to stay true to the legacy and story of the comic when casting these parts. Thus, our goal is to cast an Asian American actress as depicted in the comic series and the casting notice will be adjusted accordingly.

We thank you again for your correspondence and the opportunity to clarify our process.

Marvel Studios

And it’s true: the film’s casting call website now specifies that the “Girl 1” character is not only “uniquely beautiful” (whatever that means), but Asian-American. Also, the audition deadline has been pushed back to Sept. 15 to give applicants more prep time. So why does this matter? As we did in the case of The Last Airbender, we’ll let Racebending break it down:

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Quotable: Elon James White

I’m always overjoyed when someone takes my observations about problems in our society due to race as complaining. It makes me feel like they care, you know? They care enough to take time out of their busy day to attempt to make me feel like crap. That’s amazing.

You do know that’s what you’re doing, right? When you start yelling/writing letters about the complaining Negroes it feels like a direct punch at anyone who might have noticed race-based issues in our country. You’re not speaking about some nameless dark horde seeking to conquer this nation via government programs.

You’re talking about me. My mother. My friends.

“This Week In Blackness,” Aug. 25

links for 2010-08-26

  • "Building off of new research that warns against carelessly lumping all Asian Americans together, Bouie writes: [Researchers] find that Asian Americans 'face crucial disadvantages preventing them from receiving quality health care taken for granted by other, more culturally assimilated Americans.' That we don’t notice those disadvantages owes itself to the prevalence of the 'model minority' myth."
  • "'I think that this incident should be viewed as a warning that should be heeded,' said Edina Lekovic, communications director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council. 'The hateful rhetoric that is being spewed by people like Newt Gingrich and then being amplified by mainstream media outlets poses a grave danger to the safety and well-being of everyday Muslim Americans like this cab driver, an innocent person.'"
  • "That complex, intertwined relationship has been mirrored in pop music. The involvement of Jewish Americans in African-American music has been well documented (perhaps too much so), from Tin Pan Alley through jazz and rock to hip-hop. The flipside of black artists exploring Jewish musical culture has been less discussed, but a new exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum aims to change that. "Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations" shines a revealing light on this relationship. Presented by the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, a self-described group of "record-collecting dumpster divers" who aim to reexamine Jewish-American history by showcasing sometimes long-forgotten music, the exhibit makes a fascinating display of the influence of Jewish and Yiddish culture on black popular music of the 20th century."
  • "Budgets tended to fare worse in districts with a large number of white voters and a large number of nonwhite students. And in the four districts in the state where the majority of registered voters are white and nonwhite students make up the majority of the school population, the budgets were defeated.

    "Still, sociologists say the outcome suggests the possibility of a growing demographic divide over public policy — school spending, in particular — that has been identified elsewhere in the country between an older, white electorate and a population of voters who are younger and members of minority groups."

Table For Two: A look at Burn Notice

By Andrea (AJ) Plaid and Arturo R. García

Arturo: On occasion, Andrea and I will catch up via Google Chat on this, that and the other. And as it happens,we got to talking about a shared favorite show, Burn Notice.

If you don’t follow the show, here’s the premise: The Adventures of Unemployed James Bond, with a side of Bruce Wayne Angst for the protagonist, Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan), who does the whole A-Team “help those who can’t help themselves” thing while figuring out who and how he lost his job as a spy. Assisting him are his not-really-an-ex-girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), professional kept man Sam (Bruce Campbell, chewing scenery like Sam drinks mojitos) and his increasingly conflicted mother Maddie (Sharon Gless).

Shot with an Ocean’s 11-style pizazz and buoyed by Michael’s “Dummy’s Guide To MacGyver” internal monologues for the audience’s benefit, Burn Notice slots in well alongside shows like Psych and White Collar as shows that get by on “quirk” – sometimes to the point of excess. But as Andrea learned, there’s definitely a method to the mirth. Ain’t that right?

AJ: Basically, when I complained on twitter that I didn’t understand the point of the USA Network shows, beyond an excessive amount of quirk, some head honcho from usa network tweeted back that they tested the shows and found that the formula of funny action-packed show with happy ending worked. I responded that winning formulas win winningly … what I should have added is that it becomes a formula of diminishing returns if every blessed show is the same formula.

Arturo: Now, unless you’re willing to “turn your brain off,” the ::ahem:: monochromatic nature of the principal cast, as seen above, looks especially problematic when you consider the show’s set in Miami, a city with a sizable Latino population. In what might be a back-handed way to address this disparity, two POC players entered the fold this season: spy-master Vaughan (Robert Wisdom) and, more prominently, counter-intelligence officer Jesse Porter (Coby Bell).


Clutch Magazine Shows Our Editrix Some Love

By Arturo R. García

Latoya is too modest to bring this up herself, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight her getting name-checked in a rousing post by Britni Danielle on Clutch Magazine’s blog regarding this decade’s vanguard of Black feminist writers, including, among others, Lisa Jones, Tricia Rose, Rebecca Walker and Joan Morgan:

I remember reading When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost when it debuted and thinking that Joan Morgan was speaking FOR me. I loved hip hop, hard. It was my first crush, the soundtrack to my youth, it inspired my passion for writing, but I always felt some kind of way about the ease in which women were relegated to the sidelines. With the exception of a few dope women (Latifah, MC Lyte, Salt-n-Pepa, Lauryn), women were almost always seen as sidepieces and groupies.

But I kept listening. Even though I danced to its beats, would argue about who was the best emcee, and would defend hip hop like it was my big brother, I always felt uneasy about its willingness to label other women (because clearly, they couldn’t be talking about ME, right?) bitches and hoes. Joan Morgan’s in-your-face exploration of women maturing in the age of hip hop articulated my own contradictory feelings about a culture I loved, but didn’t always love me.

This new brand of feminism understood that the struggle of women wasn’t about hating men. It wasn’t about writing them off and branding them as enemies. Our feminism—as beneficiaries of many movements of equality—was about claiming our voice, articulating our worth, and fighting our own, modern, battles.

From there, Danielle shifts the discussion toward online media, including …

RacialiciousRacialicious explores the intersections of race and pop culture. Blog editor Latoya Peterson and company cover everything from current hot topics (such as Dr. Laura’s “Nigger” problem), to discussions of TV shows, commercials, and other media sources that feature minorities. The aim of Racialicious is to hold the media accountable for questionable images of people of color. This collective blog is an amazing source for intelligent critiques and discussions regarding how we are viewed in the public realm.

So thanks much to Clutch for the shine, and to you for your continued support.

links for 2010-08-25

  • "The inequality between ethnic mixes seen in local environments is even more stark than those in schooling, crime, housing, jobs and health, according to Cabe, the government's advisory body on architecture, urban design and public space.

    "The differences between ethnic groups was most marked when people were asked how satisfied they were with their green spaces and parks. More than 70% of people in affluent, predominantly white wards said they were satisfied compared with 50% in wards where more than 40% of the population came from black or minority ethnic groups.

  • "The episode, which led to a recent federal court ruling that Chaney's civil rights had been violated, has brought to light a little known consequence of the patients' rights movement that swept the nation's health care system over the last two decades.

    "Elderly patients, who won more legal control over their quality of life in nursing homes, sometimes want to dictate the race of those who care for them. And some nursing homes enforce those preferences in their staff policies."

Blah blah True Blood Blah: S03 E10

Hosted by Thea Lim, featuring Joseph Lamour, Tami Winfrey Harris, Latoya Peterson, and Andrea Plaid

Blah Blah Fairies Blah


Thea: Was it just me, or was this eppy a little blah?

Tami: It was. In fact, I am honestly having a hard time talking about it, because it was so not memorable. An episode packed with two (supposedly) big reveals should be a lot more entertaining.

Thea: Yes. They are not giving us very good snarking material.

Latoya: I can’t remember. All I know is I kept screaming “FUCK YOU SOOKIE!” about every 15 minutes or so, before my anguished scream after Sookie tells Tara to get over her relationship with Bill, then listens to Tara confess and gives her a half-assed hug. WHAT? Renounce his ass already! DAAAAMN! And he probably killed Claudine!!! *pant pant*

Okay, clearly, I had something to get off my chest. Continue, Thea. *sits in the corner*

Thea: We find out what Sookie is, but no one really cares at this point. Also that is not such an interesting revelation.

Andrea: All I’m saying is my happy ass was right, and I didn’t even read the book. Damn, I’m good… ::pats self on back:: My thing is, in this episode, Sookie being a fairy melds two racialized stereotypes: 1) the stereotype of the white woman as an ethereal, inspirational being, which further feeds into the stereotype of the Idealized White Woman, as well as 2) the white woman who very being deserves protection on the strength of her white femaleness. Note how Bill and Eric are running to her aid. I’m sort of surprised Alcide didn’t come running when Bill and Eric had their “little talk” about revealing Sookie’s “true identity.” I think it’s all rather yawny.

*expletive* You Sookie!

Joe: I’m pretty sure Bill didn’t kill Claudine. But! Honestly, Sookie. If I found out my friend were in trouble and my boyfriend not only did nothing to help, but stayed in the same house while it was happening, I would have a little more than a non-committal hug and an “Aw, I’m sorry” to offer. It makes me madder than fish grease. I am so furious about that. Also, there was no feeling of true condolence even in that moment.

It appears from last weeks weepy breakup that Anna Paquin is a pretty good actress, so it leads me to believe that the way she reacted to Tara’s news will lead to some intense conflict down the line. Like, are we not supposed to like Sookie? Because anyone with two eyes can see that Tara (even with her tough exterior) was in a particularly bad way. Her boyfriend got shot in the head. She was kidnapped. She was raped. Her rapist literally exploded in her face. Sookie, the worst friend of the year award goes to you. *End of my rant*

Andrea: As y’all know, I feel the exact opposite about Paquin’s acting skills as far as this role is concerned. To me, she’s one-dimensional in this role, and Sookie is a one-dimensional character as Alan Ball and the crew have been playing it on this show. Not too much matters to Sookie beyond herself–not even her supposedly bestest’s pain. But again, we’ve seen that Tara’s and Sookie’s friendship isn’t really based on anything but, as someone said in an earlier roundtable, nostalgia. So, yeah, I’m pissed, but I ain’t surprised…and Paquin’s acting really didn’t help with that scene.


Tami: And what’s up with Sookie’s “Yeah, Jason, you really should tell an already hurting Tara that you shot her boyfriend. OK, then, gotta run do Sookie business.”

The character is so clueless in her interactions with other people.

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