All posts by Racialicious Team

The Racialicious Links Roundup 11.21.13: The Best Man Holiday, Orange Is The New Black, Nelly, ENDA and more

Cast of “The Best Man Holiday.”

The Best Man Holiday is a success. That is not particularly a “surprise.” It did not “over-perform,” nor did it soar for a “race-themed film,” as USA Today originally wrote. To speak of it in these terms reduces The Best Man Holiday to thousands of frames of low expectations. It existed and won. As a film, it was 50% an above-average comedy and 50% an abysmal drama. But financially—the only metric that matters to studios—it was a knockout. Set in the present. Not filmed by Tyler Perry. Of which you can expect to see more.

Malcolm D. Lee’s movies, in fact, have nearly all been significant earners, from Undercover Brother toScary Movie 5. Only one—Soul Men, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac—did not perform well. It was also Lee’s most expensive movie, and was released three months after Bernie Mac died.

The Best Man Holiday, the director’s seventh film, cost $17 million and has already earned just north of $30 million on its first weekend. It premiered to an audience that was 87% African American and 75% female.

Again I think it’s very truthful to the world we live in. There are Latino people in our world who believe strongly that if you are Latino you should speak the language, you should eat the food, you should listen to the music, you should be proud. And when you don’t do those things, some people will look at it as if you’re neglecting who you are. But in the case of Daya, which is a wonderful character, look at the background that she has. Her mother isn’t exactly the mother of the year but she has heart. She hasn’t been the best mom so of course her kids aren’t going to speak the language, she wasn’t at home teaching them like my parents did. My parents made it a point that although I was born and raised in New York City I needed to speak Spanish because they wanted me to be able to communicate with my elders when I went to Santo Domingo [or] when my family came to visit from Cuba. So we have some people who place a lot of importance on that and a lot who don’t.

But you know I’m not one to criticize someone for speaking it or not. I, for one, do believe that we should speak the language of our ancestors and that’s why my daughter speaks fluent Spanish.

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Quoted: OC Weekly On The Latin Grammys Marginalizing Mexico

Latin Grammy nominee Aleks Syntek, via Facebook.

First, the caveat: ANY entertainment industry awards show never gets anything right and really serves as an excuse for bigwigs to have one giant, self-celebratory circle jerk honoring the biggest sellers and most influential labels. That said, here’s the Latin Grammys’ dirty little secret: the vast majority of Latin music sold in the United States is Mexican regional music: banda, mariachi, ranchera, norteño, narcocorridos — all of it. It constantly counts for more than half of all Latin music sales in el Norte, per the figures of the Recording Industry of America, and is what has driven Spanish-language radio’s rise across nearly all the United States. Its artists are the ones continually, easily selling out Madison Square Garden and performing in the Rose Bowl at the same time they’re taking a bus to perform in tiny towns across the Midwest and South. Mexican regional’s reach makes it el rey of Latin music in the United States–no contest.

Yet the Latin Grammys always insults its industry’s biggest moneymaker. Case in point: the Mexi performers I mentioned earlier count as only three of the 15 scheduled performers for the evening (and if you take out Lafourcade, who’s not technically of the Mexican regional genre, it’s only two), accounting for a pathetic 20 percent of all performances in a country where people of Mexican descent make up more than 60 percent of the total Latino pozole pot. There are only five awards categories devoted to Mexican regional music — sh-t, more than five distinct musical genres exist in Mexico City alone, from sonidero to rock urbano — while seven are given to Brazil, a beautiful, sonically rich country that nevertheless sells sells as much music combined in the States as Vicente Fernández can sell in one night from a street corner in Huntington Park.

– From “Why the Latin Grammys Remain America’s Biggest Anti-Mexican Sham,” by Gustavo Arellano

[h/t Sara Inés Calderón]

The Racialicious Links Roundup 11.14.13: Sleepy Hollow, Renisha McBride, Luke Cage, Rememberance Day, YA Lit

Years ago, an actor/writer working on a pilot episode for Fox told me she suspected a 2010 session just led producers to transform tertiary white characters into ethnic minorities, with no change in the scripts to acknowledge the shift in race or culture.

But then came this fall’s sleeper hit, “Sleepy Hollow,” Fox’s tale about the modern-day adventures of Ichabod Crane. Ichabod somehow awakens in modern times after a 250-year sleep. The story unfolds like “The X-Files” meets “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” (except the Yankee moves forward in time rather than back). Crane teams with a young cop to tackle supernatural weirdness related to the return of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

And the young cop, Abbie Mills, is played by Nicole Beharie, an up-and-coming African-American actor who made a splash as Jackie Robinson’s wife this spring in the film “42.” Suddenly, the show was anchored by a strong black woman who gets to kick down doors, tote a trusty sidearm and play skeptical Dana Scully to Ichabod Crane’s witchcraft-wise Fox Mulder (for the uninitiated, that’s an X-Files shout-out).

When the show featured a storyline centered on Mills’ sister, we got to see two black women in an action/adventure setting, fighting the bad guys instead of waiting to be rescued or seduced. It was exactly the kind of diverse casting I had been waiting for since 1999, when the issue hit a crisis point as the broadcast networks offered a fall slate of new TV shows without a single character of color.

We have been here before. Our history becomes our present so often it becomes difficult to distinguish the two. Politicians and cable news hosts and the naïvely colorblind ask us to forget, most of the country obliges, and black people, again, are left to piece together the fragments of history, suffering, rage, and pain so that we may have hope for something better.

Again we advocate for justice. Again we question what justice would even look like. Again we demand that black life be valued. Again we wonder why it never was in the first place. Again we weep, we pray, we march, we raise our voices. Again we prepare ourselves to be let down. And again we ask when will the moment come where we won’t have to go through this again.

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The Racialicious Links Roundup 11.7.13: Renisha McBride, Richie Incognito, Kanye West, Crest, SNL & More

Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

f you thought what happened to Jonathan Ferrell last month was horrific, wait until you hear about the slaying of 19-year-old Renisha McBride.

At around 2:30am on Saturday morning, McBride got into a car accident near Dearborn Heights, a suburb around Detroit. Her cell phone battery was dead so she went to a nearby home to seek help. But after knocking on the door, McBride was killed by a gunshot wound to the head. (Update: McBride’s family told Detroit Free Press that she was shot in the back of the head as she was turning to leave.)

Dearborn Heights police initially told McBride’s family that her body was found dumped near Warren Avenue and Outer Drive, but that story quickly changed. Not only are police refusing to release the identity of the man who shot McBride, they’re now saying she was mistaken for an intruder and shot in self-defense on the homeowner’s front porch. Even if that’s the case, and there’s reason to believe it’s not, the shooter still failed to call 911 after shooting an unarmed woman in the head, instead leaving her there to die. Does that sound like the behavior of a law-abiding gunowner who made a tragic mistake?

Well, I’ve spoken to multiple people today about this and the explanation from all of them is that in the Dolphins locker room, Richie Incognito was considered a black guy. He was accepted by the black players. He was an honorary black man.

And Jonathan Martin, who is bi-racial, was not. Indeed, Martin was considered less black than Incognito.

“Richie is honarary,” one player who left the Dolphins this offseason told me today. “I don’t expect you to understand because you’re not black. But being a black guy, being a brother is more than just about skin color. It’s about how you carry yourself. How you play. Where you come from. What you’ve experienced. A lot of things.”

Another former Dolphins employee told me Martin is considered “soft” by his teammates and that’s a reason he’s not readily accepted by some of the players, particularly the black players. His background — Stanford educated and the son of highly educated people — was not necessarily seen as a strength or a positive by some players and it perpetuated in the way Martin carried himself.

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The Racialicious Links Roundup 10.31.13: The Debate Around Malala Continues, Zwarte Piet, A Scam Targeting Native Americans and more

Young activist Malala Yousafzai. Image via ABC News.

Does Baig realize he is identifying every brown man with the Taliban? At the UN, Malala demanded the strongest leaders in the world “…to change their strategic policies in favour of peace and prosperity,” as she averred the urgency to protect the rights of women and children. Since being attacked, she has not hesitated a single day in speaking out against the Taliban. In her meeting with President Obama, Malala reiterated the concerns back home about drone attacks. One wonders, if a Muslim man had made such a fearless litany of demands to both world leaders and terrorists alike would Baig have referred to him as a “tool for the West”? or celebrated him as a hero?

Remnants of Baig’s distrust eerily reminded me the rambling letter Taliban Commander Adnan Rashid wrote to Malala explaining that every perceived Western good must have within it a sinister plot, a suspicion so deep and twisted that he justifies the killing of polio workers and education activists. He offered Malala a safe return to Pakistan only if she agreed to study the Quran at a Madrassa and reject a western education. He too, accused Malala of being easily swayed and “using her tongue at the behest of others” depriving her of her own agency and ideas.

Similarly, Baig’s argument seeks to confine Malala and place restrictions lest she become tainted with Western exposure, sympathy, or indoctrination. Though it was the Pakistani military who cleared Swat from the hands of the Taliban and the Pakistani military doctors who removed the bullet from Malala’s head, Baig continues in making even her medical treatment in England a means of shame for the native brown man. Such divisive attitudes will only succeed to perpetuate a cycle of hate, cynicism, and distrust. There seems to be no room in such a world-view for reconciliation, redemption, or working together with “the white man” for common goals.

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The Racialicious Links Roundup 10.17.13: Kenan Thompson, Mapping Race In America, Kanye West & ‘Negro Bed Wenches’

“Saturday Night Live” cast member Kenan Thompson. Image via BET.

Thompson’s decade-long run on SNL is really some kind of miracle. He should be extremely grateful, and say 10 prayers of thanks every single day for lasting so long as an SNL cast member. He’s a very lucky man.

Thompson is lucky because despite the fact that he hasn’t done anything remotely funny on SNL in 10 years, he’s still cashing their checks.

In reality, whenever most people hear the name Kenan Thompson, the very next thing that pops into their minds is, “Hey, whatever happened to Kel Mitchell?”

Thompson’s true claim to fame is his body of work for kid’s network Nickelodeon. I’m talking “All That,” “Kenan & Kel,” and the “Good Burger” movie.

Yes, Kenan Thompson paired with Kel Mitchell was, at times, comedic genius. Mitchell, however, was the bigger talent of the two child-stars, and few will argue that point.

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Quoted: ESPN On Jason Collins, A Season Later

Free-agent NBA center Jason Collins. Image via freddyo.com

Welts’ combination of optimism and apprehension is shared by many others around the league who are rooting for Collins, but recognize the forces working against him. They list any number of factors, some unique to his identity as the only openly gay free agent, others products of circumstance.As the league gets stretchier — with some teams employing as few as four conventional big men — fewer NBA jobs remain for a center whose primary on-court asset is interior defense. Many teams prefer to take fliers on younger prospects whose contracts can be discarded on Jan. 10, when the vets’ phones start to ring. For their part, the Warriors have stockpiled centers. They have Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, Ognjen Kuzmic, Jermaine O’Neal and Dewayne Dedmon all under contract.

“The reality for our team is that we are really deep at the center position — there’s not a roster spot available,” Welts says.

League trends aside, nearly a dozen execs say privately that the media glare that would come with a Collins signing just isn’t worth the distraction to most teams. Locker rooms are fragile places already and not always receptive to change, and though NBA players as a whole are extremely professional with the media, it’s not their favorite half hour of the day. The easier it is, the better. If he were a rotation player or better, the thinking goes, the cost/benefit analysis might produce a different outcome.

In other words, the market for Collins would be bigger if he weren’t openly gay.

- From “What we’re learning from Jason Collins,” by Kevin Arnovitz

The Racialicious Links Roundup 10.10.13: Malala, Oneida Nation, Sleepy Hollow And Saudi Arabia

When Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen simply because she wanted to gain an education it sent shockwaves around the world.

The Western media took up the issue, Western politicians and the public spoke out and soon she found herself in the UK. The way in which the West reacted made me question the reasons and motives behind why Malala’s case was taken up and not so many others.

There is no justifying the brutal actions of the Taliban or the denial of the universal right to education, however there is a deeper more historic narrative that is taking place here.

This is a story of a native girl being saved by the white man. Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation. It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalised. Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case. The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armour to save her.