Category Archives: diversity

Recap: The 2014 Tony Awards

June 8, 2014: The night that this happened. via TonyAwards.com

To the credit of Sunday night’s Tony Awards,  I wasn’t tempted once during the broadcast to check in on the inmates at Litchfield or those who’ve taken the black at the Wall. That’s the magic of a well paced, mostly inoffensive, and relatively diverse major televised awards show.

Hosted by Hugh Jackman (returning to Broadway in The River this fall), the show began with a great (if slightly obscure to those not obsessed with the MGM Studios of the 1953) homage to Bobby Van with a performance from the cast of After Midnight following, featured Audra MacDonald’s 6th Tony win, that one time when Hugh Jackman, TI, and LL Cool J rapped lyrics from The Music Man , Neil Patrick Harris licking Samuel L. Jackson’s glasses during a performance of ‘Sugar Daddy’ from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a montage of nominated playwrights that reminded us just how white and male Broadway has chosen to let that world become, and a performance of ‘One Day More’ from Les Miserables that was just the opposite.

Kenny Leon’s third iteration of A Raisin in the Sun took home 3 awards including Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance By An Actress in A Featured Role In A Play for Sophie Okonedo, and Best Director of a Play for Leon himself. Audra McDonald won Best Performance By An Actress For A Leading Role In A Play for Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar And Grill, James Monroe Iglehart of Aladdin won for Best Performance By An Actor For A Featured Role In A Musical, and Linda Cho won for Best Costume Design of a Musical for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love And Murder. The send up to 1920s Harlem After Midnight which has, at different times, starred Fantasia Barrino, Toni Braxton, Baby Face, Dule Hill, and Vanessa Williams, with Patti LaBelle starting this week, also took home a win for best choreography.

Even if The Great White Way is still pretty white the Tonys seem to at least make more of an effort to showcase the diversity that does exist on New York stages. Six winners of colour make for two more than we saw last year, and certainly more than we’re going to see at, say, this year’s Oscars. With shows like Holler If Ya Hear Me (aka, ‘The Tupac Musical’), You Can’t Take It With You (starring James Earl Jones) opening this summer and The King and I, and Oprah produced ‘night, Mother eyeing 2015 runs the future shows that theatre will at least stay the course.

For more highlights highlights, tweets, and performances jump under the cut!

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Quoted: Brittney Cooper on Diversity In College Debate

Towson University debate team members Ameena Ruffin and Korey Johnson. Image via Salon.

The increasing racial diversity of college debate is directly attributable to the work of these leagues, but of course the presence of more Black folks in any space also fundamentally challenges the ground upon which business proceeds. Black students have not only excelled at traditional debate, but they have invented new modes of competitive forensics, including a more performative style of debate that incorporates rap music, poetry and personal anecdotes.

Pioneered in college debate programs like that at the University of Louisville, this more performative style of debate has productively disrupted the traditionalist forms of debate centered on spouting, at the highest rates of speed, copious amounts of academic literature in order to prove a point. When I spoke with Korey by phone about this piece, she was hesitant to characterize her and Ameena’s style in a singular way, since they tend to incorporate both traditional elements like the reading of arguments published in academic journals and books with newer elements like poetry. Korey told me, “The word ‘traditional,’ the word ‘performative,’ the word ‘k-debater’ (which refers to “critique” or “kritik” debaters, who argue more philosophical rather than policy positions) will never actually capture what we are trying to do here.” That resistance to labels, and ambivalence about “the violence labels perform,” are hallmarks of the speech of young thinkers, searching to find their way in the world.

However, as my own scholarly research about Black female public intellectuals in the 19th and 20th centuries indicates, we live in a world that still struggles to see Black women as serious thinkers and intellectuals who have something to contribute to our national grappling with social problems. Frequently for young Black women thinkers, particularly those who invoke a clear Black feminist perspective, there is a resistance to donning a stance of detached objectivity. Korey asked me rhetorically, “How can we talk about policy if we don’t know [the] social location of the people?”

– From “‘I was hurt’: How white elite racism invaded a college debate championship,” in Salon

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Open Thread: The Wilmore Report Greenlit for 2015

By Arturo R. García

The Daily Show
Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,The Daily Show on Facebook,Daily Show Video Archive

Friday brought some surprising news, as Comedy Central announced that Daily Show longtime “Senior Black Correspondent” Larry Wilmore had been picked to take over the valuable post-Daily slot starting next year from Stephen Colbert, with the show being retitled The Minority Report With Larry Wilmore.

Besides hosting the show, Wilmore will also serve as executive producer, with the Report maintaining its production link to its predecessor through Jon Stewart’s Busboy Productions.

The network’s release did not shy away from the significance of Wilmore getting this spot, either:

“The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore” will provide viewers with a distinct point of view and comedic take on the day’s news from a perspective largely missing in the current late night landscape. Hosted by Larry Wilmore, the series will feature a diverse panel of voices currently underrepresented in comedy and television.

But, the concern’s already rung out on Twitter: Does the title already point toward self-limitation on Wilmore’s part? What do you think of Wilmore’s hiring and the show’s prospects?

Who Will Be Scandal’s Next Harrison? Eight Actors and Actresses Who Could Don the Suspenders

By Guest Contributor Monique Jones

Image via ABC.com

Columbus Short confirmed that he had been fired from ABC’s hit show Scandal late April. His departure is a result being charged with misdemeanor spousal battery against his wife, Tuere Short. “At this time I must confirm my exit from a show I’ve called home for three years, with what is the most talented ensemble in television today,” Short said in a statement.

After thanking the show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes and the cast, Short said, “Everything must come to an end and unfortunately the time has come for Harrison Wright to exit the canvas.”

With the confirmation of his departure, it puts the show and fans at a crossroads—who will pick up where Harrison left off and become the next right hand to Olivia Pope?

It would seem that certain qualities are necessary in order to be a great second-in-command at Pope & Associates. Those qualities–an infinite amount of charm, cunning and the ability to play a little dirty–seemed to be what kept Harrison employed. So, with that in mind, I have list of eight actors and actresses (yes, actresses!) that could become the new Harrison. All of the actors meet the criteria of:

  1. Being either glamorous or alluring in some capacity, which the character could use as an assist to their charm technique
  2. Playing roles with a certain amount of intensity, and
  3. Are either available for new television roles or are on shows that could allow for a dual role on a different show (like if a show is shooting in the off-season or something). Let’s jump into it.

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Race + Spider-Man: Sony Confirms A Glass Ceiling For Miles Morales

By Arturo R. García

(L-R) Peter Parker and Miles Morales, as shown on the cover of “Spider-Men” #1.

Sony Entertainment might be pleased right now about the opening-weekend performance from Amazing Spider-Man 2. A $94 million domestic take isn’t a Marvel-level success, and the film has gotten middling reviews, but it’s been a decent start.

But the company should be concerned about the arrogance exhibited by executive producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach late last week, as they effectively rejecting the possibility of seeing a Spider-Man who is not cis-white het male Peter Parker inhabit Sony’s Spider-film realm. As The Mary Sue reported, Arad and Tolmach put the kibosh on that talk in an interview with IndieWire:

IndieWire: Are Miles Morales (“Ultimate Spider-Man”), Ben Reilly (clone Spider-Man) or Miguel O’Hara (“Spider-Man 2099″) on the table? If you want a Spider-Man movie every year why not bring in some of the other variations?
Tolmach: No.
Arad: No. The one thing you cannot do, when you have a phenomena that has stood the test of time, you have to be true to the real character inside – who is Peter Parker? What are the biggest effects on his life? Then you can draw in time, and you can consider today’s world in many ways. But to have multiple ones… I don’t know if you remember, but Marvel tried it. And it was almost the end of Spider-Man.
IW: So Spider-Man in the cinematic realm will always be Peter Parker?
Arad: Absolutely
Tolmach: As far as we’re concerned. The guys who take it over after us … Who knows …

It’s true that Sony runs the ASM brand independently of Marvel’s operation, but if movie!Spidey were truly independent from his comics counterpart, Otto Octavius’ stint assuming Peter Parker’s identity in Superior Spider-Man might not have wrapped up just in time for the new movie.

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Diversity + Publishing: #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Image via WeNeedDiverseBooks.tumblr.com

Each month I receive 10-20 advanced copies of young adult fiction books in all genres (mostly geared towards teen girl readers) per month from various publishers.  I can count on ten fingers the amount of those books that have featured a protagonist of colour. Even fewer of them feature a protagonist of colour also written by a person of colour.

That’s where We Need Diverse Books comes in.

Responding to the call for more diversity in children’s literature and the recent announcement of the all white all male panel at the upcoming BookCon in NYC, the movement’s organisers are urging readers to take over Twitter today. The hashtag #weneeddiversebooks is already in wide use, but the campaign is asking for even more support starting at 1pm EST:

  • Take a photo holding a sign that says “We need diverse books because ___________________________.” Fill in the blank with an important, poignant, funny, and/or personal reason why this campaign is important to you.
  • The photo can be of you or a friend or anyone who wants to support diversity in kids’ lit. It can be a photo of the sign without you if you would prefer not to be in a picture. Be as creative as you want! Pose the sign with your favorite stuffed animal or at your favorite library. Get a bunch of friends to hold a bunch of signs.
  • However you want to do it, we want to share it! There will be a Tumblr at http://weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com/ that will host all of the photos and messages for the campaign. Please submit your visual component by May 1stto weneeddiversebooks@yahoo.com with the subject line “photo” or submit it right on our Tumblr page here and it will be posted throughout the first day.
  • Starting at 1:00PM (EST) the Tumblr will start posting and it will be your job to reblog, tweet, Facebook, or share wherever you think will help get the word out.

The efforts are set to continue through May 3rd:

On May 2nd, the second part of our campaign will roll out with a Twitter chat scheduled for 2pm (EST) using the same hashtag. Please use #WeNeedDiverseBooks at 2pm on May 2nd and share your thoughts on the issues with diversity in literature and why diversity matters to you.

On May 3rd, 2pm (EST), the third portion of our campaign will begin. There will be a Diversify Your Shelves initiative to encourage people to put their money where their mouth is and buy diverse books and take photos of them.

While the campaign won’t officially start until later today, there’ve already been several great posts flying around the tag. Below are a few of the best, showing several reasons why we really do need diverse books.

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[Thursday Throwback] Who’s Allowed to Tell the Tale? (And Which Tales Should They Tell?)

by Guest Contributor Belleisa, originally published at PostBourgie

There’s a game I like to play when I walk into a bookstore. Based on the the title, cover and store placement I can always interpret the marketing intention for a book meant for a black American audience. The best part of this game is that the books will, typically, fit into the following categories (they are, in no particular order):

1. Black Pathology or “What’s wrong with Black people?”
2. The literature of “sistah gurl”
3. Christian-oriented fiction/inspirational
4. Street-Lit or Hip-Hop fiction
5. The Slave Novel
6. The Civil Rights Book (This also includes Black Nationalism)
7. The extraordinary rise from street life/poverty/welfare into the middle class.
8. Poorly styled celebrity memoir, or well researched and documented hagiography
9. Black Queens and Kings
10. Hip-Hop analysis
11. AFRICA
12. The “Black” version of some mainstream topic (For example: “Black Girl’s Guide to Fashion; “Black Families’ Guide to Wealth;”) Guides will include slang, bright colors, and inevitably the phrase “the legacy of slavery.”
13. The Classics: Harlem Renaissance 101 and/or The Black Arts Movement. Toni Morrison.
14. Contemporary Classics or Literary Fiction (Mostly woman, mostly diaspora authors)
15. Non-black author writes really compelling story about black person(s); story gets awards accolades, lots of press and movie deal.

These topics produce wonderful books and poorly written books. They often represent a compendium of the black American experience, and just as often, they are simply a reflection of what publishing thinks black people read.

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Quoted: The Worst Justification Ever For Not Casting People Of Color

From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race. What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn’t matter. They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise. You either try to put everything in there, which just calls attention to it, or you just say, ‘Let’s make that not a factor, because we’re trying to deal with everyman.’ Looking at this story through that kind of lens is the same as saying, ‘Would the ark float and is it big enough to get all the species in there?’ That’s irrelevant to the questions because the questions are operating on a different plane than that; they’re operating on the mythical plane.

– Ari Handel, screenwriter for “Noah,” as told to The High Calling