Category Archives: media

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Watch: Race + Police Discussion Featuring Eric Garner’s children, Latoya Peterson, and Franchesca Ramsey

By Arturo R. García

Racialicious owner Latoya Peterson took part in a panel discussion moderated by Yahoo News host Katie Couric on Thursday regarding not only the death of Eric Garner, but the distrust characterizing the relationship between the New York Police Department and residents.

The discussion began with Couric interviewing Erica Garner and Eric Garner Jr., Garner’s children.

“Why didn’t the EMS help him if their job is to help people?” Erica Garner asked at one point. “I feel they treated him like an animal.”

Peterson and blogger Franchesca Ramsey then joined Couric to discuss how the case has stimulated conversation online.

“It’s just raw emotion, what’s happening,” Peterson said. “It’s not just unfortunately Eric Garner’s situation. It’s also in the aggregate, looking at everything that’s happened, with the summer, every 28 hours and all these campaigns, it’s really leading people to organize on social media and to be able to rise up and say, ‘We do not want to accept this any longer. This isn’t gonna be our world, and it shouldn’t be our world.’”

The discussion continued with a panel featuring comedian W. Kamau Bell, former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and journalist Dion Rabouin, a talk that featured several clashes between Kelly and Bell, who admitted he did not feel safe with Kelly in the room.

“I’ve been taught to treat cops like pitbulls,” Bell says at one point.

“Who taught you that?” Kelly responds.

“The Black community,” Bell shoots back. “Would you like their names and numbers?”

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The Facing Race Files: Lifting Up Queer and Trans Youth Resiliency

As promised, here are some of the images posted by the presenters:

The SDCC Files: Keith Knight and C. Spike Trotman

As part of our plan to boost peoples’ signals during San Diego Comic-Con, we plan to run at least one or two mini-profiles a day, starting with a look at two popular cartoonists.

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Keith Knight

Where You Can Find Him: Booth K-15 in the Small Press section.
Where You Can Find Him Online: His personal site; his Patreon site.
What’s The Story?: Knight, a longtime SDCC exhibitor — his first con was in 1993 — who has hosted panels at the event in past years, is here promoting Knight Takes Queen, the second collection of stories from his daily Knight Life strip.

“This was a long time coming,” Knight said of the collection. “I’ve got probably 1,000 strips that I can put into books. I’m psyched to get it out, because people have been asking for it. It basically takes it through the time when my wife was pregnant with my first child until just after his birth.”

How has the convention landscape changed during the years he’s taken part in the con?: “It’s certainly is a big change from when I started coming in ’93. In ’93 it was just all 53-year-old white men. But it really started to diversify thoughout the 2000s, and hit this kind of crazy crescendo. Instead of it becoming sort of a weird side thing, and now it’s really mainstream. Honestly, the crowd can be more diverse than the comics itself, which is kind of interesting. But attempts are being made; Captain America’s black again, and Thor’s gonna be a woman. What’s interesting to me is, this is the first time I’ve seen a lot of discussion of sexual harassment of women in cosplay outfits or just being here at Comic-Con was brought up. I’m glad that kind of stuff is on the table, because it’s all been simmering under the surface.”

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C. Spike Trotman

Where You Can Find Her: Booth 1330 with Black Label Comics
Where You Can Find Her Online: Iron Circus Comics website.
What’s The Story?: Trotman is promoting The Sleep Of Reason, a 26-story horror anthology featuring 34 different creators she says will have “no predictable endings” and none of the usual kinds of “scary” antagonists.

“I kind of got tired of things that feature supernatural creatures masquerading as horror,” she explains. “I personally don’t find things featuring zombies, werewolves, and vampires scary anymore because everybody already knows the rules. If a zombie shows up in a story, you know what you have to do to get rid of it. If a werewolf shows up, you know the rules it’s operating under. To me, the essence of fear is not understanding and being helpless in a situation. That’s why I don’t have things like zombies and vampires in The Sleep of Reason, because if I did have them, you would know how to take care of them.”

On the expanding audience for anthologies: “I think there has kind of been a mushrooms after the rain effect when it comes to anthologies. A lot of young creators, I’ve found, are putting together anthologies amongst themselves to kind of get their work out there, because the strength of the anthology, in my opinion, is [that] people will buy it for a creator they know is in there and they already like. But as a result, they’re exposed to maybe 10 or 15 other creators that they had no idea existed, and have great potential of becoming a fan of those creators. And I think people understand that, especially on the creators’ side, they understand that. So when they put together these projects, they’re kind of drawing from one another’s audiences and readerships with the hope that there can be kind of a swapping of fans — or at least growing their own fanbase by tapping into another person’s fanbase.”

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Activist Jose Antonio Vargas Enters The ‘Unaccompanied Minors’ Fray

By Arturo R. García

Former journalist and immigrant rights advocate Jose Antonio Vargas was arrested and released within the course of a day by Border Patrol officials in McAllen, Texas, where he has gone in support of the thousands of young undocumented immigrants who have made their way to the U.S. from Central America.

“I was released today because I am a low priority and not considered a threat,” Vargas told the New York Times after being released. “I would argue that the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country are not a threat either.”
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The Ghost of Bigger Thomas Surfaces in Kayne West’s Monster [The Throwback]

With Kanye West in seemingly another controversy this week following a mid-concert rant, it’s a good time to revisit Latoya’s look at the furor surrounding his 2011 single, “Monster.”

By Latoya Peterson

Kanye has officially overdosed on artistic symbolism.

After his 35 minute debut of "Runaway" in back in October 2010, it difficult to figure out how Kanye would top a video that incorporated references to modern performance art, ballet, couture, mythology, and Fellini.

And yet, I don't think anyone counted on Kanye deciding to deck the halls with dead white women in "Monster".
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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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Open Thread: What Makes A Black Film a Black Film?

By Kendra James

Every so often it pays to check in on the current “Black Film” rubric– ie, What makes a Black Film a Black Film? It’s a question I found myself struggling with as I wrote about Dear White People last week and realised that I couldn’t bring myself (and director Justin Simien didn’t want his audience) to stick it in the same category of Madea’s kooky and poorly directed adventures. But why is that?

Like a lot of popular movies that fall into the Black Film category Dear White People has a majority black cast, a black director, and deals with subject matter meant to resonate with a Black audience. Yet even beyond being an Indie, it’s clearly a different beast than 2014′s well performing Ride Along which seems to more easily fall into the traditional Black Film category. Making comparison and thinking about other movies that also seem to fall without question into that category -let’s consider movies like The Best Man series, the Barbershop series, and romcoms in the vein of Think Like a Man or Why Did I Get Married- I started to wonder if maybe it becomes a question of quality.

To include quality on the rubric is clearly problematic, leaning towards the implication that to be placed in the Black Film means to be a bad film. But do we place 12 Years A Slave in that same Black Film category? What about The Butler? They fall under the drama genre, but so do movies like Stomp The Yard, ATL, Coach Carter, or The Inkwell; a group of enjoyable, if otherwise unnotable films, with black directors and casts found under the “Urban Drama” category on Amazon . (Urban Drama being another way of saying “a drama with Black people in it.”)

Does it really come down to a question of quality with, perhaps, a side of pedigree- films nominated for multiple awards in various categories? It’s a tricky qualifier. Stomp The Yard with white protagonists is called Bring It On and it’s a comedy or a teen movie, not a “white film”. Coach Carter is called Hoosiers or Miracle and again it’s not a white film, it’s a sports drama. The Inkwell becomes a drama/romantic comedy directed by Nancy Meyers, starring Meryl Streep, and… well, you can see the trend. There’s no real need to recategorise any of these films as “Black” or “Urban”, but for some reason we do.

But what if beyond the merits of the cast, director, subject matter, and relative quality, it’s a simple matter of character relateability? White viewers are conditioned with the societal requirement that it’s necessary to at least pretend to empathise with the Solomon Northups of the world. The Kenya McQueens? Not so much. With that we’re left with a qualifier almost more insulting than the question of quality. While Black audiences are expected to relate and empathize with white characters in films regularly, the moment we ask them to do the same for us suddenly it’s a Black Film. In that case, the categorization is almost left up to the white viewer alone.

So is it cast/director, subject matter, quality, or a question of white audiences being unable to empathise with characters who look nothing like them? What actually makes a Black Film? Thoughts?