Category Archives: race & representations

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The Heroes We’d Like To See Most In Heroes: Reborn

By Arturo R. García

Just as we’re getting used to having a show about zombies around again, NBC went one step further and dug up a show that is a zombie.

Yes, Heroes is apparently returning from the grave, with original showrunner Tim Kring in tow, sometime next year. As sensible longtime readers might have bleached out of their brain, the series’ first iteration ended, mercifully, with a pre-Nashville Claire-Bear outing the metahuman population to the world after Team Benetrelli saved the world from a group of angry carnival workers. Which gives just a little more heft to this bit of spin from NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke:

Until we get closer to air in 2015, the show will be appropriately shrouded in secrecy, but we won’t rule out the possibility of some of the show’s original cast members popping back in.

Sure, on one level that can be interpreted as a polite way for Salke to say, “PLEEEEEEEASE HAYDEN COME BACK,” but if the show really is a continuation and not just a “reimagining,” it puts Heroes in a very interesting position.

The genre television renaissance it helped define is mostly floundering; sure, Arrow gets its fair share of good reviews, but Agents of SHIELD has struggled to gain its footing and the British cult favorite Misfits has concluded. With Smallville long gone, Supernatural nearing the end of its run, Doctor Who surviving on a spread-out schedule and the CW’s Gotham and Flash projects looking unsteady, Heroes can reasonably expect to attract fans hoping for a return to its Series One risk-taking prime.

But for Reborn to truly thrive will take not just new blood, but picking the right (affordable) old faces to bring back. And more than anything, it is going to require Kring to learn from some of his costliest mistakes in the first go-round.
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Dwayne McDuffie

One More Voice: On My Conversations With Dwayne McDuffie [The Throwback]

Friday marks the third anniversary of the passing of comics giant Dwayne McDuffie. At the time, we ran a Voices tribute post, but you might be surprised to find out that he also read Racialicious.

That, it turned out, was the ice-breaker between himself and Arturo, which led Art to pen his own show of remembrance for the man who was the cornerstone of Milestone Entertainment.

By Arturo R. García

Please forgive this indulgence in advance. As an unabashed fan of Dwayne McDuffie’s … well, as you might imagine, the news of his passing Tuesday has been tough to really wrap my head around.

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Athena FF: Amma Asante’s Belle Revisits Jane Austen Through Black POV

By Guest Contributor Inkoo Kang, cross-posted from Women And Hollywood

“This is the story of a woman who is loved.”

Those are the words black British director Amma Asante used to describe her marvelous sophomore feature Belle at the Athena Film Festival this past weekend, and they had a palpable emotional impact when Asante uttered them at the film’s post-screening Q&A.

That’s because it’s still all-too-maddeningly rare to see a gentle romance about the loveliness or adorableness or winsome sweetness of black women. Asante’s intention to make exactly that — her version of Jane Austen, based on the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, an 18th-century half-African, half-British historical noblewoman — feels radical, even though the film is in many ways a comfortably familiar period piece primarily concerned with courtship and marriage.

Last year saw a flurry of high-profile films with (male) black protagonists (12 Years a SlaveMandelaFruitvale StationThe Butler, and 42), and the wonderful thing about Asante’s carefully constructed film is that it’s not a story grounded in black suffering. Living in a pre-abolition Britain, Dido, played with grace and passion by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, is certainly no stranger to racism.

But, as Asante explained, her film tells a story about Dido “teaching people how to love her” — to let themselves be won over by her charms and wit despite their knee-jerk prejudices. Rounded out by critiques of sexism and classism, Belle is a quietly ambitious project that’s already put Asante on an ascendant path in Hollywood.

If you missed its NY premiere at Athena, Belle will be released on May 2.

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Voices: Jordan Davis’ Killer Won’t Do Time For His Death

Jordan Davis (1995-2012). Image via The Root.

Michael Dunn got away with murder.Oh, he’ll likely spend the rest of his life in prison on the three counts of attempted second-degree murder. Those are the charges of which a Jacksonville, Fla., jury took four days to find him guilty, for the 10 bullets he fired at 17-year-old Jordan Davis and his three friends that fateful November more than a year ago because they wouldn’t turn down the “thug music” that he despised.

Dunn’s conviction has given Jordan’s parents, Lucia McBath and Ron Davis, a bit of closure to know that their son’s killer won’t walk away free, that while he robbed Jordan of the chance to reach middle age, he also robbed himself of the chance to reach old age in a retirement village instead of a cell block.

But the jury couldn’t decide whether Dunn, 47, was justified in killing Jordan, who argued with him and cursed him when he asked them to turn down the music. Not only could they not decide whether Dunn’s slaying of the unarmed teenager amounted to first-degree murder, but they also couldn’t decide whether it amounted to second-degree murder or manslaughter.

Which leads me to ask: What if Jordan had been the only one in that Dodge Durango?
– Tonyaa Weathersbee, The Root

I walk around in this young Black male body and I understand that it causes fear. It causes a reaction. It causes police to look at me more carefully. It could kill me. This is the burden that I bear just by being born Black and living in America is the fact that I have been born into a racist system, a racist society that has placed on my Black male body a set of ideas that invoke fear in people. That’s what Jordan Davis was dealing with. That’s what Trayvon Martin was dealing with, and it killed them.

– Mychal Denzel Smith, as said on MSNBC, Feb. 16.

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10 Baadasss Graphic Novel Super Sistas

By Guest Contributor Sky Obercam, cross-posted from Clutch Magazine

Comic book enthusiasts, here’s an eye-catching list inspired in part by creative comic trailblazer Jackie Ormes. It’s time these stunning, ass whoopin’ superheroines got some shine.
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shield2 via screenrant

Is Agents Of SHIELD really an interracial family show?

By Arturo R. García

Skye (Chloe Bennet) meets her mentor, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) in “Agents of SHIELD.”

THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS

Not to get all Morpheus on you, but: what if some of us Whedonistas have been approaching Agents of SHIELD off focus, just a bit?

Sure, I’ve been among the fans who have been critical of the show during most of its’ freshman season, with a good deal of that dissatisfaction aimed at the ostensible audience POV character, Skye (Chloe Bennet) — and this was before we found out she might be an extraterrestrial sort-of object of considerable power, on top of being a super-hacker.

But, over the weekend a colleague of mine at The Raw Story, Scott Eric Kaufman brought me up to speed on at least one more way to approach the series. It might not excuse some of the story choices in Agents thus far, but it sheds new light on how we might consider Skye and her cohorts.
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Stories that Ally vs Stories that Appropriate: a Yardstick [The Throwback]

In this February 2010 piece, Thea Lim examines how “Avatar” exemplifies a disturbing type of faux-progressive filmmaking.

By Deputy Editor Thea Lim

How do you know when a story is allying, versus appropriating?

In other words, if someone of privilege writes a story about the political oppression of a group they do not belong to, what is the difference between:

a) a story that brings marginalised voices to a wider platform and advocates for their rights, versus
b) a story that simply appropriates a political conflict for a writer’s own end, taking advantage of the fact that communities who experience marginalisation are rarely ever allowed to speak for themselves?

Apart from the fact that a story that appropriates usually winds up grossly misrepresenting a marginalised group, this is my yardstick for telling friends from foes:  one of the central purposes of a story that acts as ally, is to use one’s own privilege to tell another’s story, in the hopes of ameliorating the others’ situation.  Meanwhile, a story that appropriates just wants to spin a good yarn, get some adulation, and uses another’s story in order to do so.  An ally story is giving, an appropriating story is taking.

Quit jabbering Thea, you may say.  It’s easy to tell the difference between stories that appropriate, and stories that ally! We don’t need a yardstick!

Not true.  At least within mainstream opinion, it is startling and depressing how many stories that appropriate get passed off as political progressive, as allies.  Like Not Without My Daughter.  Or the documentary Born into Brothels, which purported to tell the story of the children of sex workers in Calcutta, but really just seemed more interested in showcasing the magnanimity of the American photographer who worked with the children.* Or another documentary, Paris is Burning, about the black trans/gay vogueing community of New York City, which brought immense praise on the white outsider director, but painted the community as tragic and hopeless, while bringing little benefit to them. I’m sure you can think of loads more films like this.

Including…(drumroll)…Avatar. Which I finally saw last week, in all its headsplitting 3D glory. And it fulfilled all the negative press I had read over countless months, from anti-racist and anti-ableist camps among many others. But seeing how my esteemed peers did a lot of the deconstructing work for me, I was left to ponder another question. If Cameron is as leftist as claimed, why didn’t he tell the story of an actual conflict between big business (or colonialists) and an indigenous group? Why use blue allegory?

Hollywood films have a generally untapped power to sway how people think about political events. Packaging a political story within the rhetoric of emotion (and also I guess, within face-blasting special effects) is often the best way to get people to swallow arguments they would otherwise reject.  Hence a movie that – at least at face value – is very anti-war, anti-military and anti-capitalist is demolishing box office records with hardly a peep from conservative viewers.

Can you imagine the impact that a movie like Avatar could have, if Cameron had used all the CGI to recreate (for example) any area of the Americas the way it looked before first contact with the Europeans, and instead told the real story of an indigenous group struggling to protect themselves from genocide?  Imagine the kind of support it could create for indigenous rights.

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Understanding anti-Black racism as species-ism: Reflections on Richard Sherman’s affective excess and the Twitterverse’s response

By Guest Contributor M. Shadee Malaklou, cross-posted from JFCB

My first impulse was to resist paying even a modicum of attention to the story following Richard Sherman’s postgame interview, namely because the goings-on of the sports industry — an industry that takes from Black bodies their bits and pieces of flesh, leaving Black athletes often permanently disabled and with little material or financial support in (a very early) ‘retirement’ — rarely surprise me or gives me pause for critical reflection. But then I saw the tweets. The disgusting, racist-cum-speciesist tweets.
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