Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture http://www.racialicious.com Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World Fri, 24 Apr 2015 23:10:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.5 Racialicious In Chicago: A C2E2 Preview http://www.racialicious.com/2015/04/24/racialicious-in-chicago-a-c2e2-preview/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/04/24/racialicious-in-chicago-a-c2e2-preview/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 07:00:25 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=39530 I’ve never been to C2E2 before and know very little about what to expect– beyond the fact that there is a Brony fan meetup that I will be doing my utmost to avoid. Luckily, C2E2 also features a decently sized list of other panels and screenings that deal with race, gender, sexuality, fandom, and all […]

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I’ve never been to C2E2 before and know very little about what to expect– beyond the fact that there is a Brony fan meetup that I will be doing my utmost to avoid. Luckily, C2E2 also features a decently sized list of other panels and screenings that deal with race, gender, sexuality, fandom, and all the intersectionalities between them. I’ll only be attending the con Saturday and Sunday, so I won’t have time to see everything (and I’m incredibly sad to be missing Friday’s Racebending.com panel!), but I’ll be livetweeting as many panels as one person can reasonably make.

Last year in San Diego Arturo managed to profile quite a few artists and writers of colour during our time at the con. Reaching out to me @wriglied or via the team@racialicious.com email could yeild the same results, if  you’re a creator of colour who’d like to meet and chat about your work on Saturday or Sunday. Drop me a line, I’ll find your booth. And if you’re just a reader who just wants to say hi, don’t be shy! I won’t be in costume, but there’s a good chance you’ll see me at any of the Saturday or Sunday panels listed below.

FRIDAY

Through Brightest Days And Blackest Nights — A Black Nerd Girl’s Journey: 5:30-6:30; S405b: This is no longer Heinlein’s Nerdom. The white-skinned, flowing haired Damsel in Distress is more likely to be the dark-skinned, kinky haired Reluctant Hero. The chiseled, blue-eyed avatar is more likely to have brown eyes and rounded features. As the Geekverse grows, so do representations of black women within it. Unfortunately, black women still face many barriers towards being accepted as “real nerds.” Our discussion will focus on the past, present and future of the black nerd girl and her place in the ‘Verse. This Panel is sponsored in part by the Chicago Nerd Social Club.

Racebending.com Presents: Creating Diverse Characters: 2:45-3:45; S403: Racebending.com presents a diverse array of Novelists, Playwrights, Editors and Comics Authors who have crafted equally diverse characters across those mediums. Featuring Babs Tarr, Wesley Chu, Michi Trota, Mary Robinette Kowal, Gabrial Canada, Professor Turtel Onli and Danny Bernardo.

SATURDAY

From the Top Down: Creating Space for Diverse Voices: 2:45-3:45; S403: The desire for wider representation in geek culture has never been higher, but Artists and Creators aren’t the only ones who bear responsibility for creating more diverse work. This Panel will explore the role of traditional gatekeepers – Editors, Publishers and other media Professionals – in promoting greater visibility for minority Creators and different perspectives, whether you’re creating an anthology, choosing Guests for a Podcast or Panel or searching for new Writers and Artists. Panel sponsored in part by the Chicago Nerd Social Club.

Yellow Fever, Yellow Peril and the Yellow Ranger: Asian Americans in Geek Culture & History: 4:00-5:00; S405A: From otaku Fan culture to the myth of the “model minority,” there’s a rising interest in, enthusiasm for and host of assumptions about Asian Americans in geek culture. How have Asian Americans been represented in popular culture? What effect does this have on Creators and Fans? How does one’s ethnic identity affect the art we create and the way we consume it? Join Asian American Comic Writers, Geek Enthusiasts, Bloggers and Musicians for an interactive discussion on Asian Americans in geek history. Panel sponsored in part by the Chicago Nerd Social Club.

Hip-Hop & Comics: Cultures Combining: 7:15-8:15; S404: Hip-Hop and comics reflect each other in many ways – graffiti and album covers incorporate superheroic imagery, Rappers adopt secret identities and grandiose aliases, Writers base their characters in urban settings and Artists draw on Hip-Hop’s rich visual vocabulary. Here, Patrick A. Reed (of Depth Of Field Magazine and ComicsAlliance) brings together Graphic Artists and musical luminaries to discuss the deep ties between these two creative cultures.

SUNDAY

Coming Out Cosplay – LGBT Community Panel: 1:30-2:30; S405B: Alexa Heart, a transgender cosplay model, will discuss her decision to transition with the support of the cosplay and geek communities. She’ll cover the obstacles she’s faced and how she has used these challenges to help push for equality for everyone in the geek community and beyond.

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Mea Culpa: Let’s Try This Again… http://www.racialicious.com/2015/04/22/mea-culpa-lets-try-this-again/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/04/22/mea-culpa-lets-try-this-again/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 16:00:56 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=39524 by The Racialicious Team Yeah, we know. You can say it– we won’t be insulted: It’s been a pretty quiet few months here at Racialicious. And by ‘quiet’ we really mean dead aside from the occasional burst of entertainment driven genius from our managing editor, Arturo Garcia. Unfortunately (or, fortunately, if you like things like […]

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by The Racialicious Team

Yeah, we know. You can say it– we won’t be insulted: It’s been a pretty quiet few months here at Racialicious. And by ‘quiet’ we really mean dead aside from the occasional burst of entertainment driven genius from our managing editor, Arturo Garcia. Unfortunately (or, fortunately, if you like things like paying rent and somehow living in three major cities) all of us, Latoya, Kendra, and Arturo, have full time day jobs in various fields and didn’t have the time to dedicate to daily posting on The R like we’d had in the past. So while Latoya’s been killing it at Fusion, bringing us things like this mental map with Carl Jones, while Art’s been writing daily at Raw Story, and while Kendra’s been making stupid youtube videos with her college friends, Racialicious has laid dormant.

In an effort to change that –starting with Monday’s post on Netflix’s Daredevil (spoiler alert)– Kendra and Art are happy to welcome Tope Fadiran on board as our new contributing and submissions editor. Tope (@graceishuman) has joined us before for chats on Scandal and protecting white kids from history, and can be found on other corners of the internet like Time.com  or her own blog Are Women Human. Your submissions should still go to team@racialicious.com, but for the most part you’ll now be hearing back from Tope. You’re all in great hands.

You’ll notice that I said ‘your submissions’. First, an apology to those who have been diligently emailing us over the past 2-3 months. As mentioned above, the Racialicious Team has been pretty busy with our daily lives and our response and edit rate has been deplorable. We love our readers and our contributors too much to let this go by without acknowledgement and a huge mea culpa. We’re sorry and we’re going to do better.

With Tope jumping aboard we are happy to announce that we are actively accepting, editing, and posting submissions. Again. You’re going to want to check out our submission guidelines (here) before you hit send, but rest assured you’ll hear back from the team.

We’re looking forward to spending the summer reconnecting with our readers, starting with a trip out to C2E2 in Chicago this weekend with Kendra. A con preview post will be up tomorrow, and we’ll be back on a regular posting schedule starting in May– more details to come! In the meantime, let’s all make Tope feel welcome with a hearty applause and a  flood of incoming submissions.

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A Fridge Grows In Hell’s Kitchen: On Daredevil’s Major Misstep http://www.racialicious.com/2015/04/20/a-fridge-grows-in-hells-kitchen-on-daredevils-major-misstep/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/04/20/a-fridge-grows-in-hells-kitchen-on-daredevils-major-misstep/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:00:47 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=39500 By Arturo R. Garcia Enough time has probably passed that most of us can now consider Marvel’s new Daredevil adaptation in full — both the good and the bad. And make no mistake, the good has been very good at times. In fact, I suggested on the Lawyers, Guns & Money podcast that this show, […]

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By Arturo R. Garcia

Enough time has probably passed that most of us can now consider Marvel’s new Daredevil adaptation in full — both the good and the bad. And make no mistake, the good has been very good at times.

In fact, I suggested on the Lawyers, Guns & Money podcast that this show, along with Orphan Black, The Flash and arguably Arrow, has introduced enough non-mainstream “prestige” shows that calls for a set of separate sci-fi/fantasy Emmys should be taken seriously.

But, like a hurdler tripping and landing chin-first near the finish line, Daredevil’s 12th episode closes on a note that is less “shocking” than it is disappointing. And par for the course with the comics industry in all the wrong ways.

SPOILERS under the cut.

The goal of the final few minutes in “The Ones We Leave Behind” isn’t hard to imagine: as the conflict between Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) intensifies, showing casualties on each side is probably to be expected.

Vondie Curtis-Hall as reporter Ben Urich in “Daredevil.”

But following up the deaths of Fisk’s attendant Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore) and Murdock’s client Elena Cardenas (Judith Delgado) by killing off Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall) is a miscalculation. Worse yet, it’s one that was apparently ordered capriciously.

“I wish I had claimed responsibility for that,” showrunner Steven DeKnight told IGN. “I thought it was a very powerful decision. It was a Marvel idea. When I came in and took over the show from Drew [Goddard], they pitched me the broad strokes of the season. And towards the end of the season it was always written in code: ‘Wilson Fisk sends Ben Urich on vacation.’ I had the same reaction; I go, ‘Wow, killing Ben Urich, such a mainstay of the Marvel Universe.’ And they told me, ‘Yeah, Marvel asked to kill Ben Urich because they wanted to set up the feel that, despite everything you know about the comics that in this world, it’s very much everything goes.’”

The first, more immediate issue with this creative choice is the aftermath. After Urich’s death, this is the most charitable portrait of the show’s core ensemble:

(L-R): Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), Claire (Rosario Dawson), Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson).

We say “charitable” because Rosario Dawson was really more of a guest star. She only appeared in a handful of episodes. Take her out of that picture and you have a New York City-based show in 2015 that is virtually all-white. How unique.

The issue is compounded when the deaths of both Urich and Cardenas are used as fodder for Karen Page’s (Deborah Ann Woll) grief and Murdock and partner Foggy Nelson’s (Elden Henson) resolve. In a way, it’s a backhanded achievement: the show hands viewers a more diverse version of the trope Gail Simone famously dubbed Women In Refrigerators.

Urich’s death is the exclamation point on the show’s lackluster — bordering on misinformed — treatment of journalism as a profession. Put bluntly, the complaints from Urich and his editor about the divide between print and online media seem tone-deaf. Not only would the Bulletin have an online presence in today’s landscape, but stories like Urich’s reporting on the Union Allied corruption scandal would be a selling point. Did someone inform DeKnight and Goddard that there are still Pulitzers for investigative reporting?

Moreover, even listicle-friendly sites like Buzzfeed place investigative reporting at a premium, alongside new political mainstays like Politico, Talking Points Memo, and Think Progress, to name just a few. So a seasoned journalist like Urich wouldn’t absolutely need to start his own blog — a story on Fisk’s dealing would draw attention from the very platform the Bulletin likes to malign. And it takes a lot for any reporter not to be aware of that these days.

This is one instance where it’s unfortunate that DeKnight didn’t push back against the Marvel mandate, because he’s correct in saying that Urich delivers something valuable in Marvel’s cast of characters: a POV figure who is just independent enough from the heroes’ entanglements to not only guide readers/viewers, and credible enough to ask the right questions of anyone from heroes like Daredevil:

… to less-scrupulous media figures like J. Jonah Jameson:

Viewed through this lens, the new Urich could have become the successor to Phil Coulson’s position as the MCU’s top non-powered character. But now we’ll never know, because contrary to DeKnight’s assertion, that’s not “powerful,” it’s perplexing. And if that’s the kind of worth we’re going to see for characters of color not named Luke Cage in Marvel’s slate of Netflix-only series, it’s not going to differentiate it very much from regular television.

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Event + Podcast Spotlight: The Soul Glo Project http://www.racialicious.com/2015/04/16/event-podcast-spotlight-the-soul-glo-project/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/04/16/event-podcast-spotlight-the-soul-glo-project/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 16:00:23 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=39508 By Emily Schorr Lesnick Walk into a comedy club or watch a Comedy Central  special and you might drown in a sea of Whiteness; a sea of White maleness. With Larry Wilmore and Trevor Noah hosting late night shows, the tide is turning, but those two shows stick out as anomalies because of the overwhelming […]

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The-Soul-Glo-Project

By Emily Schorr Lesnick

Walk into a comedy club or watch a Comedy Central  special and you might drown in a sea of Whiteness; a sea of White maleness. With Larry Wilmore and Trevor Noah hosting late night shows, the tide is turning, but those two shows stick out as anomalies because of the overwhelming presence of White faces. While there is certainly diversity within White men, there can also be a lot of similarity.

Six years ago, Keisha Zollar, a New York comedian and actor, set out to create other pools of comedy. She created The Soul Glo Project, a diversity variety show whose title is a nod to the jeri curl product in Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America. “Soul Glo was a show built on diversity that started in the East Village of New York,” says Zollar. “It was often a complaint of many performers who didn’t fit the strict, improv or sketch aesthetic that they wouldn’t get stage time.  The Soul Glo Project was born out of myself, Rob King and Horse Trade Theater wanting to make a more diverse performing community.”

Soul Glo is an inclusive comedy variety show, featuring diversity in the type of acts and the background of performers. “As an immigrant whose first culture is not American, I found some comedy shows and their themes to be alienating,” said NYC-based comedy performer and Soul Glo co-host, Anna Suzuki. “But when I joined the Soul Glo team as a producer, I was immediately embraced as a vital part of the mission; my voice mattered. It’s been a very gratifying experience.”

Soul Glo started in the East Village at Under St. Marks in 2009, moved to the Upright Citizens Brigade in 2011, and is now moving to Silvana in Harlem for a renaissance. “We hope to create an positive, low cost comedy experience to build a sense of community in Harlem,” shares Zollar.

Soul Glo prides itself on its range of performers, from folks getting on stage for the first time to more well-known performers, like Roc Nation’s Cipha Sounds, SNL’s Natasha Rothwell, Mulaney’s Seaton Smith and performers you don’t know (yet) who got on our stage and said “this is my first time doing stand up.” Audience member Johnnie Jackow reflected on the show: “Each performer shared his/her comedic talents that was not only incredibly funny but also so relatable. Its truly amazing to see how a packed house can roar with laughter from each performance. Yes the show highlights diversity in comedy but how our experiences cross color lines I think shows how more alike we are than different.”

The Soul Glo Project also launched a podcast as a forum for longer conversations about diversity and identity in comedy. The podcast, available on iTunes and Soundcloud, has featured comic Hari Kondabolu, Racialicious’ Kendra James, reality TV star Sabrina Vance, creator and actor Jen Bartels from TruTV’s Friends of the People, and The Experiment Comedy’s Mo Fathelbab.

The Soul Glo Project has a free live show coming up on Monday, April 20 at 7PM at Silvana in Harlem, NY. The show, celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, will feature stand-up comic Sheng Wang, spoken word artist Kelly Tsai, J-pop group Azn Pop and have improv led by Catherine Wing and Nicole Lee.

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An Empty Panel: On The Nightly Show’s Diversity In Comics Discussion http://www.racialicious.com/2015/03/23/an-empty-panel-on-the-nightly-shows-diversity-in-comics-discussion/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/03/23/an-empty-panel-on-the-nightly-shows-diversity-in-comics-discussion/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 12:00:31 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=39477 By Arturo R. García You would think that a discussion of comics and diversity on The Nightly Show would be a home run. You would be wrong. We hate to call into question fine sites like Remezcla and The Mary Sue. But after watching the episode twice, it’s hard to imagine what show they were […]

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By Arturo R. García

You would think that a discussion of comics and diversity on The Nightly Show would be a home run.

You would be wrong.

We hate to call into question fine sites like Remezcla and The Mary Sue. But after watching the episode twice, it’s hard to imagine what show they were watching this past Thursday.

Larry Wilmore’s introduction sets the uneven tone for the rest of the episode. While he rightly describes the crux of the discussion — race, gender and pop culture — he refuses to do so without regurgitating the most played-out stereotypes about people with geeky interests, with lines like, “Hey basement dwellers, tell mom she can tuck you in later” and a banner reading Dork Diversity behind him.

On the bright side, panelist and renowned artist Phil Jimenez inadvertently(?) undermines Wilmore’s material during the discussion.

“It seems strange to me that we would partition race, gender and nerd, as if they were distinct things. All human beings are this combination of experiences and ideologies,” Jimenez says. “The idea that somehow being a nerd is separate from one’s religious or moral or political beliefs is strange to me. We all bring everything to our decision-making on a daily basis.”

Wilmore’s Othering of fandom bigots/misogynists hurts the discussion on multiple levels. His insistence on attributing their violence to “fear of change,” for example, minimizes the very real threats and abuse levied against fans who are not cis-white hetero males — like Batgirl fans, most recently, Batgirl fans. As Vox reported, it’s tough to describe offenders as outliers when white people in the U.S. already think race is discussed “too much.”

Marvel Content and Character Development Director Sana Amanat runs with the “fear of change” theory during the discussion.

“They don’t like it when their toys are played with,” she explains. “I don’t. I like my Barbies. I still have them. I’m okay with that … We’re just trying to show that we’re not trying to take away your toys, we’re just trying to show them in a different light.”

While the successes of not only Ms. Marvel, but the new woman Thor are commendable, it must be pointed out: one of the reasons white fans feel entitled to keeping “their toys” intact is because Amanat’s company, along with DC Comics, chose to build their part of the comics industry by making the white toys seem more important.

For decades, white characters, creators and executives have been placed at the forefront of both companies. And when called on it, the company line went something like this:

Without acknowledging that context, corporate comics makers can’t be trusted to lead discussions on race any more than, say, coffee-making conglomerates

To be fair, the episode didn’t seem built to handle this. With roughly 7 minutes of panel time to spread among four guests plus Wilmore, there was no chance to follow up on Jean Grae’s remarks on being introduced to comics by her older brother, emphasis mine:

“I didn’t really get to see anyone who looked like me or represented me,” Grae said. “I’m from South Africa, so everyone was like, ‘Right, right, Storm, Africa,’ which is kind of the reason why I didn’t choose that as my name.”

That’s a great starting point for talking about why that matters to fans of any age and any community. But it gets lost as the show transitions to the “Keep It 100″ segment, which took it easy on the panel, compared to other installments.

At the same time, Wilmore provided the show’s strongest moment early on when he takes down Michelle Rodríguez’s decision to join the Patricia Arquette Corps, as well as her laughable attempt to claim she was taken “out of context” when she said POC should “stop stealing all white peoples’ superheroes.”

“I do see your point,” Wilmore says. “Minorities should come up with original projects, instead of relying on lazy franchises. And by the way, make sure you catch Michelle in the seventh installment of the Fast & Furious franchise, Furious 7.

At a time when race-related panels at conventions can get awfully 101 awfully fast, some of that kind of justifiable bite might have boosted Thursday’s discussion and forced the Big Two to truly Keep It 100 regarding some of their past choices. Let’s hope that, like anything fandom-related, we get a sequel to Thursday’s show that’s closer to Wrath of Khan than Into Darkness.

The panel discussion can be seen in its entirety below.

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The Racialicious Live-Tweet For The 2015 Oscars http://www.racialicious.com/2015/02/23/the-racialicious-live-tweet-for-the-2015-oscars/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/02/23/the-racialicious-live-tweet-for-the-2015-oscars/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33717 If you skipped last night’s ceremony, we certainly don’t blame you. But, Kendra and Arturo were live-snarking throughout the night, and you can catch their recap of the highs and awkward lows under the cut. [View the story “The Racialicious Live-Tweet For The 2015 Oscars” on Storify]

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If you skipped last night’s ceremony, we certainly don’t blame you. But, Kendra and Arturo were live-snarking throughout the night, and you can catch their recap of the highs and awkward lows under the cut.

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In Conversation: Fresh Off The Boat http://www.racialicious.com/2015/02/10/in-conversation-fresh-off-the-boat/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/02/10/in-conversation-fresh-off-the-boat/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 06:15:32 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33709 by Kendra James WNYC was kind enough to invite us here at the R to their screening and talkback of ABC’s new sitcom Fresh Off The Boat, based on Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same name. After screening episodes 3 and 4, Jeff Yang (Wall Street Journal Columnist and father of the show’s star, Hudson Yang) led […]

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by Kendra James

WNYC was kind enough to invite us here at the R to their screening and talkback of ABC’s new sitcom Fresh Off The Boat, based on Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same name. After screening episodes 3 and 4, Jeff Yang (Wall Street Journal Columnist and father of the show’s star, Hudson Yang) led a discussion of the show, its themes, and its importance featuring vlogger Jay Smooth,  rapper Awkwafina, and author Amy Chua.

While I captured snippets of the conversation in our livetweet from The Greene Space last night, it’s worth watching the entire video of the discussion embedded below. With  some of the points made focusing  on the series’ third episode, it may even be beneficial to wait until both episodes air tonight on ABC.  I particularly appreciated the debate centered around (the character) Eddie’s relationship with hip-hop and whether or not it’s yet been fleshed out to make it seem more than shallow. The show’s use of Hip-hop as a seemingly permanent status as a punchline rather than a cultural and social movement to be taken seriously has been for me, in an age of Iggy Azalea, harder to see as humorous instead of appropriative.

The Q&A session prompted great questions (“not diatribes!” Jeff Yang requested) including one about the accents and presence of Mandarin in the show, and a question about the use of slurs during the first episode. For a brief recap before tonight’s episodes air, check out our Storify of the event below.

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The Grammys Have An Awkward Brush With Social Justice http://www.racialicious.com/2015/02/09/the-grammys-have-an-awkward-brush-with-social-justice/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/02/09/the-grammys-have-an-awkward-brush-with-social-justice/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 13:00:44 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33701 By Arturo R. García In the midst of a show that was downright turgid at times, there were glimpses of social relevance during Sunday night’s Grammys. You had Sam Smith openly thank an old boyfriend on national television while celebrating winning four awards. And the award’s outright hypocrisy in honoring abusive cis-males was only exposed […]

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By Arturo R. García

In the midst of a show that was downright turgid at times, there were glimpses of social relevance during Sunday night’s Grammys. You had Sam Smith openly thank an old boyfriend on national television while celebrating winning four awards. And the award’s outright hypocrisy in honoring abusive cis-males was only exposed further with remarks on domestic violence from President Barack Obama and activist Brooke Axtell:

After a year of passionate romance with a handsome, charismatic man, I was stunned when he began to abuse me. I believed he was lashing out because he was in pain, and needed help. I believed my compassion could restore him and our relationship. My empathy was used against me. I was terrified of him and ashamed I was in this position. What bound me to him was my desire to heal him. My compassion was incomplete because it did not include me. When he threatened to kill me, I knew I had to escape. I revealed the truth to my mom and she encouraged me to seek help at a local domestic violence shelter. This conversation saved my life.

And then, of course, you had Prince. With one simple remark — “like books and Black lives, albums still matter” — His Purpleness made explicit a message that Beyoncé and Pharrell attempted to express visually. But while seeing Hands Up Don’t Shoot on the Grammy stage was worth noting, those two moments weren’t without their own problematic undertones.

Pharrell and backup dancers during their performance of “Happy” on Feb. 8, 2015.

One might have missed the gesture being used — by dancers in hoodies, no less — during Pharrell’s reinterpretation of “Happy.” But what several online observers did not miss was his remarks regarding Michael Brown to Ebony magazine last November:

Ebony: Did you see the video allegedly showing Michael Brown stealing from a convenience store minutes before his death?

PW: It looked very bully-ish; that in itself I had a problem with. Not with the kid, but with whatever happened in his life for him to arrive at a place where that behavior is OK. Why aren’t we talking about that?

Ebony: You can almost hear the gnashing of Bill Cosby’s teeth.

PW: And I agree with him. When Cosby said it back then, I understood; I got it. Listen, we have to look at ourselves and take action for ourselves. Cosby can talk that talk because he created Fat Albert, he tried to buy NBC, he portrayed a doctor on “The Cosby Show” and had all of us wearing Coogi sweaters. You’ve got to respect him. I believe that Ferguson officer should be punished and serve time. He used excessive force on a human being who was merely a child. He was a baby, man. The boy was walking in the middle of the street when the police supposedly told him to ‘get the f–k on the sidewalk.’ If you don’t listen to that, after just having pushed a storeowner, you’re asking for trouble. But you’re not asking to be killed. Some of these youth feel hunted and preyed upon, and that’s why that officer needs to be punished.

Beyoncé performs “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” during the Grammy Awards on Feb. 8, 2015.

Meanwhile, Beyoncé followed up on three Grammys of her own — and being slighted in the Album of the Year category — with a performance of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” during the show’s final segment focusing on Ava DuVernay’s Selma. But as Entertainment Tonight reported, she was in that position in place of Ledisi, who did the song for the movie’s soundtrack. Worse yet, Ledisi said she “had no clue” about being snubbed.

“What I will say and what I’m excited about is that I had the pleasure of playing an iconic figure in Selma,” Ledisi said. “The song, ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord,’ it’s been going on forever – starting with the queen Mahalia [Jackson], the queen of soul Aretha Franklin. Then, I was able to portray and sing my version of the song, and now we have Beyonce. Her generation will now know the song, so I’m a part of history.”

Beyoncé’s performance segued into John Legend and Common closing the show with “Glory,” their Oscar-nominated duet from the film. According to Legend, Beyoncé was the one who proposed the segment.

“She wanted to do an intro to our performance and introduce us,” Legend said. “You don’t really say no to Beyoncé if she asks to perform with you.”

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The Stories That Shape Us [Essay] http://www.racialicious.com/2015/02/04/the-stories-that-shape-us-essay/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/02/04/the-stories-that-shape-us-essay/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 15:00:45 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33692 by Guest Contributor THE STORIES THAT SHAPE US The only Nigerian Nobel Prize winner was Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian playwright and poet who was recognised for his contribution to literature in 1986. Clearly, Nigeria is not lacking in literary talent, yet books written by national authors and published by Nigerian publishing houses are shockingly scarce. […]

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by Guest Contributor

THE STORIES THAT SHAPE US

The only Nigerian Nobel Prize winner was Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian playwright and poet who was recognised for his contribution to literature in 1986. Clearly, Nigeria is not lacking in literary talent, yet books written by national authors and published by Nigerian publishing houses are shockingly scarce. The authors are far more likely to be picked up by Western publishing houses before they have a chance to become successful back home.

Such was the story with globally acclaimed authors such as Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Wole Soyinka himself. “The best writing is not about the writer, the best writing is absolutely not about the writer, it’s about us, it’s about the reader,” – Ben Okri, Nigerian poet and novelist. So why must the most relatable stories be road-tested on a western audience before being released for whom they were intended?

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Literature knows no bounds. The range in style and substance varies massively, which means there are countless levels on which a story can appeal to a reader. An individual’s go-to genre might be fantasy or sci-fi, books that give them the chance to escape into a world which is completely alien to their own. However, reading about even the most fantastical of worlds doesn’t measure up to the thrill of reading about the city and even the streets you grew up around. The familiarity and intimacy you feel with the text when the characters are travelling a road you too know so well is entirely different – it’s a melancholic sort of pride like reminiscing about old times with a dear old friend.

During an inspirational talk at the TED conference in 2009, the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talked about how Nigerians (and people of colour in general) struggle to find other ethnic characters that they can identify with.

Ms. Adichie spoke passionately of the literary awakening she experienced when she found her own cultural subtleties in the fiction she was reading. Listening to her compelling account of how this changed her perspective on what literature could be truly brought home the power of connecting on a cultural and geographical level with the stories we read.

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 7.04.27 AM

To gather a more accurate picture of the issue, we interviewed Nigerian readers and the widespread nature of this phenomenon became clearer. In the words of Zainab, 26, a GP: “I don’t really recall any Nigerian literature up until my late teens when I read Chimamanda’s books like ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’, which I found a lot more captivating because I could relate to the story a lot more.”

Zuby, 24, a law student, added that there was “more Western Literature available for young people than Nigerian or, at least, we were more exposed to the Western ones. I particularly remember reading Enid Blyton’s books.” More specifically, 29 year old sound designer Leke talked of the lack of diversity in genres. “I would have liked to read more books from Nigeria but where my interests lay when I was living in Nigeria there was not that type of book being written. In my early
teens I wanted to read about spies and detectives and there were no books about that. I am still not sure if there are [Nigerian] books written for teenage boys with overactive imaginations.”

(RE)PUBLISHING HOUSES

It seems that a large proportion of publishing troubles lie with the Nigerian infrastructure itself. It is difficult to find a publisher when they are so few and far between. It is harder still to be published when the few who do exist have come to expect poor quality and are subsequently reluctant to publish anything unknown. The absence of supply has not caused decreased demand; those who want literature simply find other means of getting it. A comment on a popular forum thread, started by a user desperately looking for a way to get published in Nigeria, reads “You want to know why there are no literary agents and authentic publishers in Nigeria? Check-out this and see the reason for yourself.” Below this comment is a link to a website where one can download ebooks of pirated novels. Piracy is a problem on the rise and it is increasing that much faster thanks to the Internet.

Back in the 1980’s, the economic downturn in Nigeria put an end to the hopes of a thriving, self-sufficient book publishing industry as all the tentatively erected paper and pulp making factories went under almost immediately. This was not a creative famine but a material shortage, which still has an effect on the Nigerian publishing world today. Now, for books to be made in the country all the materials must be imported, which drives the price right up, putting books out of reach for many.

Adewale Maja-Pearce, the Nigerian writer, critic and editor emphasised that “The problem is the affordability of books, and their availability… Publishers just don’t have the infrastructure”. The problems of infrastructure are just as significant as economic factors. The publishing industry is mostly privatised and so there is little or no regulation, which essentially means anyone and their aunty could call themselves publishers. It is not surprising therefore that “most Nigerian writers hanker to be published abroad” said Adewale.

“Unfortunately, we have yet to develop a decent book-reviewing culture in the national papers. People just tend to puff each other’s books.” What it boils down to is authors have no faith in publishers, as they are fully aware their reviews mean nothing, and publishers have no faith in authors, fearing their writing quality is too poor to sell.

CURRENT TRENDS IN LITERATURE

The traditions and the trends of Nigerian literature are, arguably, almost synonymous.

According to Isidore Diala, Professor of African literature at Imo State University in Nigeria, the published novels that are successful today are those that handle the same themes as the classics, namely politics, contesting colonial myths and the struggle for independence – be it as a country, as a woman or simply as a Nigerian citizen. Of course, the occasional fantasy or romance novel gets published, for example The Palm-Wine Drinkard</em> by Amos Tutuola, but these do not receive nearly as much coverage and the memory of their release quickly fades from the minds of potential readers. In all likelihood, the reason for the lack of diversity of genre in Nigerian literature is again down to the publishing system. When a new writer with an unusual story attempts to get published on home soil they will likely be unsuccessful.

Therefore, they approach Western publishers, who will only publish what they believe will appeal to Western readers, and this is where the downfall occurs. Just like Ms. Adichie discussed in the TED conference, the western audience often has a preconception about African culture. Africa is frequently seen as a country of tribal nations, beautiful nature, poverty and violence. We often forget that Africa is a large continent, like Europe, where every country has its unique heritage, language and political structure. The consequence of this is that in the Western world the most successful books by Nigerian authors are the ones that conform to the stereotype, as those that don’t (absurdly) are seen to lack authenticity.

AN AUTHOR’S TALE

The dream of becoming an author in Nigeria can be a difficult one to achieve. To find out exactly what barriers might be expected, we spoke to Ifeoma Okoye, the Award Winning author of Behind the Clouds. When Ifeoma started writing she “didn’t know of any solely indigenous publishers in Nigeria.” To break into the world of writing, Ifeoma entered a writing competition set up by Macmillan and won. The prize was to be published.

Following this success, she published several children books with Tana Press, a Nigeria based publishing house. “Tana Press approached me personally and asked me to write some children’s books for them and I did.” Ifeoma’s past success carried her forward, so she never had the choice of whether to publish in Nigeria or the West. In line with the common view, Ifeoma does not recall reading any Nigerian literature before her teenage years and also reported the infrastructure to be lacking. “There is, to my knowledge, no bookshop in the country that has a branch in all the state capitals and in other important towns. The postal services are slow and unreliable. Distribution of books by public transport is slow and costly.” Add to this as well that access to the internet is not a widespread luxury and the explanation for the lack of book sales becomes painfully clear.

The poor infrastructure also partially accounts for the limited number of books that are published; there simply isn’t space on the few existing bookshelves to accommodate them.

On the subject of Nigerians interest in reading, Ifeoma’s view is that Nigerians don’t often read for fun. “Most read only to pass examinations [and this means that] publishers here publish more textbooks or what I choose to call ‘compulsory reading’ than they publish books that we read for pleasure.”

For her most recent novel, The Fourth World, Ifeoma chose to self-publish, but only after contacting several literary agents and publishers in the West and remaining unsatisfied with what they could offer.

IT’S NOT ALL DOOM AND GLOOM

Whilst the outlook may seem bleak for Nigerian literature from some of the quotes and issues discussed above, light is breaking over a new trend that continues the grand tradition of storytelling in Nigeria: Nollywood. This is the name that Nigerian cinema has been dubbed with and, as of 2013, it is the third most valuable film industry in the world, behind only India and the US.

For Nigerians, the authentic representation that they yearn for in literature is abundantly present in the films produced in Nollywood. Therefore, although books and the stories they tell are an integral part of culture that should not ever be lost, perhaps physical books are simply not a practical solution for a country with an infrastructure like Nigeria’s.

However, storytelling is a robust tradition that won’t and should never die out. Storytelling is an inherent part of being human and therefore, just like humans, it is capable of standing up to times of great change and is adaptable to any situation. Stories will always find a way to be told, whether that be through oral traditions, literature or film.

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Endangered by the Moving Image: The Criminalization of Black and Brown Bodies [Panel] http://www.racialicious.com/2015/01/29/endangered-by-the-moving-image-the-criminalization-of-black-and-brown-bodies-panel/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/01/29/endangered-by-the-moving-image-the-criminalization-of-black-and-brown-bodies-panel/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:00:20 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33684 This looks amazing, happening in NYC on February 1st at the Museum of the Moving Image: Do ​media depictions of African Americans influence the way they are treated by the police, the criminal justice system, and by society at large? In the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in […]

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Endangered_Moving_Image_20150201 (2)

This looks amazing, happening in NYC on February 1st at the Museum of the Moving Image:

Do ​media depictions of African Americans influence the way they are treated by the police, the criminal justice system, and by society at large? In the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island, protests have once again raised questions about the criminalization of the black image on screen. This program will bring together a group of leading African-American cultural commentators to look at the history of how African Americans are represented in film and television, beginning with D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation.

Panelists include:

William Jelani Cobb, author of The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress, is the director of the Africana Studies Institute, University of Connecticut, and a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and commentator for National Public Radio.

Mia Mask, film professor at Vassar College, is the co-editor of the recent books Poitier Revisited: Reconsidering a Black Icon in the Obama Age, and Black American Cinema Reconsidered. She is the author of Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film.

Greg Tate is a writer, musician, and producer whose writing has focused on African-American music and culture. He was a long-time staff writer for The Village Voice and his books include Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America and Everything but the Burden.

Tickets: $12 ($9 for senior citizens and students / free for members at the Film Lover level and above). Order tickets online.

More information here.

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Denying Racism in Cape Town Is About Lack of Empathy http://www.racialicious.com/2015/01/20/denying-racism-in-cape-town-is-about-lack-of-empathy/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/01/20/denying-racism-in-cape-town-is-about-lack-of-empathy/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 15:00:20 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33676 by Guest Contributor Luso Mnthali, originally published at AfriPop I was on radio the other day, trying to explain to Shado Twala, well-known radio and television personality here in South Africa, how racism personally affects me. I had this great chance to finally tell a wider audience what it feels like to live in a […]

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by Guest Contributor Luso Mnthali, originally published at AfriPop

I was on radio the other day, trying to explain to Shado Twala, well-known radio and television personality here in South Africa, how racism personally affects me. I had this great chance to finally tell a wider audience what it feels like to live in a city that denies you so much because you’re black. But I focused too much on how I’d been getting hostile looks from strangers, and being shoved and bumped into a couple of times while walking in my predominantly white neighbourhood.

I felt like I blew it.

Gone was the experience I had on my first date with the man who would later become my boyfriend. It was here in Cape Town, years ago, when another white man lunged at me and spat out some ugly racist words at me. I won’t say publicly what they are, not now anyway. Because he wasn’t aware of it at the time, I only told my man this had happened years later. It’s not something I want to remember, or talk about, but it’s been on my mind a lot lately. Possibly because there have been so many incidents of racism in the Cape in recent months. And it’s happened not only when the tourists flood in during the month we all lovingly call Dezemba. Even though, during my conversation with uMam’Shado, we were slightly glib about how the tourists from other provinces annually bring with them a spate of complaints about the ‘Mother City’ as it is known to some. My black South African friends have asked: “Mother to whom, this city? Who does it mother and who is the mother?”

So I felt that, during that conversation, gone were the experiences of friends trying to rent apartments, but being disappointed because of race-based selection or denial. Of friends leaving their jobs and packing up to go back to Joburg after a year or two. Gone were the stories of how even academia works to keep black people out. Gone were the myriad instances of microagression and hostility in a place that renders you both visible and invisible. You’re visible when you’ve clearly transgressed – how dare you walk around with a white man who clearly adores you? What are you doing with him? Or, as some women from a white-owned mainly white-staffed media house asked my friend about me – “How did she get a white guy?”

You’re invisible when you are the street cleaner, or the domestic worker who has now changed out of her servant’s uniform and is chatting with other domestic workers on the bus or in the cramped taxi for the long trip heading home. Or when you’re the black nanny meeting up with other black nannies as you push the strollers and prams of your white charges up the hill, so you can take them to the park with the water feature and guinea fowl running around in the mountain neighbourhood. Your own children, where do they play?

When you’ve been explaining what it is that ails you, what really troubles you about a place, for years and years, it gets hard to do so in a radio interview. It’s what you’ve been talking about for so long that you almost don’t know how to put into words so that they get it. And finally people are listening and seem to understand what’s been going on. It’s in all the papers for heavens sake, you’re not making things up. Finally people believe you. Or do they?

With all the gaslighting that goes on, that sense that the abuse you thought was real all along actually isn’t, because someone can make you doubt it – the real toll it can take has yet to be thoroughly examined. And it is not easy to talk about. So I need people to understand this – the racism we experience in Cape Town as black people is real. We are not making it up. So stop gaslighting us. Stop denying that these experiences happen. Stop placing doubt on our experiences every time an incident occurs. The solution to racism is simple – stop being racist.

As a black woman, an immigrant from Malawi, I have faced countless challenges. One that stands clearly in my mind is when after being told it was ready and had my new permit in it, the man behind the desk at Home Affairs wouldn’t give it to me. I had to have my tall blond German-accented boyfriend stride in and demand my passport back from the person because that person swore at me (yes, swore at me. the F word was used by a male government official dealing with a woman who merely wanted her passport back.)

I was so ashamed. To be black in a country that respects white people’s authority over the actual black owner of a passport. To have had to call on my white boyfriend to help me in that instance. I was ashamed, saddened, disgusted and scared that I would have to live in a place that would constantly ask me to go through such humiliations. And it did. Many times over, in many other ways. We won’t talk about the bullying in the workplace, the being followed around a shop, meanwhile the white person this black security guard has left alone is beeping at the shop entrance. We won’t talk about the things people say as I walk past them, holding hands with a white man. Not just ugly looks sometimes, but also ugly comments. We won’t talk about the concert at Kirstenbosch Gardens where a white gay couple seated in front of us on the lawn, instead of facing the stage, stared back at us directly for five long minutes until we started talking about them: “look at these guys, so lacking inner beauty they must just stare at us” “these people have everything, yet they won’t share a simple lawn with black people” (ja, neh. they ended up turning around, defeated, and we enjoyed the concert without further incident) (but still, hey)

We won’t talk about the many instances of racism and the microaggressions which I have had to scream about alone at home, or rant about on Twitter, or also hear of from friends. And sometimes see those friends leave, go back to Joburg after a couple of years, in sadness and disgust over a place that is so unwelcoming. Where even the Premier can call black people refugees. We won’t talk about it because it is as droplets of water are in an ocean we see every day here in Koloni, the other name for Cape Town.

So here I was on radio being asked to have a larger conversation about the things I and many others experience in this city. As black people we are constantly asked for proof of this racism we talk about. To be asked for proof assumes that I don’t know my own mind, or that this thing isn’t in the news constantly, not just in December. It assumes that there must automatically be a distrust of the message and the messenger. To be honest I’ve talked enough. Many have also talked. And some keep talking in very nuanced, intelligent ways. They are better at explaining what ails us all than I am. There are also those that have enough empathy or self-reflection to say that things must change, and that the responsibility lies with them. Some can surprise you. But isn’t that the whole point of this exercise? To not throw people away as hopelessly mired in a system of thought, in a greedy and odious, rejecting and exclusive, backward mindset that results in treating other humans as lesser beings.

We as black people everywhere, and as media practitioners, keep writing about our condition. But I always wonder who is listening. Some are playing to the gallery, but some are seriously trying to make a difference with their cerebral, well-researched and considerably more erudite arguments. We talk of racism as a global phenomenon, we see people are being killed in the US, denied jobs and opportunities there, denied the right to live in dignity, to own the spaces they simply walk in – simply because, they are told, that by virtue of being black, they don’t belong. In the US the young people in the movement are trying to figure out new tools with which to dismantle the hold of racism there, but in the local context we have not tried to use new tools with which to dismantle it.

When we get emotional it feeds into an outrage loop, losing impact. It is as though we’re supposed to be unemotional, clinical, scientific and data-driven even about something that affects us not only psychologically, but economically, physically and emotionally. It affects where we live, how we live and love, and who we are as human beings. I realise that those racism denialists care not a jot about this, so they ask for proof and data, clinically and coldly, as though they themselves are involved in great scientific analyses of their own lives, especially as lay persons. Their experiences are said to be valid just because they breathe, or say they feel pain. We are there, black women and men in Cape Town, and until someone dons blackface to caricature us, urinates on us, klaps us or beats, or pangas us or denies us a seat at a table in a restaurant somewhere, and the media picks it up, we apparently have not actually experienced what we are experiencing. It is the most frustrating thing to be told you are not in pain, or you have not been affected, or are being tormented by something, when in reality you are. This is called gaslighting, and it is a tool of oppressors the world over. When we are told the city doesn’t have a race problem, this is gaslighting – denying racism and denying the pain that this causes the people who live in this city. Because it’s not only black people who feel this pain, it’s white people also who know that there is a problem here, and who are in solidarity and who also do not want to be accused or also seen to be in league with the racists. All this racism, yet there are no racists? How is that possible?

And that is the heart of the matter. We have a general lack of sympathy for others, and more importantly a lack of empathy, in this country. However, in Cape Town there’s an acute case of this ailment. An admission that these things occur, and at too frequent a rate and too high a volume, shows empathy. Not guilt – empathy.

The conversation we should continue to have is one that includes those who exclude us. One that says the people who are the problem have to be part of the solution. Black people may not have entirely forgiven, and nor will they ever forget and shouldn’t ever be asked to forget. That is also a problem in this country – white people telling black people to forget what was clearly a crime against humanity. This certainly makes it seem that enough white people have little empathy for those who do not look like them. They need to do better. Can we have that discussion about greater empathy, not only of whites for blacks, but of all of us for all of us?

About Luso Mnthali: Born in Malawi, grew up in Gaborone, Botswana. Called the US home for a decade, currently live in Cape Town, South Africa. Books and travel, arts and culture addict.

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Reddit AMA: James Mickens on Being Black and STEM http://www.racialicious.com/2015/01/19/reddit-ama-james-mickens-on-being-black-and-stem/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/01/19/reddit-ama-james-mickens-on-being-black-and-stem/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 17:00:17 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33680 Enjoying MLK Day? Please join us over at Reddit at 2 PM ET where we will talk to James Mickens: On MLK Day (1/19) at 2 p.m. computer scientist James Mickens will be doing a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA), where he’ll field questions about his work, how he got into STEMs, and what it’s […]

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Enjoying MLK Day? Please join us over at Reddit at 2 PM ET where we will talk to James Mickens:

On MLK Day (1/19) at 2 p.m. computer scientist James Mickens will be doing a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA), where he’ll field questions about his work, how he got into STEMs, and what it’s like to be a person of color in computer science.

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Are You Ready for #TheTalk? http://www.racialicious.com/2015/01/19/are-you-ready-for-thetalk/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/01/19/are-you-ready-for-thetalk/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33671 MTV’s Look Different campaign is doing a full multiscreen take over for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, According to a 2014 MTV study*, 73% of Millennials believe having more open constructive conversations about bias would help people become less prejudiced. “Millennials believe strongly in fairness, but they can also find it difficult to talk openly […]

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MTV’s Look Different campaign is doing a full multiscreen take over for Martin Luther King Jr. Day,

According to a 2014 MTV study*, 73% of Millennials believe having more open constructive conversations about bias would help people become less prejudiced.

“Millennials believe strongly in fairness, but they can also find it difficult to talk openly about race – to be not simply ‘color blind’ but ‘color brave,’ said Stephen Friedman, President of MTV. “Our audience is looking for a way to bring the national conversation on race into their homes and this campaign will give them a forum to express true color bravery.”

#TheTalk will begin at 9:00 a.m. ET/PT on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day when MTV will kick off a 12-hour period in which all programming will air in black and white for the first time in the network’s history. Every commercial block will begin with personal reflections on race from luminaries including Kendrick Lamar, Common, Big Sean, Ava DuVernay, David Oyelowo, Penn Badgley, Jordin Sparks, Pete Wentz, Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. John Lewis, Sen. Cory Booker and more.

One of the ideas they referenced, “color brave,” is from Melody Hobson’s TED Talk:

Read MTV’s study on Millennials and Bias here.

Share your experiences with #TheTalk here.

(Easter Egg: I’m in the “activist” video on the site.)

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Dr. King on Optimism, Pessimism, and Race Relations http://www.racialicious.com/2015/01/19/dr-king-on-optimism-pessimism-and-race-relations/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/01/19/dr-king-on-optimism-pessimism-and-race-relations/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 12:01:02 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33665 “There are three basic attitudes that one can take toward the question of progress in the area of race relations. And the first attitude that can be taken is that of extreme optimism. Now the extreme optimist would argue that we have come a long, long way in the area of race relations. He would […]

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“There are three basic attitudes that one can take toward the question of progress in the area of race relations. And the first attitude that can be taken is that of extreme optimism. Now the extreme optimist would argue that we have come a long, long way in the area of race relations. He would point proudly to the marvelous strides that have been made in the area of civil rights over the last few decades. From this he would conclude that the problem is just about solved, and that we can sit comfortably by the wayside and wait on the coming of the inevitable.

The second attitude that one can take toward the question of progress in the area of race relations is that of extreme pessimism. The extreme pessimist would argue that we have made only minor strides in the area of race relations. He would argue that the rhythmic beat of the deep rumblings of discontent that we hear from the Southland today is indicative of the fact that we have created more problems than we have solved. He would say that we are retrogressing instead of progressing. He might even turn to the realms of an orthodox theology and argue that hovering over every man is the tragic taint of original sin and that at bottom human nature cannot be changed. He might even turn to the realms of modern psychology and seek to show the determinative effects of habit structures and the inflexibility of certain attitudes that once become molded in one’s being.

From all of this he would conclude that there can be no progress in the area of race relations.

Now you will notice that the extreme optimist and the extreme pessimist have at least one thing in common: they both agree that we must sit down and do nothing in the area of race relations. The extreme optimist says do nothing because integration is inevitable. The extreme pessimist says do nothing because integration is impossible. But there is a third position, there is another attitude that can be taken, and it is what I would like to call the realistic position. The realist in the area of race relations seeks to reconcile the truths of two opposites while avoiding the extremes of both.

So the realist would agree with the optimist that we have come a long, long way. But, he would go on to balance that by agreeing with the pessimist that we have a long, long way to go. And it is this basic theme that I would like to set forth this evening. We have come a long, long way but we have a long, long way to go.”

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “A Realistic Look at the Question of Progress in the Area of Race Relations,” delivered April 10, 1957 in St. Louis, MO

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Did Paramount Cost Selma The Golden Globes? http://www.racialicious.com/2015/01/12/did-paramount-cost-selma-the-golden-globes/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/01/12/did-paramount-cost-selma-the-golden-globes/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33660 By Arturo R. García How to describe the reaction to Boyhood winning the Best Picture (Drama) award over Selma at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards? Let Lance Reddick sum it up: And it’s hard to argue. At a time when Ava DuVernay’s look at the Civil Rights Movement is resonating almost eerily with the atmosphere surrounding […]

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By Arturo R. García

How to describe the reaction to Boyhood winning the Best Picture (Drama) award over Selma at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards? Let Lance Reddick sum it up:

And it’s hard to argue. At a time when Ava DuVernay’s look at the Civil Rights Movement is resonating almost eerily with the atmosphere surrounding social justice fights today, it lost out to a Coming-Of-Age Story. David Oyelowo, who led the film’s ensemble cast as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., lost the Best Actor (Drama) award to Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Professor Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything.

So in the aftermath of the show, when people were wondering how Selma could have been shut out of the major awards, it was interesting to get this nugget from Vox culture editor Todd VanDerWerff:

VanDerWerff followed it up by saying this was a rumor. But just the thought is mind-boggling: If the theory holds up, Paramount Pictures basically punted on its own potential Golden Globes contender for the sake of taking a shot at the Oscars.

So now, when the movie is getting raked over the coals for being “historically inaccurate” — because James Cameron’s Titanic and Ridley Scott’s Gladiator were documentaries, don’t you know — it’s already losing ground in the Academy Awards horse race to Boyhood.

The lone bright spot for the film on Sunday was Common and John Legend’s win in the Best Original Song category for their collaboration on “Glory.” The victory was capped off by one of the best acceptance speeches of the evening.

“As I got to know the people of the Civil Rights Movement, I realized I am the hopeful black woman who was denied her right to vote,” Common said. “I am the caring white supporter killed on the front lines of freedom. I am the unarmed black kid who maybe needed a hand, but instead was given a bullet. I am the two fallen police officers murdered in the line of duty. Selma has awakened my humanity.”

The speech, as posted online, can be seen below.

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Cultural Petiton: Help Save The Renny http://www.racialicious.com/2015/01/05/cultural-petiton-help-save-the-renny/ http://www.racialicious.com/2015/01/05/cultural-petiton-help-save-the-renny/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 16:30:32 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33652 Gentrification continues to seem inevitable in city like New York were real estate . At only four years of residency, I’m still a recent transplant to Harlem and, with the numerous Oberlin grads I’ve talked into following me to the area, technically part of the gentrification problem.  I struggle with what that means, knowing that […]

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Gentrification continues to seem inevitable in city like New York were real estate . At only four years of residency, I’m still a recent transplant to Harlem and, with the numerous Oberlin grads I’ve talked into following me to the area, technically part of the gentrification problem.  I struggle with what that means, knowing that change can be good, but that in Harlem it’s often coming at a cost.

This time change wants to destroy one of my favourite buildings. The dilapidated Harlem Renaissance Ballroom, also known as ‘The Renny’, should have been preserved years ago. Completed in 1922, the building hosted everyone from Duke Ellington to Zora Neal Hurston to Cab Calloway. The Times gives further details:

Owned by William H. Roach, the Renaissance was a leading hot spot in Harlem and the city. Known as the Renny, it hosted Joe Louis fights. Big bands led by Cab Calloway, Count Basie and Duke Ellington performed on its stage. The Renaissance was also the home court, at a time when blacks were barred from the National Basketball Association, for the Black Fivesbasketball team known as the Harlem Rens, regarded as one of the best of its time. The adjacent 900-seat theater featured movies by Oscar Micheaux, the first African-American to produce a feature-length film. The casino was used for a 1923 anti-lynching meeting held by the N.A.A.C.P.  In 1953, David N. Dinkins, who went on to become the city’s first black mayor, and his bride held their wedding reception there. 

A rendering of the replacement complex via Curbed

Like the former Savoy Ballroom (just over and up a few blocks),  the ballroom is scheduled to be razed and replaced by an apartment complex that, as far as the renderings show, retain nothing of the original structure, historical or cultural value.

A campaign to save the ballroom has been started with a petition here that I’m encouraging anyone who gives a damn about cultural preservation to go ahead and sign. Pictures below will show that the building needs a lot of work, but it’s also so easy to imagine what it once was and what it could be again with even half the care I’m sure they’d put into the apartment complex that’s currently meant to replace it. Such an important building should never have been allowed to get to this condition in the first place.

The ballroom from behind, where it’s often used as a parking lot for church on Sundays

What’s left of one of two chandeliers hanging on the second floor

The full ballroom

The main stage with a scale comparison for size.

The Renny needs a lot of work put into preservation, but you can definitely see what it once was.

 

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Video: Jay Smooth On The Importance Of Protesting Against Police Violence http://www.racialicious.com/2014/12/26/video-jay-smooth-on-the-importance-of-protesting-against-police-violence/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/12/26/video-jay-smooth-on-the-importance-of-protesting-against-police-violence/#comments Fri, 26 Dec 2014 14:00:24 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33640 The holiday season began on a distressing note late Tuesday night, when a police officer in Berkeley, Missouri — two miles from Ferguson — shot and killed 18-year-old Antonio Martin at a local gas station. Authorities have released security camera footage they say justifies the shooting. They say the footage shows Martin pointing a gun […]

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The holiday season began on a distressing note late Tuesday night, when a police officer in Berkeley, Missouri — two miles from Ferguson — shot and killed 18-year-old Antonio Martin at a local gas station.

Authorities have released security camera footage they say justifies the shooting. They say the footage shows Martin pointing a gun at the officer. But the footage is grainy and only barely shows Martin, and was immediately questioned by residents and critics. Not only was there a demonstration within hours of Martin’s death, but protesters took to the city’s streets and a nearby interstate the following evening.

Martin’s death came not long after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged demonstrators in his city to postpone further actions in the wake of the fatal shootings of two NYPD officers, Wenjian Liu, Rafael Ramos. Their attacker, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, ambushed the two officers in their patrol car after coming to the city from Baltimore, where he shot his ex-girlfriend, Shaneka Thompson.

As Jay Smooth explains in this episode of The Illipsis for Fusion, while there are police doing good work in their communities, the choice by people representing them to adopt “wartime” rhetoric has only exacerbated tensions between them and the people they are supposed to protect and serve.

“People are not angry at police because of these protests,” he says. “People have been angry at the police for decades because the system is broken, and these protests represent people trying, once and for all, to change that system so they don’t have to be so angry all the time.”

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Assimilation Aesthetic http://www.racialicious.com/2014/12/23/assimilation-aesthetic/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/12/23/assimilation-aesthetic/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33637 By Guest Contributor Ruth Hopkins, cross-posted from Last Real Indians … And Native appropriation continues to evolve in ever more bizarre ‘fashion.’ Apparently putting scantily clad white women in warbonnets is losing its shock value, because designers are moving into a new phase of cultural assassination, in hopes of making genocide doubly lucrative. Imagine my […]

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By Guest Contributor Ruth Hopkins, cross-posted from Last Real Indians

… And Native appropriation continues to evolve in ever more bizarre ‘fashion.’

Apparently putting scantily clad white women in warbonnets is losing its shock value, because designers are moving into a new phase of cultural assassination, in hopes of making genocide doubly lucrative.

Imagine my horror this morning, upon discovering Ralph Lauren’s latest venture. Let’s call it Assimiliation Era Chic.

Old portraits of Native men from the Allotment and Assimilation Era (1887–1943) are displayed like cover models among Ralph Lauren’s latest line for the 2014 Holiday season. I did a double take for an instant, because one of the men pictured looked like my ancestor.

Mr. Lauren, you can’t hide behind words like ‘vintage inspired’ and ‘rustic’ anymore. It’s plain to see that you’re right back in your comfort zone; the one where Natives are oppressed, voiceless, and extinct, to be used at your leisure to feed the beast that is pop culture consumerism and line your silken pockets.

You see, Ralph Lauren is a repeat offender. He’s been unapologetically making bank off American Indians for years. Just last Spring, we collectively cringed at Ralph Lauren shirts brandishing skulls bedecked in warbonnets, and lest we forget, old Ralphy welcomed Oprah herself into his tipi festooned RL Ranch back in 2012. He seeks to champion classic Americana. Fine. So be it. But, there’s one problem. We aren’t your token Indians.

Stop trying to put a price tag on our heritage and sell us, and make a mockery of the genocide our Native ancestors suffered at the hands of your forefathers, by forcing them to represent you just to boost holiday sales.

Mr. Lauren, these stylish Native men in your pictures are not your employees, nor your slaves. They lived. They have names. They come from a proud lineage of Native peoples older than America. Each warrior pictured is someone’s grandfather, and I guarantee they suffered mightily just to survive the genocidal holocaust European invaders inflicted upon them. Why do they look so stoic? They were brave Native warriors who witnessed the massacre of innocents, had their lands stolen from them, and faced an uncertain future after the Federal government broke every treaty they ever made with Native nations in this country. They were fighting for the survival of our kind.

What many people alive today fail to realize is Natives of the Assimilation Era wore western clothes because they were forced to do so. We were hunted by cavalry soldiers and made to give up our freedom and live on reservations. Our culture and language was ripped from us. Our ceremonies and religious practices were declared illegal. My own father and uncles, who were torn from their mother’s embrace and put in boarding school, were mercilessly beaten for speaking their Native tongue. They didn’t want to wear itchy woolen vests and tight narrow shoes made for white children. They had no choice. The fashion Ralph Lauren glorifies arose from oppression.

This is perhaps the worst kind of Native appropriation, where Native imagery and the seasons and cycles of assimilation and erasure are being used out of greed and avarice. A hard working Native from the Reservation couldn’t afford this clothing, yet Ralph Lauren exploits his ancestor’s memory to realize a profit that same Native, and his progeny, will never see.

Ralph Lauren’s romanticized genocide aids no one but himself and the purveyors of manifest destiny. His colonial wet dream harms Natives by dehumanizing us and once again, those in the fashion industry are attempting to appropriate Native culture while leaving Native people completely out of the equation. Native people have the right to show the world who we are. No one speaks for us but ourselves. There are Natives who are fashion designers. Why not work with them? Unlike the ‘Pawnee jacket’ in your collection, there are actual Pawnee alive today who make goods and provide services. Lastly, Ralph Lauren, if you love Natives so much, why not donate a portion of your profits to help Native peoples, many of whom live in abject poverty?

Such behavior is the very epitome of white privilege. Ralph Lauren is not committing an act of ignorance. This is willful exploitation of Native culture and heritage. One also questions whether Ralph Lauren is being intentionally offensive, to garner more attention. If so, this is racist and also exploits Native heritage.

Tell Ralph Lauren how you feel. Tweet him at @ralphlauren, or leave a comment here.

You can also call 1-800-377-7656 or 212-318-7000 and let them know how you feel.

Enough is enough, serial appropriator Ralph Lauren.

There is one thing we can agree on. Our Native ancestors were pretty damn cool.

#BoycottRalphLauren

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What I Learned About Tech and Business from Tyler Perry http://www.racialicious.com/2014/12/22/what-i-learned-about-tech-and-business-from-tyler-perry/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/12/22/what-i-learned-about-tech-and-business-from-tyler-perry/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33618 by Guest Contributor Jon Gosier, originally published at Gosier.org When I tell people I used to work for Tyler Perry there are overwhelmingly two reactions. The first is the number of people around the world who haven’t ever heard of him or his work. The second reaction is laughter or condescension: “The guy who dresses […]

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by Guest Contributor Jon Gosier, originally published at Gosier.org

When I tell people I used to work for Tyler Perry there are overwhelmingly two reactions. The first is the number of people around the world who haven’t ever heard of him or his work. The second reaction is laughter or condescension:

“The guy who dresses like a woman?”

“The guy who makes those black films?”

“The guy who puts his name in the title of all his films?”

Yes. That guy.

Regardless of whether or not you think he’s a creative genius, he is a genius of a different type and a lot smarter than people seem to give him credit for, especially when it comes to business.

First, some background. I only worked for Tyler Perry Studios briefly from 2006 to 2007. It was just after he had closed a deal for $200 million dollars to build his studio in Atlanta and produce his first set of TV Shows, HOUSE OF PAYNE and MEET THE BROWNS, for TBS. I was a Sound Designer and Audio Engineer at the time and not involved in any business dealings so nothing I’m saying here is confidential. In fact, much of what I write here can be discovered through a few searches on Google, Wikipedia or Variety.com.

In any case, through following Perry over the years and reflecting on my own observations at his studio, I learned a lot that I later used to find success in the tech industry. What are some of these lessons?

1- He Knows the Business He’s In

The secret to Tyler Perry’s success is really in that second group of people I mentioned. The smug people who underestimate him.

The first lesson I learned is, rarely are successful people in the business of the things their critics think they are.

People think Tyler Perry is in the business of pleasing the public or critics. He’s not. He’s not even in the business of speaking to his ‘niche’ audience. No, Tyler Perry is in the business of making movies that earn returns for his financiers. Yes, he speaks to an audience he understands but he’s always been smart enough to focus on what matters most which is the bottom-line.

But what makes him stand out, is that people at every level are always underestimating his ability to do one thing because of their opinion about how poorly they feel he does another. In this case, because they don’t get or simply don’t like his films, they often assume they will flop. When they don’t, not only has he succeeded, but he’s surpassed expectations that were probably unfairly low to begin with. He knows this and uses it to his advantage.

2 – He’s Bankable

At Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses they use the term ‘bankable’ to describe people and companies who are attractive to investors. In other words, people who prove they will use money wisely and therefore attract more money.

There is a saying that goes, “A good engineer is someone who can do for $1 what any idiot can do for $2”. In this regard, Tyler Perry is a good engineer.

His first film DIARY OF MAD BLACK WOMAN woman only cost $5.5 million dollars to make. It went on to gross over $50 million.

Many of the methodologies Steve Blank described in ‘The Lean Startup”, I watched Perry apply to his work in TV and Film. Prior to having the money to actually produce feature films, he just set up a camera and FILMED THE PLAYS ON STAGE!! Frugal innovation that would make even Navi Radjou proud. It was the sale of those homegrown DVDs and related merchandise and tickets that originally gave him his first big financial successes. This also proved he had an audience that was hungry and unspoken to.

It was these numbers that convinced Lionsgate to back him for his first few films. It was the success of those films that lead TBS to back him for TV syndication deal for his first two TV Shows, which lead his deal with Oprah’s OWN network and so on.

He essentially sold his first TV Show, HOUSE OF PAYNE, into syndication before he produced a single episode. This was smart for many reasons. First, it gave him the money up front to produce the show, which would go on to build his brand over the next five years. Second, because his deal with Lionsgate also underwrote his studio, this asset dramatically cut costs on producing the TV show (and all his subsequent TV shows and movies). Third, because TBS put the money up for a syndicated show, we ended up shooting and editing the entire series (which ended up being 7 seasons long) in just over a year. One year!

Why? Because the longer you shot a show, the more costs you have. Staff, insurance, on screen talent, if it took 7 years to produce the show, you’d have to pay for all of those for 7 years. By doing it all in barely over one year, that’s essentially 1/7th the cost for the same amount of money. That money he reinvested into producing other content which at that point could be sold for all profit.

The fourth amazing thing about that deal was the fact that he completely de-risked the entire process of launching a successful TV show in the first place.

Syndication means that a TV show will go on to air and ideally generate profit for the TV Network that purchased it for years. Usually syndication deals only work with popular, proven shows that have amassed huge followings when they originally aired. Shows like BIG BANG THEORY, SEINFELD, and CHEERS. Rather than run the risk of HOUSE OF PAYNE airing and not being that successful, by selling it directly into syndication he ensured that, regardless, his product was sold. It’s a bit like starting a business with a guaranteed exit.

There are a lot of people who try to argue away Tyler Perry’s success because of they don’t like his creative choices. But they fail to realize that there are plenty of people who have talent who don’t survive in business. Talent isn’t always bankable, generating profit is.

3 – He’s Consistent

More than the fact that he knows how to operate leanly and still generate profit, the reason why investors continue to back his projects is the fact that he’s so amazingly consistent. He has NEVER lost money on a film. Not a single one. In fact, almost all of his films made all their money back on the first weekend, Which is crazy given that in Hollywood’s eyes he’s still relatively ‘new’ (he’s only been directing for around 12 years). This is in comparison to an industry full of big name directors who have lost tons of money on various projects.

Here is a list of the movies Tyler Perry has made throughout his career and their box respective office earnings (and cost where I could find it):

Title / Budget / Opening Weekend / Total Earnings (in millions)

MADEA GOES TO JAIL Unknown/$41M/$90.4M
MADEA’S WITNESS PROTECTION $20M/$25.3M/$65.6M
MADEA’S FAMILY REUNION $6M/$30M/$63.3M
WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO? $20M/$29.2M/$60M
WHY DID I GET MARRIED? $15M/$21.3M/$55.1M
MADEA’S BIG HAPPY FAMILY $25M/$25M/$53.3M
A MADEA CHRISTMAS Unknown/$16M/$52M
TEMPTATION Unknown/$21.6M/$51.9M
I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF $13M/$23.4M/$51.6M
DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN $5.5M/$21.9M/$50.3M
MEET THE BROWNS Unknown/$20M/$41.9M
FOR COLORED GIRLS Unknown/$19.4M/$37.7M
THE FAMILY THAT PREYS Unknown/$17.3M/$37M
GOOD DEEDS Unknown/$15.5M/$35M
DADDY’S LITTLE GIRLS $10M/$13M/$31.3M
THE SINGLE MOM’S CLUB Unknown/$8M/$15.9M

This data is gathered from the IMDB page on Perry.

My initial reaction is holy cow, MADEA GOES TO JAIL made $90 million dollars! Combined his movies have made $792.3 million dollars. That’s just theatrical releases and doesn’t include merchandise, DVDs and Blueray, his TV and licensing deals etc. No wonder he keeps making Madea movies!

Beyond that, if he were an entrepreneur or a venture capitalist Perry’s track record would be the equivalent of a like 9.3 of 10. (This assumes THE SINGLE MOM’S CLUB may have lost money since it was a theatrical release with big talent but relatively low earnings. The rest almost certainly did not lose money based on what they ultimately earned.)

It’s actually stupid to bet against a guy who performs this consistently.

4 – He Bets on Himself

I’ve talked a lot about how much money Tyler’s work generates in this post. While the arts aren’t always about profit, being able to finance your own work means you don’t need anyone’s approval to get stuff done.

From what I understand, Tyler Perry is still 100% in control of all his own work. This is similar to how Mark Zuckerberg has built Facebook into a public company valued at over $50 billion dollars without ever giving up more than 51% ownership. It means that nothing happens at Facebook without Mark’s say. He controls the show.

Likewise, with Tyler Perry, he’s the world’s most successful independent film-maker. He never gave up control. Lionsgate is an independent film distribution company and it largely backs independent film projects. By working with them instead of anyone else, Tyler insured that he never really gives up creative control of his work.

This means he doesn’t have to go to the Weinstein Company or Sony or anyone else to ask for money to produce anything. He has enough personal wealth, and enough credibility and success to convince people to back his projects himself.

In fact, the way Tyler’s films are backed tend to resemble venture capital deals more than typical film deals. He proposes a project, investors put up money, he does the project and returns their capital at some multiple of what they originally gave him. That’s the whole bankability thing at play. But because he reinvested his early money to build his own studio, there are far fewer middle men to pay. This means the costs of making a film or show are far lower for him than they would be for anyone else not in his position which allows him to take greater risks on projects.

If he was working within the studio system, he’d have a much harder time convincing “The Studio” that his projects were the right movies to make in the first place. Studios tend to want to make a lot of changes to scripts and they inflate costs because to them, putting more money into fewer projects is more efficient. But what that does is greatly diminish their tolerance for risk. This is why they spend even more money developing and retaining A-List stars who they then cast. The assumption is that A-List talent leading well financed film projects is far more likely to succeed than a bunch of unknowns in smaller budget films. This, as a rule, is usually true. Unfortunately for writers and directors, this ultimately means they have less control over projects that are backed by big Studios. When you hear some directors talking about how hard it is to get controversial films made, it’s because they are asking permission from people at major film studios who are inherently risk-adverse. The Studios want to finance money makers, and they will do everything in their power to ensure everything they produce is such. For them ‘controversial’ means alienating, and alienating audiences isn’t helpful if you’re trying to get the most people possible to go see a film.

The equivalent in the startup world would be the entrepreneur who successfully bootstraps a series of companies, versus entrepreneurs who only rely on venture capital. Neither way is wrong and both can lead to great success but the boot-strapper can take greater risks because he or she has less people to answer to.

5- He’s Obsessive and Detail Oriented

Now you might ask yourself how on earth I could learn anything from a film director if I was working in the audio department. At most film studios, you’d be right. The sound designers usually don’t work too closely with the director.

I’m not sure what it’s like at his studio now but back then, initially I probably saw Tyler Perry once a week (which is a lot). He wanted to change the music, he hated the laugh tracks I added, he wanted some dialogue to be louder, he made suggestions on sound effects. It wasn’t just the audio department, he’d go into the writers room and rewrite portions of the script himself. He’d be on stage with the actors helping them with their performance. He’d supervise video edits. He was in accounting. He was in props. He was the lunchroom with the interns.

The point is, he wanted to know what was going on at every level of his business. While it sometimes it felt like micromanagement, it was ultimately because he cared.

On top of that, he was used to doing a lot with a little. When you build something from nothing, you aren’t used to the people around you chipping in to make things happen. This is because people tend to assume you’re going to fail, and therefore you aren’t worth going out on a limb for. As the founder you know differently, you bet on yourself and you double-down on yourself. This means you’re going to make sure everything gets done.

At Tyler Perry’s studio I saw both sides. Initially he was always there making sure everyone was doing everything. This is completely unsustainable for any business. You have to delegate to scale. As he got more comfortable with the people around him, and saw that we were all actually doing good work (and better work if he left us alone ;-) he backed off. He was able to delegate and ultimately start doing multiple things at the same time.

While that ‘founder anxiety’ probably still rears its head every now and then, to be successful at his level you have to learn to let go. Regardless of the business you’re in, this is a good management skill to develop.

6 – When the Rules Aren’t in Your Favor, Make New Rules

While Hollywood has about 100 years on Silicon Valley, the film and tech industries have a lot in common. Both have very insular communities at “the top” which make it hard for newcomers to break in, both require access to capital or financing that not everyone has access to, both require more than just creative talent to be successful, and whether it’s intentional or not, a lot of people feel like many forces conspire to keep them out of the industry at all.

When faced with a tough environment like this, there are two options: fight the system or work outside of it. As far as I’m concerned, Tyler Perry provides one of this generations best examples of a businessman who worked completely outside of the system until the system couldn’t ignore his potential for profit. At that point he had the leverage to basically do whatever he wanted.

From what I can see of his career, Tyler Perry rewrote all the rules that lead to his success because the old rules would have completely prevented it. While that isn’t always easy, it’s necessary for anyone who wants to succeed when the odds are stacked against them.

Sometimes fighting the system in place is a futile effort because you as a lone individual usually can’t change an establishment fast enough to also benefit from the change. If your goal is to make it easier for the next generation that’s one thing, but if your goal is to change it and play in it at the same time, that’s almost sisyphean.

So the lesson here is that when you feel the rules of a system are working against you, one option is to stop working in the system altogether. There is more than one way to do anything.

If you can’t raise venture capital as an entrepreneur perhaps because you feel decimated against or any other reason, then double-down on what you do have. Changing the entire venture capital industry is hard, it’s not impossible but it’s likely not going to be a battle worth fighting if you need capital tomorrow.

If you have an idea for a product or company, bootstrap as far as you can. Do what you can to prove that customers are ready for that product. If you still can’t convince investors to back you, then use that demand to partner with other businesses who can help you get your own to the next level. You never know, you might build a massive business without backing, in which case you’re in the best place to be.

But most importantly, don’t let the fact that the system wasn’t designed in your favor prevent you from trying at all. Not trying is not challenging and not being challenged is exactly what any establishment requires to preserve its status quo.

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Janet Mock and Maria Teresa Kumar Launch MSNBC Shows http://www.racialicious.com/2014/12/19/janet-mock-and-maria-teresa-kumar-launch-msnbc-shows/ http://www.racialicious.com/2014/12/19/janet-mock-and-maria-teresa-kumar-launch-msnbc-shows/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:00:25 +0000 http://www.racialicious.com/?p=33623 Following in the footsteps of trailblazer Melissa Harris Perry, two more braincrushes just launched shows on MSNBC’s Shift streaming media brand. Maria Teresa Kumar, co-founder of Voto Latino with Rosario Dawson, is now anchoring “Changing America.” And Janet Mock, the queen of Redefining Realness, is set to launch her progressive pop culture show this week. […]

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Following in the footsteps of trailblazer Melissa Harris Perry, two more braincrushes just launched shows on MSNBC’s Shift streaming media brand.

Maria Teresa Kumar, co-founder of Voto Latino with Rosario Dawson, is now anchoring “Changing America.

And Janet Mock, the queen of Redefining Realness, is set to launch her progressive pop culture show this week. We will update here when the clip is available.

Congratulations!

The post Janet Mock and Maria Teresa Kumar Launch MSNBC Shows appeared first on Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture.

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