Tag Archives: New York City

Friday Links Roundup, 12-2-11

Melvin Childs is a former radio executive (now promoter/producer) with several claims against Tyler Perry, including: his chance meeting with Tyler Perry, long before most of had heard of the man, that changed both of their lives forever; that they were friends before Tyler betrayed him; that he discovered Tyler Perry; that there’s a different side of Tyler Perry than the image he publicly projects; that Tyler severed their relationship with no explanation and used his (Childs’) original marketing blueprint to help create the framework for the future Tyler Perry Hollywood brand, despite the fact that he was a mentor, producer, and friend to Tyler Perry; that he (Childs) revolutionized the marketing format for black theater with Tyler Perry’s first play; that he (Childs) made huge sacrifices with his family for Tyler Perry’s sake; and of course the aforementioned secret backroom deals, illicit cash, backstabbing, and double-dealing.

Yes, this is a real book folks; I’m not making this shit up.

A small church in Pike County, Kentucky has voted to ban interracial couples from most church activities ‘to promote greater unity among the church body.’

Melvin Thompson, former pastor of Gulnare Freewill Baptist church, proposed the ban after Stella Harville brought her fiance, Ticha Chikuni, to services in June. Harville, who goes by the name Suzie, played the piano while Chikuni sang.

Before stepping down as pastor in August, Thompson told Harville that her fiance could not sing at the church again. Harville is white and Chikuni, a native of Zimbabwe, is black.

The group includes 10 current employees and one former worker who was fired in 2009, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs, on average, have worked for Comcast for 15 years.

The employees — technicians, who are responsible for installing and repairing cable equipment in customers’ homes and for diagnosing and repairing large-scale cable outages — described the South Side facility as a ‘hostile’ work environment where they were called derogatory names including ‘ghetto techs” or “lazy techs.’

The plaintiffs also claim that the South Side operation, located at 721 E. 112th St., was infested with roaches and rats, and until it was renovated in 2009, had a leaky roof and was not temperature controlled.

The figure of the longshoreman has cut an enduring image of hard-working New York for decades. But troubled by a work force that remains predominantly white, the commission, a bistate agency that oversees the dockworkers, pressed the New York Shipping Association in May to produce a diverse pool of candidates for temporary jobs. The shippers deferred to the International Longshoremen’s Association, the union that has maintained an iron grip on the ports for decades, and the union came up with 37 candidates.

All but four were white men. None were Hispanic. Only one was black, and, according to the commissioners, he did not really want a job. The other three were white women.

By Thursday, as I returned to New York City, I continued to see tweets and blogs about the brutality of the NYPD. Although I absolutely agreed with the sentiments, I had a nagging feeling in my stomach. I couldn’t let it go. My inner militant Negro (whom I keep sedated with brunch and Modern Warfare 3) wanted to write in all caps:

“OH, SO THE WHITE MAN GETS HIT AND NOW IT’S AN ISSUE! THE BLACK MAN HAS BEEN BEATEN FOR YEARS! WE DIDN’T LAND ON PLYMOUTH ROCK, PLYMOUTH ROCK LANDED ON US!!”

I knew that wouldn’t do anything besides exacerbate the situation, but I wanted to comment on it and reasonably say, “Um … so there’s this … ” I didn’t want to take away from the issue of the abuse that the occupiers were receiving, but I wanted to acknowledge the irony of the collective outrage over an issue that’s become so commonplace within my community that small children are taught never to disobey a police officer, to quietly go along with whatever is happening in order not to be on the receiving end of abuse.

Video: ‘There Is Diversity At Occupy Wall Street’

Last week, The Root featured this video by Obatala Mawusi focusing on some black participants at Occupy Wall Street. Shot in early October, Mawusi asked them what brought them to the burgeoning movement. It’s just over four and a half minutes long, and the language is mildly NSFW, so it’s worth checking out.

The Effects of Gentrification on Food Availability

By Guest Contributor Erika Nicole Kendall, cross-posted from A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss

It’s hard to navigate New York City with someone who lived his whole life there, without them mentioning “gentrification” at least once.

Lucky me, I didn’t get it once. I got it at least once… a day.

While my time in Cleveland as a kid was spent in areas that could’ve seriously benefit from the privilege that the gentry (those who do the gentrifying) brings with it, my home in Indiana? Let’s just say that it’s highly unlikely that it’d ever need more money to come in. Needless to say, my experiences with gentrification are pretty non-existent.

But what is gentrification? It is, in a nutshell, when money (or perceived money, which is more important than the actual money, to me) moves in. I used to assume that it was about race, much like this guy:

“I used to think it was about race — when white people moved into a black neighborhood,” said lawyer Charles Wilson, 35, who lost to Marion Barry in the 2008 Ward 8 D.C. Council race. “Then, I looked up the word. It’s when a middle-class person moves into a poor neighborhood. And I realized: I am a gentrifier. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t like that word. It makes so many people uncomfortable.”

“Actually, I thought it was if you see a white guy in Anacostia, listening to an iPod, jogging or walking a dog!” joked Sariane Leigh, 33, who writes a blog called Anacostia Yogi, putting her hand on her hip and waving a sweet-potato fry for emphasis.

The friends fold into laughter. They agree not to use the G-word, at least for one night.

Gentrification is always a delicate topic, especially in a city where it usually has meant well-to-do whites buying up affordable houses in predominantly black neighborhoods. The trend is reflected in recent census figures that show that the District is no longer a majority-black city and by ever-whiter neighborhoods such as Shaw and H Street Northeast.

But black gentrification is increasingly redefining the G-word and changing the economics of places like Anacostia. [source]

Why am I bringing this up? After leaving Bar Sepia one night, we passed by one of the mister’s old standard bodegas (basically, a convenient store), but he did a double take… and eventually, a full stop.

“Wow, man,” was all I heard. “Gentrification is real.”

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Culturelicious Open Thread: Lauryn Hill and Fan Expectations In A Down Economy

We do the best we can with what we have. All those who aren’t happy, you’re always to go back and ask for a refund … I apologize for being late, but there’s a lot that goes on to get this out to you.
- Lauryn Hill, Dec. 28 performance in Brooklyn

By Arturo R. García

While not being race-centric per se, I did want to hear from the Lauryn Hill fans among us – especially if you went to the Dec. 28 show that started more than three hours late.

After some fans booed Hill when she finally took the stage – On The Red Carpet has video here – she said, “I spent my entire 20s sacrificing my life to give you love. So when I hear people complain, I don’t know what to tell you.”

But the question that’s been sticking in my mind since reading about that show is this: given that people went to see her in the wake of the snowstorm that hit New York over Christmas weekend, and the economy being what it is, when does fan expectation become entitlement? And when does showmanship cross over into self-indulgence?

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A Flash of Lightning: Bijli

By Guest Contributor Merriem, cross-posted from Muslimah Media Watch

The film “Bijli” opens with an off-key rendition of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s haunting Sanu Ik Pal Chain Na Aave. The poetry of the song describes a man who cannot find a moment’s peace without his beloved.  Some might consider this analogous to Bijli’s predicament as a woman trapped in a man’s body: constantly ill at ease without his other “half.”  Bijli is Fayaaz, the drag alter ego of this Pakistani-born dancer, who presently resides in New York City.

This short film by filmmaker Adnan Malik is a 15-minute foray into a man’s struggle with gender identity, religion, and social acceptance set against the bustling metropolis of Manhattan.  While Begum Nawazish has gained popularity internationally and in Pakistan, carving out a niche for himself as a “credible” entertainer, Bijli tells the story of a man who by day passes off as an ordinary New Yorker and by night transforms into “Bijli,” dancing on stage to Bollywood numbers in sequined chiffon, dainty wigs and fake eyelashes.  The word “bijli” is Urdu for electricity or electric current and is a name bestowed upon the dancer by a writer who, for lack of a better word, found her “electrifying.”

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Gil Scott-Heron Hits A Nerve With New Video

By Guest Contributor Naima-Ramos Chapman, cross-posted from Colorlines

In their new music video for “New York is Killing Me,” Gil Scott-Heron and director Chris Cunningham turn popular characterizations of the Big Apple completely on their heads. The video, which was presented at the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown Manhattan last week, has one simple message: it can be a cold, brutal place. But as a legendary artist, Heron’s bitter break up letter with the city has prompted some of hip-hop’s leading players to openly challenge its evils.

In this case, it’s a matter of cleverly mixed mediums that get the message across. Heron’s raspy vocals blend well with Cunningham’s visuals of alternating shots of the city, all in constant, dizzying motion. Subway tunnels, bridges, extreme aerial long shots of the city cloaked in darkness create a menacing mood for viewers. They easily conjure up feelings of destitution and grittiness for a city that over the past twenty years has become largely represented as the entertainment capital of the world.

When I first heard the track, I immediately thought of all the other highly-touted New York anthems. There’s Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” and the recent Jay-Z-Alicia Keys collaboration “Empire State of Mind.” Those types of love letters contrast sharply with Heron’s gritty city journal. This is not a song about a glitz and glam New York whose “streets will inspire you.” According to Heron, it’s a lonely, cold, and bare city. For a die-hard New Yorker like myself, the song is a hard pill to swallow but once it goes down, it’s difficult not to sober up and realize how much this city’s inhabitants are hurting.

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Quoted: Mayor Bloomberg on “cowboying up and cracking down” on Natives

By Special Correspondent Jessica Yee

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg giving advice to Governor David Paterson on how to deal with the sale of tax-free cigarettes on sovereign Native lands within New York State;

“I’ve said this to David Paterson, I said, ‘You know, get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun. If there’s ever a great video, it’s you standing in the middle of the New York State Thruway saying, you know, ‘Read my lips – the law of the land is this, and we’re going to enforce it”.

alg_paterson_bloomberg

So now I’d much rather quote my sister Tia Oros Peters, Executive Director of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development who said in response:

Indigenous Peoples remain the final “frontier” for colonization — where discrimination and a warped “civil religion” kind of thing permeates the american consciousness and allows, perhaps even encourages prejudice, suggestions of genocidal violence, and intention of direct harm with impunity – simply because of being Native. That’s the United States today, August 2010.

tia oros peters

NotSoMuch: The Truth About Black-On-White Crime

By Guest Contributor Daniel José Older, originally published on View from the Crossroads of Life and Death

Ripped gentrification signI took this white dude to the hospital seven years ago; he’d left his apartment door unlocked and then got pistol whipped when he came home to find someone going through his stuff.

Now why would I so clearly remember a minor injury from ages ago? Because in my eight years working EMS in Bed-Stuy, East New York, Harlem and the Bronx, that was the singular, solitary white patient I’ve had who was a victim of violence at the hands of a person of color.  I remember sitting in the Woodhull ER with him. He was holding an ice pack to his little forehead gash and going “God! I can’t believe I got pistol whipped! It’s like…it’s like a movie!” At that point I had already given up checking the newspapers in the morning to see if any of my crazy jobs from the night before would show up. They never do; the patients are all black and brown and their tragedies, no matter how gruesome, are automatically deemed run-of-the-mill and unworthy for news attention.

In general, the white patients we get are either little old ladies; drunks who tried to play frogger across McGuinness Boulevard; college kid anxiety attacks and overdoses. We also get the occasional “All these Black people are trying to rape and kill me so I can’t leave my apartment!!” and sometimes “I stopped taking my meds and I’m about to do something really really bad.”

All this is to say that the amount of time and energy that white culture puts into being afraid of the crimes that will be committed against them in the ghetto could be better spent thinking about something that actually happens.

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