I would sit on the corners, and people would walk up to me and ask me to play a gospel song, and they’d pat me on the head and say, that’s nice, son – but they didn’t tip at all. But people who ask me to play the blues would always tip me. I’d make $40-50. Even as off in the head as I am, I could see it made better sense to be a blues singer. – The Telegraph, 2009
On 2-3-14 I sat down to live tweet the television premier of the documentary American Promise. The film follows two Black students, Idris and Seun, as the begin kindergarten at an elite college prep school in New York City and highlights the challenges and as they face along the way.
Dr. Bennet Omalu emerges as a key figure early on in PBS’ special report “League of Denial.” All images via PBS.
Advisory: This post deals in part with suicide and brain trauma
At its core, League Of Denial is a story about hurt. The special report by PBS’ Frontline traces the shameful history of the National Football League’s attempts to stymie, then co-opt research into the increasingly hard-to-hide connection between football, concussions and, ultimately, chronic traumatic encephalopathy — the disease known as CTE for short.
And while the report gives due time to the hurt experienced by not only the players affected but their families, another story emerges: how far the NFL went to hurt the career of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the Nigerian-born pathologist who first discovered the fatal link. Continue reading →
Photo from Wonder Woman Day in Portland, OR, via ITVS.org
Last week a panel featuring Susana Polo (Founder/Editor of The Mary Sue), Karen Boykin-Towns (Vice President, Worldwide Policy at Pfizer), Dr. Jonathan Gray, (Assistant Professor of English with John Jay College), feminist activist/speaker Shelby Knox, and So-Chung Shinn (co-host of The Portfolio TV) convened to discuss the new PBS documentary Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines (directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan). The hour-long panel following the screening was more diverse and did more issue unpacking than the hour-long film.
Some of that may have been for reasons of accessibility. The film is aimed at fans of all ages, and focuses more on Wonder Woman’s inspirational value to women and young girls than it does Serious Issues of Feminism. It’s a look at the comic and television origins of the character, (some of) the heroines that debuted in her wake, and some of the social change that occurred at different points during the highs and lows of her popularity. At an hour long it doesn’t necessarily have the time to fully dive into some of the issues brought up–that was left to the panel.
You can watch the entire film here, and the entire panel below when you have a spare hour, but for now few highlights from the guest speakers:
If you missed it on public television earlier this week, good news: you can catch Byron Hurt’s documentary Soul Food Junkies, in which he explores the history of this particular cuisine and its place in the larger food-justice movement. It’s available through Feb. 11, and it’s well worth your time.
Even if you’re not a fan of auto-tune, what stands out the most about this video, commissioned by PBS Digital Studios, is how well it showcases the impressive history behind Reading Rainbow: 23 years, 155 episodes, all hosted and produced by LeVar Burton.
So, in that light, to see the show get the same kind of homage afforded to public broadcasting stalwarts like Fred Rogers, Julia Child and Bob Ross is a welcome show of respect from PBS.
And, in an extra bit of good news, it turns out that Burton has revived the show as a free app through his own multimedia company, RRKidz.
We are so thrilled that Racializens are getting into what we and National Black Consortium’s (NBPC) AfroPoP.TV are posting in preparation for the public-media premiere of Jarreth Merz’s An African Election coming up two weeks on PBS’ WORLD channel! We’ll keep you informed about more social-media happenings, like podcasts, Google hangouts and, yes, more tweet-ups. (P.S. You’ll also see some interesting quotes from the film on Racialicious’ and NBPC’s Twitter timelines.)
Racialicious and AfroPOP.TV are also hosting a pre-screening of An African Election at Maysles Cinema, located in Harlem, NYC, on Tuesday, September 25 (time to be announced). We’ll definitely give you the deets about this exciting event!
If your looking for more about the documentary, please check out the website. Also, please check out NBPC‘s and AfroPOP.TV‘s Facebook pages.
If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare, this report from PBS Newshour is well worth your time, as it retraces the “social experiment” conducted by Maggie and John Anderson while buying exclusively from black-owned businesses for a year, a process Maggie Anderson chronicled in written form in the book Our Black Year.
The project, she told Newshour’s Paul Solman, was borne out of guilt.
“We thought we should be doing more, and we thought we should be doing stuff with the money that we made,” she said. “Make sure that whatever we do, it was with a black company, a black family company, buy a product made from a black company, use black professionals, shop in black communities.”
With high hopes of moving the needle, the Andersons transferred their money to a black bank, switched cell phone companies, and fed way more McDonald’s Happy Meals to their girls than optimal–because these black-owned businesses were plentiful.
But fewer own stores selling necessities like diapers, aspirin and fresh food. Maggie often drove for miles, stepping over trash and around winos to enter stores that looked like “post-apocalyptic mini-marts.”
“Are y’all lost?” wisecracks one loiterer.
Exasperated, Maggie overdoes the details of her forays scouring Chicagoland’s food desert. Her rage builds. “Everyone–I mean everyone–we saw on the street and in the stores was black, but not the store owners.”
The video is safe for work, and a transcript of the story can be found here.
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World