All Articles Tagged "African-Americans in media"
(New York Times) — At 50 minutes to airtime, the Rev. Al Sharpton, in pinstripes and cufflinks, was sitting in his office at Rockefeller Center, tinkering with Tuesday’s introduction to “PoliticsNation,” his new nightly show on MSNBC. Two TV sets hung from the wall: one tuned to “Hardball,” the other to CNN. A procession of producers — he has six on staff — whisked through to give him updates on their segments. Just before he rose for his makeup session, he turned to his executive producer. “Let’s not forget,” Mr. Sharpton said, casually employing the TV vernacular, “to put that Ron Paul sound bite in the D-block.” Only days before, a more familiar version of Mr. Sharpton was on display: at one of his weekend rallies at the House of Justice, a power-lifter’s gym turned headquarters in Harlem. Dressed in shirtsleeves, using preacherly tones, he opened, as he always does, with his protest mantra — “No justice! No peace!” — and then went on to talk about Denise Gay, the Brooklyn woman shot and killed this month, possibly by the police. At the rally’s end, a choir appeared. Mr. Sharpton, 57, soloing at times, joined them in “Amazing Grace.”
(AP) — After growing tired of watching stereotypes of people of color on the screen, Issa Rae created her own vision of reality with “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl.” The Web-based show follows J, played by Rae, and her mishaps and successes in work and love. ”The Web series came about because I really didn’t see anybody like me on the screen, nobody that I could relate to,” said Rae, the show’s producer, writer and director. “There’s are just so many limited archetypes for black females in particular, and just people of color in general, and it’s frustrating to look at the screen and only be able to relate to people like Tina Fey or Amy Poehler, people who don’t look like me.” Since the series first posted online in February, the debut episode has garnered more than 240,000 hits. Subsequent episodes have received more than 100,000 hits and 1,000 viewer comments. Nearly 17,000 people are dedicated to the show’s Facebook page. Rae said she and co-producer Tracy Oliver are packaging “Awkward Black Girl” as a half-hour comedy to sell to a cable network, but are strongly thinking about keeping it online to build the audience and maintain stronger contact with viewers.
(Eureweb) — If you’ve grooved to the fly music played on Black Entertainment Television (BET), then you’ve been touched by the magic of Kelly Griffith (DJ Kelly G). As BET’s Senior Music Supervisor, Kelly G is the mastermind behind selecting the music and the production of BET’s hottest shows, including “BET Live,” BET’s “Music Matters,” “Rap City,” “106 & Park,” “Young Starz Tour,” “Uncut” and “BET Access Granted” that reach 80 million households weekly. With a keen ear for music and a sharp eye for talent, Kelly G not only programs the tightest music to air on BET, but he’s launched the popular Music Matters, a groundbreaking program that showcases the next producers and superstars through live concerts as well as through on-air and digital platforms.
(Uptown) — Jeanine Liburd may be the master of multitasking. The Vassar graduate, wife, and mother of two young daughters is also the go-to person for BET’s slew of events, social awareness campaigns, and overall brand messaging. “Basically, anything we do outside the building is pretty much my responsibility,” says Liburd, who lives with her family in a townhouse in her native Brooklyn. That includes overseeing all activities surrounding the star-studded BET Awards, launching shows such as ratings giant The Game, and managing the annual conference “Leading Women Defined,” a power-packed gathering of dynamic women from all industries. Liburd, who has spent more than 10 years at Viacom, including a stint at MTV Networks before joining BET four years ago, says the best part of the job is “meeting the most creative and innovative people and having the opportunity to work on projects that really have an impact on people’s lives.”
You know that there are some black folks in the world who really hate what they see in the mirror.
No, it’s true. I think the first instance I realized that some black folks have a general self-loathing was around the time I was working a summer job where my supervisor, a pretty, brown-skinned professional black woman, was overly concerned with pronunciation. Not that there is something wrong with mastering the king’s English, but the obsession stemmed from not wanting any of her fellow supervisors (mostly white) to think that she sounded like an ‘ign’ant Negro.” Not only would she over-enunciate words, she was also very conscious of how her body moved when she spoke; more particularly, not rolling her neck around when she spoke.
Although she was generally a nice person my boss had a deep and almost paranoid fear of not fitting stereotypes. All through college, she was mercilessly teased for her Southern twang and her “ghetto” disposition, which occasionally caused her to drop the “g” and gesture a lot with her body. And while it was occasionally fun to watch her contemplate every single move before she made it, I could tell that deep down, the always-on persona she crafted for herself had to be exhausting.
Over the years I have frequently witnessed incarnations of my former employer’s pathologies in other black folks: from the obsession with naming children “neutral” names, to the frequent use of abusive and demeaning language toward members of their own race. I’ve even seen some of our folks go as far as not associating with certain family members, not for anything they’d done, but who they were. Today it is not uncommon to hear many African-Americans express themselves in a self-contemptuous manner regarding their own race. But who could blame some of us for this, especially when we have those in the mainstream still commenting on “how articulate” we can be?
However, this unhealthy habit within the black community of always using what white people may think or say about us as our measuring stick is bothersome. And while we often hear about acting white, how come we never discuss the pain caused by what some of us fear as acting too black?
I thought of this recently when I saw a story in Adweek about the controversy around the new “Summer’s Eve Hail to the V: Lady Wowza” commercial, which is supposed to promote a women’s cleansing product rather candidly. Summer’s Eve made three of these commercials, targeting particular ethnicities. In one of the commercials, a black vagina hand puppet named Lady Wowza begins a sister-girl monologue, about how keeping her punany clean and fresh is just as important as changing up her hairstyles.
Naturally people were offended, but it wasn’t based on the apparent sexism of calling your vagina silly names or thinking that there is something so wrong with our lady parts that we need to douse them in stinky perfume to make them more acceptable to mixed company. No, the uproar was concerned that the Black hand-puppet was just too sassy, perpetuating a negative image of black women’s mannerisms. Please, someone give me a break.
I really do get the fact that there are deeply entrenched depictions and distortions of blacks evident throughout the media. And that more often than not, black people see themselves through a lens that has been deliberately assigned to them and not necessarily of their own creation. However, there are some Black folks, in particular black women, who are sister-girls and engage in the same sort of mannerisms. Some of us do roll our necks, drop the “g” at the end of our words and speak in sister-gurl talk. And it just doesn’t seem right that we freak out at the slightest incarnations of “that type”, or view them negatively just because some “others” might.
I’m really starting to believe that whether it’s a Tyler Perry movie or just a stupid Summer’s Eve commercial, at this point we will never be satisfied with how we are presented globally. And as much as it has to do with systematic racism, part of it has to do with our ability to accept and love ourselves collectively, no matter what anybody else thinks. In other words, our confidence in ourselves should be stronger than this. Moreover we shouldn’t have to develop an “anti Black” frame of thought just to counteract the blatant propagandizing, which we see in the media. In my opinion, this kind of self-loathing only prevents African-Americans from forging alliances within the community because we are too busy hating each other for being “too…”
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
by Ezinne Adibe
If you’re a political junkie chances are you’ve read her columns on The Huffington Post or TheLoop21, or seen her on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News offering commentary on the issues of the day. In Keli Goff’s 2008 book, “Party-Crashing: How the Hip-Hop Generation Declared Independence”, she explored the shifting perspectives and impact of young black voters on the electoral process, with particular focus on the last presidential election. Her latest book, “The GQ Candidate”, is a fictional peek into the lives of candidates and the multiple realities and expectations they face. But as the book illustrates, these situations weigh heavily not only on the candidates, but on their families as well.
TAP: What was the inspiration behind “The GQ Candidate”?
Goff: One of the things that stuck out to me during the election was that some of the people who I was most fascinated with were the people who were not running for President. I was completely fascinated by Michelle Obama and completely fascinated by Valerie Jarrett. I was even fascinated by the Palin family, and I remember there was this interview that some of Sarah Palin’s friends did shortly after she got pledged for the ticket. It was fascinating, because here you have these people who were just friends with someone and all of a sudden they’re on “Good Morning America”, or some other show like a week later. In one week their lives changed. So, I was really intrigued by that, and I had this idea of writing something about what it’s like to have your life completely change simply because someone that you’re friends with has their life change overnight.
TAP: How long did it take you to write it?
Goff: It felt like forever, but it was literally sold days after the president was elected. I had written only the first three chapters when we sold it. I had been writing off and on trying to finish it. So, it’s taken since that first week in November of 2008.
TAP: Luke Cooper, the main character, is a politician and family man who, although having achieved a great deal in the realm of politics, struggles to an extent with his identity. Did you draw on your personal experiences when writing?
Goff: I have worked on campaigns. That’s how I got my start in this whole political sphere. I definitely had some experiences. People don’t realize that an A-list celebrity is obviously under a lot of scrutiny, although the difference is that every person that they associate with is not. That’s what I really wanted to convey with this book, and the issue of identity is part of that.
If your best friend becomes Beyonce no one cares what religion you practice. If your boyfriend or girlfriend runs for office everyone cares about what religion you practice, your mom practices, your dad practices. Here is a story about someone who has this unique racial and religious identity, and then you have his wife, who is is just trying to live her life to the best of her abilities. But even she is pulled into this debate, if you will, about what it means to be black, what it means to be a Christian, and what it means to be an American, simply because she fell in love with someone. I really wanted to try to touch upon what that must be like.
(Baltimore Sun) — After almost a week of speculation, it looks as if the Rev. Al Sharpton is going to be a new weeknight host on cable channel MSNBC. Sharpton, who has been filling in recent weeks on MSNBC, will reportedly be taking over the 6 p.m. timeslot that has been in play since Keith Olbermann left the channel and Ed Schultz’s “The Ed Show” was moved from 6 to 10 p.m. Cenk Uygur had been serving as host of the 6 p.m. hour. The speculation that Sharpton, a civil rights leader and radiotalk show host, would get the job was first reported in TVNewser on July 16. Read that here. Citing anonymous sources, The New York Times is now reporting it as “imminent.”
Last night, I watched Madea Goes to Jail on Netflix. The movie, which I’m pretty sure is based on the play I saw years ago, was long, sappy, boring and roll my eyes worthy. However, whenever Madea or Uncle Brown were on the screen, I was dying laughing. I’m not sure of what that means in the overall meme of TP good/bad for the black community. But I began thinking, perhaps that’s not the discussion we should be having…
Which brings me for my topic of today: Last week, Dr. Watkins authored a post on his Your Black World blog entitled, “Why I’m Ditching Lil’ Wayne Completely“, in which he called Lil’ Wayne “an enemy of the Black community” and declared his intentions to boycott his music. According to Dr. Watkins, as a lover of hip-hop, his decision wasn’t reached lightly nor without deep contemplation of Wayne’s lyrics. His final straw moment came after listening to Wayne’s two year old track, “We Be Steady Mobbin”, in which the New Orleans rapper discussed – metaphorically – killing women and children.
But Dr. Watkins is not ready to stop at just Lil’ Wayne. No, he is ready to take his fight to the machine itself, particularly BET, for giving Lil’ Wayne a platform to exact his reign of terror on the black community. In the day after his public denouncement, he penned another piece comparing BET to the Klu Klux Klan. He writes, “Charles Manson is considered one of the most vicious killers in history, yet he never actually murdered a soul. He has been in prison for 40 years because he convinced others to commit murder, controlling their minds through comfortable words and charisma. If Manson had been given the platform supplied by BET and the rest of corporate America and a license to share his rhetoric without restraint, he could have caused the deaths of millions more…”
My first reaction to these articles was to check to see if this was in fact the same Dr. Watkins who once admonished Marc Lamont Hill for similar criticisms about rapper Slim Thug, who once expressed his displeasure for Black women with “high standards.” In his response to Hill, Dr. Watkins encouraged Hill “to pick on someone his own intellectual size,” and then began to intellectualize all the ways in which he felt that Slim Thug was right. Gender politics aside, I appreciate Dr. Watkins’s articles on Lil’ Wayne and BET as both pieces achieve the goal of inspiring critical thought on the way in which our image is reflected in the media. However, the way in which we have this conversation matters to and is just as important as the critical thought it longs to stimulate.
I must admit that I am growing quite ambivalent to the blame game as it incredibly easy to make the case of either/or, rather than both/and. With that said, Dr. Watkins is right about one thing: Viacom’s BET is, by and large, fluff television. Back when it was Black-owned, the Johnson family tried to bring substantive, original programming such as “BET News”, “Sunday Conversation”, “Teen Summit”, HBCU football games and “BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley”. However, Black folks weren’t too much into that and ratings for those shows tanked compared to those for shows with more entertaining qualities, such as video countdowns and comedy shows. And I’m not so sure if there is anything wrong with that.
For every Lil’ Wayne video aired, BET also delivers some pretty decent, albeit not perfect, programming such as “Rip The Runway” which featured the work of upcoming Black designers as well as beautiful black models of various sizes and hues. The station also has scripted shows such as “Let’s Stay Together” and “The Game”, which if we recall, BET helped to resurrect after the CW ditched it for more mainstream programming. Also, there is the “BlackBuster Movies,” which features black themed movies and plays rarely seen elsewhere on television. And after the whole Michael Jackson tribute debacle, its award show has slightly improved. I don’t know about ya’ll, but I rather enjoyed the tribute to Patti LaBelle and the Five Heartbeats in the most recent BET Award Show. As someone who grew up exclusively on Hip Hop, I can tell you that I’ve never sold drugs or killed anyone. And as a full-time community organizer working in one of the most depressed sections of Philadelphia, it is not uncommon for me to canvass the neighborhood, passing out flyers for a “Stop the Violence” meeting while blaring Rick Ross’ “Hustlin’ on my earphones. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive.
I think my point is that just like Dr. Watkins’s criticisms of Hill, I too believe that Lil’ Wayne and BET are both easy targets. Even as a matter of conscience, if every last black person simply stopped watching BET or listening to Lil’ Wayne, there are still public places like YouTube and video games, which provide sex and violence on demand. Likewise, this sort of KKK hyperbole to which Dr. Watkin’s took great liberty to use as comparison, is quite frankly, distasteful. If I had the misfortune of being stranded on dark Arkansas back road with the choices between Lil’ Wayne, Sheila Johnson Lee and the Grandmaster of the KKK, I would definitely take my chances with the formers.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
(Uptown Magazine) — When one thinks of NASCAR, images of African-American men don’t typically spring to mind. Well, brothers Terrell (left) and Wayne Riley will quickly change that perception. As producers and directors for the premier motorsports organization, they work on documentaries, commercials, music videos, and television shows. Known professionally as Camp Riley, the brothers didn’t start on the same career track. Wayne, 31, was a star athlete who attended Illinois State University on a football scholarship. His heart belonged to the pigskin, but after taking a television class, he fell in love with filmmaking.
(News One) — With the recent retirement of former TV One President and CEO Johnathan Rodgers, the network didn’t take long to find a replacement in the accomplished Wonya Lucas. Lucas, who comes to TV One from Discovery where she was the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, is tasked with continuing the run of success the network has had in the last seven years. “Wonya Lucas is the perfect choice to help us build on the terrific success we have achieved at TV One over the past seven years,” said TV One Chairman and Radio One President and CEO Alfred Liggins.