CategoryCreating a Voice

These posts comment on media that has been created by black people as a result of the absence of their voice in media.

Dear White People: Here’s an alternative perspective

Dear white people, check your privilege before proceeding to read this post.

Black Face Pary

Skepticism slowed my eagerness to hop on the “Dear White People” bandwagon. Was this Netflix series going to live up to the high standards set by its 2014 movie predecessor? I soon grew tired of sitting on the sidelines while the internet gave the series raving reviews. Finally, after receiving a high recommendation from my boss to watch the show, I knew I had to check out this series that had my white colleagues in awe. I started the 10-episode season on Tuesday. I finished it on Friday.

Dear White People Cover

“Dear White People” explores the spectrum of Black identity on a PWI’s (Predominately White Institution) campus. As a UNC graduate and someone who has worked in the central communications office of two Southern flagship universities, I’m familiar with the ongoing struggle to control a campus’ racial narrative.

It’s all about perspective. “Dear White People” does an amazing job at examining campus race issues through different lenses. By telling each chapter of the story through the eyes of a different character, the show is able to preach that race issues are not Black or white. There are a lot of complexities, created by life experiences, that influence how someone views and responds to an issue.

Dear White People scene

In today’s American culture, there is a lack of willingness to examine issues from different perspectives. That’s why watching “Dear White People’s” plot unfold from multiple angles is so powerful. It’s easy (and comforting) to surround yourself with like-minded people, but change doesn’t happen in silos. “Dear White People” plants this seed of wisdom from the very beginning of the series, and we see it nurtured throughout the season.

I’ve been writing for MediaWhistle for the past four years. Throughout these years, I’ve stressed the importance of Black people creating a voice in the media. I love that “Dear White People” creates multiple voices from the Black community and provides social commentary on how these varying perspectives can cause conflict and create unity. It is refreshing to have my story told in a way that both challenges my truths and authenticates my struggle.

A Public Service Announcement:

Sam

Dear White People, I am not here for your entertainment – to make you feel cool or make you feel hip. I am not here to make you feel comfortable – to relieve your white guilt with our friendship. I am not here to stroke your ego or be a checked box on a diversity survey.

I am here to fuck shit up. I am here to dismantle the status quo, to attack institutional racism and to challenge your pre-existing notions of my existence. Like “Dear White People,” I am here to share my perspective on life in hopes that you will seek to understand my alternative perspective.

Haha…not funny ?

When I first heard Hillary Clinton made a “CP time” joke, I didn’t believe it. Although there may be a general consensus in the black community that Bill could have nailed the same joke, Hillary does not tote the same honorary Black Card as her hubby. For my readers who are culturally unaware, CP (colored people) time is a well known joke (exclusively reserved for black execution) that pimps the following stereotype: people of color are never on time… EVER! In this instance of misguided antics, once again, black culture was misappropriated to make a joke at the expense of a historically marginalized group. Not cool Hilary, not cool. Take a look.

“There’s no way a black person saw this script during the approval process,” my boyfriend said after we became aware of this deplorable attempt at comedy. I smiled within because I was successfully brainwashing my love bug to see how lack of minority representation in the media results in the bull shit embedded above.

Did this comedy script get a stamp of approval by a token minority? Beats me, but it is situations like these that help strengthen this blog’s three-year soap opera about the importance of having a minority seat at the decision making table. We help offer up a  “oh hell nah” when culturally insensitive ideas are conjured up.

RIP Hillary Clinton’s name on Black Twitter and the African American vote she’s been campaigning. Also, to the black man on stage who was in on the joke, please return your black card to your local NAACP office …okay I’m done✌?

Staying Woke in 2016 ??

Opportunity. That’s all we’re asking for said Chris Rock to a sea of white faces during this year’s Oscars. I could summarize Rock’s opening monologue at the beginning of the show, but I’ll let Rock speak for himself.

When Black Twitter realized #OscarsSoWhite was going to be a reoccurring theme at the 88th Academy Awards, they, along with Will and Jada Smith called for Rock to step down as host. After watching his monologue, I’m glad Rock did not succumb to the pressures of Black Twitter fingers. I applaud Rock for using his opportunity to host as a platform to make a statement, to extend his reach beyond the choir, because let’s face it, how many times are black people given the opportunity to hover a magnifying glass over white privilege in front of 34.4M viewers?

The only part of Rock’s speech that I could have done without was Stacey Dash’s appointment to “director of the Minority Outreach Program.” Dash’s guest appearance at the Oscars came not too long after receiving backlash from the black community for a Fox News interview where she claimed there was no need for Black History Month or BET.

But this year’s #OscarsSoWhite awards show proved why both Black History Month and BET is so important. If academia, the general public and media are not going to acknowledge the achievements of black people, then we will. And we did ??.

ADMA

Last night's All Def Movie Awards celebrated "our" talent in Hollywood. And we loved every unapologetically black minute of it.

Posted by TheRoot.com on Monday, February 29, 2016

With our awards shows “so white,” you’d think we’d refrain from tainting our own bio pics with passive aggressive endorsements of European standards of beauty. Take for example Zoe Saldana being casted as civil rights activists and jazz singer, Nina Simone.

When I saw black faced Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone on a movie poster, I dropped my head in disappointment and proceeded to smh.

Colorism in the black community has long been an issue. Fair-skinned black folk have a history of being more palatable for European tastes than our dark-skinned brothers and sisters. You add the lack of diversity in Hollywood to the equation and dark-skinned actors and actresses are at a double disadvantage, facing exclusion from both white and black directors.

“My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark,”

– Lisa Simone Kelly (New York Times, 2012).

After reading this quote from Nina Simone’s daughter, the act of casting a light-skinned actress and throwing dark makeup and a prostatic nose on her face seems like slapping Nina Simone’s legacy, well… in the face.

And so I end my first blog post of the year (yes, I know we are three months in) with a simple call to action: as long as the Oscars stays white, Stacey stays clueless, and Saldana stays Nina Simone, make sure you stay woke in 2016 like baby hair and afros and negro noses with Jackson Five nostrils.

Beyonce flipping the bird

 

Three reasons #TheWizLive was amazing:

Unfortunately, I missed The Wiz Live Thursday night on NBC and had no intentions on watching it later until my best friend texted me Thursday night: “You should do a blog post on The Wiz live airing on NBC.”

When I asked her why, she proceeded to text me six paragraphs about why The Wiz airing live was a big deal. I told her she should be a guest blogger on Media Whistle and write about it. She politely declined, claiming she didn’t want to “think deeply” about the show, but that I should. So I took her up on the offer, and after further investigation (i.e. actually watching the show), I came up with three reasons why #TheWizLive was amazing and, indeed, deserved a post on Media Whistle.

http://www.nbc.com/sites/nbcunbc/files/files/styles/nbc_show_about_cover/public/images/2015/10/27/2015-1026-NBCU-The-Wiz-About-Image-1920x1080-UG.jpg?itok=YjIK2z7v

  1. An all black cast took up a three-hour slot during prime time television.

Any time an all black cast is on television during prime time, it’s a big deal because it is a rarity. My co-worker reminded me on Friday that the last time NBC had an all black cast on television during prime time was in the 90s when “Fresh Prince” aired.

And if that fact doesn’t convince you that having a mostly black cast on television during prime time is a big deal, just ask the people who complained about The Wiz’s “lack of diversity,” as if The Wizard of Oz never happened.

But all haters aside, it wasn’t until I saw this tweet, that the gravity of having The Wiz air live on NBC finally hit me: the power of representation was being broadcasted to millions of people and it was changing lives.

  1. A timeless black story received a millennial make over.

http://cdn01.cdn.justjared.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/wiz-live/nbc-debuts-first-look-at-the-wiz-live-cast-03.JPG

The Wiz is a timeless black staple. And  Thursday’s live showing helped to keep a legendary story celebrating black culture relevant to today’s generation. The characters’ lines were full of today’s Black Twitter vernacular. It was hilarious hearing Dorothy refer to her friends as her “squad” and hearing the word “shade” tossed around a few times. The characters’ upgraded vocabulary, combined with iPads and subtle whipping and naeing during dance sequences, drizzled new-age sauce on a timeless storyline recipe.

  1. The Wiz Live made a big statement about today’s standard of beauty and gender.

https://tribzap2it.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/shanice-williams-2-the-wiz.jpg

Dorothy gets all the snaps in the world for rocking natural hair AND for being slightly bigger than a toothpick. I applaud the show’s directors for casting women of all shapes, shades and sizes, showcasing the array of diversity within the Black community.

Then there was Queen Latifah casted as The Wiz, who Dorothy and her friends consistently referred to as a “he” until they discover that the Wiz is a fraud and a “she.” Adding this little twist to the plot challenged gender roles, allowing Latifah to act across the gender spectrum and her character to test the conners of the binary gender box we have been socialized to play in.

http://rack.3.mshcdn.com/media/ZgkyMDE1LzExLzI5L2FiL3F1ZWVuMy41MDRkZi5qcGcKcAl0aHVtYgkxMjAweDk2MDA-/f9721142/f4a/queen3.jpg


If you missed #TheWizLive like I did, go to nbc.com and watch the show. I promise you won’t regret it.

 

 

We Gone Be Alright

BET Awards (n): The BET (Black Entertainment Television) Awards show was established in 2001 to celebrate the achievements of African Americans and other minorities in entertainment. Over the years, somehow Robin Thicke, Sam Smith, Iggy Azalea and the likes have made their way into the awards show nominee mix.

BET15

Rachel DolezalEvery year, millions of Black people gather around their televisions to watch the “biggest awards show on television,” the BET Awards. And every year (more recently in the awards show’s history), millions of tweeters convene on Black Twitter for annual Black celebrity trash talking, commentary on the show and awards show memes. This year was no different.

BET Awards meme

Growing up, watching the BET Awards was a household event, something my family marked down on its calendar as a mandatory bonding activity. Over the years, however, this Black household staple has turned into a junk food I may or may not consume on an annual basis. The necessity of being a part of the BET Awards experience seems to have also lost it’s vitalness for  A-listers who used to make an annual appearance at the show. I can’t remember the last time Beyonce and Jay-Z were at a BET Awards show. Even Rihanna confessed that the only reason she showed up was to premiere her #BBHMM video. Niki Minaj has received so many BET Awards that she can no longer remember what each individual award is for.
This year, when she received the Viewers’ Choice Award, she started her acceptance speech and mid way through asked, “What was this award for? I’m sorry,”

Needless to say, the BET Awards has lost some of its intrinsic value for Black viewers and celebrities in the past few years, but this year I had to watch. I had to see how the awards show was going to address a mourning community whose hit single, Black Lives Matter graphic#BlackLivesMatter, has topped the news cycle charts several times this year. Just three weeks prior to the awards show being televised, police bullied Black teens at a pool party, grabbing a Black girl by her hair and slamming her head into the ground. Less than two weeks ago, a white man trying to start a race riot killed nine Black people in their place of worship. And then there are the countless instances of police brutality that have happened throughout the year, leaving several unarmed Black men and women murdered in American streets. So how did the BET Awards fit these current events into the show?

Actor, Michael B. Jordon (famous for his role as Oscar Grant in the movie “Fruitvale Station”) gave a speech, acknowledging the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the men, women and children behind it. A tribute to the nine lives lost in the Charleston, SC church shooting was also part of the BET Awards show.

Not only did the BET Awards make it a point to address current events concerning race relations and injustices in America, but it also acknowledged a recent win for the LGBT community. Jussie Smollett from Fox’s “Empire” show sang his rendition of “You’re so beautiful,” the song his “Empire” character used to come out to the world. This made for the perfect opportunity to shout out the Supreme Court for their recent decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states.

“We live in a nation where freedom is what we represent, yet we are still fighting every day for the basic freedoms of all of our people…Let the Supreme Court ruling be proof of how far we have come. Let the deaths of sisters and brothers be proof of how far we have to go. No one is free until we are all free.” -Jussie Smollett

Jussie Smollett at BET Awards

(Photo by Mark Davis/BET/Getty Images for BET)

Smollett wasn’t the only artist singing the court’s praises. At the end of her performance with Tamar Braxton and K. Michelle, Patti Labelle took the time to make her own statement concerning the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage:

“We celebrate the Supreme Court decision that all people can love who they want, and they can even get married.”-Patti Labelle

Whether you were a fan of the performances or agreed with who won which award, it’s fair to say the BET Awards made a huge political statement Sunday night. It showcased to the world that Black people just don’t sing and dance. We are conscious people, constantly fighting to be seen as equals in the eyes of our fellow Americans. So kudos, BET, for being more than an awards show. This year, the BET Awards gave millions of Black Americans a voice they could stand behind that said “this is who we are: bold, beautiful, Black, and resilient.”

In the words of Kendrick Lamar who opened the show with a powerful political performance visual of his song “Alright”:

Kendrick Lamar at BET Awards

“When you know, we been hurt, been down before, nigga
When my pride was low, lookin’ at the world like, “where do we go, nigga?”
And we hate Popo, wanna kill us dead in the street for sure, nigga
I’m at the preacher’s door
My knees gettin’ weak and my gun might blow but we gon’ be alright.” -Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”

If you missed the BET Awards, don’t fret, it’s custom for it to be on every night for the rest of the summer. Peace.

 

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