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.

#MediaQuickies 4

#KickOutTheKKK (1/30)#Kickoutthekkk

Today, UNC students gathered on the lawn of McCorkle Place to challenge the uncontextualized racist constructions on UNC’s campus, specifically Saunders Hall. Saunders Hall is named after William Saunders, a UNC alum and chief organizer of North Carolina’s KKK in the late 1800’s.

I fought back tears as I listened to current students tell stories of how their blackness is psychologically attacked on campus on a daily basis. I felt their sincerity as students demanded the University to cut ties with its racist past and to rename Saunders Hall to Hurston Hall in honor of Zora Neale Hurston, the first black student to study at UNC before integration.

I felt the students’ pain, I felt their frustration, I felt their marginalization, and I recorded it so you could feel it too:

“We’re tired of being statistics stored in the University’s back pocket, ready to pull out whenever they need to prove how ‘diverse’ they are. WE ARE WHOLE PEOPLE.” -Rally Speaker


#SGAAwards (1/25)

This media quickie is a shout out to Viola Davis who won Best Actress at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. It seems as if it has become customary this awards’ season for minorities to not only make a statement by winning awards, but to also call out their industry on its lack of diversity. Here’s what Viola had to say:

“I’d like to thank [names several people including Shonda Rhimes] for thinking a mysterious woman could be a 49-year-old, dark-skinned, African-American woman who looks like me.” -Viola Davis


#MarshawnLynch

marshawn

Marshawn Lynch has been catching hell this week because of his “lack of interview skills”. But maybe journalists just aren’t asking the right questions; Marshawn had plenty to say to Progressive  and Skittles when they interviewed him. Marshawn has also worn Beast Mode gear, his official clothing brand, during interviews (a big NO NO in the league because Beast Mode is not licensed by the NFL), despite the hefty fines associated with this type of defiance.

Does Marshawn’s actions make him an asshole? Naw, I think the real issue here is that Marshawn is offending the WPPs (White People in Power) by not playing by their rules designed to allow THEM to profit off of HIS talent. The real issue here is that, the NFL and media industry are upset because, for so long, they have controlled and profited from black bodies, and now, here is Marshawn saying:

#Justice4AllMarch Memoirs

This past weekend, I attended the “Justice For All March” in Washington, DC, that was lead by Rev. Al Sharpton. As a self-proclaimed citizen journalist, I found it fitting that I share video, audio, and photos from my experience. Enjoy!


To start off, I want to share my friend’s song called “Aggression.” It perfectly describes the aura exuded from the thousands of protesters that marched on Saturday. Take a listen.

 

“It’s just my pent up aggression,

even when it’s over and I’ve learned my lesson,

I fucking lose control and let go of my blessings,

is it in my soul or am I just stressing, pent up aggression,

it’s just my pent up aggression.”

On December 13, 2014, I watched as my fellow Americans released this aggression in a positive, non-violent protest in front of Washington, DC’s Capitol building.

Anastasia Mebane, a recent graduate from UNC Chapel Hill and now a high school teacher in Charlotte, NC, shared why she was protesting.

I happened to stumble upon Chris Redd, a comedian, writer and actor from St. Louis, MO, who also shared why he was marching.

It was refreshing to see white Americans acknowledge their white privilege and  march among their fellow brown Americans.

“I want to stand in solidarity with all the people who are fighting for justice. I want to move beyond ending oppression and violence against young black men and boys and look at the responsibility of white people…how are they contributing to the system that causes the conditions that lead to this violence in the first place.”

This guy made sure to make one thing very clear: racism STILL exists. He also said something that I thought was powerful:  “Cops think they are above the law…they ain’t nothing but criminals with permission.”

Some audio…

I put together a collection of popular chants shouted during the march. Take a listen.

Here’s what Al Sharpton had to say to the people. Fast forward to 3:33 for his list of demands from the American justice system.

“When you bury us, we sprout up and start blocking traffic. Our seed grows into civil disobedience. Our seed grows into non-violence. Bury us if you want, but we’ll grow stronger…” -Al Sharpton

Photos:

crowd of protesters

Thousands of people came out to support the families who have lost children at the hands of police officers.

Kids with Parents

It was nice to see younger kids participating in the march.

protester sign

Out of the three posters I made. This one was, by far, my favorite!

DC sign

Some local art added a nice touch to the march.

DCwall

After a long day of protesting, marching on Washington and shedding a few tears, I will never forget the love, strength and camaraderie I witnessed on December 13, 2014. United we stand, divided we fall.

Dear White People: #BlackLivesMatter

Ever since I saw the movie, Dear White People, I’ve wanted to write about it on my blog, but I wasn’t quite sure what to say. There were so many issues raised in the movie that I could’ve honestly written  about four or five different topics, but I wanted to write something that would stick with my readers, so I waited. I waited for the perfect moment, which is now.

unc1

UNC Senior, Mariah Monsanto, expresses to onlookers why black lives matter. (Image Source: Daily Tar Heel)

Last week, I watched as students at my Alma Mater (UNC Chapel Hill) came together in solidarity to protest in the Pit following the release of the grand jury’s decision to not indict Darren Wilson for the shooting of unarmed black teenager, Mike Brown.

As I scrolled through my social media timelines and saw pictures from the UNC protest, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was proud to see students I know, leading the protest, speaking out and joining together to mourn the loss of another black American male at the hands of a white police officer. I was filled with joy when I saw not only black students, but white, Asian, Hispanic and other ethnicities participating in the protest. And I was surprised to see such a large demonstration for a slain black teenager on a PWI’s (Predominately White Institution) campus. But this surprise quickly turned into sadness when I realized, not too long ago, I was part of a UNC campus protest demanding justice for Trayvon Martin.

So you may be asking yourself, what does protests demanding justice for Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin have to do with Dear White People. Well…

dear white ppl

When I first saw the protest that had taken place on UNC’s campus, I immediately flashed back to Dear White People and its exploration of blackness on a PWIs campus. Underlining the plot was the black student union planning to protest the randomization of housing that would get rid of a historic black housing unit on campus. Flash back to the present and here I am, almost three weeks later, watching my peers say to the world “Dear White People: black lives matter.”

Although disturbingly intrigued by how Samantha White (my favorite Dear White People character) used her blackness to hide her own insecurities, I admire how she was able to vocalize how systematic racism plays out on a day-to-day basis. And it is within this system of racism that Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman were able to walk free after killing an unarmed black teenager.

unc2

Students “Die-in” for four and a half minutes to represent each hour Mike Brown’s body lay in the Ferguson St. (Image Source: Daily Tar Heel)

In this “post-racial” world, people in this country often try to self-diagnose themselves as color-blind and turn a blind eye to the byproducts of our nation’s racial history. But it is media moments like Dear White People and RIP hastags followed by the names of dead black teenagers that  force us to take our blinders off, if only for a few days.

Race is alive and thriving in this country, and I was reminded by Sam White and the student leaders who orchestrated the protest on UNC’s campus, that my vote matters, that my protest makes a difference,  and that my voice can be heard.

Diversity: A TV Reality Check

In the midst of the “Black-ish” hoopla, I decided to see what headways my brown brothers and sisters were making on primetime TV. I was pleasantly surprised when I found two new shows, “Cristela” and “Jane the Virgin,” premiering this fall. Both shows are  centered on the lives of two Hispanic women and their families. Why was I surprised? Well,  when’s the last time you saw a predominately Hispanic cast on TV other than the “George Lopez” show? In the time that it probably took you to answer that question, I was able to do some digging and figure out why there seems to be a sudden interest in producing minority shows.

Here’s what I found:

Maxine Walters

Recently the FCC has been under pressure by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (pictured above),  and other law makers to increase media diversity in programming, ownership and executive leadership roles.  As a result, Comcast, one of the largest broadcasting and cable companies in the world, has stepped up its diversity initiatives.

Since Waters and her buddies from the Black Caucus have demanded the FCC  commit to increasing diversity, Comcast has brought us “Black-ish” the first major network comedy to revolve around a black family in almost 10 years and “Cristela,” and “Jane the Virgin,” two shows centered on Hispanic families.

Comcast is also giving minorities the opportunity to own networks. Since Comcast’s new found commitment to diversity,  Revolt, P-Diddy’s music network, and El Rey (owned by Robert Rodriguez),  a network targeting second and third generation English-speaking Hispanics, has emerged. As for my Asian-Americans…they still have some work to do.

Although Comcast thinks it’s a good idea for TV to reflect American demographics, some Americans are overwhelmed by the number of minorities flashing across their TV screens. Some have even requested a show called “White-ish” be created to balance out “Black-ish.” From this  response, I concluded some people need a  TV reality check.

Let me try to break it down for you.

“If you look at shows now that seem to lack diversity, they actually feel dated, because America doesn’t look like that anymore. People want to see what they live, and they want to see voices that reflect the America that they know.” – ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee (source: mysanantonio.com)

“What disenfranchises people is not having a sense of belonging. We are 18 percent Hispanic in the U.S., but on TV, we [minorities] represent only 5 percent of major roles. Behind the camera, it’s like 2 percent — and I’m one of those percentages!” –Robert Rodriguez , owner of El Rey (source: hollywoodreporter.com)

“You know, being a maid is fantastic [reference to “Devious Maids”]. I have many family members that have fed many of their families on doing that job, but there are other stories that need to be told. And I think that the media is a venue to educate and teach our next generation:” – Gina Rodriguez, lead actress from “Jane the Virgin” (source: mysanantonio.com)

When minorities demand their own shows and networks, we aren’t attempting to separate ourselves  from the rest of America. It’s about wanting to feel like we belong. It’s about adding our page to the American story and having the opportunity to broadcast it to the world.

P.S.
“Cristela” primers on Friday, Oct. 10 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC and “Jane the Virgin” premiers on Monday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. on CW.

James and Mike Brown Taught Me…

jamesLast weekend I went to see “Get on Up,” the biopic that chronicled the life of James Brown and his career. I thought the movie did a great job of summing up The Godfather of Soul’s colorful life and career and depicting the racism Brown encountered. However, Demetria Mosley, a student I met at NABJ, left the movie theater questioning why a white director, Tate Taylor, was chosen to tell a black story.

“They [white people] know of the inequalities and hardships that black people faced, but can they really relate and understand how it feels,“ wrote Mosley in a movie review for The Monitor .

After reading Mosley’s review, I began to contemplate the decision that was made to remove Spike Lee, the original writer and producer of the James Brown movie, and to replace him with Taylor (bull shit reason for replacement). I questioned if having a black director would have drastically changed the way James Brown’s story was told on the big screen.

This question lay tucked away in my subconscious until it resurfaced at a Mike Brown rally I attended in Raleigh on Sunday, August 17.

photo 3

Rally speaker referred to in the left text.

“Who controls the black image?” asked a rally speaker to a crowd of about 75 people.

“The media!” yelled the crowd.

“And who controls the media?” asked the speaker.

“White people!” the crowd responded.

And then it hit me. Now I knew why it was so important to Mosley to have a black writer and producer direct James Brown’s biopic. It was about black people having control over our image and telling our story, because who can tell our story better than us?

Victor Tremell, writer for Black Blue Dog, put it perfectly when he wrote:

“Many blacks will probably cry the foul of racism over Brian Grazer’s decision to fire Spike Lee from the job he was given to help tell a black man’s story. However, until more wealthy black people open up more of their own big time movie production studios, they will always be under the thumb of their white counterparts in Hollywood.”

Until black people pull our resources to create black owned media, we will forever be stuck hoping someone funds our projects or retweets and shares our Twitter and Facebook rants. But change is going to require more than a revolutionary hashtag gone viral.

Left to Right: Hardy Copeland,
Alegro Godley, Dequan Bradley
Front: Angel Currie

Take for example the organizers of the rally on Sunday. Angel Currie, one of the organizers of the rally, said she met Dequan Bradley, another rally organizer, on twitter. She saw his tweet about wanting to show support for the people in Ferguson and replied to his tweet saying she wanted to help. This was on a Thursday night. Three days and a couple of introductions later, Currie and Bradley, along with Hardy Copeland and Alezro Godley, planned a successful rally in downtown Raleigh that received media coverage by several news outlets.

I preach a lot  about minorities creating their own voice, and I admire how one passionate tweet, transpired into the planning and implementation of a rally. Sunday’s rally organizers didn’t just send a tweet, they acted, and I challenge my generation to not just create a voice on social media, but to be a part of a story that can proudly be voiced.

What James and Mike Brown taught me:

photo 4

 “RACISM is more than just hate, it’s a complex system of social and political levers set up, and is a cultural DISEASE.”



Want to follow Angel Currie’s new movement?
Twitter: @AngelCurrieNC
IG: @AngelCurrieNC
Email: AngelCurieNC@gmail.com

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