Wednesday, November 21, 2018
May we all be fortunate to avoid the tragedy and pain Bath has endured as a motivation toward our greatness; however, it does not erase that fact that dreams, no matter how they're ignited, reside inside all of us and, unless acted upon, will also tragically wither and die. Whether it's a career change, returning to school, starting a business, starting a family, or even redefining relationships, it's simply never too late to make a change. No, it won't be easy but as another famous quote states, "If it were easy, it wouldn't be worth it." Because of this, however, I'm also wise enough to know there will be those beyond age 37, 40, even 58, who may read these historic accounts and think they're still too old to begin again or start something new. To that, I leave you with this: Harlan David Sanders, better known to chicken lovers everywhere as Colonel Sanders, founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken company at age 65. He went on to become a multimillionaire. I rest my finger, lickin' case.
Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!
Sources: Livemint.com; PsychologyToday.com; Wikipedia.com
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Despite the celebrations across social media juxtaposed against the outrage from those noting everything from the swift prosecution of "another black man" in the twilight hours of the possible appointment of Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, who is also being accused of sexual assault by three victims thus far to the blatant reality that a Commander in Chief sits at the head of our Free World with a closet full of the same sordid laundry, makes the disbelief somewhat plausible. But the judge has spoken, and I am not here to neither defend or condemn Cosby. After all, I didn't know him. I did, however, know Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable. We all did. And for that, I WILL defend what that character meant to the correcting of America's lens, because for every black garbage man that lived up the block, we could also point to a black doctor that lived across town. And this reality gave white America (and unfortunately some in black America) a crash course on the "levels of blackness" and in dismantling the often misguided notion that we are a monolithic people.
In fact, I recall quite vividly being a freshmen at Howard University in an English Composition 101 class during a discussion about the influence of pop culture on society in which the Cosby Show was of topic. So imagine my surprise when a young sista immediately blurted out "I don't find that show realistic at all! I mean, come on: a black doctor husband and a black lawyer wife?" To which I immediately responded, "If that feels so unrealistic to you, then why are you at Howard?" Believe me when I say my question was not rhetorical or in jest; it was asked in complete disbelief that a student would walk the halls that produced black excellence for decades in the form of doctors, lawyers, politicians, and entertainers, and yet view her own quest for success as an unobtainable dream. Believe me when I say I think of that young woman from time to time and wonder if her years at "the Mecca" erased her limited thinking and instead created in her a profusion of possibilities that would rival any TV show. But it also validated the argument that if the vision of a successful black family rang foreign to a college freshman, there were a lot of people in the world who also needed to be educated and the show had a purpose to fulfill.
Because of this, and despite the rescinding of numerous accolades awarded to Cosby from the esteemed Kennedy Center Honors prize to dozens of honorary degrees from the Berkeley College of Music to Johns Hopkins University to Boston College, the most disappointing mass move to dismantle the legacy of Cosby was the attempt to erase The Cosby Show from TV--and dare I say Black--History. It goes without saying that the first thought in most networks' decision-making to eliminate the show from its syndication lineup was to avoid public backlash and, thus, lawsuits. However, the second thought was undoubtedly to prevent "rewarding" Cosby any further revenue stream in the form of residuals as to not contribute to his already $400 million net worth. However, when networks began to put their decision into swift action (in which I feel was mostly driven by "herd mentality" and pressure from the court of public opinion) my immediate thought was how the Cosby Show's other stars, co-stars, and 100+ guests would be affected, whose current incomes also were tied to the residuals of the show moreso and had nothing to do with the deeds of Cosby.
My thoughts were confirmed on August 31st when fellow Cosby Show' actor Geoffrey Owens (a.k.a. Elvin Tibideaux who played oldest daughter Sondra's lovesick boyfriend turned doctor husband) was spotted and reported as bagging groceries at a New Jersey Trader Joe's. While many applauded Owens tenacity in doing honorable work to support his family, despite having acted in a few shows since the Cosby Show's 1992 ending, Owens admitted money became tight when networks began yanking reruns from the air following the accusations against Cosby. “That was one of the many factors that contributed to my decision to take a job outside the entertainment industry,” Owens told TheWrap. “[The networks' decisions] did not help me financially.”
And that, my friends, is what the old folks call throwing the baby out with the bathwater. For in the rush to play judge and jury, and try Cosby in the court of public opinion before we ever let the law serve justice, more than just the accusers' lives were altered and more than just a TV show was lost. Instead a period in television history that served as a viable money stream for some and a monumental moment for an entire generation of people was destroyed. However, I am happy to see that there are networks and services (I see you, TV One and Amazon Prime) who have taken this into consideration and restored the Cosby Show--not Bill Cosby--to its iconic place in history. The show's legacy changed mindsets and thus lives--black and white--for the better, just as A Different World (another Cosby production) did, resulting in an increase in the number of black students who enrolled in historically black colleges and universities during the show's 1987-1993 run. Yes, William Henry Cosby Jr.'s name will now be forever tarnished, but we can't afford to have his deeds impact the art that stands on its own merit. After all, these shows are fictional, but their impact is indeed real and should not be tossed away or forgotten--for that would be a judgment that does not fit the crime.
Photo Credits: N/A
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
The Gospel According to Andre - June 1st
You don't have to be a fashionista to know the name André Leon Talley. However, if you are, Kate Novack’s intimate portrait of the fashion icon will give you something to celebrate, as the documentary follows Talley's emotional journey from his roots growing up in the segregated Jim Crow South to becoming one of the most influential tastemakers and fashion curators of our times as well as the first African American man to have a position of visible importance within the fashion industry as the former editor-at-large of Vogue magazine.
Superfly - June 15th
Break out the furs and fedoras, and hold on tight for a fast-paced ride through a flashy world of high stakes and gritty street justice as actor and singer Trevor Jackson reprises the role of 70's blaxploitation icon, Superfly, who makes plans for one last big hit before getting out of the game for good...if he can. Directed by video icon Director X and also starring Jason Mitchell, Michael Kenneth Williams, Lex Scott Davis and Jennifer Morrison.
Uncle Drew - June 29th
Grab the kids (and grandma too) and prepare to roll out your own red carpet for this all-star cast of ballers--literally--and actors assembled to tell the story of a young man, who convinces a former basketball playground legend to join a street ball tournament at the Rucker Park in Harlem to his upend his rivals. Uncle Drew agrees but only under one condition: he gets to bring his own squad along for the win and, for our sake, the laughs. Directed by Charles Stone and starring Kyrie Irving, Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, Lil Rel Howery, Lisa Leslie, Erica Ash, J. B. Smoove, Mike Epps, and Tiffany Haddish.
Whitney - July 6th
Although it's been almost a decade since her passing, the stellar career and untimely death of music icon Whitney Houston continues to captivate us all. Director Kevin Macdonald brings audiences an even closer look at the Pop legend through personal recounts and interviews with those closest to the musical songbird.
Sorry to Bother You - July 6th
Even when Lakeith Stanfield is cast as a supporting character, he steals the show, as is evident in his role of Darius in the FX network television hit, "Atlanta," or as kidnap victim Andre Logan King in the 2017 smash hit, "Get Out." This summer fans will enjoy Stanfield's lead role as Cassius "Cash" Green, a young African-American telemarketer who adopts a white accent in order to thrive at his job. Written and directed by rapper Boots Riley. Also starring Tessa Thompson, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, and Danny Glover.
BlacKkKlansman - August 10th
Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction, and BlackkKlansman could not be a better embodiment of the adage, as a crime comedy-drama that tells the story of an African-American detective who sets out to infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan in 1970s Colarado. Written and directed by Spike Lee, co-produced by Jordan Peele, and based on the book "Black Klansman" by Ron Stallworth. Starring John David Washington. (Movie Bonus: John is acting legend Denzel Washington's son.)
Night School - September 28th
The summer wraps up with a hearty laugh, as comedy heavy hitter, Kevin Hart, and overnight sensation, Tiffany Haddish, team up as student and teacher, respectively, to tell the story of a group of troublemakers who are forced to attend night school in hopes that they'll pass the GED exam. Directed by Malcom D. Lee and produced by Will Packer. Also starring Yvonne Orji, Bresha Webb, and Keith David.
Enjoy your summer and, when in doubt, get extra butter! ;-)
Photo credits: N/A
Sources: Movie Insider; Rotten Tomatoes; YouTube; Wikipedia
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
As taken from Luke 23:39-43 (NASB): "One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, 'Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!' But the other answered, and rebuking him said, 'Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.' And he was saying, 'Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!' And [Jesus] said to him, 'Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.'"
Remember Me. How remarkable that in a final act of faith during the worst of circumstances, one thief made a conscious decision to secure himself an "ever after" with such a simple, yet humbling request. And how fascinating that in those few Bible verses so many themes are present: Sacrifice. Humility. Choice. Similarly, we are faced with making choices every day. Some so simple they don't require much thought beyond a basic "yes" or "no" and some so momentous they can change the entire trajectory of our lives....
On tomorrow, April 4th, we will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., another historical figure who was the embodiment of sacrifice and humility, and who also made one of the greatest choices any mortal man could ever make--to lay down his life for others. I imagine when Dr. King entered Morehouse College at the young age of 15, he was dreaming of a life for himself devoid of great hardships and filled with endless opportunities that had and were continuing to escape so many in the South during that time. However, in just a little over a decade later, a 25-year old Dr. King would find himself leading the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, thus definitively marking the moment when he would choose to spend the rest of his life fighting for the civil rights of a nation of marginalized people until he was gunned down at the age of 39.
Dr. King's sacrifice is unequivocally notable, yet his name is also among a list of civil rights heroes from Malcolm X to Medgar Evers who made the choice to live and die for something greater than themselves. Although most of us will never be called upon to make such an extreme sacrifice, that doesn't excuse us from choosing how we ensure Dr. King's dream never dies, whether fighting for police accountability; gun control regulation; the eradication of economical, educational, and health disparities in our communities; or simply giving to those in need. Dr. King once said, "If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live." Making the choice to put the well being of others before self is the greatest sacrifice of love one could make, for in our fight for others, we're responding to the call of many who are simply asking "remember me." Just as most of us celebrated on Sunday that Jesus did not come down from the cross just to save himself, Dr. King did not give his life for the fight for equality to not remain a dream in our hearts and a call to action for us all. Lest we forget.
Thank you for your invaluable sacrifice, Dr. King.
Thank you for your invaluable sacrifice, Dr. King.
Photo Credits: N/A
Saturday, March 3, 2018
However, it's more subtly woven theme of hope and pride is what is striking the loudest chord with the African-American audience, as reflected in the countless social media photos of moviegoers adorned head to toe in African garb, the many private sold out screenings that have been held, and the number of videos shared of overjoyed students headed to theaters ecstatic to, for once, see a superhero reflecting their hue. Airline agents at various airports around the country changed flight gates to Wakanda. Friends changed their regular dapped up greetings to the one T'Challa and his sister, Shuri, lovingly share. Conversations among women included the topic of considering shaving off their crowns of glory to "represent" like the Dora Milaje. To put it mildly, Black Panther has left all of us proud of where we once came, of who we are, and hopeful of what we could become.
However, it is not lost on me that Black Panther has too created an unspoken feeling of melancholy and discontent as we struggle to reconcile that despite the strives we've made in this country, unlike in fictitious Wakanda, we do not control any invaluable resources, we have not been able to fully sustain ourselves independent of any Westernized hand print, and the remnants of colonization does continue to exist in every fabric of our lives. To put it mildly, Wakanda is a dream of which we'd long to never awake lest be reminded of the nightmarish reality of just how "far from home" we actually are. When the first slave ship pulled us from the Motherland and dropped us in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, we inherently knew we could never go home again. And yet Wakanda teases us with the idea of what we could have been had we never been forced to leave.
In what seems to be a common question among people of color as of late--"Have you seen Black Panther yet?"--I too ended up in a very lengthy conversation with a gentleman recently precipitated by that very question. Our conversation took us from discussions of Black Panther to civil rights to gentrification to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Me being a Howard alum and he a Hampton alum (and, yes, there was the obligatory "real HU" rift), the latter part of the conversation led us into a discussion about another recent talked about viewing: the award-winning documentary "Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities" which aired on PBS and chronicled the rise (and sometimes fall), of those great institutions. Nonetheless, in a full circle moment, the conversation ended with what I suspect many think about after leaving a viewing of Black Panther: How do we create a Wakanda now?
While indulging in one of my nightly guilty pleasures--Vice TV's "Desus & Mero"--Desus jokingly wondered if every black person who owned a pair Jordan sneakers cashed them in, could that amass to the wealth of the fictionalized Wakanda. Of course the answer is no, but what was real was the shared feeling of desperately wondering how do we get close to making that a reality. And though the possibility exits, a system that was never designed for us to win will most likely ensure a dream of that magnitude never becomes a reality. As the gentlemen I spoke with so reminded, we were put in a race where the other runners got a 200-mile head start, and yet we're expected to catch up. Seemingly impossible.
However, that does not mean that we should not task ourselves with working to create our own "Vibranium" right where we are and, despite our disadvantages, that must be mined and protected at all costs. It does not necessarily have to be a precious invaluable metal, but a resource nonetheless that will continue to sustain us. The definition will be different for each of us. For some, that "Vibranium" will simply be building a strong family unit; for another that will be giving back by sowing into our communities; for others that could simply be taking a young boy or girl under their wing as a mentee. Yet, for me, that "Vibranium" is continuing to support our greatest incubator of black intellectual property: black colleges and universities.
As I write this on Howard University's 151st Charter weekend celebration, it is a great time to be reminded that HBCUs must continue to be cherished and sustained. With HBCUs producing more black PhD recipients in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields than any other body of institutions, they continue to create our own "Shuri's" and hold the key to our advancement. In fact, according to the National Science Foundation, an all-time high of 448 doctorates were awarded by historically black colleges and universities in 2014; thus HBCUs conferred just 0.8 percent of all doctoral degree awarded in the United States in 2014.
Human rights activist, Malcolm X once said "Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today." When I reflect on those words, I am inspired that despite the challenges we have faced as a people, education has and continues to be that gateway that will help us create our Wakanda right where we stand. And for those without access to that great resource, it will be our job to meet them where they are and help carry them to where they must be. Our ultimate liberation may not include fancy cat suits and flying cars, but we should not for one minute fail to realize that possessing an education is both invaluable and untouchable, and will always be the great equalizer. Let's continue to build our "new land" right where we stand, and be invigorated by T'Challa's passionate decree, "I did not yield. And as you can see, I am not dead. The challenge continues...." And so it does for all of us.
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