It was close to midnight when I finally made it to LiveTone studios located in what Urban Memphis calls "Blackhaven." The term of endearment echoes the rich pride of the people who live in this part of town and would love nothing less than you knowing that they do.
I came in with a puzzled look on my face after passing by a couple of Memphis famous strip clubs in full swing. Kevin "Sleepy" Plunkett and Tazz Fields were inside taking a break from stirring up music magic and were awaiting my arrival. I kicked back on a couch, ink pen and paper in hand ready to do an interview. I quickly intertwined in a discussion about the state of the music world.
"I like a lot of things about music right now," said Sleepy. "I like the different techniques used now. You can really tell that the people making the beats are giving them a lot of thought. I really do like a lot of the songs that come out. I don't like them all, but I do like some.
Numerous black actors have played the president of the United States over the years on film and television, including Morgan Freeman, Dennis Haysbert, Richard Pryor and Jamie Foxx. But with a new pilot called "State of Affairs," NBC is offering up the first black woman POTUS.
Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning actress Alfre Woodward will play President Roberta Payton in the drama that is being billed as a cross between "Scandal" and "The West Wing." Woodard is joined by Katherine Heigl, whose character is a CIA operative who does daily debriefings with the president. Heigl's character is also the ex-girlfriend of President Payton's late son.
No further details about the pilot are available, but just the fact that a major network's drama will star a black woman as the leader of the free world is a significant milestone in how black women are depicted in pop culture.
You start your favorite video game, go to character select, pick a black avatar—be it a fighter or gangster—and start playing. As a white person, what effect, if any, does this have on you?
According to a new study, the effect is significant: White players who adopt black characters are more likely to exhibit aggression and express strongly negative attitudes toward blacks, even after ending the game.
"The media have the power to perpetuate the stereotype that blacks are violent, and this is certainly seen in video games," said Brad Bushman, an Ohio State University communications professor and psychologist who co-authored the study. "This violent stereotype may be more prevalent in video games than in any other form of media because being a black character in a video game is almost synonymous with being a violent character."
The theater world has long been considered one of the most elite—and least diverse—in American culture. And as I've previously covered for The Root, at present there are only a handful of African-American Broadway producers, despite the fact that 46 new shows opened last season.
Over the years, though, there have been occasional African-American playwriting successes. Lorraine Hansberry was the first black female writer to have a show—the classic "A Raisin in the Sun," produced on Broadway—and it recently returned to Broadway, 55 years after its debut, with Denzel Washington now as the star.
August Wilson became the first black playwright to win a Tony Award for best play in 1987. But when Playbill, the publication best known for publishing Broadway programs, attempted to compile a list of influential black playwrights in the late '90s, the number of those with actual Broadway productions or mainstream crossover success of any kind was uncomfortably small.
Top Ten DVD List for March 25, 2014
"The Wolf of Wall Street"
Aaron McGruder, creator and executive producer of "The Boondocks," has had no involvement with the upcoming fourth season of the cartoon, Adult Swim confirms, fueling suspicions that began on Facebook, where McGruder claimed "The Boondocks" page had been "hijacked."
According to a press release issued by Adult Swim, "this season was produced without the involvement of Aaron McGruder, when a mutually agreeable production schedule could not be determined."
In response to a request for comment, McGruder would only confirm that he has had no involvement with this season of the show.
Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Oscar Grant, Jonathan Ferrell.
The news seems saturated with stories of young black men and boys whose lives were cut short — often because they were perceived as a threat.
Moved to action by the trend, one director has set out to investigate the images and myths around black males that feed those negative perceptions.
With "Afraid of Dark," documentary filmmaker Mya B. says she hopes to make real the lives of everyday black men onscreen in hopes it could, "make them harder to kill."