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A bittersweet tribute to black womanhood

A bittersweet tribute to black womanhood

"Where are the ants?"

It's Mother's Day. My mother has come to New York to spend the weekend with me, her only child. After a rooftop brunch, I insist that we swing through the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y., to see Kara Walker's latest art exhibit, "A Subtlety" (or "The Marvelous Sugar Baby"). I'm especially eager to see it on opening weekend, when it's fresh (and before the masses see it and all the think pieces are written that will undoubtedly alter my perception), and I also want to see how my mom, not so much an art lover, reacts to it.

Walker, who is best-known for using her art to explore race, gender and sexuality, doesn't disappoint. Her newest work, currently on display at the Domino Sugar Factory, is a modern-day sphinx in the image of a black woman. The "sugar sphinx," as I've taken to calling her, wears a head scarf tied like a mammy and is replete with an ample bosom and the unmistakably black features of a wide nose, full lips and—the part that's been getting all the social media attention—a gigantic butt.

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  • Written by Demetria L. Lucas/The Root

Kam’s Kapsules: OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules: OPENING THIS WEEK

For movies opening May 23, 2014

BIG BUDGET FILMS

"Blended" (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality and crude humor) Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore reunite for their third romantic comedy (after The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates), this go-round as a widower and divorcee who continue seeing each other despite a disastrous blind date. With Terry Crews, Kevin Nealon, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Dan Patrick and Shaquille O'Neal.

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" (PG-13 for nudity, profanity, suggestive material and intense violence) Latest installment of the Marvel Comics franchise finds a confederacy of mutants traveling back in time to join forces with their younger selves in order to change the past to preserve the future. Cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Anna Paquin, Hugh Jackman and Michael Fassbender.

 

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Next season, let’s see SNL do better at portraying black women

Next season, let’s see SNL do better at portraying black women

Two weeks after Leslie Jones' controversial segment on slavery, I was very worried about the season finale of "Saturday Night Live." With the frenzy surrounding what happened between Solange, Jay Z and Beyoncé in that elevator, I was sure a sketch was coming.

Across Twitter, gossip sites and even mainstream media, Solange has been the butt of jokes that pathologize her as violent, angry and unstable. Knowing SNL's history reinforcing stereotypes of black women, there were a lot of ways this could have gone wrong, but I was pleasantly surprised. For me, it was a breath of fresh air for "SNL" – which for 39 years has too often relied on degrading stereotypes – to write a sketch about Solange, Jay Z and Beyoncé that managed to feel fresh and unexpected.

It was great to see Maya Rudolph show up Saturday to play Beyoncé, but it was also a harsh reminder that after she left, it was six years before "SNL" hired another black female cast member. Hiring Sasheer Zamata, along with writers LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones, was a long-overdue first step toward addressing the lack of diversity on-screen, as well as the show's continued stereotypical portrayals of African-American women. Having someone to competently play first lady Michelle Obama and Olivia Pope from "Scandal" was an important acknowledgment of the tremendous role African-American women play in American culture.

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  • Written by Rashad Robinson/The Root

Crews control

Crews control

Since retiring from the NFL, Terry Crews has traded in his helmet and cleats to pursue an acting career while also becoming the ultimate family man and fitness enthusiast. Over the past several years, omnipresent Terry has been seen almost everywhere, whether as the pecs-popping pitchman for Old Spice, portraying the overworked dad on "Everybody Hates Chris," a tough guy in "The Expendables" film series, the loveable goofball in "White Chicks," Will McAvoy's bodyguard on HBO's "The Newsroom," or randy congressman Herbert Love in "Arrested Development."

Already in 2014, Terry has appeared in Tyler Perry's "The Single Mom's Club," and in "Draft Day" opposite Kevin Costner. And later this year, he will be starring with Sly Stallone in "Reach Me," and reprising the role of Hale Caesar in the "The Expendables 3."

Terry is currently a series regular on the Golden Globe Award-winning TV sitcom "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," playing Sgt. Terry Jeffords, whose ripped exterior belies a sensitive and beleaguered interior. Crews also just added author to his resume with the release of his first book, "Manhood." And it was recently announced that starting this fall he will be serving as host of the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

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Michael Jackson is ‘resurrected’ for the Billboard Music Awards

Michael Jackson is ‘resurrected’ for the Billboard Music Awards

A hologram of Michael Jackson performed during last night's Billboard Music Awards. Welcome to the future of posthumous music.

In a similar style to Tupac Shakur's performance at Coachella in 2012, the King of Pop's hologram definitely bore an uncanny resemblance to the singer, but it didn't look like the Michael Jackson from five years ago. Jackson-Gram hologram performed the new hit "Slave to the Rhythm" off of Jackson's posthumous album "Xscape" – which debuted last week at No. 1 in 50 countries.

Jackson's hologram was dressed in red pants and a gold jacket with military-like designs on the shoulders. During the performance the hologram hit several of Jackson's signature moves as it was flanked by dancers and special effects.

 

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  • Written by Yesha Callahan/The Root

‘A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home’

‘A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home’

Part and parcel of the "American Dream" is a deep desire to purchase that picture-perfect house in suburbia surrounded by the proverbial white picket fence. For generations, African Americans were frustrated in their pursuit of home ownership by de facto and de jure discrimination as reflected in everything from segregation to exclusionary zoning to racial covenants in deeds to the "white only" mortgage provisions of the G.I. Bill to the unwritten laws in Sundown Towns where African Americans weren't allowed to reside after sunset.

Consequently, most minorities ended up cooped in overcrowded, dilapidated tenements and projects in the nation's inner-cities. Then, during the Clinton Administration, Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, which mandated that banks finally extend mortgages to blacks and whites alike.

Sadly, racism reared its ugly head anyway in the form of the subprime mortgages issued predominantly to people of color, regardless of their income. And when the housing bubble burst in 2008, African-Americans started taking it on the chin again.

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  • Written by Kam Williams/Special to The New Tri-State Defender

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