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

snl beyonce_600Two 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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Antron Brown continues to break barriers in drag racing

Antron Brown_600Antron Brown has had a lifelong infatuation with fast cars.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Brown spent his weekends from an early age watching his father compete in sportsman level drag races.

"I grew up around it, and I developed a love and passion for it," Top Fuel driver Brown said in an interview with theGrio during this past weekend's qualifying session for the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.

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Crews control

terrycruz 600Since 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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Wilkins steps out with clergy support

WilkinsPrayer 600On Aug. 7th, the voters of the Ninth Congressional District will get another chance to decide who will represent them for two years. The incumbent, Steve Cohen, again wants that to be him, and – again – the President of the United States is backing him.

So Monday morning when a minister-laden group gathered near the National Civil Rights Museum to show support for attorney Ricky Wilkins, one of the questions was about dealing with President Obama's support for Cohen. The question was fielded by Bishop Edward H. Stephens Jr., pastor of Golden Gate Cathedral.

"As it relates to our president not being on the ground, we are," said Stephens. "And some decisions he has to make because he is the president. I think with the intelligentsia that he has, if he were here (in Memphis), he would be here (supporting Wilkins."

 

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Michael Jackson is ‘resurrected’ for the Billboard Music Awards

jackson 600A 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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