Amandla Stenberg: Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows

amandla stenberg

Amandla Stenberg, the 16 year-old actress that played Rue in the “Hunger Games”, broke down the appropriation of black culture in her short film project, ‘Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows’.

Originally posted on her Tumblr a few months ago, Stenberg asks an important question in her film: “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”

Photo: Amandla Stenberg/Youtube Screenshot

‘First Gen’: Growing Up “Other” in America

first gen

By the looks of its official trailer, “First Gen” has the chops to make it from a pilot to a major network .

Created by Yvonne Orji, the show is based on her real life experiences. Orji completed undergraduate and graduate school with the intention to continue to medical school. Instead, she followed her real dreams and moved to New York to pursue acting and comedy. Orji’s goal with “First Gen” is to offer a “refreshing take on the modern day immigrant family,” while flipping the script on the usual images of Africans on mainstream media.

“An interesting shift is occurring where kids of immigrant parents are growing up and discovering America for themselves; not solely through the lens of their parents. This opens up a whole new world of opportunities. Until First Gen, we haven’t seen Africans portrayed in mainstream media as regular, everyday people. They’re usually warlords, cab drivers or fleeing genocide. The African immigrant story in America is so much richer than that. The success of entertainers like Lupita Nyong’o David Oyelowo, and Uzo Aduba suggests that mainstream America is ready to tune into a series like ‘First Gen’,” the creators told IndieWire.

 

Photo: Youtube/Screenshot

 

Victims of Chicago Gun Violence Are “Unforgotten”

 unforgoten

A pop-up exhibit currently in downtown Chicago called “The Unforgotten,” is a project of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. The exhibit highlights victims of gun violence in Chicago and throughout Illinois.

Artists carefully studied images and videos of victims in order to create lifelike statues of them. Some statues are wearing clothing from the victims.

The statues were commissioned to remind viewers of the humanity of the victims. They remain faceless to remind viewers that while the statues are lifelike, the victim is permanently lost.

“It does (convey) the message that my daughter was once here and she is no longer here,” Bonita Foster, the mother of a shooting victim, told the RedEye.

Read more.

Photo: Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence

ICYMI: John Legend Launches Campaign to End Mass Incarceration

johnlegend

On Monday, John Legend launched FREE AMERICA, an initiative to end mass incarceration, reports the Huffington Post.

“We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country. It’s destroying families, it’s destroying communities and we’re the most incarcerated country in the world, and when you look deeper and look at the reasons we got to this place, we as a society made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way and that way usually involves using incarceration,” Legend told the Huffington Post.

Read more.

Photo: John Legend/Instagram

Survivors of Chicago Police Torture Will Receive Reparations

chicago reparations

From Project NIA:

This morning, members of Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM), Amnesty International, USA and representatives of the Mayor’s Office announced an agreement on a reparations package for survivors of torture by Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and officers under his command before a special session of the City Council Finance Committee.

The package, based on the Reparations Ordinance introduced in October of 2013 by Aldermen Proco Joe Moreno (1st Ward) and Howard Brookins (21st Ward), provides concrete redress to the torture survivors and their family members, which includes: a formal apology for the torture; specialized counseling services to the Burge torture survivors and their family members on the South side; free enrollment and job training in City Colleges for survivors and family members; a history lesson about the Burge torture cases taught in Chicago Public schools; a permanent public memorial to the survivors; and it sets aside $5.5 million for a Reparations Fund for Burge Torture Victims that will allow the Burge torture survivors with us today to receive financial compensation for the torture they endured.

This historic agreement is the product of decades of organizing for justice in these cases, and represents the culmination of a concerted six-month campaign led by CTJM, Amnesty International – USA, Project NIA and We Charge Genocide, with the help of actions from several other organizations including BYP100, Chicago Light Brigade and the Chicago Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

Photo: Project NIA

Janelle Monáe’s Perfect Twitter Clapback

Queen Carefree Black Girl Janelle Monáe shut down this Twitter user and his unsolicited misogynist two-cents very quickly yesterday. It’s safe to say, don’t come for Janelle unless she sends for you and even then you should stay in your lane.

Photo: Janelle Monáe /Screenshot

Get Off Him Miss Ann; or Why Madonna Needs a Seat

DrakeMadonna

By Jay Dodd

We shouldn’t be laughing at Drake right now. Like for real.

Say what you want about the memes, and lists, and tweets reacting to Madonna’s latest shock attempt, but it’s not funny yet. Madonna can’t perform that type of “domination” in such a public forum without critique. His face said it all. Drake’s face was of disgust and shock. Madonna’s arrogance gleaming, almost grotesque, beside him. But she stay doing this. Madonna stay exploiting Black men/of color who serve as sexual prop for her own attempts at taboo. She stay attempting to politicized her body by positioning it near and around Blackness. She stay having this history of Black men she attempts to keep in her wake. Whether this Cochella “highlight” was rehearsed or not, the optics of this kind of dynamic is troubling.

Madonna has been on a crusade to be the most un-self aware White woman of the century. From calling her son “#disnigga” on Instagram andcomparing her oeuvre to Nelson Mandela and Bob Marley. She is one of the original modern appropriators and has exploited popular Black bodies before (see: Tupac). Her most recent quips declaring ageism as the new “Black” of sorts, positioning it as “the worst thing” we casually allow. (Because they aren’t killing Black people of all ages right now in America). Madonna’s flippant ignorance sets an uncomfortable stage for her interaction with Drake. She is clearly trying to assert a power. Her power as a woman is unquestioned, but she too is White, and has a dynamic power in relation to Drake.

While (Black) men are complicit in misogyny against all women, White women have a different conversation. White women have participated in anti-Blackness in ways only they can. They have been unjustly positioned as the pure and fragile and Blackness, her enemy. White supremacy positions white women as the most vulnerable to threat of Black men; we feel this weight. Some Black men prize White women as sign of “making it” —that’s both misogynist and a colonial thought. Other Black men know the danger White women could bring. Black mothers warn of white women with white fathers. For many Black men, a White woman is just as terrifying as a White man.

We also are complicit in misogyny and must complicate our “distrust” of any woman. We must locate any violence as it is. But there is a dynamic here.

There is a dynamic between Drake and Madonna. What could he do? On a global stage with a powerful woman with significantly more capital? He was, in many ways, powerless. She really could have taken that as far as she wanted. His face said it all. Whatever could have been planned was not that.

There is so much more (Black) men need to be doing to combat misogyny and sexism, and we must also acknowledge subjugation as it appears. We need language to call out White women for their complicity in racism against Black men/of color. That language needs not to reproduce misogynistic violence.That language needs to find a word for the emotions Drake must of felt as Madonna strutted off.

If I had read Harry Potter, I’d make a better dementor joke.

—–

Jay Dodd is a writer and performance artist based in Boston, originally from Los Angeles. After recently graduating Tufts University, Jay has organized vigils and protests locally for Black Lives Matter: Boston. When not in the streets, Jay has contributed to Huffington Post and is currently a contributing writer for VSNotebook.com, based in London. Jay Dodd is active on social media celebrating Blackness, interrogating masculinity, and complicating queerness. His poetic and performance work speaks to queer Black masculinity and afrofuturism.

Black Youth Project 100 Debuts Video Highlighting Impact of Low-Wage Jobs on the Black Community

CHICAGO –The Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) highlights the impact of fast food jobs and other low wage occupations on Black youth in a new video released yesterday morning.

The video, titled Black Work Matters: The Fight for $15, calls sharp attention to the experiences of young Black people who are disproportionately trapped in fast food and other low wage service sector jobs, and the billion-dollar companies that refuse to pay them fairly for their work or allow them to unionize to fight for better working conditions.

To amplify the demands of the Fight for $15, a national movement to demand fair wages and union rights to fast food and other low-wage workers, the video includes testimonials from young Black activists and fast food employees describing their experiences with unsafe work environments and the impact of low wage work.

“The fact that there are so many of us that are not making a living wage, that aren’t making enough money to comfortably put food in the refrigerator, comfortably pay for child care – it’s inhumane. It’s not just,” says Janae Bonsu, co-chair of BYP100’s Chicago chapter.

Jessica Davis, a current fast food employee profiled in the video, describes the hard, sometimes painful reality that many Black youth face at their fast food jobs.

“When our child gets sick, we have to debate if we’re going to go to work or take our child to the doctor because you know missing that day at work will have a big impact on our check,” Davis shares candidly. “I didn’t think I had the right to stand up to my employer. I thought being a single mother of two children that the pay and the disrespect [I experience] was something I deserved,” adds Davis in another segment.

Low wage work and lack of access to union rights is a national problem, but presents a unique challenge to Black workers. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014 Black people made up only 11.4% of the national employed population, but represented 20.5% of fast food workers. Additionally,Black workers are over-represented in low-wage work overall. In 2011, 36 percent of Blacks, including 38 percent of Black women, were employed in low-wage jobs.

The video features clips of actual demonstrations from direct action protests being led by BYP100, SOUL, the Worker Center for Racial Justice and Chicago Fight for $15 leaders. For Charlene Carruthers, National Director of BYP100, the fight for higher wages and collective bargaining rights for Black people is a long time coming and hits especially close to home.

“My mother has been a low wage worker for most of my childhood and most of my life. The wages she received didn’t match up with the work that she puts in every day,” says Carruthers in the video.

Black people are disproportionately impacted by falling wages and lack of access to union rights. In the video, Carruthers underlines the importance of fair wages and union rights for the liberation of Black people and Black youth.

“It’s a fight for the dignity of workers. It’s a fight for the right for workers to collectively bargain. It’s a fight for workers to actually be in safe environments where their grievances and their issues can be heard,” Carruthers states in the video.

On Wednesday, April 15th, BYP100 members in Chicago, New Orleans and NYC will be leading direct actions in solidarity with Fight for $15’s national Day of Action to demand fair wages and union rights for fast food workers.

“The Fight for $15’s demand for a union [for fast food workers] is absolutely crucial. Low wage workers, particularly workers in the fast food industry, deserve to actually be able to create the kind of workplace that they want to create,” stresses Carruthers in the video.

###

 Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100) is an activist member-based organization of Black 18-35 year olds, dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. On April 15, BYP100 will join the#Fightfor15 national day of action, dubbed the largest low-wage protest in modern American history, with events in Chicago, New Orleans and New York City. For more information, visit: bit.ly/BYP415

[Individuals featured in video available for additional comment by request. Please contact Michael J. Brewer, National Press Contact, for more details.]