African Slavery: The New Hollywood Renaissance

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2013-11-19 03:02Z by Steven

African Slavery: The New Hollywood Renaissance

Our Weekly: Los Angeles

William Covington, Contributor

With the recent release of “12 Years A Slave” and “Django Unchained” and numerous slave genre movies awaiting release, it appears the slavery motif is possibly generating a new African American Renaissance in Hollywood.

According to Pasadena screenwriter Herman James, “Hollywood doesn’t care about educating the nation on the institution that built this country. They are taking the pulse and following the money.

Movies about slavery have become a niche genre that has a strong possibility of making money, and James says this has nothing to do with a Black president in the White House or the fact that the Civil War took place 150 years ago. Instead, he thinks the proliferation may be attributed to the fact that recently Hollywood discovered that movies about slavery and plantations are profitable. “They are the new race movies. However, if they flop they will vanish as easy as they have become big-screen entertainment.”…

The race movies that James refers to are early movies produced between 1915 and 1950 for Black audiences…

…In “The North Star,” the character Big Ben escapes a southern plantation and makes his way north to freedom by following the North Star. He ends up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he is helped by local Quakers who are part of the Underground Railroad, a system of hiding places and trails for those escaping the horrors of slavery. This movie is currently in post production.

“Belle” is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mabatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing. Expected to be released in 2014.

In “The Keeping Room,” three Southern women—two sisters and one African American slave—left without men in the dying days of the Civil War, are forced to defend their home from the onslaught of a band of soldiers who have broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army. It is scheduled for release in 2014…

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Young Afro Latinos straddle both cultures

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-03-20 03:31Z by Steven

Young Afro Latinos straddle both cultures

Our Weekly: Our Truth, Our Voice
Los Angeles, California

Manny Otiko

Hispanic heritage month celebrated Sept. 15-Oct. 15

When 2nd Lt. Emily Perez was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, she became the first female African American officer to die in combat. Perez, an outstanding West Point graduate, was mourned by two communities because, while she looked like a Black woman, she came from a Black-Latino family.

Like former POW Spec. Shoshana Johnson, Perez’s death indicates how society’s definition of who is Black is changing. Johnson was championed by the Black media, after her captivity was almost drowned out by the spectacle of Jessica Lynch’s staged rescue. (Johnson is of Afro-Panamanian descent and is also identified with the Hispanic ethnic group.)

Latinos are now officially the largest ethnic group in the United States, by passing African Americans, who for a long time have been the largest and most politically-visible minority.

But there are an increasing number of young people who are from both of these significant ethnic groups. Latinos and African Americans often live and work alongside one another in urban areas, and while there are often reports about the friction between the two groups, sometimes the Black-Brown unions work quite smoothly. Many younger Latinos supported President Barack Obama’s campaign, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villarigosa also courted the African American community…

…Growing up [Shay] Olivarria said that she did not fit in with either of the ethnic groups.

“My mom is Black and my dad is Mexican. I have one full Black sister, one full Mexican sister, and then there’s me. Growing up neither side accepted me. To the Blacks I was ‘exotic’ and ‘different,’ so the girls thought I was a Barbie and the boys were all after me. To Mexicans, I was ‘too dark’ to take home and ‘not really Mexican’ because I didn’t speak Spanish,” Olivarria said. “When I was little, I looked like a Pacific Islander … I ended up spending a lot of time with Asians.” But race is not an issue in her family. “We all get along really well,” she said…

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Afro Latinos: everywhere, yet invisible

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-06-02 17:40Z by Steven

Afro Latinos: everywhere, yet invisible

Our Weekly

Cynthia Griffin

Struggles with self-image, assimilation mirror Black American experience

Last year, during a discussion on increasing the number of African Americans in Major League Baseball, Angel’s centerfielder Torii Hunter in a USA Today interview called the dark-skinned Latino baseball players “imposters” and said they are not Black.

Hunter’s comments strike at the heart of an issue that is one reason scholar Miriam Jiménez Román is undertaking a three-day conference called “Afro Latinos Now! Strategies for Visibility and Action,” on Nov. 3-5 in New York that will be the biggest such effort her organization, The AfroLatin@ Forum, has undertaken.

“This is the first time we have done such a comprehensive event where we discuss Afro Latinos specifically. We’re going to look at the state of the field and where we want to be, and there is going to be a heavy emphasis on youth, especially those in middle school years.”

Jiménez Román says the confusion Hunter demonstrated about the connection between Africans born in Latin America and those born in the United States is particularly acute for U.S.-based 11- to 15-year-old Afro Latinos. In the context of a racist society like America, they are not only struggling to figure out how they feel about themselves, but also how they connect in relation to others, especially African Americans.

There are millions of Afro Latinos in America who live their lives in what is essentially a “Black” context but identify themselves as White, because of the perceived stigma of being African American, said Jiménez Román, who last year came to the West Coast promoting her newly released book “Afro-Latino Reader,” co-edited with Juan Flores. The 584-page publication, which grew out of the notes the two professors always pulled together for classes they taught, explores people of African descent from Latin America and the Caribbean…

…“There is the idea that Latino culture is Mestizo and European and Indian, and Black people don’t belong,” said the race and ethnicity professor about how many Latin American countries think about themselves. In fact, Latinos of African descent have been in many countries for at least 200 years.

If they do acknowledge their Black citizens, Jimenez Roman said officials will say “they all live on the coast.”

“This isolates them. Or in Bolivia, for example, there are Black communities in the mountains. They are totally isolated and ignored.”

But in reality, Afro Latinos are everywhere in Latin America as they are in the United States, says the head of the AfroLatin@ Forum…

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Blacks and Native Americans have deep ties

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Biography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2011-01-23 20:04Z by Steven

Blacks and Native Americans have deep ties

Our Weekly: Our Truth, Our Voice
Los Angeles, California

Manny Otiko, Our Weekly Contributor

November is Native Heritage month

There is an old joke in the Black community about women attributing long hair to having “Indian blood” in their family. But like all jokes, there is an element of truth in this statement. There are deep ties between Native Americans, America’s first residents, and Black Americans, America’s first sizable minority group.

Los Angeles resident Phil Wilkes Fixico claims both Native American and African American roots on both sides of his family. Fixico, a performance artist and activist for Black Indian culture, says that he first started exploring his genealogy, when he got into his 50s.

Fixico said he has been on an 11-year journey to identify with his Native American roots. This has included reaching out to relatives in Oklahoma, producing a DVD about the Black-Indian experience and doing presentations about Native American culture around Los Angeles…

…Fixico said that he grew up a troubled youth, who was in an out of the juvenile system. After a stint in a correctional institution, he finally turned his life around. He received help from people of all races to do this.

Fixico attributes much of his problems to an identity crisis caused by lack of knowledge about his history. At 52, he decided to start investigating his background. He knew his mother, who raised him alone, was of Creek, White and African descent, but he later learned that his biological father was also part Seminole.

Fixico discovered that his ancestors were Seminole Maroons, slaves who opted to escape captivity and form alliances with the Seminole Indians in Florida

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