Dick Gregory, Comedian and Civil Rights Activist, Dead at 84

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“Generations will delve into his sacrifice, comedic genius, focus and aptitude,” comedian’s son writes

Dick Gregory, pioneering comedian, author and civil rights activist, died Saturday at the age of 84.

“It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC,” Gregory’s son Christian wrote on the comedian’s Instagram page. “The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

Gregory had been hospitalized at Washington, D.C.’s Sibley Memorial Hospital since August 9th with a urinary tract infection. “My prognosis is excellent and I should be released within the next few days,” Gregory wrote on August 16th while announcing rescheduled tour dates for the end of the month.

However, while at the hospital, Gregory suffered “a bifurcated thoracic aortic aneurysm,” the family announced Sunday. “For a lifetime, my father took all the hits, however, this hit was too much,” Christian Gregory wrote.

The St. Louis-born Gregory got his start in comedy while serving in the Army in the Fifties, where he worked on his craft in talent shows. After years of performing to predominately black audiences at nightclubs while holding down a day job at the post office, Gregory’s big break came in January 1961, when Hugh Hefner asked him to fill in at the Playboy Club in Chicago.

Hefner signed Gregory to a three-week residency, then extended the contract, the New York Times reports. The residency allowed Gregory to be among the first black comedians to be embraced by white audiences, even as he held a mirror up to them for their role in racial inequality at the time. Both Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby credited Gregory with blazing their path.

One oft-told Gregory bit was about the comedian’s journey to a restaurant in the segregated South. “We tried to integrate a restaurant, and they said, `We don’t serve colored folk here,’ and I said, `Well, I don’t eat colored folk nowhere. Bring me some pork chops.’ And then Ku Klux Klan come in, and the woman say, ‘We don’t have no pork chops,’ so I say, ‘Well, bring me a whole fried chicken.’ And then the Klan walked up to me when they put that whole fried chicken in front of me, and they say, ‘Whatever you do to that chicken, boy, we’re going to do to you.’ So I opened up its legs and kissed it in the rump and tell you all, `Be my guest.’ ”

In the early Sixties, Gregory became a fixture of the Civil Rights Movement: He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. at Selma, where he and his wife were briefly jailed, he told the Chicago Tribune. He was friends with Malcolm X and Medgar Evers and ran for mayor of Chicago in 1967.

During the tumultuous time around the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Gregory ran for President as a write-in candidate; Hunter S. Thompson was among those who voted for Gregory, as the gonzo journalist revealed numerous times in The Great Shark Hunt. Gregory wrote Write Me In! in 1968 about his presidential bid.

Other notable books by Gregory include his controversial 1963 tome Nigger: An AutobiographyFrom the Back of the Bus and Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin’ With Mother Nature, which he wrote after becoming a vegetarian. Gregory also advocated for women’s rights, animal rights and the end of apartheid. Gregory was also close with Michael Jackson, Bill Clinton and Robert Kennedy.

“From comedy to civil rights to a life dedicated to equality, he never waned. Immeasurable generational sacrifice. A transformative blockbuster comedian who obliterated the color line,” Christian Gregory wrote of his father the day after his death.

Continue onto the Rolling Stone to read more about Dick Gregory and his ever lasting impact in comedy and the civil rights movement.

Octavia E. Butler, Who Brought Diversity To The World Of Science Fiction, Honored With Google Doodle

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Octavia E. Butler, a groundbreaking African-American science fiction writer who would have turned 71 on Friday, was honored with a Google Doodle that celebrates her contributions to the literary world.

Butler was one of the first writers in science fiction — traditionally dominated by white male authors — to include diverse protagonists in her stories, and was widely admired for evocatively exploring hierarchies and human flaws in her work.

Butler died in 2006, but her family released a statement to coincide with Friday’s Google Doodle that paid tribute to her legacy.

“Her spirit of generosity and compassion compelled her to support the disenfranchised,” her family said in a statement. “She sought to speak truth to power, challenge prevailing notions and stereotypes, and empower people striving for better lives. Although we miss her, we celebrate the rich life she led and its magnitude in meaning.”

Throughout her life, Butler won various awards and became the first science-fiction author to get the MacArthur Fellowship. Here’s what you need to know about her prestigious career:

Nebula and Hugo awards

Butler won two Nebula awards and two Hugo awards in her career, two of the most prestigious prizes in science fiction. Two of those awards were for the same short story, Bloodchild, in which human refugees are imprisoned on an alien planet by insect-like creatures that protect them while using them as hosts to breed their young. Butler insisted the story was not an allegory for slavery while critics applauded it for reversing gender roles and examining the complex structures of oppression.

MacArthur Fellowship

In 1995, Butler became the first science-fiction author to be awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. The award came with a prize of $295,000. The foundation said Butler’s “imaginative stories are transcendent fables, which have as much to do with the future as with the present and the past.”

Television adaptation of Butler’s book

Last year, it was announced that Ava DuVernay, who recently directed A Wrinkle In Time, would be adapting Butler’s book, Dawn, into a television series. It is not clear what network will pick up the show just yet.

Read the complete article and more at TIME Magazine.

Own Black Lightning: The Complete First Season on Digital now, Blu-ray™ and DVD on June 26!

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Black Lightning

Jefferson Pierce, a man with a secret. As the father of two daughters and principal of a high school that also serves as a safe haven in a neighborhood overrun by violence, he is a hero to his community. Pierce is also a hero of a different sort. Gifted with the superhuman power to harness and control electricity, he keeps his hometown safe as the masked vigilante Black Lightning.

For more content, go to: www.owndctv.com

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@BlackLightning

Oprah Winfrey, Apple Sign Multi-Year Content Partnership

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Apple and Oprah Winfrey have a signed a multi-year content partnership. Under the deal, Winfrey and Apple will create programs that will be released as part of Apple’s original content lineup.

The deal marks one of the first such agreements struck between Apple and a content creator. Previously, Apple set an overall deal with veteran showrunner Kerry Ehrin. Ehrin will also serve as the showrunner on Apple’s upcoming morning show drama series starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.

This is also the latest addition to Winfrey’s media empire. The former hit talk show host formed her own cable network, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, in 2011 in partnership with Discovery Communications. The channel has become one of the fastest-growing cable networks among women and has produced hit shows like “Queen Sugar,” which boasts Oscar nominee Ava DuVernay as showrunner.

Winfrey recently extended her contract with Discovery through 2025. Sources tell Variety that Apple’s deal with Winfrey does not conflict with the Discovery agreement. Winfrey remains exclusive in an on-screen capacity to OWN with limited carve-outs, such as her role as a correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes” and her recent acting work for HBO.

Via her Harpo Productions banner, Winfrey has also developed several long-running hit syndicated shows including “Dr. Phil,” “The Dr. Oz Show” and “Rachael Ray.” Through her Harpo Films, she has produced several Academy Award-winning features including “Selma,” which was directed by DuVernay. Winfrey also had a featured role in that film, and recently starred in other films like “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and HBO’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

Winfrey also runs O, The Oprah Magazine and published the New York Times best-selling cookbook “Food, Health and Happiness” last year. As a noted philanthropist, Winfrey has contributed more than $100 million to provide education to academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2017.

Continue onto Variety to read the complete article.

“Incredibles 2” is the Latest Film in Samuel L. Jackson’s Hollywood Journey

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LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 05: Samuel L. Jackson attends the World Premiere Of Disney-Pixar's "Incredibles 2" at El Capitan Theatre on June 5, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Samuel L. Jackson

By Ronda Racha Penrice, Urban News Service

LOS ANGELES—Samuel L. Jackson is, without a doubt, the hardest working man in Hollywood. To date, he’s appeared in well over 100 films with a box office take of $7 billion and counting.

That’s a Guinness World Record that Jackson, who appears in about four films each year, isn’t relinquishing anytime soon. In his latest, he reprises his role as Lucius Best, close friend to the Parr family who also doubles as the superhero Frozone, for Disney’s long-awaited animated sequel “Incredibles 2.” The 2004 original, “The Incredibles,” grossed over $631 million worldwide.

Playing an animated character who can “shoot ice out of his hands” is very apt for Jackson who is generally considered the coolest cat in Hollywood. But it’s a long way from his childhood in Chattanooga, Tenn. Raised during Jim Crow, Jackson, who turns 70 later this year, was very familiar with the color line, spending much of his early life in almost exclusively black environments. His father was very absent while his mother was a sporadic presence for many years. So Jackson’s maternal grandparents and aunt had a huge impact on his early life. From his grandfather, who worked as a janitor, Jackson learned the value of hard work and that still shows in his work ethic today. His Aunt Edna, a performing arts teacher, actually set him on the path to becoming an actor.

“I was in the house with her and she was generally in charge of the pageant shows or whatever the happenings. She never had enough boys. Boys never volunteered. I lived in the house with her so she made me,” he said, reclining comfortably at the other end of a sofa. “She takes all the credit for this,” he laughed, outstretching his hands to highlight the luxuriousness of his The London West Hollywood room.

As a student at the iconic men’s college Morehouse in Atlanta that also counts Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Spike Lee among its alumni, Jackson became ferocious about acting. There he even met his wife of nearly 40 years, LaTanya Richardson, a serious actress attending Spelman. He also appeared in his very first film, the long-forgotten 1972 Blaxploitation era film about interracial romance titled “Together for Days,” later renamed “Black Cream.” In 1976, Jackson and Richardson moved to New York.

“I never had a time when acting wasn’t going well,” said Jackson of

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 05:  Samuel L. Jackson attends the World Premiere Of Disney-Pixar's "Incredibles 2" at El Capitan Theatre on June 5, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
LaTanya Richardson (L) and Samuel L. Jackson attend the World Premiere Of Disney-Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” at El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

those days. “I had times when acting didn’t pay as much as something else could have. But I’ve only had like one real job other than actor. I was a security guard . . . But other than that I’ve supported myself acting since 1978.”

Jackson’s strategy was to keep everything he did in the theater. “I did things I’d learned to do in college that wouldn’t take me out of the theater situation,” he said. “It was easier for me to say I have an audition to people who are in the theater and they go ‘good luck’ than if I had to go to my auditions and be like ‘who’s going to wait my tables?’

“I just didn’t put myself in that situation so I built sets, I hung lights. I did whatever was necessary to make money in the business I wanted to be in. I knew how to do it. It kept me close to the theater. I could watch people rehearse, read lines with them or do whatever. So I was always ready to go.”

Jackson, who came through the theater ranks with Denzel Washington, Laurence Fishburne, Morgan Freeman and Wesley Snipes, was so good at being on stage that it seemed that not even drugs and alcohol could knock him off. But that was not true. When Richardson found her husband passed out, she sent him to rehab. As Jackson left rehab, Hollywood finally did call in the form of Spike Lee. Playing drug-addicted Gator Purify in Lee’s 1991 film, “Jungle Fever,” starring Wesley Snipes, got Jackson recognized. His role as Jules Winnfield, the Jheri curled hitman with a penchant for quoting Bible verses and a flair for dropping a profane word or two in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 film “Pulp Fiction,” made him a star. And he hasn’t stopped working since.

Frozone (aka Lucius Best), Dash and Violet- “Incredibles 2” ©2018 Disney•Pixar.

Over the years, Jackson’s appeal has broadened to point that he has literally gone from last year’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” to an appearance as Nick Fury in Marvel’s recent superhero mash-up “Avengers: Infinity War.” But “The Incredibles” franchise, which counts Jackson’s daughter Zoe among its many fans, is one of the few Jackson has done suitable for all ages.

“I watched cartoons my whole life so being a voice of a cartoon character is kind of great,” he said. “And he’s a superhero. He’s got a superpower.”

“Incredibles 2” is in theaters nationwide June 15.

Three HBCU graduates bring craft beer bar to Harlem

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Harlem Hops to become the first beer bar in Harlem owned 100 percent by African-Americans

Three graduates of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are bringing a stylish take to a trendy craft beer bar in New York’s historic Harlem neighborhood. On June 9, owners Kevin Bradford, Kim Harris and Stacey Lee officially opened the doors of Harlem Hops to the public, making the establishment the first craft beer bar in Harlem to be 100 percent owned by African-Americans.

Harlem Hops sits nestled in the heart of Harlem at 2268 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd., a bustling street alive with independently owned businesses, convenient stores, curious neighbors and schoolchildren counting down the days until summer vacation begins. Walking into the bar gives the feel of everything Harlem embodies: a cozy, close-knit community where everyone is welcome.

“We want Harlem Hops to be Cheers for a lot of people in the neighborhood,” Harris said. “We want it to be the safe haven where you can just come and learn about something different.”

The vision of Harlem Hops began for Harris, a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, nearly five years ago. Born and raised in Harlem, Harris appreciated her neighborhood, but good beer was hard to find. Her quests to drink beer she enjoyed included traveling to Brooklyn to get it.

“I thought, there’s something missing here,” Harris said. “And that’s when it came to me that we should do a beer bar in Harlem. That’s was one of the reasons I thought about it.”

At the time, Harris had been in what she described as a distressed partnership with another business. But upon meeting with restaurant consultant Jason Wallace, Harris learned there was another entrepreneur who shared a similar vision for a craft beer bar. Bradford, a graduate of Hampton University, had the same problems as Harris when it came to finding good beer. Originally from Detroit, Bradford would find himself bringing beer back from his hometown to New York.

“I like good beer, and I couldn’t really find good beer above 125th. To tell you the truth, even above 110th,” Bradford said. “I had to travel to Brooklyn. I had to travel these far distances to get beer I liked. I think back in 2011 or 2012, New York was not really the beer center of the East Coast. Now, New York is pretty much on the map for craft beer. I live in Harlem and I wanted to open a bar in my neighborhood, but the zoning was residential. I could not have a commercial space in my property. That’s when Jason Wallace introduced myself and Kim and I was like, this is it.”

The two met near the end of 2016 and agreed that they could make the partnership work. Harris also ran her ideas past Lee, a fellow graduate of Clark Atlanta University and a trusted entrepreneur Harris had worked with in the past. Lee was more than happy to hop aboard and invest in the business.

“When Stacey came on board, she kind of made us whole in terms of all the bits and pieces,” Harris said. “I have business sense, Kevin is focused on the beer and Stacey brings in the creativity and helps me keep my thoughts together. We’re all married to each other. We love each other. It’s the perfect combination.”

Before long, ideas and concepts of what Harlem Hops could and should be began to fly. The three worked feverishly together to figure out everything from color schemes to beer to food menus. For decor, the group enlisted the help of designers. Matte black and copper would serve as the theme throughout the bar, and Harlem — whether it was in words, light-up messages or a marquee hanging from the ceiling — would be fully represented.

Continue onto The Undefeated to read the complete article.

Oprah Winfrey is part of American history — and now has the museum exhibition to prove it

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She’s a powerful media executive and Hollywood jet-setter who transformed daytime television, launched literary careers, and convened difficult conversations about race and gender.

But Oprah Winfrey also is an African American activist whose contributions to American culture rank alongside those of Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells, according to a new exhibition at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Opening Friday and running through June 2019, “Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture” features video clips, interview segments, movie costumes, and personal photographs and journals to explore what has influenced Winfrey and how her work has shaped America.

“What’s interesting is the same way America thought about Walter Cronkite — you could trust Walter Cronkite and his opinion — they trust Oprah,” said museum director Lonnie G. Bunch III. “An African American woman becomes the person America turns to.”

Winfrey donated $21 million to the $540 million museum, making her its largest individual benefactor (its theater is named in her honor). But her role as benefactor did not influence the exhibition, Bunch said.

“We made sure there was a bright line, that this was done by the museum and museum scholars,” he said. “The fundraising was not through Oprah’s people.”

Curators Rhea L. Combs and Kathleen Kendrick worked with Winfrey and her staff on arranging loans for the exhibition and on fact-checking and background information.

“In terms of content and narrative and the way the story is told, it’s the museum’s product,” Kendrick said. “The way we approached it was the way we approach all of our exhibitions.”

The show balances Winfrey’s humble personal story with her achievements.

“We’re providing a context for understanding not only who she is, but how she became a global figure, and how she is connected to broader stories and themes,” Kendrick said.

The first section of the show, which is in the Special Exhibitions gallery, explores Winfrey’s childhood and early career and how the cultural shifts of the 1950s and ’60s informed her worldview.

“Civil rights, the women’s movement, the media and television landscape, she’s at this distinct intersection of all of these dynamic moments,” Combs said. “She becomes someone at the forefront of dealing with ideas, of discussing hot-button topics like racism and sexual orientation.”

Continue onto the Washington Post to read the complete article.

Darius Rucker, Kane Brown make country chart history

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Darius Rucker and Kane Brown are sharing a chart record as the first two solo acts who are also minorities to follow each other with No. 1 country songs in the 28-year history of the Billboard Country Airplay chart.

According to Billboard, Brown, who is biracial, had a two-week No. 1 with “Heaven” and Rucker, who is black, followed him with his single, “For The First Time,” on the chart dated June 2. The chart, which digitally measures airplay, began in 1990.

“I wanted to be involved in and make country music because I loved it,” said Rucker in a statement. “To be making history, especially with my little brother Kane Brown, is incredible and a great, added bonus.”

Rucker got his first country No. 1 “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” in 2008, which was also followed at the top by Kenny Chesney’s song “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven,” with reggae group The Wailers.

Meanwhile this is just the latest chart record for newcomer Brown, who is the only artist in Billboard history to top all five country charts simultaneously. He hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums, Country Airplay, Hot Country Songs, Country Streaming Songs and Country Digital Songs charts.

“I’ve always tried to make the music that I liked, and that I knew my fans would like, and have tried to stay true to that, and I am such a big fan of Darius’ musically, that sharing anything with him feels like an honor,” Brown said in a statement.

But prior to the current Billboard chart, other minority acts have followed each other with No. 1 country singles. In 1975, Latino singers Johnny Rodriguez and Freddy Fender twice followed each other to the top of Billboard’s previous country singles chart.

Continue onto AP News to read the complete article.

Barack and Michelle Obama Sign Netflix Production Deal

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barack and michelle obama

Netflix has secured a deal with former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obamato produce series and movies for the streaming service. The former first couple will, according to an announcement Monday from the company, potentially work on scripted and unscripted series as well as docu-series, documentary films, and features under the multi-year deal.

“One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience,” said President Obama. “That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix — we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”

“Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others,” said Michelle Obama. “Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership.”

Signing the Obamas is the latest, and by far the biggest, in a string of moves by Netflix to lock up the entertainment industry’s highest-profile producers in exclusive production and development pacts. Last year, Netflix poached “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes from ABC Studios with a deal valued at more than $100 million. “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy jumped from his longtime home at 20th Century Fox Television earlier this year to also join Netflix. Murphy’s deal was reported at the time to be worth as much as $300 million. However, sources tell Variety that tally includes money that Murphy is expected to make from his current and former Fox series over the life of his Netflix contract, and that the true value of the deal is in line with that of Rhimes.

It is unknown how much the Obamas’ Netflix agreement is worth. In March, Penguin Random House signed the couple to a joint book deal that pays them a reported $65 million for their respective memoirs.

“Barack and Michelle Obama are among the world’s most respected and highly-recognized public figures and are uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “We are incredibly proud they have chosen to make Netflix the home for their formidable storytelling abilities.”

Continue onto Variety to read the complete article.

 

One-Handed Player Shaquem Griffin Makes NFL History With Seahawks Draft

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Shaquem Griffin just made history.

The University of Central Florida linebacker became the first one-handed player to be drafted into the NFL after being picked by the Seattle Seahawks on the third day of the 2018 NFL Draft at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday.

Griffin — whose twin brother Shaquill also played for UCF and is now a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks — was born with a congenital birth defect that affected his ability to use his left hand and had the extremity amputated when he was a child because of extreme pain.

Following his pick, which took place in the fifth round, the 22-year-old from St. Petersburg, Florida, told ESPN that he was speechless from the news.

“I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “I didn’t know what to say. I was trying to get the words out, but I couldn’t talk.”

Griffin had previously told multiple outlets that he expected to be picked up by a team during this year’s draft. But despite making history, the athlete told Today he would rather others not concentrate on his disability.

“One day I’m going to be called ‘Shaquem Griffin the football player’ and not ‘Shaquem Griffin the one-hand wonder,’” he told the outlet. “I don’t need that name. Just call me Shaquem Griffin the football player. I’m good with that.”

Continue onto PEOPLE to read the complete article.

Chadwick Boseman To Deliver Howard University Commencement Speech

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Howard University has named actor Chadwick Boseman as this year’s commencement speaker, the school announced on Wednesday.

“I’m excited to return to the Mecca in celebration of the achievements of our illustrious students,” Boseman, a graduate of the historically black college, said in a press release. “Let’s listen, learn and build with one another.”

University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said it was an “honor and privilege” to welcome Boseman back.

“His recent role in the blockbuster film ‘Black Panther’ reminds us of the excellence found in the African diaspora and how places like Howard are hidden, untapped gems producing the next generation of scientists, engineers and doctors,” Frederick said in the statement. “Mr. Boseman exemplifies the monumental heights and levels Howard graduates can achieve by using the skills and knowledge they acquired at the university.”

In February, while promoting “Black Panther,” Boseman told The Chicago Tribune that the essence of Wakanda, the film’s fictional black utopia, exists at the HBCU.

“It is a Wakanda to a certain degree. There is definitely a lot of T’Challa there,” he said. “If you have a blanketed idea of what it means to be of African descent and you go to Howard University, you’re meeting people from all over the diaspora — from the Caribbean, any country in Africa, in Europe. So you’re seeing people from all walks of life that look like you but they sound different.”

Continue onto the HuffingtonPost to read the complete article.

Black-ish Breaks Ground—Breaking up audiences with its edgy comedy

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BLACK-ISH

In what’s been called the “Golden Age of TV,” black-ish is a 24-karat comedy.

It features brilliant actors Tracee Ellis Ross, Anthony Anderson, and Laurence Fishburne, among others.

It’s smart.

It’s hilarious.

And it’s groundbreaking.

In its fifth season on ABC on Wednesday nights, the show featuring a successful African-American family living in suburban Southern California has dealt with powder keg issues such as police brutality, bi-racial relationships, and the n-word, all while busting up viewers.

“Comedy is a good way to give people a spoonful of sugar with their medicine,” said Kenya Barris, the show’s creator.

Beneath the comedy are serious ideas.

“We are a society which talks less about race than ever—at least openly—because of political correctness, and this has made the situation worse,” Barris said.

Black-ish has been nominated for eight Emmy Awards and four Golden Globe Awards. Earlier this year, the show won an award at the NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series. Ross won for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, and Anderson was named Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series.

In 2017, Ross (Bow, or Dr. Johnson on the show) became the first

Tracee & Anthony-ABC Eric McCandless

black woman in more than three decades to win the Golden Globes’ best actress in a TV comedy or musical (the last was Debbie Allen for Fame in 1983). The daughter of Diana Ross says she revels in portraying a thriving wife, mother, and doctor.

“I think that as a black woman, my beingness is a form of activism in and of itself,” Ross said. “If I take that and ripple it out further in an amplified way, I can’t help, from my beingness, to not be a form of activism, because that is who I am.”

Bow’s husband is advertising executive Dre (Anderson), who considers himself the patriarch of the family, but struggles with the changes taking place in society, and worries that his kids aren’t experiencing blackness in the same way he has.

Bow and Dre’s children are the quietly shrewd Zoey (Yara Shahidi), the conscientious Junior (Marcus Scribner), the volcanic Diane (Marsai Martin), the sweet and often confused Jack (Miles Brown), and baby DeVante. Alicia (Anna Deavere Smith) is Bow’s woo-woo mother, and Jonah (David Diggs) is her intellectual, often-annoying brother.

Pops (Fishburne) is Dre’s no-nonsense father with a bit of a checkered past. Ruby (Jenifer Lewis) is his loose cannon mother, and Rhonda (Raven Symone) is his gay sister whose wit and wisdom make her a show-stealer, even though she’s a no-drama woman.

Ask fans of black-ish about their favorite episode, and fiery debates will ensue. It’s impossible to name the best or most important single show, but here are a handful that fans—including former President Barack Obama, who has said it’s his favorite TV sitcom—would probably mention:

Black-ish
Anthony & Laurence- ABC/Eric McCandless

—When the kids ask some tough questions about a highly publicized court case involving accusations of police brutality upon a black teenager, Dre and Bow are torn over how to field them. Dre, along with Pops and Ruby, feel the kids need to know what kind of world they’re living in, while Bow is determined to give them a rosier view. In one of the show’s most dramatic moments, Dre—recalling how proud and hopeful he and Bow were when Obama was elected president and how terrified they were that he’d get assassinated on his inauguration day—convinces Bow that the kids should not be blindfolded to reality.

—After Dre notices that his neighbor Janine has never invited his family to any of her pool parties, he assumes she is racially stereotyping them. The kids are shocked to find out that, guess what? Dre doesn’t know how to swim.

—Jack performs the Kanye West song “Gold Digger” at a school talent show and when he sings a lyric that includes the n-word, it leads to his possible expulsion from school. Dre and Bow work together to keep him in school, and along the way, examine the evolution of the word and grapple with just who has the right to use it and whether it should be said at all.

The n-word episode is probably the most pot-stirring single airing in the show’s five-year history.

Anderson said it’s important to talk about the word, as well as other

issues that affect black families, even if it’s uncomfortable or painful.

“We leave it up to the public to enjoy it or debate,” he said. “But there’s no trepidation at all because we come from an authentic place, and that’s why we can dance the dance that we do in terms of the subject matters that we deal with. When you come at it from a real place and you’re authentic to who you are, who these characters are and what the dynamic of this family is, you can do just about do anything and have it resonate with someone. And that’s what we do.”

When the show debuted in fall 2014 (Larry Wilmore was the showrunner at the time), many were confused about the title.

Fishburne, who was instrumental in getting black-ish aired on ABC, explains it as well, or better, than anyone.

“Here’s the thing about our title,” said Fishburne, who Silver Screen cognoscenti surely remember from Boyz in the Hood, Othello, Tuskagee Airmen, What’s Love Got to Do with It, and The Matrix. “Our title is a little bit of a wink. It’s a bit of a joke because, ultimately, if you live in America and you’ve been in America, let’s say, for the last 10, 15, 20 years, you’re probably a little blackish anyway. So that’s what’s wonderful about our title, and that’s really what it means. Everybody’s a little Jewish. Everybody’s a little blackish, you know?”

Want a simpler breakdown?

Black-ish is not the first TV comedy featuring African-American stars or the first to deal with race issues.

It’s not even the only one on TV. Empire comes to mind.

What makes the show different than, say, The Cosby Show, to name an obvious predecessor, Barris said, is that The Cosby Show was about a thriving family who happened to be black. That was groundbreaking in its time. Black-ish is about a thriving family dealing with their blackness in an ever-changing, sometimes confusing world.

Black-ish
Yara & Anthony- ABC/Eric McCandless

The Johnsons don’t happen to be black; their blackness is integral to who they are and how they navigate through and negotiate with society. It’s not necessarily the epicenter of every show, but it’s ever-present.

And unlike Empire, a fine show in its own right, the Johnsons are not moguls in the business of hip-hop. When Bow and Dre go to work, when Zoey and the other kids go to school, they’re socializing—and competing—with people of all ethnicities, including a large number of Caucasian folks. This forces the show and its viewers to confront uncomfortable issues rooted in this nation’s history.

That’s medicine for Americans.

While we enjoy a spoonful of sugar with it.

Author
Brady Rhoades

Netflix Names Former Obama Adviser and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to Board

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susan rice

Netflix appointed Susan Rice, former U.S. national security adviser and ambassador to the United Nations during the Obama administration, to its board of directors.

Rice currently is a distinguished visiting research fellow at American University’s School of International Service, as well as a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

“We are delighted to welcome Ambassador Rice to the Netflix board,” Netflix chairman and CEO Reed Hastings said in a statement. “For decades, she has tackled difficult, complex global issues with intelligence, integrity and insight and we look forward to benefiting from her experience and wisdom.”

Rice commented, “I am thrilled to be joining the board of directors of Netflix, a cutting-edge company whose leadership, high-quality productions, and unique culture I deeply admire.”

Rice, 53, is a controversial political figure. Conservatives have criticized her over her initial comments about the September 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, which she called “spontaneous.” Critics have accused her of lying and trying to downplay the premeditated nature of the attack. In addition, it emerged last year that as Obama’s national security adviser, Rice in 2016 had requested to “unmask” the identities of certain Americans identified in intelligence reports who had been intercepted speaking with foreign sources — and were linked to Donald Trump’s campaign and presidential transition team.

Rice’s appointment increases the number of Netflix’s board members to 11 — and she becomes the company’s fourth female board member. In January, Netflix named Rodolphe Belmer, former CEO of Canal Plus Group, to the board.

The other Netflix directors are: Reed Hastings; Anne Sweeney, former president of Disney-ABC Television Group; Richard Barton, executive chairman of Zillow Group and founder of Expedia; A. George (Skip) Battle, former executive chairman of Ask Jeeves and executive at Andersen Consulting; Timothy Haley, managing director at Redpoint Ventures; Jay Hoag, general partner at Technology Crossover Ventures; Leslie Kilgore, former Netflix chief marketing officer; Ann Mather, ex-CFO of Pixar and Village Roadshow Pictures, former Disney exec; and Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer, Microsoft.

Continue onto Variety to read the complete article.

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