Rupert Murdoch and ‘Empire’s’ Hold on Black America

Just this Wednesday, 2015’s biggest smash hit Empire, had its season finale drawing in 17 million viewers to ever growing viewership. Empire is probably my favorite show of 2015 so far beating out Archer and How to Get Away with Murder. The show has everything a good drama should have and every week its packs a wallop to the face. It hinges on the performances of Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard’s one –two combo as Cookie and Lucious Lyon respectively.  The only problem is that it is on my least favorite network: Fox. A show that is the perfect fusion of the UPN shows of my youth and the quality of a Shonda Rimes joint is on a network that has deemed themselves the savior of the black community. It can’t be. I am a good liberal and a tolerant person. I am experiencing a level of cognitive dissonance no other person has felt because I support a show created by a network that does not particularly hold black people in a good light.

Empire does something no other all-black show has ever done before. It has fully hurled its self into the issue of homophobia in the black community. Lucious Lyon was a gangster turn hip hop mogul that happened to have a gay son who can sing R and B. Lucious throws his son in the trash can when Jamal is just a boy after walking down stairs in high heels and a scarf. This show and that aspect about it was based off of Lee Daniels own life. The fact makes Empire unique in the pantheon of black shows and Jamal’s personal journey is a central plotline.

“With Empire, Fox has landed the top-rated new series on broadcast TV in more than a decade — and a show more popular in black households than even the Super Bowl, according to Nielsen. This week’s finale — a two-hour block consisting of a pair of episodes with the now-familiar mix of surprise twists, criminal misdeeds and catfights — drew an average of 16.7 million total viewers,” according to Los Angeles Times reporter Scott Collins.

Critics of the show point out that black actors and actresses are reduced to playing the same tired stereotypes: whores and gangsters, ghetto and violent, and loud and ignorant. According to actor and rapper Bow Wow, “When we were still filming Cyber episodes, Empire‘s first episode premiered. Fans were saying, ‘Man, you should have been on the show.’ But we all don’t rap or play basketball,” he said. “We can do so many things. There are young African-Americans who are intelligent enough to work at the FBI. That’s what’s so bright. Hopefully, I can help start a new wave of young black actors who don’t want to stereotype themselves.”

Bow Wow and many others like him are so wrong.  There is a multitude of black characters that reflect the wide variety of black experiences in this nation portrayed on this show. Those white people who do watch this show will hopefully see that there are black rich brats, black overachievers, black gay-artistic-prodigies, strong black mothers who sacrifice their freedom, and black Machiavellian masterminds.  However, those white people who can’t see that must have eye problems.

Scholar Dr. Boyce Watkins who criticized the show before even admits that the show is good but has reservations.

Media is about narratives and promoting a set of ideas. This extremely liberal show is too good for Fox. However, the history suggest otherwise. The same network had an entire host of other groundbreaking black shows. For example In Living Color (1990-94), Martin and the Bernie Mac Show were just a few of the shows that brought in very good ratings for the network.  Currently shows like The Mindy Project, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The New Girl feel like NBC or ABC shows mainly because of their diversity and open-mindedness.

African Americans in Hollywood have had to fight for the leading roles in TV because they were never really offered to them. Black women especially did not have leading roles because of issues of race, standards of beauty, and network bias. In 2015, Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis, and Kerry Washington lead three of the most popular network TV shows. Each of them are giving Emmy quality performances and breaking records while doing it.

With all of this good, it is impossible to forget the truth: Empire is a Fox TV show. The same network were pulling up your pants will save black people from systematic racism, the same network were Bill O’Reilly that told scholar Marc Lamont Hill that he looked like a coke dealer,  the Benghazi obsessed, black conservative –agenda- having network has the most popular show in black households.

The world is a crazy place. I am conscientious in my viewing but I support the actors and black people in front of the camera and behind because they have created something worth liking. I can still dislike Murdoch’s political views and Fox news and still watch the show. I also understand why others a hesitant.

 

Black Voice Actors

Regina King

King has had many iconic acting roles in shows like Southland (2009-13) and 227 (1985-90) and in 1990s films like Poetic Justice, Boyz n the Hood, Friday and Jerry Maguire. However, she has also voiced the iconic Huey and Riley Freeman from The Boondocks (2005-14).

The Money of Gender Inequality: Capitalism reinforces the gender binary and it can also destroy it

I started working at the age of 16 in an attempt to make enough money to buy fast food and go to the movies.  Ever since that young age I have had 10 female superiors in every job that I worked. Just twenty years ago, the field of journalism and media was dominated by white men with gray manes. In many ways that still rings true but the landscape is quickly changing. Three of my female superiors were entrepreneurs, two were high ranking producers at a major news network, three of them were women of color, and six of them had advance degrees.

You might be wondering why I am telling you this. What does this have to do with anything? Well, the answer is simple: capitalism is reason for this change and it is also the reason I have to illustrate that women have taken a leap forward in a mainly male dominated industry.

Capitalism can keep the gender binary and patriarchy in place or it can change it for the better. During WWII, women went into the workplace as capable and competent workers doing the jobs their husbands did during antebellum. Rosie the riveter became a symbol smashing through traditional gender roles in the 1940s.

However, in the 1950s the nation seemed to have forgotten that. Instead of women workers dominating factories, they were placed back into the kitchen with shiny new appliances like the microwave and the dishwasher.

Without knowing it at the time, corporations and American capitalism became a driven spark to the feminist movement of the 1960s. In just than two decades a paradigm shift occurred and it wasn’t because of overt sexism but because of dogmatic patriarchy and returning to the status quo.

According to Sue Davis from Worker.org, “the U.S. is a world leader in backwardness and misogyny toward women — with women on average making 77 cents for every dollar men are paid (and even less for women of color), rampant violence against women (especially poor women, lesbians and trans women, and women of color), and vicious attacks on birth control and abortion rights, as well as all components of reproductive justice. “

Capitalism plays up the gender roles in order to get more production from workers.  In an attempt not to sound like a Marxist, traditional gender roles are used as marketing ploys, ideas like blue is for boys, girls like to play with dolls, men drink a lot of beer, and women having orgasisms while washing their hair.  If we look at the male stereotype of the protector and provider, we can see the problems this can cause to a man and a woman. Let’s look at this scenario:

A husband works two jobs because he refuses to let his wife work but the house needs two incomes. As he works two full time jobs, he never gets to see his kids. While the wife is struck with the kids all the time and doing all of the housework, helping with homework, and being a single parent. She never gets to grow and pursue a career and the husband will have no impact on his offspring.  While this happens corporations make money hand over foot at the expense of families.

Some would think that traditional gender roles would be a fixture in our economic system but it does not have to be. If we look at the idea of the housewife /househusband stereotype, we can see that the idea of  women and men that stay at home has changed because of capitalism. The reasons for this is simple. Through Capitalism we have fast food restaurants ready to provide entire meals for family.  As time progress onward the menus will increasingly get more healthy as demanded by the consumer.

When we shop in the grocery store frozen foods line freezers just waiting to be popped in the oven.  There are also prepackaged salads and pre-cut fruits to fulfill our health needs. Just like that an instance meal is created thanks to capitalism.  No one has to cook anything if we chose not to. Especially, stay at home parents.  They are free to pursue an online degree, work from home or anything else while the kids are at school.

When it comes to cleaning there have been inexpensive robotized maids in the form of roombas that has hit the market to sweep and mop your floors. Because of capitalism, daycares have taken the charge in rearing our children when schools can not. The machine that is capitalism will make every task we do a money making institution for better and for worse. In the case of gender roles, the tasks that were associated with men and women have been blurred. The home and the workplace are no longer prescribed to one or the other.  At this time in history, we are at an impasse.

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From YaleGlobal

We live in a new world where women are more educated than men, capable of leading corporations, and still managing their families if they choose to do so. The table above shows the countries where women are pursuing higher education.  This means that women are becoming highly qualified workers ready to be hired and sadly these numbers do not reflect job placement just yet.

The major issue with capitalism and gender politics is that it takes a step forward in the right direction and then takes three steps back to old time patriarchy. Just last year Republicans blocked a bill that would  make equal pay for women a mandate. Also last year, Hobby Lobby seem to have found a way to disregard the needs of its female workers.

The reality is that  “women have represented about 57 percent of enrollments at American colleges since at least 2000; they tend to have higher grades; men tend to drop out in disproportionate numbers; and female enrollment skews higher among older students, low-income students, and black and Hispanic students,” according to Alex Williams from the New York Times. Yet women can’t get a break.

The question is how do women prosper in a backwards system. I think the adage of  fighting fire with fire applies here. If a venue does not exist, create a new one. Owning your own business is the best way to guarantee equal treatment and fairness.  If corporations fail to see your value, leave them, boycott them, and find corporations that will. The inevitable is already happening. If men failed to be educated well and fail to pursue higher education with the same vigor as women, companies will have no choice but to higher women to management  positions because men won’t have the qualifications to get the job done.

Eventually, things will change because that is the course of Capitalism.  Maybe women are that change.

#BlackLivesMatter: Riots And Rally Cries

 

Ferguson-police-Protest-rally-hold-vigils-during-daylight-hours

http://www.mintpressnews.com/MyMPN/blacklivesmatter-riots-rally-cries/1355/

Underrated TV Shows of 2014: ‘The Knick,’ ‘Utopia’ and more | TheCelebrityCafe.com

Underrated TV Shows of 2014: ‘The Knick,’ ‘Utopia’ and more | TheCelebrityCafe.com.

Summer 2013 and the Creativity Process

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People are not stupid. Even though Grown Ups 2 and Despicable Me 2 out-grossed Pacific Rim, doesn’t mean that people are stupid. It just means that people don’t like to try things that are different. The problem is that if people had to choose between trying something new and something that they know works, they choose what they are accustomed to. This isn’t a new idea but it could be if we look at it differently. Pacific Rim is not an original concept. It is just not a popular concept as Adam Sandler or a mediocre kid’s film. A giant robot fighting a giant monster is not a revolutionary concept. The amount of violence used to fight off the monsters should be enough to sell tickets but in the end it just wasn’t. That is why a corporation agreed to green-lit the production in the first place. The problem lies with the standards of people, family fun time and so called smart people that criticize everything but make nothing. All forms of entertainment can’t be thought-provoking, philosophical masterworks. Sometimes it has to be stupid and right on the nose like many of Adam Sandler’s films. These bad works make us appreciate the good pieces of entertainment that we hold as masterpieces. There needs to be a Transformers movie for every District 9.

People know exactly what to expect. People like predictability and certainty in all phases of their lives; and movies are no different. If you find a restaurant that serves the best hot wings in the city, you will continue to go there. You don’t need to try and find a new restaurant because then you have to figure out the menu, the prices, and serving sizes. New things require more time to get invested in and corporations know that people just don’t have that time and don’t want to put in that effort. That is why we get the same repackaged crap. So if we want different and better things we have to stop buying SHIT but that won’t happen.

I don’t care about the quality of new products. I only care if new products exist and that is what makes me different from so call intellectual critics that believe that all entertainment has to be perfect.

Critics are not valuable unless they criticize things they like and if they are artists in that respective field. What I mean is that film makers should criticizes films that are similar to films that they have made. If you like and make sci-fi films; review them. The fallacy comes in when the artist believes that he/she can make it better than the artist’s work he/she is criticizing. Art is personal. Art reflects the Artist. With all of that, I believe that Corporations are vital to artists today. Without Youtube many independent artists would be irrelevant. Think about that for a minute. Corporations help spread ideas and help fund visionary projects. Without Fox, there would be no Star Wars. Without New Line Cinema, there would be no Lord of the Rings films.

In conclusion, I want people to look at the big picture. Corporations are God. They create everything we like, eat, wear, drink, drive, live in, and that is never going to change.  Artists should like to work with a corporation. People should also support new ideas to keep artists interested in working with corporations.

Xenophobia in the USA

I really don’t know how to start this blog entry off but I will try my best. I think that this week brings up some interesting issues we have in this country about minorities and fear. After major events in the USA, the powers that be made life harder for people who were not White people. In the early days of English colonization, Native Americans were the biggest obstacle and they were “dealt” with. After Nat’s Turner’s Rebellion, African Americans were treated as criminals before due process. Whites had to supervise gatherings, Black people could not carry guns or own dogs in some areas, and could not read or write. During the surge of immigration during the late 1870s, Irish, Chinese, and many other people from the east were not welcomed and discriminated against. After the Civil War, African Americans and Native Americans were targeted again I.e KKK and Indian Wars. In the 1940s, the Japanese and communists were attacked after Pearl Harbor. In the 1960s, Hippies, African Americans, feminists and liberals were attacked. In the 1980s, Gays were attacked and suspected of having Aids. Now, Muslims are being attacked after 9-11.

In this country people of color or people that are just different are always targets. Our Media makes it convient to blame non-Whites for our poor security issues. However, in cases where are mutiple terror attacks carried out by White individuals such as Newtown, Columbine, Aurora and Eliot Rodgers’ rampage in San Diego, White people are not collectively punished. Things must change but they probably won’t.

Adoption hurdles for LGBT families: LGBT couples discuss some of the challenges of adopting a child

By Ricky Riley | epicarthouse.net 

Less than half of the states in the U.S recognize same-sex adoption outright

The Child Welfare Information Gateway reports that there were an estimated 400,540 children in the foster care system. Most of these children won’t have homes that they can call their own. In fact, they may stay in the foster system until they are legally forced out at 18 years old.

The laws for LBGT couples adopting children are complicated and unspecific in most states. However, in recent years, the States that legalize gay marriage adopted laws that favor adoption for these couples. There are twenty-two states, District of Columbia (1995), and Guam that is clear on this issue. Those States that allow same sex adoption outright are:

Rhode Island (1993), New Jersey (1998), New York (2002), California (2003), Indiana (2006), Maine (2007), Florida (2010), Arkansas (2011), Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington, Hawaii, Iowa, Nevada, Delaware, Maryland, Colorado, Minnesota, and Guam.

With the many legal gray areas, same- sex couples must think outside of the box to get the family they want.

Trouble Down in Texas

John Skinner and John Milner have wanted a family with multiple children for 15 years. They moved from North Carolina to Atlanta in 2007, because there were laws against same sex adoption in that state. Three years later the two started the adoption process. They were directed to the Mega Family Project dedicated to LGBT adoption cases where a case manager contacted the Giving Tree adoption agency.

The couple searched for children in Washington State, California, Ohio, and Texas. ”We wanted kids between the ages of 5- 12 years old. We were offered kids that no one else wanted. We were a last resort for the children (they presented to us).”

Then they finally landed in Texas where they found 16-year-old Michael and 13-year-old Zachary. Oddly enough, “Texas has an easier path to adopting children than Georgia” said Skinner.

However, it still was not easy. Throughout the process Skinner and Milner suffered prejudice.

While trying to negotiate the terms of Michael and Zachary’s adoption in Texas, their caseworker warned them not to ask too many questions.

“Texas lost our paperwork, delayed the children and if we questioned Texas they would have stopped the adoption process all together. I (John Skinner) had to apologize (for asking questions).”

All of the legalities had to take place in DeKalb County, GA where the two live. There were a few judges that had a problem with same-sex adoption so their attorney recommended them to adopt on National Adoption Day (November 25th) because there was a judge that dealt specifically with same-sex adoption.

The two boys (Zachary and Michael) were in group-homes for 7 years. They are two children out of five siblings that were all placed in different foster families.

Skinner believes that “the foster care system is not designed for the child. The foster-system misdiagnoses children to get more money for the child”.

Along with the prejudice, the Kids (Michael and Zachary) had medication they did not need. Michael had six prescriptions but only needed two. Also, there were kids (they wanted to adopt) with misdiagnoses that were not true.

Even with all the trouble, the couple continues to try to add to their family.

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Mayhem in Pelham

Wayne Scott and Stephen Williams, Jr. had a different set of issues when they decided to adopt. February 2010 mark the beginning of their journey into the process and it took them two years to get things done.

They went to the Giving Tree adoption agency and the agency sent their home study to a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter, who works for Bethany Christian Services. It was this recruiter at Bethany Christian Services that matched them with their son, Devin. He is a type one diabetic and has ADHD. However, those medical conditions were not the issues halting the adoption.

“I don’t know if it had something to do with people’s prejudices or the system itself. When the children are young enough they have no say [in the process], however when they are old enough they have more of a say over the number siblings, [rather or not] they want a mom and dad, two dads, or two moms. These questions empower the kids. Devin did not care. He said ‘I don’t care if they have horns coming out of their heads … as long as they love me [that is what matters]’.”

He came from a house with two conservative preachers foster parents that did not approve of homosexuals.

“The previous family tried to sabotage but we had a very supportive staff behind us. We picked him up at school and we met all of his teachers and school staff. When Devin came up to visit us, we taught him how to ride a bike. He never learned how to ride.”

Once he was playing by the pool and Devin fell and scrapped his knee. The former family said that every time Devin stayed with them that he would have new injuries. Devin talked with pediatrician and told him the truth that no one was hurting him.

The foster parents did not keep Devin in school. He had poor attendance in school.

Normally, prospective parents are not allowed to meet a child until they have formally decided that they are going to adopt that child.

This is necessary so that the child does not feel rejected by potential parents that, after meeting the child, decide not to adopt him/her.

That would be pretty traumatic for a child who most likely already feels rejected. That would be pretty traumatic for a child who most likely already feels rejected.

“It can also be very difficult for a prospective family to make a decision about adopting a child when all the family has is a written profile and some additional limited information, the amount and nature of which varies from child to child.”

At first we were not sure that Devin was the right child for us – we had a lot of questions and concerns based on the information that had been provided to us.

As a means of abating some of the concerns that we had our agency worked with DFCS to coordinate a “chance” meeting in which Devin would NOT know that we were meeting him as potential parents.

This article was unpublished and unfinished. It was intended for HLN.com. This is the unedited version.

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