Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

From the Chicago Sun Times:

The family of Derrion Albert, the 16-year-old fatally beaten Thursday in an after-school mob melee in Roseland, struggled Friday to understand how their honor roll student’s life could have ended in such violence.

Derrion has never been in a fight in his life,” said Joe Walker, Derrion’s grandfather who raised him. “He never raised his voice. Not in 16 years have I had one day of trouble.”

Walker broke down several times speaking about his grandson, proudly showing off the awards he received at Christian Fenger Academy High School for excellent attendance and being on the honor roll. Derrion had just started his junior year.

“We were crazy about him,” Walker said. “He was the type of grandson everybody wished for.”

Monique Bond, Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman, said Derrion “basically was walking along unprovoked, and unbeknownst to him he was about to walk into this conflict. I don’t think he even saw them coming.”

T-Awannda Piper, a youth worker at the Agape Community Center in the 300 block of West 111th Street, witnessed the brawl. She said the fight started with about a dozen high school students, then quickly escalated to about 100, about 3 p.m. Thursday.

“They had sticks; they were fighting with their hands; they were taking off their shirts and throwing them on the ground,” she said. “I saw [Derrion] get hit twice with a stick.”

She said Derrion fell to his knees, then was hit again in the head. He was unconscious but alive when she dragged him into the building with the help of a man driving through a nearby alley who abandoned his truck to assist.

Derrion was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.

He died of cerebral injuries and blunt head trauma from assault, the medical examiner’s office said.

While the family did not believe Derrion was involved with a gang, several people have been victims of gang violence in the far South Side neighborhood over the summer.

Go here for the rest of the story.


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Update: You can read my review of the documentary for Clutch magazine here.

“Bronx Princess” is a new documentary on PBS following the life of a young teen, Rocky Otoo. Below is a synopsis of the documentary and a short preview. You can watch the entire film online here until October 23rd.

Rocky Otoo is the Bronx-bred teenage daughter of Ghanaian parents, and she’s no pushover. She is a sassy high-achiever bound for college. With freedom in sight, Rocky rebels against her mother’s rules. When their relationship reaches a breaking point, Rocky flees to her father, a chief in Ghana. What follows is captured in Bronx Princess, a tumultuous coming-of-age story set in a homeland both familiar and strange. Her precocious — and very American — ideas of a successful, independent life conflict with her father’s traditional African values. Reconciling her dual legacies becomes an unexpected chapter in this unforgettable young woman’s education.

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I was watching the interview above with female rapper Nicki Minaj for Honey Magazine – one of my fellow J school alumnae edited the video by the way (random shout out over) – and I noticed that Ms. Nicki looked different somehow. I haven’t heard her music, but I’ve seen pictures of her looking like this on various Web sites:

Um, yeah, so my first reaction was that she looked a little ho-ish to say the least. I didn’t really want to know what she was rapping about.

So when I checked out the photos and video interview with Honey, I thought, is that the same girl? She looks so different.


But then I realized she looked prettier. Just sitting there in the video wearing a black hoodie and her hair up in a pony she looked so much better to me than when she was all spread out in that other picture. So lesson of the day for those young women who think that in order to look sexy or attractive women have to wear fewer clothes – you really don’t.

I’m sure some of the guys will disagree with me on this one. What’s your view? Do you think she looks better toned down?

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I can’t bemoan negative media images, stereotypes and buffoonery without highlighting the positive. “Brick City,” executive produced by Forest Whitaker, is a five-night documentary set in Newark as the city’s mayor, Cory Booker, and residents strive to make the community a safer place. It airs all this week at 10 p.m. on the Sundance Channel. And for those of you without cable and whatnot — I’ll have to catch it online as well — you can watch parts of the series here on the Sundance Channel’s Web site. Here’s a preview of the documentary:

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Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

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I didn’t feel much like writing today, so instead I’ll just link to some interesting articles I came across today and would like to share.

As if Caster Semenya hadn’t already been through enough: “Athlete Caster Semenya has pulled out of her return to competitive sport amid growing fears over the psychological impact of rumours about her sex. The 18-year-old withdrew from a cross-country race in South Africa tomorrow after it was widely reported that a leaked sex test reveals she is a hermaphrodite. Her coach, Michael Seme, said she will not run because she is “not feeling well”. After dominating her race at the world championships in Berlin last month, Semenya underwent blood and chromosome tests, as well as a gynaecological examination. The IAAF has said Semenya probably would keep her gold medal because the case was not related to a doping matter. But it is less clear whether she would be allowed to compete again.” From The Guardian

And apparently Semenya isn’t the first athlete to have to deal with this type of ordeal. Click here to read Santhi Soundarajan’s story, an Indian athlete who was stripped of her medal in the 2006 Asian Games after failing a gender test. She attempted suicide after her ordeal. Soundarajan tells her own story, and also talks about Semenya.

Marc Lamont Hill writes about Maia Campbell’s story at Essence.com. Go here to read his commentary: “A Look At Our Indifference to Black Women’s Mental Health.”

Gertrude Baines, the world’s oldest person died Friday at age 115. “In her final years, she passed her days watching her favorite TV program, ‘The Jerry Springer Show,’ and consuming her favorite foods: bacon, fried chicken and ice cream.” And all this time I thought those things would shorten one’s lifespan. Who knew? Go here to read her story.

And in music news, Q-Tip’s album “Kamaal the Abstract,” which was shelved back in 2001 is finally being officially released this coming Tuesday. I can’t even listen to his last album, “The Renaissance,”  anymore — that’s how much I played it — so I’m excited. Go here to listen to him speak on the album.

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I wasn’t sure how far into BIA 2 I would get after my reaction to last year’s program. So I let my friend and fellow journalist – she’s in broadcast – take the reign to review the program. Here are her thoughts on the first installment of the documentary:

By: Ahnomaly

Black_in_America(2)Black in America 2 haunted me in my sleep each night after I saw the first promos months ago. I rolled my eyes at every CNN commercial. I tossed and I turned in my sleep remembering the emotions that were evoked from last year’s special.

That year instead of revealing what it really was like to be black, CNN regurgitated unflattering all too familiar images of Blacks.

The reminder of the horribly produced series hit me each time I saw a commercial break with Soledad O’Brien’s name sitting in the lower part of the T.V. screen.

“Oh gosh, CNN’s Black in America is close… I’m scared,” I wrote on Twitter.

I knew another dose of fictitious Black images were awaiting millions of Americans and myself, coated heavily in sensationalism. But tonight, an unfamiliar feeling arose.

This year’s BIA2 was like an abandoned building. It was gutted and restored images of Blacks once forgotten or unknown. Perhaps all of the producers were fired or maybe they all had a stern talking to. Whatever the case it was better.

I met Glorious, a young black woman who overcame obstacles to make it to college, and I also met a wonderful man named Steve Perry, who developed a prep school called Capital Prep to prepare these children. Did I mention 100 percent of Capital Prep students graduate and attend a four-year university? Impressive.

BIA 2 gave us a glimpse into a black reflection that many blacks have never seen on screen. It guided us into the world of privileged blacks, a group rarely seen in media – let alone talked about.

I met a young woman who, most importantly, I could relate to. She was a college graduate and successful chemical engineer but expressed the need of a mentor to assist her as she continued her climb in the workforce. (more…)

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