From the News Wires
African-American martial arts actor Jim Kelly died on Saturday at the age of 67. Kelly was best known for his role in the 1973 Bruce Lee film "Enter the Dragon." But here's another clip of Kelly in action on the film "Black Belt Jones" that shows off the moves that made him enough of a cultural icon to star alongside LeBron James in a 2004 Nike commercial.
On his radio show today with Tavis Smiley, Cornel West reiterated his support for Edward Snowden, the admitted National Security Agency leaker. Snowden came forward earlier this month as the man who had leaked documents to the media that detailed the NSA's extensive domestic surveillance program.
On today's show, West makes a link between the gutting of black civil rights in America and Snowden's call for more government transparency. "Brother Edward Snowden is the John Brown of the U.S. national security state," West said, referencing the 19th century slave abolitionist. "He's trying to let folks know what is coming given the massive surveillance coming at us.
You can listen to the entire show at Soundcloud (West's Snowden segment begins at 9:40):
Jamie Foxx took home the award for "Best Actor" at last night's BET Awards for his performance in "Django Unchained." And for the second year in a row, the actor made what the Los Angeles Times called a "silent statement" by eschewing red carpet fashion and instead wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with Trayvon Martin's image. Last year, when millions of people wore hoodies to stand in solidarity with Trayvon Martin's family as they sought an indictment of George Zimmerman, Foxx wrote on his blog, "My hoodie will be on forever."
Ryan Wang and Dorothy Landry are on their way to becoming besties, despite their 96-year age difference.
Something unexpected happened this week in George Zimmerman's trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Rachel Jeantel, Martin's friend who took the witness stand this week, became the center of mockery and criticism about her dark skin, her speech, and her weight. The gist of it is probably summed up best by Lolo Jones' idiotic and uninformed tweet Thursday night:
Crunk Feminist Collective paid tribute to Jeantel's "unbought and unbossed" posture on the stand by compiling a list of encouraging messages from supporters.[<a href="//storify.com/JamilahKing/loveforrachel" target="_blank">View the story "#LoveForRachel" on Storify</a>]
Today is National Trans Day of Action in New York and there's lots to celebrate. But first: four simple steps to becoming a better trans ally from Rebecca Kling at Thought Catalogue:
Step Zero: Don't Deny Someone Else's Reality
The first thing about being a trans ally -- something really before the first thing -- is to know when to keep your mouth shut.
Step One: Educate Yourself
So, you've learned to keep your mouth shut. Awesome! You'll go far. The next step toward being a strong trans ally (and the first real bit of work) is to transform yourself into an informed trans ally. To do that, you need to educate yourself.
Step Two: Begin To Speak Up
So, you've read through some Trans 101 websites. You've got a grasp on gender identity, cissexism, why you shouldn't use words like "tranny" and "shemale." Now what?
Begin to flex your ally muscles. This can be incredibly simple: Call out the next transphobic joke you see on TV.
Step Three: Go Big or Go Home
Now that you've educated yourself and know enough to call out basic transphobia among your friends or peers, it's time to step up your game. In your own life, this can be things like asking your employer why there isn't a gender-neutral bathroom at your workplace.
Lifetime's new show about Latina domestic workers finally made its debut, and it's not doing so well. "Devious Maids" drew in two million viewers on Sunday, which is considerably less than other Lifetime dramas like "Army Wives" and "The Client List", shows that each had around 2.8 million inaugural viewers.
But ratings are only half the story. "Devious Maids" is packed with celebrities but has little punch. Its creator is Mark Cherry, the guy who brought us ABC's long running drama "Desperate Housewives", which made Eva Longoria a household name. Longoria is executive producer of the new show, and its cast includes Ana Ortiz, formerly of ABC's "Ugly Betty", and Judy Reyes, who's most known for her role as a nurse on NBC's "Scrubs."
While "Devious Maids" was originally in development with ABC, the network ultimately passed on it. Critics have panned the show for its reductive portrayal of Latinas. Author Alisa Valdez, who's worked on developing pilots at the network, wrote a scathing, must-read op-ed at NBC Latino on why the problem of misrepresentation is much bigger than, but certainly not helped by, this one show.
"It is not wrong to be a maid, or even a Latina maid," Valdez wrote. "But there is something very wrong with an American entertainment industry that continually tells Latinas that this is all they are or can ever be."
But since the show has brought the issue of domestic work to the forefront of our cultural conversation, we may as well take note of the not-so-sexy parts of the job. From the National Domestic Workers Alliance:
- 70 percent of domestic workers are paid less than $13 an hour.
- Less than two percent receive retirement of pension benefits from their primary employer.
- 25 percent of live-in workers had responsibilities that prevented them from getting at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep at night during the week prior to being interviewed.
Social media has stepped up in support of Trayvon Martin's friend, Rachel Jeantel--who had previously been berated online during her testimony in George Zimmerman's murder trial. Zimmerman defense attorney Don West grilled Jeantel for hours over the course of two days, and drew criticism for his tactics.
Well, it seems West went out with his daughters afterwards. One of them, Molly West, posted a photo on her Instagram account, with the description "We beat stupidity celebration cones," followed by a celebration hat, an ice cream, and happy face emoticons, and the hastags #Zimmerman #defense and #dadkilledit.
The apparent reference to Jeantel's "stupidity," is equally as offensive as the reference to "dad killed it," in the middle of a trial over the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman's lawyers say they'll issue a statement soon.
UPDATE: June 28, 2013, 7:05 pm
Buzzfeed reports that the local news station covering the trial is, which confirmed that Don West was indeed in the photo, is now comparing comparing West's attire in attempt to match up the date the photo was taken.
The Los Angeles Times reported last year that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had a big problem. That body that's charged with awarding America's best actors, films, and filmmakers was overwhelmingly white (94 percent) and male (77 percent), an unrepresentative sample of the country's rapidly browning movie-going public.
The ramifications of such a homogenous group of cultural deciders became clear during last year's Oscar ceremony, which failed to include pioneering Mexican-American actress Lupe Ontiveros and Native actor Russell Means (Ohlala Lakota) to its "In Memoriam" reel that features actors who have passed away.
Good news: there's been some progress.
The Academy announced the names of 276 new members invited to join the class of 2013, including several filmmakers of color. Shadow and Act notes that the list includes Ava DuVernay, the celebrated director behind "Middle of Nowhere"; comedian Chris Tucker; Kimberly Elise; actress Paula Patton; icon Prince; Raoul Peck; Reggie Rock Bythewood; Roger Ross Williams; Stanley Nelson; Steve McQueen; Tim Story; Tina Gordon Chism; and William Greaves.
Lauryn Hill is talented, troubled, and currently serving three months in jail on charges of tax evasion. But the day before her sentence started, the elusive singer posted a missive about American racism on Tumblr. Some of it made sense, some of it didn't, but all of it is being used by the media as one more example of Hill's alleged craziness.
An excerpt after the jump:
It's hard to believe that it's been nearly 20 years since O.J. Simpson's 1994 murder trial. It's even harder to believe that no major feature films have been made about the case in which Simpson, a black Hall of Fame football player, was acquitted of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her associate Ron Goldman, who were white.
But get ready, because "An American Mystery", a new film about the case and spectacle that showed just how deeply divided America is on race, may be released by the summer of 2014.
"'An American Mystery' has the capacity to challenge entrenched attitudes on a topic that has inspired visceral reactions for almost a generation," said British filmmaker Joshua Newton, who will write and direct the project. "While we are creating an artistic work, the essence of the film is the search for truth. It was easy to determine that OJ's participation is not consistent with our standards. Our goal is to lay bare the facts and have the audience reach their own conclusions," he added.
Newton has already cast British actress Charlotte Kirk to play Nicole Brown Simpson in what they're calling a $65 million "thriller." What's more: Newton claims to have discovered new evidence in the case. The film's executive producers include former NBA star Bo Kimble and Diane Watson, a former U.S. Representative from California who began discussing the project nine months ago with Newton.
O.J. Simpson reportedly tried to get involved with the project but was turned down.
The saga continues.