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Video Series Highlights Shocking Lack of Diversity in Hollywood Movies

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This film image released by Sony Pictures shows, from left, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from "American Hustle." (Francois Duhamel/AP Photo)

This film image released by Sony Pictures shows, from left, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from “American Hustle.” (Francois Duhamel/AP Photo)

(USA Today) – Hollywood has a diversity problem. If you disagree, watch Into the Woods — all 8 seconds of it.

Dylan Marron, a 27-year-old actor in New York, asks movie lovers and budget-controlling film execs to take a hard look at white-washed blockbusters in a YouTube series called Every Single Word. The series dramatically cuts critically acclaimed films into seconds-long clips, only highlighting portions where a person of color is speaking.

Oscar winners American Hustle (the clip: 54 seconds long — total), Her (47 seconds) and Black Swan (27 seconds) are among the selected films. The cut-down version of Disney’s Into the Woods is the shortest, followed by Noah (11 seconds) and Moonrise Kingdom (11 seconds).

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Entertainment

DMX, Long a Voice of the Community, Was the News

The New York Times is not where you turn to get the Black experience in America. But they couldn’t ignore the passing of one of American pop culture’s leading Black voices of a generation.

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DMX performance at the BET awards, photo credits: BET.com

 

    The narrative of the Black Man in America continues with Daunte Wright, 20, gunned down by a white, female cop in a Minneapolis suburb who thought she was using a Taser. 

    Does it sound like Fruitvale Station 2009, when Oscar Grant was face down on the ground and shot by an officer who thought he was firing a Taser? And all of this just 10 miles from where another white officer is on trial for excessive force that resulted in the killing of George Floyd.

   Earl Simmons would have had a lot to rap about. But the mic has already dropped for the icon known as DMX.

    On April 9, I got a news flash at 4:11 a.m. Oakland time. Britain’s Prince Philip died. I slept through it. 

    Five hours later at 9:35 a.m. the New York Times flashed the real breaking news: “DMX, the snarling yet soulful rapper whose string of No.1 albums electrified audiences and reflected his gritty past, is dead at 50.”

     This time, I paid attention. You probably did, too. 

DMX sold more records than the Queen’s Duke. And now DMX was pronounced dead from that heart attack he suffered on April 2.

    To be honest, I didn’t know the difference between DMX and my old Reeboks.   

     I grew up with the Temptations, the Stylistics, and Tower of Power. When hip/hop and rap emerged,  I was more prone to KRS-1. 

    By the time DMX hit, I was raising kids and playing “Barney” songs.

    I missed out. But when he made Page one of the Times, I listened to all the music of Earl Simmons a/k/a DMX over the weekend.

    I got it. 

    I use the moniker “Emil Amok” when I write my columns, because “amok” described the explosion of the pent-up anger in me.  It’s my “rap” name.

     But my columns are practically the Queen’s English compared to DMX. 

    A major voice of Black America, he sang the real headlines of the community. 

     With multiple arrests for fraud, assault, weapons possession, drugs, DUI,  Simmons knew a part of  the Black experience well.  He did jail time for animal cruelty, drug possession and theft, and then again for tax evasion. It all came out in his defiant music, where he put into rhymes and a back beat what it meant to be Black in America. 

    After listening to his “Ruff Ryder’s Anthem,” his macho calling card, and his other songs like his hit “Party Up (Up in Here),” you notice he’s in the world that doesn’t use the euphemistic phrase “n-word.” 

    I live and work in a white supremacists’ world that wants to hide racism and pretend it doesn’t exist.  DMX lived in the world where the word is real and exists as a source of agony and identity. 

    He wasn’t pretending. 

    He just says the word in full.  A lot.

     No one censored DMX. His music was raw and ready for a rap battle at the drop of a hat.  In his memoir, he said he always made it personal. “Nothing was too rude or vicious for me because I didn’t care.”

    That’s what made him a winner. It’s the kind of “nothing to lose” confidence you take to a fight. But he was also known for his introspective songs, like “Damien,” where he wonders “Where’s my guardian angel? Need one, wish I had one.” In concert, he could show a commanding spiritual sense, switching from the profane to the profound, often heard preaching and praying to his audiences.

     Simmons was born on Dec. 18, 1970, and grew up in Yonkers, N.Y. He rarely saw his father and lived with a single mother who beat him. He turned to street crime and ended up in group homes or detention facilities. Or on crack. He found love in fighting dogs– ironic because he spent jail time in 2008 for animal cruelty. 

     In “A Yo’Kato,” (a dog named after a Bruce Lee character? It’s our common ground. I love dogs and Bruce), DMX sings to a favorite dog who died.  

    “I need you to save me a spot, next to you and the Lord. I don’t know when I’m coming but keep checking the door.” 

    The angel Gabriel had a dog looking out for DMX. 

    The New York Times is not where you turn to get the Black experience in America.  But they couldn’t ignore the passing of one of American pop culture’s leading Black voices of a generation. Nor can I.

    Let the world mourn the Queen’s prince. Where DMX was king, he spoke the news and told the truth.

    Emil Guillermo is an award-winning Bay Area journalist and commentator. See his vlog at www.amok.com

 

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Bay Area

Bay Area Saxophonist Kevin Moore on the final Ballot for 36th Annual Stellar Awards

This is the second and final round of the Stellar Gospel Music Awards. Three (3) votes per household are allowed.

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Bay Area Saxophonist Kevin Moore
Bay Area Saxophonist Kevin Moore

Bay Area Saxophonist Kevin Moore has officially been nominated and is on the final Ballot for The 36th Annual Stellar Awards.

Vote Kevin Moore. Category #21 Instrumental Album Of The Year. The Prayer Closet Volume.II

Final Voting Ballot is open to the public, April 6th – 19th.

This is the second and final round of the Stellar Gospel Music Awards. Three (3) votes per household are allowed.

www.StellarAwards.com

Here is a list of other bay area musicians and singers who are also a part of this CD.

Charles Ware Jr. (Producer and Arrangements) Keys & Organ.
Carl “The Rev” Wheeler (Co Producer and Arranger) Strings & Organ.
Darius Lynch (Drums)
Jerry Jordan (Bass)
Wilton Rabb (Guitar)
Sylvester Burks (Organ)
Terry Jones(Guitar)
David Jones (Bass)
Gregg Haynes (Guitar)
Phillip Lassiter (Horn Arrangement)

Vocals by: Demetrius Tolefree Sr, Alfreda Lyons-Campbell, Veronica McWoodson, Jenesther Bailey-Edwards, Pamela Sharp and Kevin Sharp.

Spoken Words by: Bishop JW Macklin & Lady Vanessa Macklin.
Glad Tidings International COGIC.

Recorded & Mixed by Carl “The Rev” Wheeler.

Download your copy today.

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Activism

Miko Marks:  Oakland’s Country Music Star

Her first country music memory growing up was of Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter”.  She adds that Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It” was her mother’s anthem.

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Miko Marks. Photo by Beto Lopez, Mooncricket Films.

Miko Marks, 48, released her third album, “Our Country” in March.

The virtual release party was free, and donations were encouraged to benefit The Center for Hope in Flint, Michigan where Marks grew up.

Marks told ABC 7 News that “Our Country” was about “ . . . healing, social justice, prayer, system racism, marginalization, and it’s about hope to change.”

It has been 14 years since her last album release.  Her previous albums were “Freeway Bound” in 2005 and “It Feels Good” in 2007.

Marks co-wrote six of the eight songs on “Our Country”.

Her first country music memory growing up was of Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter”.  She adds that Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It” was her mother’s anthem.

According to SongData, “ . . . between 2002-2020, there were 11,484 unique songs played on country radio.  In those 19 years, there were only 13 Black artists among those songs, and only three Black women.  In total, songs by Black women received 0.03% of radio airplay.”

The Pointer Sisters in 1974 with “Fairytale,” also Oakland based,  and Mickey Guyton in 2021 with “Black Like Me’ are the only Black women to be nominated in a country category in the Grammy awards.

Marks spent time in Nashville where she heard “you won’t sell” without explanation, and she understood that was code for Blacks don’t sell in Country music.   She moved to  Oakland and was excited to collaborate with Redtone Records in Palo Alto to record.

Marks notes that country music has its roots in Black music and the banjo is from the African continent.

Marks gives shout outs to the other Black women in country music:  Linda Martell, Jo Anna Neel, Ruby Falls, and Rissa Palmer.  Palmer, Reyna Roberts, Brittney Spencer, and Mickey Guyton joined Marks in a round-table discussion of Black women in country music published in the New York Times during Women’s History Month this year.

“Oakland has been a refuge of community for me. The people, the arts and the culture helped shape me as an artist.  It has allowed me to weave to into the fabric of country music my influences that extend outside the genre.

“The Oakland Post has been a foundation for the community and highlighting the arts.” Marks told The Oakland Post,

For more information go to MikoMarks.com

Wikipedia, The Wall Street Journal, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The New York Times were sources for this story.

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