Black Motherhood Lost at the Oscars

Mo’Nique in "Precious"

Rev. Irene Monroe: The historical legacy of the devaluation and demonization of black motherhood was both applauded and rewarded at this year’s Oscars. And the point was clearly illustrated with Mo’Nique, capturing the gold statue for best supporting actress in the movie “Precious,” based on the novel Push by Sapphire, as a ghetto welfare mom who demeans and demoralizes her child every chance she can.

Oscar Ceremony Shows Hollywood’s Rightward, Militaristic Shift

Hurt Lockher director Katherine Bigelow, Barbra Striesand

Randy Shaw: While conservatives love bashing “Hollywood liberals,” Sunday night’s Oscar telecast showed how little this description applies. From Kathryn Bigelow’s promoting George W. Bush’s argument that the U.S. invaded Iraq to protect Americans, to the disproportionate acclaim given to films exalting the military, to the exclusion of Michael Moore’sCapitalism, A Love Story from the documentary nominees, Hollywood now largely avoids any hint of progressive social analysis.

The Ballad of Emmett Till: Till We Meet Again

Rico E. Anderson, Adenrele Ojo, Bernard Addison, Lorenz Arnell, and Karen Malina White

Ed Rampell: But in a country still troubled by racism, where hate crimes are on the rise — from nooses and KKK hoods at the University of California San Diego to death threats against the first African American president — any month is appropriate for this engaging interpretation of the life and death of Emmett Till, the martyr who launched the Civil Rights movement. Three months after Till’s murder, Rosa Parks stood up by sitting down in a segregated Southern bus.

Michael Moore Speaks: Capitalism, A Love Story

Ed Rampell: The good news is that Capitalism, A Love Story is another Michael Moore instant classic, and in his considerable, 20-year-long oeuvre – which spurred revitalization of the documentary as an art form, as well as an entertainment medium — is second in quality and power only to his 2004 masterpiece, Fahrenheit 9/11.

Glenda Hooker Captures Black History

glenda-2

Glenda Hooker, an extraordinary doll artist, will be exhibiting her collection of miniature vignettes depicting events and significant icons of Black American History. Her traveling museum will be on display: March 7, Sunday 11:00-2:00 301 N. Orangegrove, Pasadena, CA For 30 years Ms. Hooker’s pieces have been displayed at miniature shows across the United States [...]

Of Oscars, Movies and Messages

Wes Studi, Na’vis’ chief Eytukan in Avatar

Ed Rampell: When movies are topical, with social conscience and consciousness, they’re even more dramatic. What’s more electrifying than people fighting for their rights? Injecting current events into comedies makes them more pointed, absurd, satirical, ironic, funny.

A Progressive Answer to the Oscars

Martina Gedeck in "The Baader-Meinhoff Complex"

Ed Rampell: The 2009 Progie Award winners include: Michael Moore’s anti-corporate documentary Capitalism, A Love Story; the Palestinian immigrant drama Amreeka; the German urban guerrilla feature The Baader-Meinhoff Complex; the psychic military unit satire The Men Who Stare At Goats and British director Ken Loach, all completely overlooked by this year’s Oscars.

Mau Mau, Marx and Coca Cola: 18th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival

Nate Parker (who played a leading role in The Great Debators) alongside actress Lela Rochon (Waiting to Exhale), and Dr. Ben Chavis, Co-Founder, President of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN).

Ed Rampell: Probably the most controversial film screened this year at PAFF was the Australian doc Stolen, which, according to co-director Daniel Fallshaw, started out as a documentary about the plight of people in refugee camps as a result of the West Sahara liberation movement against Morocco led by the Polisario. But, he said, in the process of filming Fallshaw and co-director Violeta Ayala purportedly stumbled upon something quite unsettling: the existence of slavery in these resettlement centers, with some Blacks owned by Arabs in the camps.

The Price Is Right (On)

Cal Bartlett and Don Moss

Ed Rampell: This confrontation between the brothers has been simmering since the Great Depression, and is a sort of High Noon without the gunplay (despite that fact that Vic, as one of NYPD’s blues, is indeed packing heat) – call it High Strung Noon

Action (or lack of) in the North Atlantic

Oscar winner Frances McDormand and Kate Volk operate the military communications center in "North Atlantic." Photo by Steven Gunther.

Ed Rampell: hose who prefer shows like, say, South Pacific, may require a North Atlantic Treaty Organization in order to sit through this raucous, riotous production. James Strahs’ 1982 play is decidedly for those who prefer their theatre on the avante garde, experimental side.

No Schlock, Sherlock: A Scandal in Tinseltown

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes

Ed Rampell: Ritchie’s high-concept Holmes transforms the cerebral scrutinizer into an action hero – long on mindless violence, stunts, special effects and CGI gimmickry, it’s short on atmospherics and imagination. Call it character assassination.

Party’s Over: Time for Progressives to Jump Democrats’ Ship

Obama Agenda

Ed Rampel: It’s time to dump and jump the sinking two-party ship of state and create a new progressive people’s party. If those well-meaning activists who’d wasted time and money supporting Obama, just so he could backstab them once he got in power, had expended that energy and money on creating a new genuinely pro-worker, pro-peace, pro-human rights, pro-gay rights, pro-single payer, pro-woman, pro-ethnic rights, anti-global warming, anti-Wall Street party, we’d be better off.

Not a Candy Cigarette

Sally Mann's "Candy Cigarette"

This amazing photo titled “Candy Cigarette” was taken by Sally Mann in 1989. When I first saw this photograph, a few months ago, I was moved by the pure emotion and intensity of the girl.

How Music Is Saving Lives in LA

Harmony Projects founder Margaret Martin and seventh-grader Kiana Coronado-Ziadie receive an award from First Lady Michelle Obama. (Photo Credit: White House)

Right now, the Harmony Project is fundraising together with the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development. They have highlighted 12 gang reduction zones (areas with a high documented rate of violent gang crime) in which Harmony Project serves as an official part of the city’s strategy to reduce gangs by keeping kids away from predators, and helping them develop discipline, persistence, self-esteem and accountability which will lead them to success in school and in life.

Swing Band

Dancing

The lights are dimmed. I peer beyond the front row of saxes onto the darkened dance floor. The drummer begins a quicken intro. Sounds from Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn encourage the anxious audience as our band starts it’s first song.

The Jazz Nightlight

The-Blues

The jazz and Blues scene in Los Angeles is hot. Young and old musicians get together in the diverse jazz clubs around the city to elaborate on the chord changes. The clubs light up the night with brilliant tunes from the past to creative newer melodies.

El Sistema in L.A.

Gustavo Dudamel

The Venezualan approach that the maestro has introduced focuses on learning instruments in groups, engaging interest before instruction, playing with joy, and developing community.