French Film History and Black actors

This was a random find but I felt the need to post it here (hopefully you will be able to open the NYT webpage:

I am not totally keen on the tone of the article, many because it ignores (or is ignorant of) the number of Black slaves in Europe pre British emancipation.


Zou Zou, 1934. with Josephine Baker in starring role.

New York Times Archives, August 5, 1992, Section C, Page 13

Charles “Honi” Coles

Hiding in plain sight as Tito Suarez in the film Dirty Dancing, Charles “Honi” Coles was a brilliant and innovative tap dancer.

He met  Charles “Cholly” Atkins 1940 with whom he partered for 19 years. According to Wikipedia, “Coles placed tap in the world of concert art when he performed in the Joffrey Ballet‘s production of Agnes de Mille‘s Conversations about the Dance.

Coles made his Broadway debut in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1949. He also appeared in Bubbling Brown Sugar and My One and Only, for which he received both the Tony and Drama Desk Award for his performance.”

But two things stick out for me. One: Coles taught dance and dance history at YaleCornellDuke, and George Washington University in the 1980s

And two, short of Dirty Dancing, I had no knowledge of Coles. Time to rectify that.

Mr. Trump, America was their home

Mr. Trump, my grandparents and aunt made the decision to leave Guyana and make the United States home.

Carmen, my grandmother,

My grandfather served as Senior Geological Land Surveyor for the New York and New Jersey Port Authority. My grandmother was an Registered Nurse in obstetrics, who delivered a myriad of American babies.

My aunt, an RN, was a first responder at 9/11 and died as a result of her service.

Like your grandparents, my aunt and grandparents came to the US to have a better life.

And now you have the nerve to tell me that because they weren’t white they weren’t American? That they should have gone home? Because that’s what you told those four Congresswomen.

My grandmother served in WW2 – can you say the same?

Unlike your grandfather (German born), my grandparents did not see the need to lie about their ethnicity, a lie you yourself have maintained. I suspect he was afraid of being interned in the same cages you seem so fond of using.

Luckily for me, my mother took a different route. She let her green card lapse. Instead of following the rest of her family to the United States, she opted to come to Canada,

This Canadian, born and raised, will be forever grateful for her mother’s decision.

Ariel: the same ol’ story

Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Halle Bailey (TLM revisioned?), Naomie Harris (Calypso from Pirates of the Caribbean)

Let me take a crack at this, shall we?

Forgive the expletive but this sh*t is not new. I watched the same racist furor with James Bond and Doctor Who.

What gets me, though, is how short everybody’s memory is. Halle Bailey (not Berry – though she has her own “she’s playing a white woman’s part” water association a la Ursula Andress) is NOT the first black woman to play a female sea creature.

Have we forgotten Naomie Harris’ role as Calypso in Pirates of the Caribbean? When you think about it the two characters have similarities, if you compare PotC with the original Hans Christian Anderson story. Both fall in love with a white (hu)man, both get screwed over by a white guy.

Which leads me to this question – do we really want to continue this Strange Days legacy? WHICH fantasy/scifi roles will Black women get going forward and how problematic are those roles going to be? Or can we follow the Black Panther banner, problems and all, and move on.

Meanwhile, unlike the fantasy genre both of these characters inhabit, trolls are very much a reality today. My take?

The trolls can stick it.

And the bottom line is the bottom line – there is no way in heck Disney would take a risk like this if they did not think a black mermaid  would sell. 

In the end, it is all about buying and selling, isn’t it? The irony is not lost on me.

What’s next for the AGO?

New guy as Chef Curator for the AGO.  Handsome, yes.  But what caught my ear was his interest in the Civil Rights Movement (King, Jr., Baldwin).  How will that translate in exhibitions?  And do we want it to?  Don’t get me wrong – I want to see more work of artists of colour (all colour).  But as much as I would like to see the works of artists of African decent  like Thelma Johnson Streat, I don’t want it to be from only an American lens,

The ROM is still playing up from the Out of Africa fiasco.  I am looking forward to seeing the work of artist Michèle Pearson Clarke on display until April. Michèle  asks questions  about what narrative Black artists are supposed to cover.

I have a question too: is the AGO supposed to throw Basquiat at the visitors and say, “There, now we are covered”? Ultimately we can to better than this.

Credit to ourselves

Someone on The View asked the question, “What next?”  This was in regard to the action by many women at the Golden Globes last Sunday. This includes refusing to give into the “what are you wearing” talk (which, to be fair, was initiated by Joan Rivers years ago).

More importantly this included introducing us the public to the activists in women’s movements in other areas, such as Tarana Burke, Saru Jayaraman, Ai-Jen Poo and Marai Larasi and others. (come on, US Weekly, did you have to follow that story with click bait on 10 Best Beauty Looks on the Golden Globes? Really?)

So what next?  I think I already answered that question in my post about Lisa Nishimura.  We need to acknowledge the work of these women.  This is a slow trend but it is happening.

Clearly we as women know how to make the money to make films (Lisa Nishimura) and we know how to market films (that’s what Ava DuVernay was doing before Selma). And we know how to write books that get optioned, as Hidden Figures proved.  A book written by a Black woman made into a film starring Black women.  And guess what?  White men went to see it, too.

It can be done.

The next step?  We KNOW we have been oppressed but we have to stand by our work.  I don’t care about the designer dress you borrowed.  I want to know about your upcoming television and Netflix projects (Hollywood? Feh).

Because only you can best promote you.




Black Women in Alabama – 2017 in review

#bwia with Doug Jones

2017 was a hard year for everyone:  ailing elderly parents, issues with our children and/or partners, problems in work or finding it, or coming down with sometimes  illness as serious as cancer (shoutout to B).

As I have repeated time and time again: #bwia #BlackwomeninAlabama. If they could move forward in adversity, anyone can.

Monica Bodirsky, Kristine Maitland, Rev. Terrie Brookins, Rosemary Stehlik

But the only way we can get through it is to turn to our communities (often we have more than one).  I want to take this time, perhaps again, to thank friends, old (Bridge, SCA, BiWoT, WCC, et. al.) and new, for all the help they gave me during the crisis with my mother last May, among other things.

Also, thanks to my new friends, from Women’s Drumming Circle to the #broomwomen, for introducing me to a new way of looking at my life, from the participating in the arts to the moontimes.

2017 has been a time for me make decisions as to how I will move forward as I look up closer to fifty.  Things are looking good.

Women’s Drumming Circle lead by Veronica Johnny.

A look at the film and TV Industry

I found this Entertainment Weekly post on women and sexism in the film and TV industry.  Eva – make that Civil War Movie!

I have said it before: I have long held that it is time for women to say to hell with Hollywood and look at other avenues to tell stories.  Hollywood is dying a death in double time. Netflix and HBO is where it’s at.  As Snagglepuss used to say.


Nina Simone on Shock value

Nina Simone in repose.

There’s been a lot of hoo-haa about the upcoming bio-pic and the black face used on Zoe Zeldana, the actor playing her.

I have two things to say on the matter.

One: Zoe needs to fire her management team.  The minute they were aware of the makeup job required to do the gig, her team should have told her to walk.  Even Ms. Simone would have told her that you have to control your own image.  Let the community have their say, ignore the Twitter feed,  and move on. Remember, you can be replaced.

Second.  I hate bio-pics.  As it is, the hoo-haa about the lack of representation of Black people at the 2016 Oscars meant that no one noted the documentary about Ms. Simone that was up for an Academy award.  Jada Pinkett-Smith did not bother to mention that.

As far as I am concerned, morbid as it sounds,  let the dead get the opportunity to speak for themselves.