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|Sun, October 9, 2016 at 7:25 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
The Birth of a Nation was not going to be on my list of must-see movies, based on the information exposed about the film's writer and director Nate Parker. I made an emotional judgment out of loyalty to the women in my life that I would not go and see it. It felt like the right thing to do. A woman committed suicide for many reasons we do not know, but this specific situation had to add to her agony. I feel for her and her family and anyone who is enduring the type of pain that would cause them to take their own life.Ultimately as the movie release approached, I re-examined my position. I could not allow my emotion to keep me from experiencing a film that is so important to who we are. So, on the same day that the first Black president was raising funds for the election down the street from Kanye's Saint Pablo tour, I decided to go and see the film with no reservations.The film begins with a vision rooted in folklore, religion, and ancestry. Nat Turner is destined for the journey that he is on. The film then becomes another slave movie, except this time you know there will be accountability on the part of those unleashing pain and suffering on anyone with Black skin. As it happened, I found myself unfulfilled, as if it was not enough. Watching interactions with overseers and slaves juxtaposed with interactions that Black people are having in 2016 was eye-opening and sobering, but not surprising. I'm not sure what I expected.I left feeling everything but happiness. As I walked out of the doors of the theater I felt empty, angry, and sad. In the background, I heard murmurings of "Look at what our ancestors went through, and we still moving backward." The brothers I lock eyes with are speechless. What did we just watch? What are we called to do, who can we trust?I'm glad I decided to go see the film despite the controversy surrounding it. It struck a nerve in me that requires reality to be addressed. What are we willing to die for? Now is the time to straighten out our backs.Nat Turner should be honored, as a man who decided it was time to do something. Now, what do we do?
|Sun, November 29, 2015 at 1:02 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
News travels fast, particularly bad news. People have the ability to share their responses as soon as the news is reported. Social media is leveraged as a way of showing sympathy and support for those involved in these tragedies. Recently, a synchronized assault was carried out in France and over 100 people lost their lives. Facebook provided the ability to overlay the French flag over your profile picture to show support. In a matter of 24 hours, timelines were filled with images of the French flag, with millions standing in solidarity with France. In this same 24 hours something else happened, pictures of the massacre in Kenya that happened earlier this year began to resurface. In April of this year, 147 Kenyan students were killed by Somali militants. Pictures of the massacre carried out by Boko Haram in Nigeria where it has been reported that 2,000 people were massacred in January of this year also resurfaced. In the face of all this death and destruction, prayer wars are raging on the internet.
Every single drop of blood that is spilled as a result of an act of injustice against any group of people should be widely reported and memorialized. We should pray for their families and well-being. If we have the means, we should actually provide financial assistance when possible. I'm sure most people feel this way, but now people are gangbanging for compassion.
If we are honest with ourselves, we would admit that many of us did not know or had limited information about the massacres that happened in Kenya and Nigeria. This is because of lack of coverage and exposure, and one of the main things that is essentially wrong with mainstream media and their reports having to do with people of color around the world. People of color are upset about this lack of coverage and feel a personal affront when a tragedy happens on the same scale in a predominantly White country and the coverage seems endless and prominent.
People genuinely take issue with this for good reason, however, to diminish the loss of life because they are not of your race and culture is not acceptable. There are these groups of people who latch on to a tragedy and shame others who are not supporting what they are supporting. These types of individuals are reactionary sheep and post information without research or any context. These are the most irresponsible people. They present this façade as if they care and are concerned with what is going on, but really have no clue.
The energy that we use tripping over tragedies should be redirected to create an energy that is conducive to changing the world as a whole. It is time to heal, truly a time to pray for the end of war. If you really care, then do something about it. Changing your profile picture is like wearing a bracelet for a cause that interests you. It looks cool, but what does it really change
|Sun, November 29, 2015 at 12:56 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
The name Chiraq just kind of popped out of thin air. No one staked claim to it. Based on statistics as it relates to the deaths of soldiers in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it made sense. Chicago, which is compared to Iraq in the popular moniker, has always been riddled with violence. "Chiraq" is not some new phase that is happening because of the youth. It is in the nature of the city; it is in the nature of many cities across America.
When I first heard the term Chiraq, I didn't like it. I knew what it meant to the city as a whole and what it means to the inner-city more specifically. The term promotes visuals of war, flying bullets, fire, fear and destruction. I was one of the individuals speaking against this moniker because I didn't want people thinking those types of thoughts about my beloved city. Fast-forward and Chief Keef becomes the newest rap music sensation promoting a new genre of rap music called Drill. Drill comes off as a dark and eerie form of production with tales of murder, drug use and oddly enough celebration ("turnin' up"). So, the marriage between the terms Chiraq and Drill seems natural, especially with rates of murders and shootings escalating everyday in Chicago. It truly is a war zone, not in the sense that you would say people are fighting for some political end, more in the sense that disenfranchised people and misguided and impoverished youth are at war with who they are with regards to their identity. They don't know who they are at the core, so the thought of taking the life of someone else seems trivial and almost acceptable until it hits home.
Recently, Chicago's violence has been especially polarizing. Tyshawn Lee, 9, was lured into an alley on his way to his grandmother's house and killed. He was shot multiple times in the back and the head. Rumors are circulating that this is the result of something his father did. Tyshawn suffered the consequences. The same day, Kaylyn Pryor an aspiring model was shot and killed near the same neighborhood where Tyshawn was killed. The very next day, Spike Lee dropped the trailer of his newest film, Chi-raq. The internet caught fire. Many thought Spike was making light of the situation in Chicago. Spike has since made a public statement saying that this film is not making light of the current situation in Chicago. He also released an alternative, more serious trailer.
I had to ask myself a few questions after witnessing all of the uproar directed toward Spike and the lack of action with regards to Tyshawn and Kaylyn. When is it time for us to take responsibility? When is it time for us to remove any thoughts of fear and reclaim our neighborhoods? When do we start exercising economic empowerment? These are real questions and really it's up to us to make a move. The Black community can no longer point the finger at scapegoats and wait for saviors. It is up to us.
They call the neighborhood I grew up in "The Wild Hundreds." There is another neighborhood called "Terror Town" and another called "Murder Town." The list can go on. The point I'm making here is that no "name" is going to make us who we are. We make this choice as to who we are and how we are viewed.
I live in Chicago, affectionately known as Chi-town. Some people know it as Chiraq, because between the years of 2003-2012, 4,265 citizens were killed in Chicago, almost identical to the number of American soldiers who were lost at war during that time. We are at war in Chicago right now. It is a war of social standing, economics and equality. Spike Lee created a movie to shine a light on this battle zone. This battle zone exists, he did not create it, but we can fix it
|Wed, September 23, 2015 at 6:16 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Now here is the story. I just landed in Chicago after an epic trip to NY. I went to see Brandy in the Broadway production of Chicago and she was awesome. Anyway, I just landed in Chicago and I was invited to an event featuring a new artist by the name of Matt Legrande. He was doing a single release of song that featured Twista at the Vertigo lounge. I go and do my thing like taking pictures, posting to social media and networking. A few days later I get a call from a casting agency (I assume I handed my card to a casting agent) inviting me in to read for a role on Empire. For those of you who don't know Empire is currently the hottest show on television now so imagine how excited I was. I immediately called my sister for some pointers for the audition; I was up for the role of Moses. Moses is locked up with Luscious and wants Luscious to give him a record deal. I went to the audition did the best I knew how to do and waited for a call back. I never got a call back.
A few days later a friend of mine posts that Empire is looking for extras. Considering I didn't get a call back I figure it couldn't hurt to apply. I followed the instructions, shot an email to the casting agency and the next day they sent me an email saying I was accepted. POW!
So the day comes when I go do my extra work. I pack my black suit, white shirt shoes and tie in my K&G garment bag and head to set. Once I get there I immediately get nervous. This was my first time doing anything like this and I didn't know what to expect. They round up all the extras put us through wardrobe where I get a tie then take us to where everything is being filmed.
My role as an extra was a Federal Marshall. We get propped up and taken over to the court room we walk to the back and Terrence Howard (Lucious) is there in an orange prison jumpsuit. It all gets so real in that moment. There are three Federal Marshalls. We are instructed to walk Luscious into the court room and stand him in front of the judge. His lawyers are there waiting on him. We walk him out and do as we instructed. The entire cast is there and Taraji is there looking just like Cookie...lol. Lee Daniels the creator of the show is there directing this specific episode. He looks at the scene then moves one of the Marshalls who is standing next to Luscious to the side and put me in his place with one of his lawyers on the other side of him. BOOM!!
When we headed back to the extra gathering area, everyone was reminding me how I really lucked out to get that look. I knew I did, but I know how television goes and I had no expectation of even making the cut. We filmed the scene like 30 times. I was happy to have had the experience and ready to go home after a long day of filming.
Fast forward a month or so and I am a seasoned extra at this point. I've been called back twice and I'm looking forward to see if I have made the cut. I get an update to my Facebook page from one of my friends that says ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã..."Did I miss something?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â So I go see what she is talking about and it's a picture of me, Terrence Howard and Gail Rastorfer in a promotional picture for the upcoming season of Empire. I YELLED AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS!! WOOOOOOOO!!!!!! It was so surreal. A few days later I find out the same picture is in Entertainment Weekly (who got my name wrong by the way) and again in Rolling Stone. This is AMAZING!!
I want to taper my excitement and play it down a little because I didn't have a speaking role and who knows how long I will even flash up on the screen, but I can't. I feel so very fortunate and it feels like a sign for me to keep pushing forward and following my dreams. This is exactly what I intend to do. I want to thank God for this opportunity, I am so grateful. I would also like to thank the Academy in advance for my Oscar **wink**.
Hope you guys watch the season premier of Empire tonight and if you see me hit me up on twitter and instagram @Precise_chi or my Facebook fan page Precise.
Stay Focused Positive and Productive
Listen/Buy my music at http://precise.bandcamp.co
|Fri, August 7, 2015 at 12:57 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
"American race prejudice must be destroyed." That statement is number one on a list of nine goals in the Chicago Defender Bible. They are just as important in 2015 as was in 1905. Robert Sengstacke Abbot, the founder of the Chicago Defender, followed through on a dream of equality. He created one of the longest standing Black publications in the world. In its early days, the Chicago Defender served as a conduit of information between the north and south providing information with regards to the murderous tyranny black people were experiencing at the hands of white people and shining the light on the potential promise of prosperity that existed in Chicago. Over a century later the Chicago Defender continues its legacy of being a voice of the black community. Rolling out had an opportunity to speak with the Chicago Defender's Mark A. Sengstacke (executive director) and Cheryl Mainor (president and publisher) of the newspaper. We talked about the importance of the newspaper and its direction.
"I would like to see the Chicago Defender grow as a daily source of news for African Americans. It's important to have a Black press because the major press is just not sensitive to needs of the African American community. That's what people have been telling me for years,"said Sengstacke.
"The importance of this 110 year anniversary is the legacy of this publication,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â stated Sengstacke. "The Chicago Defender is more than just a newspaper: it's a civil rights organization, a social service agency, and many other things all rolled into one within our community. Having been here and serving this community, not only in Chicago but across the United States for 110 years, we thought that it was appropriate that we spend some time in celebration of that. Especially, with the changes that newspapers have gone through within the last 10 years with the advent of the Internet. We are still able to be here ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬" publishing every week, rain or shine no matter what. We still have an audience and a subscriber base across the country that still wants to read what the Chicago Defender prints. In the next 110 years, I would want to see our people still finding relevance in the Black press, not only with the Chicago Defender, but within the Black press and all that means. We have members of the Black press that are nationwide, many of the newspapers are members of the NNPA (National Newspaper Publishers Association), we have weekly magazines, we have bloggers, we have other types of Internet websites that all comprise a Black press. I would look for the Chicago Defender to keep up with technology and continue to deliver the news that is relevant to our readers and community in any way that they can receive it." said Mainor.
The Chicago Defender was started with 25 cents on a card table with 300 copies. It has been able to affect the lives of many and be a trumpet for the Black community for over a century. It speaks to the necessity of the Black press and why we need it now more than ever. We are grateful for the vision of Robert Sengstacke Abbott and the promise of destroying American racial prejudice. Congratulations! and Thank you! to the Chicago Defender.
Read on Rolling Out and see more pics