Pan-American Blues -- Black Country

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 27, 2013 06:32pm | Post a Comment

If one listens to a “hillbilly” record like, say, Jimmie Rodgers’s “Blue Yodel” back-to-back with a “race” record like Lead Belly’s “Cow Cow Yiki” it should become immediately clear to the listener that often the distinction between these two genres has for many years been (and continues to be) more of an industry marketing rather than musicological one. After decades of segregation, one needn’t watch the CMT Music Awards to know that Country music has for a long time been almost totally dominated by white performers. However, there have always been black country musicians and more continue to emerge. Whether or not they're embraced by the Nashville industry or public is another question.


To Americans for whom there are only two coasts (the East and West), the South is with tiresome regularity portrayed and imagined to be a homogeneous region populated entirely by menacing, toothless, racist rednecks (whereas the North is totally free of racists, naturally). If these regionalist haters ever bothered to explore the South they’d likely be surprised by the physical and cultural variety of the Appalachians, the Delta, the Deep South, the Old South, the Ozarks, the Piedmont, the Upper South, the cities and countryside and so on. It would probably surprise many of them to learn that almost every single county in the country with a majority black population is located in the South since they imagine everyone there to be a white Republican.

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Paul Williams -- Architect to the people

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 19, 2013 10:26pm | Post a Comment

(image source: Kevin Balluff)

Although it takes an incredible combination of cognitive dissonance, myopia (and usually some chauvinism) to deny that Los Angeles can be characterized by its amazing architecture, it does happen. Ironically, most of the blame for this fact can be placed on the shoulders of the self-appointed boosters in Hollywood, whose idea of Utopia seems to resemble a boring, wealthy, white Florida suburb more than the actual city of angels. For example, when a film wants to communicate that its setting is Los Angeles, most of the establishing shots aren’t of architecture at all. Instead audiences are subjected to images of the Hollywood Sign, the Walk of Fame, Venice’s Muscle Beach, Beverly Hills's Rodeo Drive, etc. Maybe they’re treated to a shot of Welton Becket’s Capitol Records Building or Meyer & Holler’s TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s).

Angelus Funeral Home (1934) (source: Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas)

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Krip-Hop Nation Mini-Concert Honoring Blind Joe, The Joe Capers Legacy in Black History Month And Beyond by Leroy Moore

Posted by Billyjam, February 12, 2013 06:02pm | Post a Comment
Leroy Moore (left), friend of Amoeba and the Amoeblog, returns to do another guest Amoeblog. The New York born, Berkeley, CA based artist/activist/educator, who is the founder of Krip-Hop Nation (the global collective for hip-hop artists with disabilities), has been featured several times here on the Amoeblog over the past five years for his work in Krip-Hop and also with Sins Invalid that he co-founded. In July 2008 he wrote an Amoeblog On Being Black and Disabled. Two years ago during Black History Month 2011 he was featured twice both here and here. Then last August he did a guest Amoeblog spot when he penned the popular critique on the Sundance Channel's Push Girls television show.

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Fear of a black galaxy -- Black people in science-fiction

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 11, 2013 04:52pm | Post a Comment

Photo by JD Hancock

The other day I was listening to the podcast The Auteur Cast. In discussing The Empire strikes back, one of the hosts used the character of Lando Calrissian to question why there are so few black people in science-fiction. It’s not a new question. In 1976, on the album Bicentennial Nigger, Richard Pryor observed:

“I don’t like movies when they don’t have no niggers in ‘em. I went to see, I went to see Logan’s Run, right. They had a movie of the future called Logan’s Run. Ain’t no niggers in it. I said, well white folks ain’t planning for us to be here. That’s why we gotta make movies. Then we be in the pictures.”

left to right: Guinon Bluford, Mae Jemison, Bernard Anthony Harris Jr, and Joan Higginbotham

It would be nice to say that times sure have changed in the 37 years since. There’ve been nineteen black astronauts in NASA, there’s a black president, a black attorney general and countless other black people have attained positions of power or advanced science (it's even fair to say that Neil deGrasse Tyson is a household name). But that's science-fact and in Hollywood science-fiction the future remains so white you’ve gotta wear shades.

Most space operas depict a universe populated by aliens with prosthetic alterations to their eyes and ears and in all shades of skin tone… almost invariably played by white people. If one tries to think of an alien played by a Latino, I can think of Edward James Olmos (in blue contacts) in Battlestar Galactica as Caprican (of Tauron descent) Commander Bill Adama and that’s it (OK, and Tahnee Welch in the Cocoon movies). Ricardo Montalban as Khan doesn’t count because firstly, Khan Noonien Singh was apparently supposed to be South Asian, given his title “Singh,” and a native of earth -- not an extraterrestrial. Speaking of Asian aliens – are there any besides Flash Gordon’s Ming the Merciless, emperor of the planet Mongo (obviously meant to be the face of yellow peril and who was also always played by white actors)?

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Is Morgan Freeman Accurate in Calling Black History Month Ridiculous?

Posted by Billyjam, February 11, 2013 10:01am | Post a Comment

I have always loved the above 60 Minutes clip in which Morgan Freeman, when quizzed by Mike Wallace on his views about Black History Month, tells it exactly as he sees it - not holding back one iota and raising some excellent points. So for this Black History Month 2013 Amoeblog I pose the question: is Morgan Freeman correct in calling Black History Month "ridiculous" and that it should not be relegated to one month but rather incorporated as a part of American history? Please share your views in comments below. Thank-you!  
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