Why Didn’t Movies about Passing Cast Black Actors?

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-09-23 22:16Z by Steven

Why Didn’t Movies about Passing Cast Black Actors?

JSTOR Daily: Where News Meets Its Scholarly Match
2021-02-03

Matthew Wills


Fredi Washington and Louise Beavers in a scene from Imitation of Life via New York Public Library

“Social problem” films were all the rage after World War II. So how could movies about racism be so conservative?

After World War II, Hollywood tried something new: realism, tackling social problems like mental illness, drug addiction, anti-Semitism, and racism. But as media-studies scholar Karen M. Bowdre argues, films “about” race and racism “often focused on the concept of passing, a Black character claiming his or her White heritage while denying any African ancestry.”

Passing movies also tended to cast white actors in the roles of mixed-race characters who passed as white. But that wasn’t the case with the original version of Imitation of Life, made in 1934. Fredi Washington made history by being the first Black actress to play a character (“Peola”) who passes as white. Even more unusually, two Black children were cast to play the part of Peola at ages three and seven.

The Production Code Administration (PCA), the industry’s self-censorship office, was roiled by director John Stahl’s casting choices. The PCA’s “voluminous” file on the film is filled with references to miscegenation, which isn’t a topic of the movie, but presumably would be raised by white viewers who would want to know why Washington looked so “white.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

AMST 3407 – Racial Borders and American Cinema

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Course Offerings, Judaism, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, Religion, United States on 2021-09-04 00:47Z by Steven

AMST 3407 – Racial Borders and American Cinema

University of Virginia
Department of American Studies
Fall 2021

This class explores how re-occurring images of racial and ethnic minorities such as African Americans, Jews, Asians, Native Americans and Latino/as are represented in film and shows visual images of racial interactions and boundaries of human relations that tackle topics such as immigration, inter-racial relationships and racial passing.

For more information, click here.

Tags:

Glen Ford, Black Journalist Who Lashed the Mainstream, Dies at 71

Posted in Articles, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2021-09-04 00:17Z by Steven

Glen Ford, Black Journalist Who Lashed the Mainstream, Dies at 71

The New York Times
2021-08-18

Clay Risen, Reporter and Editor


Glen Ford in the 1970s. As a journalist, he took aim at the intersection of corporate interests and what he called the Black “misleadership” class.
via Tonya Rutherford

Fiercely progressive and independent, he was a persistent critic of the liberal establishment, especially Black leaders like Barack Obama.

Glen Ford, who over a 50-year career was a leading voice among progressive Black journalists and a constant scourge of the liberal establishment, especially Black politicians like Barack Obama, died on July 28 in Manhattan. He was 71.

His daughter, Tonya Rutherford, said the cause was cancer.

Originally as a radio news reporter in Augusta, Ga., and later as a television and online correspondent, Mr. Ford offered his audience a progressive perspective across a wide array of issues, including welfare rights, foreign policy and police misconduct.

Read the entire obituary here.

Tags: , , , ,

‘An American riddle’: the black music trailblazer who died a white man

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-07-15 15:14Z by Steven

‘An American riddle’: the black music trailblazer who died a white man

The Guardian
2021-07-14

Ammar Kalia


Harry Pace, lawyer and cultural entrepreneur, thought by his family to have been Italian. Photograph: Courtesy of Peter Pace

A fascinating new podcast delves into the life of Harry Pace, forgotten founder of the first black-owned major record label in the US – and unlocks a shocking and prescient story about race

There are, according to the academic Emmett Price, “six degrees of Harry Pace”. He is referring to the man born in 1884 who founded America’s first black-owned major record label; desegregated part of Chicago; mentored the founder of Ebony and Jet magazines and spearheaded the career of blues singer Ethel Waters. Pace is a figure who is seemingly everywhere at once, yet his name has been suspiciously absent from the history books.

“This story encapsulates how progress comes about in America – and it is never in a straight line,” says Jad Abumrad. “It is often a cycle – one that contains hope and despair, smashed together.”

Best known for their work on Radiolab and its hit spin-off, Dolly Parton’s America, Abumrad and his co-producer Shima Oliaee are speaking from New York about their latest podcast, The Vanishing of Harry Pace. The six-part series examines the life and legacy of its titular character – the founder of Black Swan records, who had a hand in coining the term “rock ‘n’ roll”. Pace was also a civil rights lawyer, a collaborator of WEB Du Bois, and, you might think, a pioneering black American erased from history because of his race…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Policing Cardi B’s Blackness: A Critical Analysis of “Commonsense” Notions of Race

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2021-06-30 02:41Z by Steven

Policing Cardi B’s Blackness: A Critical Analysis of “Commonsense” Notions of Race

Black Latinx Studies
2019-06-15

Shantee Rosado, Assistant Professor of Afro-Latinx Studies
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick.

When Cardi B entered the Hip Hop landscape during Love & Hip Hop: New York, the world seemed more entertained by her loud, humorous persona than her music. So, it didn’t surprise me that her emergence as a Hip Hop tour de force was met with some skepticism. Cardi B, born Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar, is a Bronx-born and raised Hip Hop phenom. If you haven’t heard of her by now, I’d like an escape to the deserted island you’ve been living on, por favor. Cardi is known for many things these days: for her tenuous relationship with fellow hip hop artist Offset, from Migos, for her very public pregnancy and recent birth of baby girl Kulture; and for her awkward, yet hilarious, interviews with late night figures like Jimmy Fallon.

Despite her obvious appeal to listeners, Cardi’s rise to fame was also met with some ridicule and suspicion, as critics took to Twitter to debate her legitimacy as an artist and her appearance as a “racially ambiguous” woman. Public concerns over Cardi’s Blackness are obvious from just a quick Google search. Existing articles include a blog post on Blavity, published last fall, titled “People want to know if Cardi B is Black, but for Afro-Caribbeans, things are not Black and White.” Another article, published on fuse early last year, is titled “Yes, Cardi B is Black and proud of it: Why the rapper’s Afro-Latina heritage shouldn’t be erased.” Tapping into similar concerns, a YouTube video published by The Talko and titled “20 things you didn’t know about Cardi B,” uses the first item on their list to “clear up” rumors regarding Cardi’s ethnic background. The video “clarifies” that her parents are Dominican and Trinidadian, but that Cardi was born and raised in the Bronx.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Racial Mixture and Musical Mash-ups in the Life and Art of Bruno Mars

Posted in Books, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2021-06-30 02:16Z by Steven

Racial Mixture and Musical Mash-ups in the Life and Art of Bruno Mars

Lexington Books (an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield)
November 2020
154 pages
Trim: 6½ x 9
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-7936-1982-2
eBook ISBN: 978-1-7936-1983-9

Melinda A. Mills, Visiting Instructor
Department of Women’s and Gender Studies
University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida

This book argues that Bruno Mars is uniquely positioned to borrow from his heritage and experiential knowledge as well as his musical talent, performative expertise, and hybrid identities (culturally, ethnically, and racially) to remix music that can create “new music nostalgia.” Melinda Mills attends to the ways that Mars is precariously positioned in relation to all of the racial and ethnic groups that constitute his known background and argues that this complexity serves him well in the contemporary moment. Engaging in the performative politics of blackness allows Mars to advocate for social justice by employing his artistic agency. Through his entertainment and the everyday practice of joy, Mars models a way of moving through the world that counters its harsh realities. Through his music and perfomance, Mars provides a way for a reconceptualization of race and a reimagining of the future.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Introducing Bruno Mars
  • Chapter 1: New Music Nostalgia, Or, Is What’s Old New Again?
  • Chapter 2: Blurred Boundaries, or Reading Between the Lines
  • Chapter 3: The Performative Politics of Blackness
  • Chapter 4: The Sonic Politics of Pleasure, Or Love and Joy in a Time of Trauma and Tragedy
  • Chapter 5: (Re)fashioning Race and Music
Tags: , , , , , ,

‘In the Heights’ and Colorism: What Is Lost When Afro-Latinos Are Erased

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2021-06-22 20:36Z by Steven

‘In the Heights’ and Colorism: What Is Lost When Afro-Latinos Are Erased

The New York Times
2021-06-21

By Maira Garcia, Sandra E. Garcia, Isabelia Herrera, Concepción de León, Maya Phillips and A.O. Scott


The “In the Heights” cast includes Daphne Rubin-Vega, left, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Barrera (rear), Olga Merediz, Gregory Diaz IV, Dascha Polanco and Jimmy Smits. Warner Bros.

The film, set in a New York neighborhood known as the Little Dominican Republic, didn’t cast dark-skinned Latinos in lead roles. Our writers discuss how that absence reverberates.

In the Heights,” the long-delayed Hollywood adaptation of the Broadway musical, has been heralded as a step for more Latino representation in Hollywood, but a conversation has emerged about colorism and the casting of the film.

The New York neighborhood at the center of the story, Washington Heights, is predominantly Afro-Dominican. In an interview, Felice León, a video producer for The Root, asked Jon M. Chu, the director, and some of the stars about the lack of dark-skinned leads in the film: “As a Black woman of Cuban descent specifically from New York City,” she told him, “it would be remiss of me to not acknowledge the fact that most of your principal actors were light-skinned or white-passing Latinx people.” Chu said it was a conversation and something he needed to be educated about. In the end, he said, they “tried to get the people who were best for those roles.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is a part of the film’s creative team, which includes the writer Quiara Alegría Hudes, addressed the criticism last week in a statement on Twitter. He apologized for falling short in “trying to paint a mosaic of this community.” Several prominent Latinos came to Miranda’s defense, including the pioneering Latina actress Rita Moreno, who later backtracked her comments. It’s not the first time Chu has had to contend with questions of identity. His box office hit “Crazy Rich Asians” also had to address similar issues when it came to the casting of Asians and Asian-Americans in the film. (The lead actor in that film, Henry Golding, is biracial.)

I asked five critics and reporters at The Times to weigh in on the criticism and what it means for representation in the arts. These are edited excerpts from the conversation. MAIRA GARCIA

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Opinion: ‘In the Heights’ is just more of the same whitewashed Hollywood

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2021-06-22 20:11Z by Steven

Opinion: ‘In the Heights’ is just more of the same whitewashed Hollywood

The Washington Post
2021-06-21

Julissa Contreras and Dash Harris Machado


Producer Lin-Manuel Miranda attends the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival opening-night premiere of “In the Heights” on June 9 in New York. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Julissa Contreras is a Dominican writer, poet, actor and creator of the “Ladies Who Bronché” podcast. Dash Harris Machado is co-founder of AfroLatino Travel, producer and facilitator of the “Radio Caña Negra” podcast and producer of “NEGRO: A Docu-series About Latinx Identity.”

The recent controversy surrounding “In the Heights,” the big-budget film based on the musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, came as no surprise for Black Latin American and Caribbean people. With its White and light-skinned leading roles, the film became part of a long tradition in the Americas of Black erasure.

When moviegoers and journalists, including the Root’s Felice León, started highlighting the lack of Black leading cast members in the film, many prominent figures rushed to defend it. “We shouldn’t burden Lin-Manuel with the responsibility of representing every Latino,” commentator Ana Navarro said. “You can never do right, it seems,” actress Rita Moreno said in defense of Miranda. “This is the man who literally has brought Latino-ness and Puerto Rican-ness to America.” Both accounts are inaccurate.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

How ‘In the Heights’ Casting Focused a Wider Problem of Afro-Latino Representation

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2021-06-21 02:06Z by Steven

How ‘In the Heights’ Casting Focused a Wider Problem of Afro-Latino Representation

Rolling Stone
2021-06-16

Andrea Marks, Research Editor


MELISSA BARRERA (center) as Vanessa in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “IN THE HEIGHTS
Macall Polay/Warner Bros

A prevalence of light-skinned actors demonstrates Hollywood’s — and Latin America’s — history of colorism

When the musical In the Heights debuted in 2008, it was considered a triumph of Latin American story-telling. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent, it brought the barrio to Broadway and centered Latino immigrants building a community in New York “north of 96th street” so their children could chase the American Dream. The plot is centered around Usnavi (originally played by Miranda himself), the son of Dominican immigrants, who runs the family bodega but dreams of something bigger.

The movie version of the Tony Award–winning show hit theaters and HBO Max last week to largely positive reviews and praise for its three-dimensional portrayals of Latin-American characters, not to mention its ambitious full-cast musical numbers. A majority-Latino cast carries the film, starring actors like Anthony Ramos, a star of Miranda’s other Broadway blockbuster, Hamilton, who is of Puerto Rican descent, playing Usnavi; Mexican TV actress Melissa Barrera; and Bronx-born bachata singer Leslie Grace, who is of Dominican descent. At the same time, many viewers have expressed disappointment at a lack of Afro-Latino representation in the cast, especially among lead characters…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why celebrating ‘mixed-race beauty’ has its problematic side

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2021-04-19 17:20Z by Steven

Why celebrating ‘mixed-race beauty’ has its problematic side

The Guardian
2021-04-08

Natalie Morris


Kim Kardashian West at a Paris Fashion Week event on 2 March 2020. Photograph: Marc Piasecki/WireImage

The trend personified by the Kardashians is driven by the aesthetics of ambiguity – and proximity to whiteness

I was insecure about how I looked when I was younger. My hair was frizzy and embarrassingly enormous. My bum stuck out too much. My lips were too big. My thighs were too big.

Everything about me – specifically my racialised features as a Black mixed woman – felt “too much”. I remember the distinct feeling of wanting to shrink myself, melt myself down into something neater, smaller, sleeker – which is how I saw my white friends, and the beautiful white people on TV.

Then, in my early 20s, soon after moving to London from my home in Manchester, I began to notice a shift in how beauty was being represented. Suddenly, faces, hair and bodies that looked like mine were plastered on shop windows, grinning down from billboards, smizing (smiling with their eyes) from the pages of magazines. Every other TV ad featured mixed models or an interracial family.

White influencers began plumping their lips, baking their skin, braiding their hair, even undergoing invasive surgical procedures to create curves where none existed. The things about myself I had wanted to disguise or alter in my youth were now in vogue – and I struggled to get my head around that. How did it become “trendy” to look like me? And should I feel pleased about it?…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,