Amazon Is Developing An Alt-History Show Called ‘Black America’

By Zeba Blay, HuffPost Black Voices

Paras Griffin via Getty Images

Will Packer, the man behind the hit comedy “Girls Trip,” is bringing a new show to Amazon that might give HBO a run for its money.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Packer is teaming up “Boondocks” creator Aaron McGruder on “Black America,” a drama set in an alternate history in which freed African American slaves have been given control of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama as reparations following the Civil War.

Set in the present-day, the show will imagine a sovereign African-American nation called “New Colonia,” rapidly emerging as one of the leading industrialized nations in the world.

The announcement of “Black America” comes just days after HBO sparked controversy with the announcement of its own alternate history drama, “Confederate,” from the creators of “Game of Thrones,” which is set in an alternate reality in which the South had won the Civil War and slavery remains in present day.

Read the full article and reactions to the show’s announcement here.

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UCLA students protest after partygoers wear blackface at Kanye West-themed frat party

By Veronica Rocha, LA Times

 

Chanting “Black Bruins Matter,” UCLA students crammed into Chancellor Gene Block’s office Thursday, demanding a response for a party described as racist after some students wore blackface to a Kanye West-themed fraternity party.

Holding signs reading, “Our culture is not a costume,” hundreds of students marched on campus days after the party sparked anger over its racial overtones.

Jerry Kang, vice chancellor for UCLA’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, told the crowd he was heartbroken because “black Bruins’ lives matter.” UCLA, he said, is trying to respond and address concerns.

“It’s one thing to suggest you are actually focusing on one celebrity who is African American, it’s another thing to take it as a license to perform every attribute, every stereotype, every grotesque minstrelsy that you see,” he said.

ucla

Students who attended the Tuesday night “Kanye Western” party thrown by Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority wore baggy clothes, dressed like the Kardashians and some wore blackface, the Daily Bruin reported.

After photographs of the party surfaced on social media, students expressed concerns that the organizations’ actions were racist and mocked black culture, reigniting the social media hashtag #BlackBruinsMatter.

Alicia Frison, a student union member, told The Times that a student notified her and other members about the party Tuesday night after photographing some female partygoers who were wearing gold and had soot on their faces. Other female partygoers wore large fake butts and were balancing water bottles like Kim Kardashian did for her infamous Paper magazine photo shoot…

UCLA said it is investigating the party and talking to students.

“We do not yet have all the facts, the alleged behavior is inconsistent with good judgment as well as our principles of community,” UCLA said in a statement. “We remind students that while they are free to celebrate in ways that draw on popular culture, their specific choices can cause harm and pain to fellow members of their community. Put simply: Just because you can do something, does not mean you should.”

Sigma Phi Epsilon’s national office says the UCLA fraternity has temporarily suspended activities as it investigates the incident. UCLA said Alpha Phi sorority’s social activities have also been temporarily suspended…

 

Read the full article here.

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Why It Isn’t Possible For Black Americans To Appropriate African Culture

By Julia Craven, Politics Reporter, The Huffington Post

(Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images) Parade participants march with a tribal themed group wearing colorful face paint. The 46th Annual African-American Day Parade was held in Harlem; the spectators, politicians and prominent members of Harlem's black community celebrated the historically-rich NYC community of those from different African heritages.

(Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Parade participants march with a tribal themed group wearing colorful face paint. The 46th Annual African-American Day Parade was held in Harlem; the spectators, politicians and prominent members of Harlem’s black community celebrated the historically-rich NYC community of those from different African heritages.

Columbus Fortune was the name given to my great-great grandmother’s grandfather. I only know this because my Nana is a stickler for attempting to compose family trees. I say “attempting” because, with the exception of what has been told to us, it is difficult to recount an undocumented lineage.

My grandfather was an enslaved African. He was 18 when slavery was abolished in the United States and I don’t know if he knew his mother, his father, his brothers, his sisters or his grandparents. I do not know if he knew what tribe he hailed from.

For black Americans, tracing our lineages back to their African origins is almost impossible (unless we use DNA testing). African enslavement left us devoid of a way to define ourselves. It severed familial ties and deprived us of any viable opportunity to reclaim them. When we go looking for our ancestors and their culture, we’re chasing shadows.

This is why it hurts when native Africans criticize black American attempts to regain a lost portion of ourselves. Writer Zipporah Gene, who identifies as both British and Nigerian, wrote a post earlier this month claiming that black Americans can appropriate African culture — since we are American — by wearing tribal garb to be “trendy.” Backlash to her piece led her to write an equally obtuse follow-up declaring that, based on her own experiences, it is unnecessary for black people to showcase their Africanness…

It is understandable why an African woman might look at a picture of Afropunk’s New York festival attendees, recoil and believe her culture is being used as a costume (though The Root pointed out that, because of New York’s diversity, whether or not the people in the photo are African-American or African immigrants cannot be determined). But cultural appropriation requires a degree of economic and political privilege black Americans simply do not have. We cannot oppress Africans, shame their cultures, claim it for ourselves and then decide it’s trendy. Even if we could, that’s certainly not what’s happening here, by any stretch of the imagination…

 

Read the full article here.

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