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Other Comics / Black Avengers Cover
« on: June 19, 2012, 04:46:48 am »
Jim Rugg did this piece for the HeroesCon 2012 Auction:

By Chris Witherspoon
1:37 PM on 05/22/2012

Think like A Man is arguably the most successful black film of 2012, raking in $85 million in U.S. ticket sales since being released in April. However, the film has been met with harsh criticism oversees, and is banned in France, due to the predominately African-American film's "lack of diversity."

According to Global Voices writer Fabienne Flessel, "Surprising as it may be, the answer lies in the fact that the film has an all-black cast. French cinema is often pointed at for not fairly displaying all components of the country's multiethnic population. Although the recent success of the movie Les Intouchables, which earned French African actor Omar Sy the Cesar award for Best Actor in 2012, caused great pride and hope among French nationals from Africa and the Caribbean, it was not to be the turning point for a deep and lasting change."
This has been the second major race-based controversy in France in just the past few weeks. Last month the first 'Miss Black France' pageant sparked controversy within the French community. Critics of the contest claimed it was "stupid" and "detrimental to French values."
The banning of Think Like A Man in France due to a lack "diversity" is ironic because there are several American and international films with all white casts that have been released in French theaters this year. Titanic 3D, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett, American Reunion, starring Jason Biggs, Tara Reid, and Chris Klein, and Mirror Mirror, starring Julia Roberts, have all hit French theaters in the past year.

Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter at @WitherspoonC

Black surgeon’s claim details racism among UCLA doctors
By Betty Pleasant, Contributing Editor | Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 8:18 pm

A highly regarded African-American surgeon and UCLA associate professor recently filed a lawsuit against the University of California Board of Regents and the administrators of the UCLA Medical Center for implementing a decade-long campaign of discriminatory acts against him — the most egregious being the public depiction of him as a big black gorilla being sodomized by a White man.

In a 40-page complaint filed in Superior Court on April 17, Dr. Christian Head, a tenured and history-making head and neck surgeon at UCLA, describes a litany of racial bullying, badgering, harassment and overt mistreatment he has endured virtually from the day he accepted an assistant professor appointment to the UCLA Medical School faculty in 2002.

Prior to his UCLA appointment, Dr. Head, 50, launched the UCLA Johnson Cancer Center Tumor Lab, which was has been deemed successful and reportedly has yielded valuable research and benefited many of the patients at UCLA and worldwide. This was followed by his receipt of the 2002 National Institute for Health National Cancer Institute Faculty Development Award that same year, and by about 10 awards and 10 research grants in the years hence.

Before UCLA picked him to teach, Dr. Head had conducted neuro-otology research at UCLA for two years, served a head and neck surgery residency for six years at UCLA and interned in surgery for one year at UCLA. Yet, he was publicly regarded by his UCLA supervisors as someone less than a doctor and unworthy of his teaching appointment at that university. (Dr. Head earned his medical degree in 1993 from Ohio State University College of Medicine, then served a year-long surgery internship at the University of Maryland at Baltimore and became certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology in 2003. He was named “Most Innovative Surgeon” by Black Enterprise in 2010.)

Dr. Head became the first African-American in head and neck surgery to become a UCLA faculty member and then promoted to associate professor; he is the only Black head and neck surgeon at the place and he is currently one of only two Black faculty members in UCLA’s Department of Surgery. (The other one is Dr. Langston Holly.)

According to his lawsuit, Dr. Head’s Black presence rankled his supervisors to the point that they were driven to flagrant racism. According to the complaint, Dr. Marilene Wang, a full professor who supervises Dr. Head, was dismissive of his qualifications and repeatedly referred to him as “an affirmative action hire” and “part of the university’s affirmative action program” in conversations with medical colleagues despite his training, awards and certification in his speciality.

The suit states that Dr. Wang said Dr. Head “and doctors like him — who are African-American, were the reason for failed hospitals like King Drew.” It also claims that she stated her intentions to prevent Dr. Head’s promotions, his ability to get full-time equivalents, tenure and advancement. She is claimed to have stated she “intended to take action to destroy Dr. Head’s career at UCLA.”

Toward that end, Wang reportedly issued Head nothing but negative supervisor and peer evaluations until the medical school’s dean, the late William F. Friedman, ordered her to stop in accordance with the 2004 Equal Employment Oopportunity Resolution enacted after she called Head an “affirmative action hire.”

Head said Wang did stop issuing him scurrilous evaluations until Friedman died in August 2005. “Then, she just picked up where she stopped,” Head said.
Dr. Head claimed to be a victim of a double whammy in terms of race hatred in his workplace, as the complaint states Dr. Gerald Berke, chairman of the Head and Neck Surgery Department in which Head works, directed residents (doctors in training) not to work with Dr. Head and denied him teaching opportunities and assistance with his cases. Head asserts that Berke joined Wang in making inappropriate racial comments and insinuations about him and all Blacks over the past four years.

For example, Berke is said to have openly mocked the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, and, upon learning that Dr. Head’s African-American niece had died, Berke asked, “Did she overdose?” And Berke looms large in the sodomizing gorilla atrocity we’ll get to soon (I want to keep you reading!).

According to the court document, Dr. Head — who is married to a cardiologist and has two children — had taken none of the offenses committed against him lightly, for he had complained through all the university’s proper channels in his fruitless attempt to end the discriminatory treatment his two supervisors were affording him. But to no avail.

In fact, every time he lodged an official complaint, he was retaliated against for having done so. For example, his number of clinic days were reduced, his hospital privileges were threatened, his money was treated funny — so much so that in August 2008 Dr. Head received a paycheck in the amount of 48 cents and for the following month, a paycheck was issued to him in the amount of 23 cents! His salary was $315,000 a year.

Now, the gorilla. At the end of each year, the UCLA Head and Neck Department and its resident class holds a closing ceremony and party attended by the faculty, staff, chairmen/women, residents and spouses at which the residents put on a year-end slide show under the supervision of Berke. One such ceremony and party featured a slide show in which Dr. Head was the unfortunate star.

The show consisted of about 30 or 40 slides, of which about half were reportedly about Dr. Head, and one in particular plowed new fetid ground that led directly to this lawsuit. It was a picture of a big, black hairy gorilla that had Dr. Head’s face Photoshopped on the gorilla, who was being sodomized by a white man wearing Berke’s Photoshopped face. “When this slide was shown, Wang and others in the crowd laughed that Dr. Head was ‘being screwed by his boss,’” the lawsuit states.

There were about 200 people at the event but everybody didn’t find it funny, though. Dr. Joel Sercarz, professor of surgery, was still so offended by “The Gorilla Slide” that he sent an email to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block after he made a stirring campus-wide call for “tolerance, civility and respect” last month.

“I appreciate your concern about diversity and tolerance,” Dr. Sercarz wrote, “But why allow my colleague, Dr. Head, an African-American physician to be depicted at a UCLA event with his head superimposed on the body of a gorilla? You are aware of this, aren’t you?” Dr. Sercarz has received no reply to his March 10 email to Chancellor Block.

Dr. Head is not only suing the University of California regents for doing nothing to stop the racial terror meted out to him, but he’s suing Berke and Wang as individuals, as well. He is demanding a jury trial and is seeking general and compensatory damages for lost salary, both front and back pay, bonuses, benefits ... punitive and exemplary damages against Berke and Wang and for damages to his credit, for prejudgment interest at the maximum rate allowed by law and for attorneys’ fees pursuant to the various state, labor and civil codes.

“This lawsuit is an action of last resort,” Dr. Head said. “I have made numerous complaints and I have tried every avenue possible within the university to solve this. The only redress left is in a court of law,” he said.

Dr. Head has the full support of the Beverly Hills NAACP Chapter, to which he turned for assistance last summer. “We are outraged, horrified and repulsed by the discriminatory treatment of Dr. Head, a leading surgeon at UCLA Medical Center,” said Ron Hasson, the chapter president. “This type of wrongdoing by the UCLA Medical Center and UC Regents, for that matter, is outrageous.

“There are so few Black surgeons at UCLA; we now understand why and demand that appropriate action be taken against this discrimination and repulsive activity and those responsible for it be disciplined.”
Wang did not return my page when I sought her comments Tuesday. I will try again to reach her and Berke next week, because I really, really, really want to talk to these people.

Forget Lichtenstein's $45 Million Sale: Why You Should Buy Comic Book Art from Living Artists

Roy Lichtenstein, "Sleeping Girl"

There’s nothing sadder than a poor artist on a streetcorner with a cup in his hand and a sign around his neck that reads, “Will pencil for food.” But that’s the fate of artists who are out of work—comic book artists among them. Had the late Roy Lichtenstein been alive today, he would never have that problem: After a recent Sotheby’s auction, Lichtenstein’s estate is richer to the tune of $44.8 million, thanks to the sale of his 1964 painting, “Sleeping Girl.”

Lichtenstein elevated comic book art into high art crossed with parody, and his use of Ben-Day dots is fun and funny. His success is deserved. But this sale has bothered me for one important reason: Lichtenstein passed away in 1997, and he isn’t around to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Meanwhile, living, breathing, and hungry comic book artists are on the prowl for their next Corel Painter upgrade. I see them at comic book conventions, row after row of them sitting in an “artist’s alley,” like pound puppies hoping to be adopted. These artists are eager, nay, overjoyed to see their fans, even the surly artists who hate people. Because they know that making the fans happy makes their publishers happy, and that ultimately keeps them off the streets.

Yes, some comic artists aren’t as good as others, and only a few are as good as Lichtenstein. But many of them are extremely talented and equally underappreciated by the masses. Here’s why you should purchase art from comic book artists—either panels from a comic book or one-off commissions—and why they deserve patronage more than any deceased master.

You’re guaranteed art that will suit your personal taste.

Why hang a picture of fruit and flowers on your wall when you can instead hang a picture of a costumed crusader smacking down evil? Or even a costumed crusader smacking down a picture of fruit and flowers? Many artists are all too happy to create one-of-a-kind pieces for you. Even yourself in a superhero costume.

And as for non-commissioned pieces, owning art from a comic book you enjoy is a great way to relive your favorite fiction, especially if your favorite fiction fights crime.

Buying art from the artist guarantees that you won’t be purchasing a forgery.

There’s a reason that forgery is a time-honored tradition and a staple of heist movies:  It’s a typically bloodless yet lucrative crime, and the victims aren’t the type to air their grievances on Judge Judy.

Why subject yourself to the ridicule of purchasing a forgery—like the time Hermann Göring bought a fake Vermeer. Oh, how we laughed—when you can buy a piece of art from the hand of the artist him/herself?

Comic book art has had only a few notable forgeries (here, here, and a few here). But do you really be want to knows as “the guy who bought that fake and is now a funny Internet meme.”

It’s an affordable investment.

As anyone who uses Google can tell you, Action Comics #1 famously sold for $2.16 million in November 2011. But there’s a secret to buying good comic book art on comic book store employee wages: buy panels, not issues. You can buy some extremely well-rendered, emotionally stirring art for as low as few hundred dollars.

Considering that an anonymous collector paid $448,000 for a panel by penciller Frank Miller and inker Klaus Janson, it’s a potentially good investment. And if it’s one thing I know about financial, um, stuff, it’s “buy low and sell high.”

It’s bucking the trend.

Think about what buying a master like Lichtenstein means to the rest of the world, besides “I’m secure in my financial success.” It means that you prefer art that’s popular and trendy. Your enemies will say that you have no taste of your own. And then they’d know you were $45 million dollars poorer. Seeing you lack resources, they can move in for the kill. In other words, buying a Lichtenstein makes you weaker.

You’re stimulating the economy.

That’s right. You’re not just submerging yourself in your fannish dreams by purchasing comic book art. You’re giving the artist money to live on. He/she in turn pays bills and college debt, buy more art supplies, and not have to eat cat food, or worse, take a 9-to-5 job. Purchasing art produced by a dead artist may fill the estate’s coffers, but it will never support them doing the job they love.

Another thing you’ll be stimulating: the artist’s ego.

« on: May 08, 2012, 07:28:53 am »
Last week saw the debut of James Robinson and Nicola Scott's highly-anticipated "Earth 2," part of DC Comics' Second Wave of New 52 titles. In it, three of the titular other-dimensional Earth's biggest and most iconic heroes -- Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman -- fell in battle with Apokalips, while Robin and Supergirl -- the daughter of Batman and cousin of Superman -- disappeared through what appeared to be some sort of boom tube. While readers know the super-powered sidekicks were transported to Earth Prime where they took up the identities of Power Girl and the Huntress, citizens of Earth 2 believe them all dead and will soon witness the debut of a number of new heroes in the wake of their tragic loss.

The covers to "Earth 2" #2 and #3 have revealed two of these heroes already in Jay Garrick's Flash and Alan Scott's Green Lantern. While many fans were expecting the third hero to be Al Pratt's Atom (Pratt was in the first issue, as were Scott and Garrick), in CBR's exclusive debut of Ivan Reis and Joe Prado's cover for "Earth 2" #4, the world is introduced to a character whose New 52 Earth Prime counterpart has yet to surface: Hawkgirl.

"I'm excited for readers to see this new Earth 2 version of Hawkgirl," Robinson told CBR. "As the co-creator of the original Kendra Saunders, I've taken pains to keep the essence of her personality while adding a more two-fisted quality to her as well. I'm also enjoying developing another aspect to her, in that with the absence of Batman, she must also step up and become the great detective of Earth 2. I hope readers will enjoy watching her find her place in this new world as a part of this new team of heroes."

"Earth 2" #4 featuring the debut of Hawkgirl hits stores in July.

« on: May 02, 2012, 04:50:49 am »

Featuring characters from parallel Earths, including PRESIDENT SUPERMAN!• Introducing new villain SUPERDOOM!
Guest artist GENE HA joins GRANT MORRISON for this tale of not one, not two, but THREE Earths!
And in the backup story, President Superman must stop a nuclear attack – but he can't leave the White House!
Wed, May 2nd, 2012

The Wood' star details what role God played in his road to redemption

By the mid ’90s, De’aundre Bonds’ acting career was headed in a promising direction. He had memorable roles in cult classics like Get on the Bus, Sunset Park, Tales From the Hood and The Wood on his resume. Bonds’ success was not by accident, it was all part of his master plan. From a young age, the California native decided to avoid the path his parents took by not allowing alcohol, drugs and the violence in his South Central neighborhood to keep him from reaching his dreams of making it in Hollywood. However, right when he was about to make one of his biggest career moves—which would have been to star in Denzel Washington’s Antwone Fisher—an unfortunate chain of events led Bonds to prison when he was charged and convicted of manslaughter in 2001.

After serving nearly a decade behind bars, Bonds was released in March 2011 and immediately began working again. The undeterred thespian will appear next alongside such mainstream stars as Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte and Anthony Mackie in the upcoming period police drama, Gangster Squad. He’s also working on music and a clothing line, as well as a book and documentary about his life. Bonds’ dream may have been deferred but it’s definitely back on track. caught up with the actor to talk about what role faith plays in his life and entrepreneurial success.

What are the details of the crime that sent you to prison?
I went over to my auntie’s house to give her some money and her boyfriend was over there. I guess he had something that he was going through that I wasn’t unaware of, because for no provoked reason he came at me in an aggressive way. When I pulled up and got out my car, I left it running to go in for a moment, and I guess he was mad I had the music up. I don’t know, but something ticked him off and he put his hands on me and knocked me down. I got up and he knocked me down again. I went in the house grabbed a knife [and] he came at me again. I stabbed him one time and he died. I stayed there and tried to help him. I waited for the ambulance; they came and took him away. Then the police came. That’s what happened.

What were your thoughts when you realized the results of your actions and likely headed to prison?
It was crazy because when I went to prison I had just booked a movie with Denzel Washington. Denzel himself gave me the part, it was Antwone Fisher and I was excited to be living my dream. I was about to go to the next level and then all of a sudden I had to go down. At the time I didn’t understand why me and then after going through it, after enduring it and after the years you learn why. It’s something you can only understand after you’ve endured it. In a crazy way I needed that. I needed to be shut down. I needed to learn myself, I needed a place where I had to really open my eyes and wake up. That’s what incarceration afforded me the opportunity to do—wake up and check myself. We’re not perfect, however, I’m striving to be the best that I can be.

Coming from a world of red carpet premieres and flashing lights, how did you adjust to incarceration?
One of the things that kept me going and focused was getting out to my family and the people that stood by my side and life in general. There’s nothing alive in prison, it’s an absolute walking death. That motivated me even more to get out of there by any means necessary because I don’t see how people can give up in something like that place. Spirituality played a major role for me to want to get out of there. All the lights were off, phones were cut off and gates were locked. It’s just you and God and He talks to you. I don’t want to get religious but for me, just praying and enduring that made me know that I needed God. He’s first but the only way I can put Him first is to make sure I’m right. He can’t be first if you ain’t right so I learned so much about my spirituality and my inner strength and the God within me, so that’s what I discovered.

Were you concerned about how your conviction and the amount of time you had to serve would impact your acting career?
I don’t know if it’s something that affected my career because people are still receptive to my talent and my work. People don’t necessarily hold what happened against my talent and my work, and if they do, I don’t know [anything] about it. If I could ever change what happen I would absolutely do that in a minute, in a second, but I know that that’s not a possibility, so I don’t hold it against myself. God hasn’t held it against me either because I feel it in my heart; my heart is free. So if the conviction impacted my career in a negative way I haven’t seen it.

Surprisingly, your first film after being released is a mainstream project that features a long list of big stars. How were you able to bounce back so quickly?
When I was in [prison] it was like I haven’t been eating and then I started starving and when they put a plate out there I went [for] it. When I got out I was ready to go right to running. I was ready to do it. I said I wasn’t going to cry over time that I can’t get back but what matters today is that I go forward. That’s ultimately how I got out, and right away I booked my first audition, which was a mini series. I didn’t get the second audition but I got the third audition, which is Gangster Squad. The film stars Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Emma Stone, myself, Josh Brolin and many other great actors. I [was] so focused on the character that when I read for the role I wasn’t even aware that all these actors were in the movie until I got it. And then I was shocked. I was like, This is truly a blessing. It was nice to get that role and get back out there and work with such wonderful people.

What’s your role in Gangster Squad?
My character’s name is Duke Del Red, he was a heroine dealer back in the late 1940’s and this movie takes place in that era. He worked for one of the main guys who was a mafia figure that ran Los Angeles. This is a different character for me and people are going to be blown away by the style. My character goes through all kinds of craziness. It’s fun because it’s not like any of the characters that I played before. There’s action and running and craziness.

What else are you working on to make up for lost time?
I have a clothing line called Cherish Her for women that I’m starting and I’m into music now. I have an album out on iTunes called Real Life that I’m getting wonderful feedback from. I wrote a book about my life story that will be out real soon and I want to have that made into a feature film. I’m also doing a documentary about my life so that I can show my transition from getting back out here into society and back to work so that people can learn. I’m doing what I love—entertainment, acting, directing, fashion… I’m just trying to do it all.

Don't White People Kill Each Other, Too?
And yet we keep hearing about black-on-black crime because it fits the false media narrative.
By: Edward Wyckoff Williams
Posted: April 10, 2012 at 12:40 AM

When it comes to America's racial past and present, lies and snake oil are sold in many colors.

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, conservatives in media have sought to deflect from the racism and racial profiling that precipitated his untimely death by referencing the broader social malaise of supposed "black-on-black violence."

On last week's episode of This Week on ABC, Washington Post columnist George Will said that despite the Trayvon tragedy, "150 black men are killed every week in this country," and "about 94 percent of them by other black men."

Will parroted arguments made by many conservatives, his intended point being that black-on-black crime remains the real problem our nation should address. The half-truth he spoke went curiously unchallenged by the panel -- including former White House adviser Van Jones -- largely because the meta-narrative of black-on-black violence is widely accepted in journalistic and political circles.

Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News host and one-man propaganda machine, recently interviewed Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill to discuss similar claims from Wall Street Journal contributor Shelby Steele, who wrote in "The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin" that "black teenagers are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites." O'Reilly vehemently defended Steele's premise that the Trayvon Martin case is an anomaly.

"Blacks today are nine times more likely to be killed by other blacks than by whites," Steele wrote. He went on to attack the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for "exploiting" Trayvon's death in an effort to promote a "liberal" agenda -- a point that O'Reilly was all too happy to expound.

Steele's perspective, though myopic and misguided, remains pervasive and embedded in the broader social consciousness. This red-herring approach is not new, but in the face of Trayvon's death -- for which there remains no arrest, no charges and no arraignment -- these obstructive tactics require an equal and opposite response.

What Will, Steele and O'Reilly failed to mention is the exacting truth that white Americans are just as likely to be killed by other whites. According to Justice Department statistics (pdf), 84 percent of white people killed every year are killed by other whites.

In fact, all races share similar ratios. Yet there's no outrage or racialized debate about "white on white" violence. Instead, the myth and associated fear of "black on black" crime is sold as a legitimate, mainstream descriptive and becomes American status quo.

The truth? As the largest racial group, whites commit the majority of crimes in America. In particular, whites are responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes. With respect to aggravated assault, whites led blacks 2-1 in arrests; in forcible-rape cases, whites led all racial and ethnic groups by more than 2-1. And in larceny theft, whites led blacks, again, more than 2-1.

Given this mathematical truth, would anyone encourage African Americans to begin shooting suspicious white males in their neighborhoods for fear that they'll be raped, assaulted or murdered? Perhaps George Zimmerman's defenders should answer that question. If African Americans were to act as irrationally as Zimmerman did, would any rationale suffice to avoid arrest?

And why is no consideration given to the fact that Trayvon Martin, and millions of black boys and girls like him, harbor a reasonably founded fear of whites but are hardly ever provided the deference and dignity that victimhood affords?

The term "black on black" crime is a destructive, racialized colloquialism that perpetuates an idea that blacks are somehow more prone to violence. This is untrue and fully verifiable by FBI, DOJ and census (pdf) data. Yet the fallacy is so fixed that even African Americans have come to believe it.

In Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, she explains that the term was coined in the 1980s as American cities underwent transformation as a result of riots, white flight and the onslaught of the drug trade. David Wilson, a professor at the University of Illinois, documents the phenomena in Inventing Black-on-Black Violence. Wilson says that instead of attributing increased crime activity to poverty, inequality and disenfranchisement, the media chose to blame "a supposedly defective, aberrant black culture."

In a 2010 piece published by The Root, "The Myth of Black-on-Black Violence," Natalie Hopkinson opines that journalists should follow the direction of the United Kingdom, where the Guardian newspaper banned the use of the phrase. A Guardian stylebook asked authors to ''imagine the police saying they were investigating an incident of white-on-white violence ... " Hopkinson concludes, "The term 'black-on-black violence' is a slander against the majority of law-abiding black Americans, rich and poor, who get painted by this broad and crude brush."

 Trayvon Martin's tragic death reveals the worst ills at play within America's criminal-justice system. Not only was he murdered in large part because of dangerous, persistent stereotypes, but the failure of police to judiciously respond to the crime underscores the inequities that characterize institutionalized racism.

Those who respond to the tragedy by retreating to narratives of black-on-black crime seek to promote it as a defense against an innocent child's violent homicide. This reveals how entrenched the lies have become and how eager too many people are to absolve both Zimmerman's guilt and their own tacit consent.

African-American media and policymakers have been equally complicit in promoting a "black-on-black crime" anecdote, thinking that it could help address some of the community's problems; but what it has actually done is provide support for racial profiling and promote the disproportionate policing of black criminality as "legitimate" and "acceptable." This over-policing has led to disproportionately higher rates of arrests in black communities, reinforcing the idea that blacks commit more crimes.

If we were to talk about "white-on-white crime," then at least we'd be addressing issues like gun violence in a racially neutral way. That doesn't happen because too many Americans remain convinced that black or brown people are the problem. Respected journalists like George Will further perpetuate lies as fact when they make blanket statements that support an ill-conceived narrative.

It seems that the media in general and white American society in particular prefer to focus on crime perpetrated by African Americans because it serves as a way to absolve them from the violence, prejudice and institutionalized discrimination engendered for generations against blacks. It offers a buffer against responsibility, a way to shift blame and deflect cause and effect. But the truth, and numbers, tell a different story.

The myth of black-on-black violence has become a stain on the sociopolitical consciousness and indelibly imbues mindsets as well as public policy. At the heart of an increasingly violent society is not a subculture among blacks but the violence and criminality of many Americans, and whites in particular. No one seems to speak about this. Why? Because the snake oil was duly purchased and consumed. It is time for race-based pseudo-facts to be challenged and dismantled.

Edward Wyckoff Williams is an author, columnist and political analyst for MSNBC and a former investment banker. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Vox Populi / Trayvon Martin and Truth About America
« on: March 14, 2012, 01:18:12 pm »
Trayvon Martin and Truth About America
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

There are certain hard, unpopular truths about America that rarely get discussed.

1. This country was never intended to be a meritocracy, has never operated as a meritocracy. Injustice is just as much a bedrock of this country as man's inalienable rights.

2. The law has typically been used to maintain the status quo.

It's important to note these unassailable facts because in the case of Trayvon Martin, these facts are not only what led to his death, but they have also allowed his murderer to walk the streets as a free man. It's not enough to decry Martin's death as an unspeakable tragedy and sympathize with his grieving family. No, it must be noted that his death is just the latest salvo in an ongoing war against the rights of minorities, and a recent incarnation of a longstanding meme that black and brown lives are worth less.

Those who think this country is truly concerned with justice and equality must examine those beliefs under the harsh glare of a case where an armed, adult white male accosts a smaller, unarmed, black teenager for no crime, but because he deemed the youth "suspicious." This man demands that this child "present his papers" and when the child takes offense, they scuffle. This man is somehow bested by a child he outweighs by more than 100 pounds, and decides that his life is so endangered that he's justified in killing the young man. That's right, the larger more aggressive suspect who accosted the innocent bystander kills him and then claims it was self defense.

And the police have accepted this explanation.

Clearly this is not the more common scenario that typically surrounds the slaying of an unarmed black man, where a police officer in a pressure-filled situation overreacts and points to the threat of potential death. This is not the case of a homeowner protecting his property, even under the most dubious claims.

No, in this incident, a man sought a fight, found a fight and then killed a child when the fight didn't go his way. And he did it all despite commands from law enforcement to stand down. That's what makes this incident such a prime example of the injustice that dominates America. This man's actions, and the response from authorities, is driven by the idea that a white man who kills a black man has an inherent right to take that action. More importantly, a black man who is killed, probably deserves it.

Honestly, this can't be surprising to people. A quick perusal of the evening news, or the pages of your local newspaper will show that black men are violently killed at an alarming rate, typically by other black men. It's impossible not to note how these deaths are often viewed as part of the status quo, while the deaths of non-blacks, particularly whites, are viewed as a sign of the coming Apocalypse. This media quirk, it is a business decision made based on the stark realities of life in this country. Black lives are worth less.

Trayvon Martin's murder, and it was a murder, has not captivated the nation's consciousness because on a certain level, his death is to be expected. As a black teenage male, he was living on borrowed time in this country where far too many of his peers still view reaching age 21 as an accomplishment and age 30 as a miracle. Any suffering he endures is almost always going to be believed to be his fault or the fault of those charged with caring for him. It's why so many folks have rushed to defend Zimmerman's actions by providing anecdotes about their own encounters with dangerous black youth. These reactions are driven by the conscious and unconscious belief that black people, particularly the males, are inherently dangerous and sometimes need to be put down. Mistakes will be made, but the end justifies the means.

That is what is so infuriating about the situation. It's as if black people can see this obvious reality, but we're constantly being told it's all in our minds. We know what it's like to be black, and about half of us know what's it's like to be black and male. We see the tightrope we walk, and we learn from youth the consequences of falling.

But too many other folks are caught up in the American myth.

Technology / Windows on the iPad, and Speedy
« on: February 28, 2012, 08:25:10 am »
Windows on the iPad, and Speedy

You’re probably paying something like $60 a month for high-speed Internet. I’m paying $5 a month, and my connection is 1,000 times faster.

Your iPad can’t play Flash videos on the Web. Mine can.

Your copy of Windows needs constant updating and patching and protection against viruses and spyware. Mine is always clean and always up-to-date.

No, I’m not some kind of smug techno-elitist; you can have all of that, too. All you have to do is sign up for a radical iPad service called OnLive Desktop Plus.

It’s a tiny app — about 5 megabytes. When you open it, you see a standard Windows 7 desktop, right there on your iPad. The full, latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Internet Explorer and Adobe Reader are set up and ready to use — no installation, no serial numbers, no pop-up balloons nagging you to update this or that. It may be the least annoying version of Windows you’ve ever used.

That’s pretty impressive — but not as impressive as what’s going on behind the scenes. The PC that’s driving your iPad Windows experience is, in fact, a “farm” of computers at one of three data centers thousands of miles away. Every time you tap the screen, scroll a list or type on the on-screen keyboard, you’re sending signals to those distant computers. The screen image is blasted back to your iPad with astonishingly little lag.

There’s an insane amount of technology behind this stunt — 10 years in the making, according to the company’s founder. (He’s a veteran of Apple’s original QuickTime team and Microsoft’s WebTV and Xbox teams.) OnLive Desktop builds on the company’s original business, a service that lets gamers play high-horsepower video games on Macs or low-powered Windows computers like netbooks.

The free version of the OnLive Desktop service arrived in January. It gives you Word, Excel and PowerPoint, a few basic Windows apps (like Paint, Media Player, Notepad and Calculator), and 2 gigabytes of storage.

Plenty of apps give you stripped-down versions of Office on the iPad. But OnLive Desktop gives you the complete Windows Office suite. In Word, you can do fancy stuff like tracking changes and high-end typography. In PowerPoint, you can make slide shows that the iPad projects with all of the cross fades, zooms and animations intact.

Thanks to Microsoft’s own Touch Pack add-on, all of this works with touch-screen gestures. You can pinch and spread two fingers to zoom in and out of your Office documents. You can use Windows’ impressive handwriting recognition to enter text (although a Bluetooth keyboard works better). You can flick to scroll through a list.

Instead of clicking the mouse on things, you can simply tap, although a stylus works better than a fingertip; many of the Windows controls are too tiny for a finger to tap precisely. (On a real Windows PC, you could open the Control Panel to enlarge the controls for touch use — but OnLive’s simulated PC is lacking the Control Panel, which is one of its few downsides.)

OnLive Desktop is seamless and fairly amazing. And fast; on what other PC does Word open in one second?

But the only way to get files onto and off OnLive Desktop is using a Documents folder on the desktop. To access it, you have to visit OnLive’s Web site on your actual PC.

The news today is the new service, called OnLive Desktop Plus. It’s not free — it costs $5 a month — but it adds Adobe Reader, Internet Explorer and a 1-gigabit-a-second Internet connection.

That’s not a typo. And “1-gigabit Internet” means the fastest connection you’ve ever used in your life — on your iPad. It means speeds 500 or 1,000 times as fast as what you probably get at home. It means downloading a 20-megabyte file before your finger lifts from the glass.

You get the same speed in both directions. You can upload a 30-megabyte file in one second.

And remember, you’re using a state-of-the-art Windows computer, so you can play any kind of video you might encounter online. OnLive Desktop Plus turns the iPad from a tablet that can’t play Flash videos at all — into the smoothest Flash player you’ve ever used. And yes, that includes watching free TV at, which you can’t otherwise do on the iPad.

The Plus version’s Internet connection makes a world of difference. Now you can use DropBox to get files onto and off your iPad from other gadgets, like Macs and PCs. (That, the company says, is why the Plus service still offers only 2 gigabytes of storage for your files; it figures you’ve now got the whole Internet as your storage bin.) You can get to your Gmail, Yahoo mail, corporate Exchange mail and other online accounts — with ridiculously quick response.

Now, you might be wondering: What good is a 1-gigabit connection on OnLive’s end, if the far slower connection on my end is the bottleneck?

The secret is that OnLive isn’t sending you all of the data from your Web browsing session. It’s sending you only a video stream the size of your iPad screen. For example, if you’re playing a hi-def video, OnLive pares down the data to just what your iPad can show. If you scroll a video off the screen, OnLive doesn’t bother sending you its data. And so on.

OnLive (free) and OnLive Plus ($5 a month) are both brilliantly executed steps forward into the long-promised world of “thin client” computing, in which we can use cheap, low-powered computers to run programs that live online. But the company’s next plans are even more exciting.

For example, the company intends to develop a third service, called OnLive Pro ($10 a month), that will let you run any Windows programs you want. Photoshop, Firefox, Autodesk, games — whatever.

The company still isn’t sure how that will work; somehow, you’ll have to prove that you actually own the software you’re running on its servers. But what a day that will be, when you can run any Windows program on earth on your iPad.

And not just on your iPad. The company is also working on bringing OnLive to Android tablets, iPhones and iPod Touches, Macs and PCs, and even to TV sets. (That last trick would require a small set-top box.)

Suddenly Mac fans will have the full world of Windows and all of its programs — without the speed and memory penalties of programs like Parallels and VMWare. And nobody will have to worry about viruses, spyware or software updates; OnLive’s virtual PCs are always pristine.

This is all so crazy cool, it seems almost ungrateful to point out the flaws — but here goes.

The delay between finger touch and on-screen response is usually tiny. But when you paint or use the handwriting recognition, the lag is painful.

Since you’re actually viewing a video stream, you sometimes see typical video stream glitches like low-resolution text blocks that quickly clear up.

OnLive says that its service works great over 4G cellular connections (like the one provided by an LTE MiFi) — but 3G connections and feeble hotel Wi-Fi hot spots are too slow to be satisfying. OnLive wants at least a 2-megabits-a-second connection on your end.

Finally, you have to sign into OnLive every time you want to use it, even if you’ve just flicked away to another iPad app. (OnLive says it’ll fix that.)

Even so, if ever there were a poster child for the potential of cloud computing, OnLive is it. This is jaw-dropping, extremely polished technology. It opens up a universe of software and horsepower that live far beyond the iPad’s wildest dreams — with no more effort on your part than a few taps on glass.


Books / Walter Mosley confirms return to Easy Rawlins,
« on: February 24, 2012, 05:59:15 am »
Walter Mosley confirms return to Easy Rawlins, may revisit Fearless Jones as well.

On NPR’s Talk of the Nation, Walter Mosley announced that he will be writing another Easy Rawlins. The book, entitled LITTLE GREEN, will come out in 2013. Rawlins debuted in 1990 in Mosley’s acclaimed debut novel, DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS and appeared in nine additional novels and one collection of stories. He also made it to the big screen with Denzel Washington playing him in the film of Devil in a Blue Dress.

Mosley also talked about Fearless Jones. At this point, Jones is being developed for television. TNT has ordered a pilot screenplay based on the Fearless books. Felicia D. Henderson is in the process of adapting Mosley’s novels. Henderson has worked on a number of shows, including SOUL FOOD and FRINGE, writing, directing and producing. She will be both a writer and producer (along with Mosley and John Wells) for the proposed Jones series.

Mosley said that if TNT orders a season, he will write another Jones novel. Fearless Jones is featured in three books: FEARLESS JONES, FEAR ITSELF and FEAR OF THE DARK.

If Jones lands on TNT, he will be the third Mosley character to make the jump to Hollywood. In addition to Washington playing Rawlins, Laurence Fishburne played Socrates Fortlow in HBO’s telefilm ALWAYS OUTNUMBERED, ALWAYS OUTGUNNED.

At this time, a television series of Easy Rawlins is in development at NBC, and HBO is eyeing one with P.I. Leonid McGill.

Vox Populi / Affirmative Action will die
« on: February 23, 2012, 08:33:51 am »
From Raving Black Lunatic

I  expect Affirmative Action to die.

Any other outcome seems completely unlikely. The program has been the whipping boy of white folks from all political vantage points for years, and increasingly even black folks have come to believe that it's outdated and unnecessary. People recoil at the mention of quotas and inferior candidates being offered positions they don't deserve. Affirmative Action has become a symbol of the mistakes inherent in trying to legislate fairness.

There is some truth to that viewpoint. No one who has studied or considered Affirmative Action can deny its failings. People implementing it have reserved spots for black folks and other disadvantage minorities, they have denied people who on the surface appear to be better candidates a spot at the table. It has been poorly implemented and horribly defended. On many levels, it has failed.

But, how many folks recognize its mission. If you talk to many people they think Affirmative Action programs were enacted to get black folks jobs they otherwise couldn't earn. Or get them into colleges that otherwise wouldn't give them a second look. They think the program was a free gift to black folks to make up for slavery and Jim Crow. It was our reparations.

Ignorance is such an ugly thing sometimes. Affirmative Action was not created to give black folks something, it was created to prevent white people from denying us those things that were rightfully ours as American citizens.The program wasn't created to give the unqualified jobs, but to stop white people from consistently denying black people the right to work in jobs they could do, and attend schools they could prosper act simply because of the color of our skin. It wasn't a program designed to make everything fair, it was designed to stop black folks from getting legally screwed.

Most folks don't get that. They don't understand exactly how unbalanced the system has been in this country for centuries. And if they do understand, they don't really want to acknowledge what that means to their lives today. No one wants to admit that their success is tied directly and indirectly to evil perpetuated by their ancestors. Hell, most folks don't want to admit that their ancestors were evil at all. But it's true, it's completely true.

The program has been thwarted by the complete unwillingness of most white people to ever admit that racism and discrimination cause serious problems until well after those serious problems have become entrenched and intractable.  White people have never, ever been interested in creating a society where they relinquished their position of authority, power and privilege, and they never will be. To believe otherwise is to ignored human history in totality.

Unfortunately that is not a part of life that most Americans will ever deal with. Instead, it's been swept under the rug of forgetfulness. Folks don't want to deal with the true legacy of racism and discrimination because some problems just aren't fun to fix. And they are tired of trying.

So Affirmative Action has to die.

Other Comics / Fawcett's Negro Romance #2
« on: February 22, 2012, 07:20:07 am »
From: Out Of This World blogspot:

Negro Romance 2: "Possessed"

Fawcett's now celebrated Negro Romance 2 was last year the subject of a History Detectives investigation by Gwen Wright, answering Washington University's Gerald Early's questions about the comic book:

The video features an appearance by Sequential Crush author, Jacque Nodell, and the website also provides scans of the first story in the book. The episode, very importantly, identified the author of the book as Roy Ald, then an editor at Fawcett, and the artist as Alvin Hollingsworth. Alvin Hollingsworth was African American and, following his career in comics, went on to become a recognized representational and abstract artist and art teacher, before passing away in 2000. The particular copy used in the video had the art slightly defaced by the original owner. Presented here is a scan of "Possessed" from a different (but also coverless) copy of this rare and important book. Over the next few days the other two stories in the issue will be posted here, to mark a return to the blogosphere of Out of This World and to celebrate African American History Month 2012, which focuses on Black Women in American Culture and History. This early 1950s romance comic was written and drawn for a female African American audience, and depicts black women in the kind of romance narrative that was common to all books of that genre at that time. So here's the new scan, same story as the old scan that's out there, but without the pink colored pencil additions that adorn the book used in the History Detectives video:

Read "Possessed" here

Vox Populi / Democratic Women Boycott House Contraception Hearing
« on: February 16, 2012, 08:45:18 am »
Democratic Women Boycott House Contraception Hearing After Republicans Prevent Women From Testifying
By Igor Volsky on Feb 16, 2012 at 10:52 am

This morning, Democrats tore into House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) for preventing women from testifying before a hearing examining the Obama administration’s new regulation requiring employers and insurers to provide contraception coverage to their employees. Republicans oppose the administration’s rule and have sponsored legislation that would allow employers to limit the availability of birth control to women.

Ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) had asked Issa to include a female witness at the hearing, but the Chairman refused, arguing that “As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.”

And so Cummings, along with the Democratic women on the panel, took their request to the hearing room, demanding that Issa consider the testimony of a female college student. But the California congressman insisted that the hearing should focus on the rules’ alleged infringement on “religious liberty,” not contraception coverage, and denied the request. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out of the hearing in protest of his decision, citing frustration over the fact that the first panel of witnesses consisted only of male religious leaders against the rule. Holmes Norton said she will not return, calling Issa’s chairmanship an “autocratic regime.”

Watch a compilation of the heated exchange:

Issa also dismissed the Democrats’ woman witness as a “college student’ who does not “have the appropriate credentials” to testify before his committee.

Feel The Funk / The 2012 Grammy Awards were a step backward for soul music
« on: February 14, 2012, 10:36:55 am »
The 2012 Grammy Awards were a step backward for soul music
By Chris Rizik
The collective gasp you heard halfway through the Grammy Awards broadcast on Sunday night was from the soul music community, aghast over what they had just witnessed. People were already getting a little ticky on Facebook and Twitter as performance after performance came forward on Sunday night with very little nod to soul, gospel or even jazz music.  Classic rock fans were in nirvana (no pun intended) as great bands like the Foo Fighters, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, a reunited Beach Boys and even the Beatles (through two performances by Paul McCartney) dominated the stage with fine performances.  And the Grammys got it 100% right as Adele’s brilliant 21 received every award possible. Adele displays what is best in popular music and in 2011 she brilliantly culled elements of rock, country, folk and even some R&B into a cohesive whole that we'll be talking about for years. But on a night when soul music legend Diana Ross was to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, the current, vibrant form of her genre was completely ignored, with soul only receiving peripheral, historical half-nods in mini-tributes to Whitney Houston and Etta James.

Then, at that midway point of the show, insult was added to the perceived injury as the award for Best R&B Performance was presented.  The category had an unusually strong group of nominees this year:  Ledisi is a singular voice, and while nominated in prior years she hasn’t yet won a much deserved Grammy.  Kelly Price swept the SoulTracks awards in December for good reason: Her self-titled album was simply glorious.  Former teen star El DeBarge received a welcome Second Chance in the past year with the redemptive album of the same name. And R. Kelly threw his longtime critics (including me) a curve by showing he had the talent to make memorable music even on someone else’s turf. Oh yes, and there was also Chris Brown, whose nomination in the category was like the old Sesame Street song “One of these things is not like the others.” While a fine dancer, as a vocal artist he is not in the same league as Ledisi, Price or DeBarge, nor was his album in any way properly categorized with the others. But soul fans let the odd nomination grouping roll right off us, because, of course, there was no way Brown would win…until he did. The response in Twitterland was swift and furious.  And while everyone has his or her own tastes, thousands of postings wondered aloud under what critical criteria could this result happen, except a simple adoption of the Soundscan sales numbers.

That Brown was nominated in the same category as Ledisi and Price - and that he won - appeared to support the “conspiracy theory” of some music fans who frequently complain that the Grammys just don’t understand the breadth of black music.  And it didn’t help that on this same night Diana Ross received only fleeting recognition for her Lifetime award while Brown and Rihanna performed not once but multiple times.
Since the Milli Vanilli fiasco, an embarrassed Grammy committee has been careful to choose the Best New Artist each year based on real artistic merit, regardless of popularity. That’s how the talented Esperanza Spalding won last year and little known folkster Bon Iver took the award this year. But in the R&B category, year after year the awards simply play out like the Billboard charts – as if the voters never even listened to the nominated albums. And, when combined with the choice of performances for the evening, it would not be surprising if rock or country music fans left the Grammys with the impression that the state of black music today is epitomized by Chris Brown, Rihanna and the perplexing, insulting Nicki Minaj.
I’m not sure whether it is worse to be ignored or misrepresented, but the many talented artists we cover on SoulTracks would be justified in feeling both slaps from the Grammy Awards this year.  On the sacred evening when the music industry celebrates its diversity, talent and character, and on a stage full of great rock and country performers whose styles were heavily influenced by jazz, the black church and rhythm & blues, it was frustrating to see the status of those varied styles in 2012 demonstrated in a minimalized, one-dimensional manner that doesn’t move much beyond hip-hop. But, sadly, that’s exactly what we received on Sunday. And once it all sank in, that collective gasp after the Best R&B award slowly turned to disappointment -- disappointment that on the same night that a beautiful woman with a once-in-a-generation voice was honored, the influential, seminal forms of American music that were the basis of her training now appear to have to prove themselves to the music establishment all over again.

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