Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The history of the "race film" in Hollywood

I'm going to try my hand at starting a series on little known Black actresses of years past. Almost everyone knows of Fredi Washington, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge et al. They were the few deemed "worthy" of being on Hollywood sound stages. BUT there were others. Others who graced the screen for Black audiences only. They were the stars of the genre known as "race films." Yes. A totally separate classification of movie created for Black folks. These films, as with a lot of Black entertainment then, were financed by White-owned companies and scripted by White writers. Much like the Black sit-coms of 70s TV. Still, there were a handful of Black directors - Spencer Williams, Alice Guy, Oscar Micheaux. Despite who had a major hand in these movies making, Black actors found themselves the hero cowboy, the heroine, the villian, etc. They could be ALL things not just the "help" as they were in films made by "mainstream" Hollywood.

Restored 'Race Films' Find New Audiences : Code Switch : NPR

But before I jump into the performers in these films, let me discuss the foundation of these films. Race films were produced as early as 1905 but flourished after 1915. Over 500 movies were made between 1915 and 1952.  The main White-owned companies were Million Dollar Productions and Toddy Pictures. The few Black-owned outfits were Lincoln Motion Picture Company and Chicago-based, Micheaux Film Corporation. Micheuax proudly advertised that his films were srcipted and produced by African-Americans.

Of course, these films were segregated when released in the South. They weren't welcome up North all that much either. Northern movie theaters showed them in Black neighborhoods too like the South did, but relented a litttle if shown elsewhere. Meaning? Black were seated in the "peanut gallery" of the theater (the balcony) or relegated to evening showings period. So much for Northern liberty! Whites were not interested in viewing these films. Yeah, right. I'll play along. It was partly true but look, what was a White chick supposed to do if she and her date (Mr. Brad) were watching a "Race film" and Mr. Brad were to get all hot and bothered by the negresse on the screen? Quel scandale! Can't have that. Why do you think any musical with a musical number showing a sultry Lena Horne or Dorothy Dandridge was CUT out of the film BEFORE it was viewed down yonder? Couldn't have those men folk all heated up by a...colored gal!

But I digress.


Many Black singers, dancers and performers that did go on to appear in "mainstream" Hollywood films made their mark in "race films" first.

Read all about it at the links below:

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Back room deals, selfishness and lawlessness in the States in the age of COVID-19

Um, er, um, no. Hate to burst your kumbaya bubble but we are NOT all in this together.

"In these difficult times" blah, blah, blah.

"As we adjust to a new normal" blah, blah, blah.

If I had a dime for every time I've heard each of those treacly platitudes parroted, I'd be as rich as the big corporations who received the lion's share of the funds from the 1st round of the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) handled by the Small Business Administration. The program was supposed to help Mom and Pop types of businesses stay afloat during their shuttering due to orders rolled out by the federal government due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Well. The usual greedy suspects showed up, crashed the party and ran off with the best favors. Huge PUBLIC companies like Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Kura Sushi USA, Shake Shack, and hotel conglomerates sucked up 905 million bucks. So many establishments rushed the website where applications were being accepted that the thing crashed soon after it opened with true small business owners in dire straits being locked out. After much hue and cry, a second round ensued about a week later with many small business owners crosssing their eyes and fingers and toes and holding their breaths as they logged on.

How To Apply For The SBA Payroll Protection Program Loan: Simple Guide

Les scandales ensued of course. Ruth's Cris Steakhouse and a few other big businesses played dumb saying they had not realized they were not eligible for the no-pay-back loans as they viewed their businesses' individual locations as a small businesse on its own. Yeah, right. It gave the monies back after being shamed. Shake Shack dragged its feet but its head honcho finally gave up the 10 mil it had bagged.

The big offenders, the ones NOT giving their windfalls back are companies dealing in hospitality - hotels, cruise lines, airlines and those in the medical device sector. There is total mishegas surrounding the deals cruise lines got. Read here: Talk about shady back room ish.

But that's the world of business. I expect that sort of behavior from that bunch and arrange my affairs accordingly. But girding myself against the vagaries of my "regular, fellow Americans?" That takes a lot of girding as individuals are harder to shame, and far from rational when panicked and I have little time for fools who have me seeking out meditation more than twice a day. You make me do that and you are on my ish list.

As COVID-19 sweeps across the U. S. and cozily settles into certain communities more than others, the refrain "We are all in this together" has become hypocritical and painfully trite. Truth be told my "fellow Americans" are a selfish, recalcitrant lot on the whole, and could give two turds about others. Let me take you back a few weeks as we stroll down Memory Lane. Let's reminisce as Mary J. would say.

Shortagess of toilet paper and paper products. Shortages of fresh produce (which baffled me as this present generation swears it does not know how to cook). Even the frozen food aisle was picked clean at the markets I frequent. Shortages of alcohol wipes. Shortages of hand sanitizer. Shortages of snack food (I guess after attempts at actual cooking the real food the hoarders bought, failed. my fellow culinarily-challenged Americans moved on to live off Doritos and Sprite).

Now two new shortages loom. First, there looks like there will be a slowdown in meat/poultry production (due to many workers at meat/poultry processing plants coming down with COVID-19). So that means less will be trucked into supermarkets. I envision people, who look like they have never missed a meal in their lives, rushing to Publix with their cashed stimulus payment to grab up all available packages of ground round, sausage and chicken lest they perish from not having a burger or link or drumstick at every chow time, or worse, might have to resort to eating, GASP!...vegetables and a starch one night. Yes. These are the folks who say, "The hell with the rest of ya." That is the refrain they live by..

Second shortage is more serious. Since the Man-In-The-High-Chair at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue declared in one of his many campaign rallys posing as coronavirus press briefings, that hydroxychloroquine (a drug Lupus sufferers need) is a CURE for COVID-19, morons, who are NOT Lupus sufferers, have been pushing their doctors to write scripts for it for them. So much so, that people afflicted with Lupus have been having their script amounts cut, rationed, or not fllied at all due to the pharmacy they use being out of stock. Yeah. Nothing says "We are in it all together" like bogarting stuff.

Maryland Today | Op/ed: During Coronavirus Outbreak, It's Hoard Times Deliver me from a panicked person because they will get you hurt or killed. Sorry but in a crisis situation there's always an abundance of azzwipes. In this case, it's the ones who panic-buy and leave the rest of us to twist in the wind. They hoard as if an apocalypse could be stopped because their dumb azzes stocked up on enough cottony, triple-roll, 2-ply, and industrial-sized bags of chicken nuggets. I have no patience for self-absorbed morons. NONE!

Then we have the news making it seem Black folks in America are the face of COVID-19. Like they must be living wrong, 'cuz "look Ethel, they are all over the T. V." NO! NO! NO! We are not "carriers" or "breeders" of COVID-19. What we are are the essential, over-worked, and the under-served when it comes to healthcare in The U. S. We are also found in mostly service jobs with little to no healthcare benefits, so that when we get sick, we push it to the back burner because 1) illness costs money and 2) that low-paying, or high-stress job (like working for FEDEX or UPS) can be quuite feudal when a day off is needed to see a doctor. Most service jobs and low-paying jobs love to threaten employees with termination if they miss work. So, health issues pile up until a person simply has to go to a doctor because they have pushed themselves to the limit. And once there, as history has chronicled time after time, one's sypmtoms of anything grave will be ignored. One will be told to "work through it" or given some innocuous treatment like an 800 mg Motrin. (True story: this happened to my Mom. As a hard-working nurse, she'd not been taking care of herself. Finally after pain pushed her to the ER and was attended by a Boy Doctor. Said Boy Doctor prescribed her 800 mg Motrin for her upper back pain and sent her home. SHE WAS HAVING A HEART ATTACK! The only reason she lived was because I took her back to the same ER and and insisted she be admitted) Anyhoo, as I was saying, at the end of a doc's visit most Black folks (working or not) will get one of three things - 1) sent home; 2) a script; OR 3) get so many meds that for some many ills that there will be contraindications out the wazoo. Six of one; half a dozen of another. When it comes to Black Americans, healthcare is either a suggestion or a goldmine for the medical industry.

So, no. Black folks aren't the face of COVID-19 in America; they are the face of a failed "healthcare" system.. Also, the kinds of jobs most are in puts them on the front line. They are your mail carriers, your transit workers, nurses, CNAs, store clerks, etc. Work that puts one in constant contact with germy John Q. Public. They are the canaries in the mines.

COVID-19 deaths analyzed by race and ethnicity — APM Research Lab

Then, we have others who are protesting lockdowns across the land. Which is their right but with ASSAULT RIFLES slung across their chests? WHY? Last I heard COVID-19 was a virus not a ninja. Plus, you cannot tell me that if those armed protesters had been Black that the National Guard would not have been called in. I mean how does one even get that close to a state's capitol armed like that? RHETORICAL QUESTION. I know the answer. (I believe in Michigan it's allowed but one can't bring in a knife. What in the actual phuck. And they say there is no privilege for certain people.
So listen up, buttercups. While you hole up in youe bunker, scarfing down wings and chips, waiting for that signal to show the coast is clear...IT AIN'T HAPPENIN'! Forget REMDESIVIR. That other "wonder" drug being touted as a cure. That is for actual COVID-19 patients. Not folks who are afraid of getting COVID-19. A COVID-19 vaccine is a good two years away.

Look at it this way. There is no vaccine for the common cold which this virus seems to be a sinister strain of. It's as easy to catch as the common cold and is as easily spread. Since this new coronavius is from the same family, all you can do is what doctors and your mother have been telling you to do for years - WASH YOUR HANDS. COVER YOUR ROTTEN MOUTH WHEN YOU COUGH. DISCARD SNOTTY TISSUES. And the newest caveat is don't be all up in a person's face when speaking to them and tell them not to be all up in yours. Be extra cautious if you are immuno-compromised in any way.

Please use the brain the Divine gave you. Think. Respond not re-act. Stop being selfish. Think of someone besides yourself for a change. Quit panicking and stockpiling crap! it only makes those corporations who grab up PPP money they don't need, richer.