Friday, July 24, 2020

Dona Drake - Actress One in my "race film" series

Well, I've finally gotten back to my proposed series on the Black actresses who were prominent in Hollywood's "race film" genre. I meant to have been deep into this project BUT events in the U. S. intervened and BOOM! my attention was drawn elsewhere. But better late than never as grandmom would have said.

Dona Drake
Dona Drake.jpg

By Source, Fair use,

Today's subject is Dona Drake, born November 15, 1914, deceased June 20, 1989. Eunice Westmoreland, as she named at birth, was 3/4 Black. Busy bee sources dug into what her grandparents lineages were.- one set were Black; another, Black/White. This was according to a U. S. Census. Who knows? She was born in Miami, FL which is, and has always, been a mixing bowl of cultures. Suffice it to say, she "passed" as Mexican. Which I could picture her doing from her appearance. Actually, it's incorrect to label her "BLACK" as her lineage was such a mix but this is the U S of A where race matters tons! Though the younger generations are fighting it. Personally with all the intermarrying and mating afoot, there needs to be a revision in the choices on those forms where they ask one's race. I mean it is 2020. Women born of two Black parents do not need a Dona Drake to rep for them as she does not look like the typical Black woman in the U. S. She was a mixed race female and looked it. Substituting her for the average Black woman was, is, not truthful just as substituting the average Black woman for a mixed race one is not truthful. It's not fair to either party involved.

But I digress.

Anyhoo, during that era, non-White women who longed to be discovered would start as a chorus girl in a nightclub revue. Also, per usual, the girls who landed those jobs were quite light-skinned or mixed race or what is known as "high-yella" in the Black community. Think the women who worked at the Cotton Club in NYC. This selection based on how light one was had been used for years as the patrons of these night spots were White. In their minds, a darker female was servant, maid, mammy material. A Black woman of that hue was not someone thought of as alluring no matter the person's talent. Plus, the selection of lighter-skinned Black females set the patrons minds at ease as "light" was seen as non-threatening. I find that hysterical as anyone hopping around on a cramped stage is there to get paid and seen, not to attack the audience. Anyhoo, to calm the nervous, but eager-to-oggle "exotic" entertainment, White patrons, who came to watch non-White women scamper about in scanty attire to music, these clubs followed their demands and those of established society.

84 Best Dona Drake images in 2020 | Dona drake, Drake, Actresses

Dona's ambiguous otherness caught the eye of Hollywood who decided they could get double the work out of her - she could play a light-skinned Black woman OR any "ethnic" woman. She was a consummate singer, actress and dancer. She cycled trough several names (Una Villon, Una Velon, Rita Rio, and Rita Shaw) before settling on Dona Drake. From the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s, she made about 60 films and broadcasts in aaddition to performing in clubs in an all girl band (The Girlfriends) She seemed to have had a content, non-controversial life. She married a Caucasian costume designer, William Travilla (famous for creating the white halter dress that Marilyn Monroe immortalized in The Seven Year Itch), had one daughter and retired. She passed from pneumonia and respiratory failure at the age of 74 in 1989.

Dona Drake | Dona Drake Picture #25077382 - 454 x 577 - FanPix.Net

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

"ROLLING STONE" AND "TIME." Give us a freakin' break. Go troll somebody else. Please

I thought I was done commenting on the events of the last 3 -4 months but I guess not. The following images of the Black community, especially Black women are not flattering. They do us no favor. It unfortunately re-inforces the myth of "Black women not needin' no man." It also shows that the "mainstream" watches and listens closely to what goes on in the Black community. I knew this day would come when I saw many of us embrace that damaging mindset. We forget that the mainstream watches us to see how all the -isms have taken hold in our communities, and in some areas, have usurped the traditional family unit. We are the nation's petri dish. Mainstream news revels in the visual of the weary, crying, uncared-for, Black, single-mother on the 11 o clock news as a representative of ALL households in the Black community. Not to say the woman does not exist. She does. It is that her sad image is joyously telegraphed out in colorful, huge graphics as de rigueur in the Black community. A community seen as fatherless (due to death or choice), rudderless, dangerous, and one that is to be pitied. It is the graphic served to the general public.

TIME's George Floyd issue 2020
The Story Behind TIME's George Floyd Cover |

Typical. We only make the cover of major magazines when we are seen as confirming a negative narrative or are "misbehaving" or are dead. Otherwise, it is crickets from these publications. I do not find it flattering, not one bit, that corporations like these are donating money to Black causes, or are "examining" our issues more, or posting black squares on any given Tuesday. Same for the toppling of Confederate statues and the re-naming of this, that and a third.


TIME's July issue 2020
Issue Cover

The felling of a rebel's statue or the removal of the name of a son of the South from a building means, as my venerated grandfather would have said, "diddly squat!" It does not remedy, or address the Black community's deeper problems. And NO! It's deeper problem is NOT Black-on-Black crime. The crime is a SYMPTOM of a much larger issue. but critics aren't able to grasp that. No. Critics love to toss out that old talking point and how nothing we say about police brutality can be taken seriously until the crime in our neighborhoods is fixed. WHY? Funny how that sentiment is NOT expressed when the issue of the huge amount of opioid addicts in White communities comes up. NO ONE is discussing withholding counseling, rehab or funds from them  if they FIRST don't confront their mess. Nope. Mr. and Ms. John Q. Municipal Center/Suburbs are allowed to fail again and again without conditions.


So, no, ROLLING STONE. No, TIME. You do not have your finger on the pulse of Black people in America. Your finger is on the cash register and you do KNOW who your reader is, don't cha?

Black Lives Matter: From Ferguson to Now - Rolling Stone