BY BILLY PORTER, AS TOLD TO LACEY ROSE, The Hollywood Reporter
Billy Porter takes a long deep breath. “I have to start in 2007,” he says, having settled in across the table. He’s here, at Little Owl in the West Village, to get something off his chest — something that’s been shrouded in secrecy so long, he can barely remember life before.
“In June of that year,” he continues, a ball of nerves, even if the performer in him refuses to let on, “I was diagnosed HIV-positive.” In the 14 years since, the Emmy-winning star of Pose has told next to no one, fearing marginalization and retaliation in an industry that hasn’t always been kind to him. Instead, the 51-year-old, who has cultivated a fervent fan base in recent years on the basis of his talent and authenticity, says he’s been using Pray Tell, his HIV-positive character on the FX series, as his proxy. “I was able to say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate,” he reveals, acknowledging that nobody involved with the show had any idea he was drawing from his own life.
Now, as the Peabody Award-winning series, a ball-scene drama set against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis, concludes its third and final season, Porter is preparing for what’s next. There’s a memoir, over which he’s agonized and blown deadlines, set for later this year; a Netflix documentary about his life, which will keep him in business with Pose co-creator Ryan Murphy; a 2021 take on Cinderella, in which he’ll play the fairy godmother; a directorial debut; a host of new music; and much, much more.
But the Broadway-trained actor, who is an Oscar shy of an EGOT, isn’t interested in entering the next phase of his life and career with the shame that’s trailed him for more than a decade. So, with Murphy by his side for support, and a cadre of documentary cameras hovering above, Porter tells his story. An edited version follows.
Having lived through the plague, my question was always, “Why was I spared? Why am I living?”
Well, I’m living so that I can tell the story. There’s a whole generation that was here, and I stand on their shoulders. I can be who I am in this space, at this time, because of the legacy that they left for me. So it’s time to put my big boy pants on and talk.
Click here to read the full article on the Hollywood Reporter.
Ever since Tom Holland blew up the internet last week by seemingly confirming his rumored relationship with Zendaya, fans have been dying to know more about the Spider-Man duo.
But it seems that, for now at least, Zendaya is keeping her cards close to her chest, recently hinting that she prefers to keep her private life private — certainly easier said than done for one of the biggest names on the planet.
Gracing the cover of this month’s issue of British Vogue, the Euphoria star gave a rare glimpse into her infamously private romantic life, recalling her refusal to have her first kiss on-screen.
“I remember being on Shake It Up and being like, ‘I’m not gonna do this. I’m going to kiss him on the cheek because I haven’t been kissed yet so I don’t want the kiss to be on camera,” the former child-star explained.
And having gone on to make history with her Emmy win last year, Zendaya is certainly no stranger to life in the spotlight. But, despite her fame, it appears she’s remained committed to keeping her most personal moments away from the public eye.
Click here to read the full article on Buzzfeed News.
By the Guardian
The remains of Josephine Baker, a famed French-American dancer, singer and actor who also worked with the French resistance during the second world war, will be moved to the Panthéon mausoleum in November, according to an aide to President Emmanuel Macron.
It will make Baker, who was born in Missouri in 1906 and buried in Monaco in 1975, the first Black woman to be laid to rest in the hallowed Parisian monument.
A group campaigning for her induction, which included one of Baker’s sons, met Macron on 21 July, Jennifer Guesdon, one of the members, said. “When the president said yes, [it was a] great joy,” she said.
“Panthéonisation is built over a long period of time,” an aide to Macron said.
The Baker family have been requesting her induction since 2013, with a petition gathering about 38,000 signatures.
“She was an artist, the first Black international star, a muse of the cubists, a resistance fighter during the second world war in the French army, active alongside Martin Luther King in the civil rights fight,” the petition says.
Another member of the campaign group, Pascal Bruckner, said Baker “is a symbol of a France that is not racist, contrary to what some media groups say”, as well as “a true anti-fascist”.
The ceremony will take place on 30 November, the date Baker married Jean Lion, a Frenchman, allowing her to get French nationality.
The Panthéon is a memorial complex for great national figures in French history from the world of politics, culture and science.
Only the president can choose to move remains to the former church in Paris, whose grand columns and domed roof were inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.
Of the 80 figures in the Panthéon, only five are women, including the last inductee in 2018, Simone Veil, a former French minister who survived the Holocaust and fought for abortion rights.
Click here to read the full article on the Guardian.
The other day I shared a meme that stoked a lot of emotion.
In it, there are pictures of three superstar athletes – tennis player Naomi Osaka, gymnast Simone Biles and track and field sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson – along with a sign that reads, “Y’all Not Gone Stress Us Out – Black Women Everywhere.”
They are women of color (Osaka has a Japanese mother and a Haitian father while Biles and Richardson are African American) and have made headlines recently due to decisions they made to support their mental health.
All three also have something in common which I very much understand – the struggle women of color face in exercising self-care.
As I wrote in the caption of the meme I shared on Instagram, it’s hard being a Black woman.
“We are supposed to save relationships, families, elections, communities, democracy and basically the world all while exhibiting “black girl magic,” but y’all mad when we save ourselves?” I wrote. “Welcome to a new day.”
The heavy load is made worse by the fact that as Black women, we are not socialized to give as much care to ourselves as we are expected to give to others.
Black women are literally expected to be super women, from heading households to serving as emotional support for White people who want to be allies, but need our help figuring out how to get there.
There is an added layer for Black women athletes who have to compete against more than just their opponents.
A 2018 study titled “Beating Opponents, Battling Belittlement: How African-American Female Athletes Use Community to Navigate Negative Images” from Morgan State University in Baltimore examined how they must navigate both racism and sexism in order to become champions.
For example, it noted that Serena Williams – arguably the world’s greatest tennis player with more than 20 Grand Slam wins – has been compared to a “man” and a “gorilla.”
Radio host Don Imus called the players on the 2007 Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos” after they lost to the Tennessee team in the NCAA final.
Osaka, Biles and Richardson have been the targets of racism and sexism before, but even more so recently.
Both Osaka and Biles dropped out of competitions, they said, to protect their mental health and Richardson was disqualified from competing after testing positive for cannabis.
Richardson smoked marijuana legally in Oregon and explained that it happened after a journalist whom she didn’t know broke the news to her about the death of her mother.
The three have been criticized as “quitters,” “arrogant,” “lazy” and “irresponsible” by some on social media. And those are just the words fit to print here.
Osaka withdrew from the 2021 French Open over a dispute regarding her not wanting to give post-match interviews (she said it stoked her anxiety); Biles withdrew from competitions at this month’s Olympics to focus on her mental health. Richardson graciously accepted a ban, which kept her from competing in the Olympics (she tweeted “I’m sorry, I can’t be y’all Olympic Champ this year but I promise I’ll be your World Champ next year”).
Click here to read the full article on CNN.
By Christina Maxouris, CNN
The day after George Floyd’s funeral, Jonathan Veal drove from Houston and back to his Oklahoma City home still grappling with what had happened: his close friend — a brother, really — was killed by a Minneapolis police officer and the brutal video of his last moments had been viewed by millions.
The last time the two had spoken was just several months earlier, in January, when Floyd reached out to say happy birthday. They reminisced over their time playing basketball and football for Houston’s Jack Yates High School. Floyd told Veal about the new life he was setting up in Minneapolis, his efforts to become economically stable and provide for his family and shared that his faith had grown stronger.
At the end of the conversation, Floyd signed off: “With love from 88 to 42” — their old jersey numbers.Veal and Floyd had been a lot more than teammates. They had become family. Alongside their other good friends Vaughn
Dickerson, Jerald Moore and Herbert Mouton, they had spent most of every day together growing up and never lost touch. And now Floyd was gone. Knowing they shared his pain, Veal reached out to his three friends and they began communicating every day — texting, calling, supporting each other, sharing pictures.
“But then, we were like, ‘OK, what do we do?’ We could find a level of closure but also, we could keep the legacy of our friend,” Veal said. “So that’s how 88 C.H.U.M.P. came about.”
The four men say they created the 88 C.H.U.M.P. nonprofit organization — Floyd’s jersey number and an acronym which stands for ‘Communities Helping Underprivileged Minorities Progress’ — as a way to keep Floyd’s legacy alive and address some of the challenges that the community they grew up in, Houston’s Third Ward, has faced for decades. They’ve launched initiatives to tackle systemic inequities, police brutality and opportunities for the inner city youth, among other efforts.
“We understand this is going to be a daunting task,” Veal said. “But we’re committed to it because Floyd gave that much to us.”
But the four weren’t the only ones galvanized by their friend’s killing. Across Houston, others who say they were lucky to know Floyd, the neighborhood’s “gentle giant,” have taken on new efforts in the past year pushing for change in his honor.
Dickerson, who still lives in Houston, said he had been thinking about creating an organization like 88 C.H.U.M.P. for nearly two decades. He finally shared it with Veal, Moore and Mouton after Floyd’s killing.
“We refuse to let one of our blood brothers from a different mother go out like that,” Dickerson said. “I know he’d be doing it for us, without a doubt.”
Immediately, the four hit the ground running, focusing initially on the November 2020 elections by conducting voter education and registration drives, including events in partnership with the Houston Texans — and helping residents of Houston’s Third Ward community make it to the polls on Election Day.
They set up conversations between the Third Ward community and the local police department. Over the summer, Veal said, 88 C.H.U.M.P. facilitated several dialogues in partnership with Houston police and the group plan to start another round of those conversations this summer.
But perhaps one of their biggest focal points has been the youth.
“We’re trying to actively get more kids involved with after-school programs such as computer literacy, teaching them how to write essays, math, social studies, science,” Dickerson said. “This is what’s needed for these inner-city youths to keep them active. If they don’t have no parks to go to, no boys and girls clubs, no after-school activities, what do you expect, they’re going to get in trouble.”
The group told CNN they’re hoping to set up scholarships for local high school students in Floyd’s honor and create programs that would introduce young adults to professionals and opportunities across different fields.
“It’s just something that we feel like we have to do,” Mouton said. “We have to keep (Floyd’s) name alive and we have to push these initiatives in his honor.”
Finally, 88 C.H.U.M.P. plans to kick off a fundraiser this month for a new football field in the high school they used to play for, a field they say hasn’t changed much in the past three decades.
Ultimately, the organization exists to help level the playing field for underserved communities, Veal said. It’s a long road ahead, he says, but one they’re willing to walk.
“There’s going to be a lot of emotions that come along with that, good, bad, ugly,” he said. “It’s worth it. It’s going to be difficult work, but it’s going to be worthwhile work, rewarding work.”
Click here to read the full article on CNN.
By, TV Line
To be clear, The Underground Railroad is a serious and thought-provoking work of art. The 10-part limited series, which Oscar winner Barry Jenkins adapted from Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, is now streaming on Amazon Prime and is in many ways a visually rich conversation starter on American slavery and race relations. But part of that visual is Krypton‘s Aaron Pierre as Caesar — who, within five minutes of watching Episode 1, has the ability to make viewers focus on little else but him. Or, as one fan on Twitter phrased it, “he reminds me of Javier Bardem — a face that just wants to be looked at. Powerful looking dude.”
Thankfully, Pierre is a wonderful actor, and his ability to convey great depth with just a slow-boiling sidelong glance is in and of itself a reason to pay attention to him opposite star Thuso Mbedu, TVLine’s most recent Performer of the Week.
Speaking of which, Mbedu says she noticed the London native’s charms as much as viewers have and will — but only as herself. As Cora, who initially and quizzically tells Caesar she won’t run away with him to freedom, she can’t see his handsome face and broad shoulders or hear his seductive baritone voice.
“Caesar was friends with the group who called Cora names at every single turn,” Mbedu recalls. “He was part of that crew. So she’s not seeing him for the god that he is. She’s seeing all the ugly. But that’s Cora. As Thuso, I was like, ‘Hey, Aaron!’”
Jenkins agrees and says Cora’s other hurdles as an enslaved Black woman eclipse Caesar’s pretty blue eyes.
“Cora absolutely would question running away with Caesar because I think in that moment, Cora can’t see anything and she cannot see how beautiful he is,” Jenkins contends. “The only thing she can see is that the person who should want her the most, her mother, abandoned her at this plantation. That’s all she can see. Caesar’s job, as handsome as he is, is to very slowly and subtly remind her that ‘I see you. I need you. I want you. You are special.’ I think that’s the role he plays in her life.”
Click here to read the full article on TV Line.
By Apple Newsroom
For more than 100 years, teaching has run through Hillary-Rhys Richard’s family.
Growing up in Katy, Texas, Rhys, as he’s known to his friends, listened to his mother, Astrya Richard, tell stories of her ancestors — four generations of educators who saw teaching as a calling, and learning as a tool for change.
By the end of high school, Rhys had never had a Black male teacher, and that absence, along with his family’s deep connection to education, helped steer him to follow in their footsteps.
This week, Rhys, 18, will complete his freshman year remotely as part of the inaugural class of the African American Male Teacher Initiative at Huston-Tillotson University. The first-of-its-kind program was created in partnership with Apple as part of the company’s ongoing and deep commitment to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Apple’s multiyear partnership with Huston-Tillotson complements other engagements the company has established through its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, working alongside the HBCU community to develop curricula and provide new learning and workforce opportunities.
At Huston-Tillotson, Apple is providing scholarships for the program’s students, called Pre-Ed Scholars, as well as hardware, software, and professional-development courses for students and faculty.
“Every student should have the chance to be taught by someone who represents them,” Rhys wrote in his application essay to Huston-Tillotson. “In order to build strong children, we need strong male teachers to forge a path through being the example for students. The baton has to be passed for us to continue pushing forward. I stand ready to run my leg of the race.”
Currently, only 2 percent of all US teachers are Black men, something the program at Huston-Tillotson seeks to change. When Black students are taught by a Black teacher, they are significantly more likely to graduate high school and consider attending college.
Huston-Tillotson President Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette has witnessed the power of that relationship firsthand. Her son had a Black male teacher in the fifth grade, and it transformed his education.
“It just really did something magical for him,” says Dr. Burnette. “So this is personal for me because of my own experience raising an African American male. It’s my mission to be able to get these young Black men in classrooms, so they can pour into other vessels like themselves because they have shared experiences. And there’s nothing like being taught by someone who has a shared experience.”
It’s the reason Dr. Burnette prioritized the creation of the African American Male Teacher Initiative and sought out a partner in Apple.
Click here to read the full article on Apple Newsroom.
By the Associated Press, ESPN
Long before Kendrick Carmouche started riding horses growing up in Louisiana, Black jockeys were synonymous with the sport.
Black riders were atop 13 of the 15 horses in the first Kentucky Derby in 1875 and won 15 of the first 28 editions of the race. Everything has changed since: Carmouche on Saturday will be the first Black jockey in the Kentucky Derby since 2013 and is just one of a handful over the past century.
Carmouche is one of the few remaining Black jockeys in the United States. Much like Marlon St. Julien in 2000, Patrick Husbands in 2006 and Kevin Krigger in 2013, his presence in horse racing’s biggest event is a reminder of how the industry marginalized Black jockeys to the point they all but disappeared from the sport.
“As a Black rider getting to the Kentucky Derby, I hope it inspires a lot of people because my road wasn’t easy to get there and I never quit,” Carmouche said. “What I’ve been wanting all my career is to inspire people and make people know that it’s not about color. It’s about how successful you are in life and how far you can fight to get to that point.”
Carmouche is the son of a jockey, and he has won more than 3,400 races and earned $118 million since beginning to ride professionally in 2000. He came back from a broken leg three years ago and set himself up for his first Kentucky Derby mount by riding 72-1 long shot Bourbonic to victory in the Wood Memorial on April 3. Bourbonic will leave from the 20th post in Saturday’s race at Churchill Downs.
He is also a rarity in a sport now dominated by jockeys from Latin America.
“Obviously there haven’t been many in recent decades, but if you go back to the early years of the Derby, the late 1800s, early 1900s, Black jockeys dominated the Kentucky Derby,” NBC Sports analyst Randy Moss said. “Guys like Isaac Murphy and Jimmy Winkfield.”
Carmouche joins St. Julien as the only U.S.-born Black jockeys in the Derby since 1921, which even then was long after the era dominated by Murphy, Winkfield and others.
Chris Goodlett, a historian at the Kentucky Derby Museum, cited a combination of Jim Crow laws and segregation in the United States, intimidation by white riders, and decisions by racing officials, owners and trainers for the decline of Black jockeys in the early 20th century. One example was white counterparts riding Winkfield into the rail at Harlem Race Track outside Chicago and injuring him and his horse.
“Consequently, white trainers and owners would be [more] reluctant to ride Black jockeys on their horses due to instances like that,” Goodlett said. “We see it also just from an administrative point of view, as well: fewer licenses being issued to Black jockeys, sometimes not issued at all.”
Brien Bouyea, communications director for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, said many Black jockeys left for Europe because of better working conditions and never returned. Manny Ycaza came from Panama and blazed a trail for Latin American jockeys, who used riding schools and other factors that changed on-track demographics.
Along the way, participation by Black people in the Kentucky Derby ebbed and flowed with significant contributions along the way, including grooms Will Harbut with Man O’War in 1920 and Eddie Sweat with Secretariat in 1973 and trainer Hank Allen with Northern Wolf in 1989. Harbut’s great-grandson, Greg Harbut, co-owned 2020 Derby runner Necker Island and helped found the Ed Brown Society, named after the 19th-century Black jockey and trainer, to further diversify racing.
Husbands was well aware of his place in history when he rode Seaside Retreat in the 2006 Derby and said he feels a connection to Carmouche this year because “the steppingstone that he’s doing for his culture is the same stuff I was trying to do for my culture.”
He said Carmouche becoming the first Black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby since 1902 “would be a blessing. It would bring tears to a lot of people’s eyes.”
Click here to read the full article on ESPN.
By Ashley Vaughan, CNN
“There is a difference between being informed and getting retraumatized.”
That’s what clinical therapist Paul Bashea Williams tells himself and his clients as they struggle with the distressing images that resurfaced during the Derek Chauvin trial.
The proceeding churned up a persistent trauma. The frequent replay of George Floyd’s final moments may have left many feeling raw, vulnerable and without relief.
While the evidence surrounding Floyd’s death is distressing for most people, it is overwhelming for African Americans — and especially excruciating for Black men who see their very humanity reflected in him.
“Sometimes you are visualizing you,” says Williams, lead clinician and owner of Hearts in Mind Counseling in Prince George and Montgomery counties in Maryland. Ninety percent of his clients identify as Black.
In the aftermath of Floyd’s murder and Chauvin’s trial, African Americans are fighting harder than ever to protect and prioritize their mental health.
Caught between hope and hopelessness
According to Williams, his clients are continuously cycling through feelings of hope and hopelessness. While many hope for justice, they are also bracing for disappointment, one that feels familiar when unarmed Black men and women are killed by police officers.
Williams also points out the secondary trauma African Americans experience from the images and video surrounding Floyd’s death.
“It is the emotional and psychological effects experienced through vicarious exposure to the details of traumatic experiences of others,” he says.
Among the private concerns Black men have shared with Williams are “feeling anxiety around leaving the house” and “depression over not having control over one’s life.”
Tip 1: Acknowledge your feelings
Tip 2: Create community
Tip 3: Prioritize self-care with boundaries
Tip 4: Seek therapy
Click here to read the full article on CNN.
By MICHEL MARTIN, NPR
Voters in St. Louis last week delivered a historic victory for Tishaura Jones, the first Black woman elected mayor and the latest triumph for progressive candidates in the St. Louis region.
Amid unrest at local jails, surging gun violence, and a pandemic that has disproportionately hurt people of color, Jones said the race will no longer be an afterthought in the mayor’s office.
“We are done avoiding race and how it holds this region back,” she told NPR’s All Things Considered.
The current city treasurer, Jones ran on a progressive platform — calling for a “reimagining” of public safety and promising to close the Workhouse, one of the city’s pretrial detention centers that has come under fierce scrutiny for inhumane conditions. After being sworn in on April 20, she intends to shut down the Workhouse within 100 days.
Voters on Tuesday also fueled a progressive flip of the Board of Aldermen, and recent years have brought a wave of progressive candidates into office, including St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, U.S. Rep. Cori Bush and Ferguson Mayor Ella Jones.
In discussing her second run for mayor (Jones ran unsuccessfully in the 2017 mayoral election), she brought up her 13-year-old son. Jones recalled the two talking about what, exactly, the mayor does.
“I said, ‘The mayor is over the police and trash and firefighters,’ and named all the departments,” Jones said. “And he said, ‘Oh, you’ll be over the police? That means I’ll be safe.’ And that statement just hit me like a ton of bricks because I shouldn’t have to run for mayor in order for my son to feel safe.”
After a campaign that did not shy from conversations about race and policing, Jones is determined to bring that focus to the mayor’s office: “We have not had the opportunity to have those difficult and tough conversations about the systemic racism that permeates every policymaking decision in our region and in our city.”
In the interview, Jones was critical of the city’s police union. Jeff Roorda, business manager of the St. Louis Police Officers Association, responded to Jones’ comments by directing NPR to a statement made after last week’s election: “We congratulate all of yesterday’s winners and we commit to continue to partner with them or anyone else willing to do the hard work of making this city a better, safer place to live.”
The following excerpts from the interview have been edited for length and clarity.
Click here to read the full article and interview on NPR.
By Frank Holland, CNBC
Nearly a century after Black Wall Street — a center of Black business in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma, that was destroyed in a racial attack — “The Good Doctor” actor Hill Harper is launching a fintech app of the same name to empower investors of color.
The Black Wall Street app goes live on June 1 and will offer a digital wallet for peer-to-peer payment and the ability to trade cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether.
“What the Black Wall Street was in Tulsa and the Greenwood district is just very empowering,” Harper told CNBC about the once thriving Black business district.
“There were three pillars that created the wealth that was created in the Black Wall Street [in Tulsa],” he said, with the first two being institutional ownership and institutional trust by the community. “Pillar number three was the movement of money or capital within the ecosystem where dollars changed hands 60 to 100 times within a year before it left that Black community.”
Harper, who plays Dr. Marcus Andrews on the ABC medical show, said that dollars now leave the Black community within about seven hours. “I truly believe that unless we start owning our own fintech platforms, our own digital wallets, the dollar will leave within six to seven seconds.” said Harper, who also played Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on CBS’ “CSI: NY.”
The goal of The Black Wall Street app is to give Black and Latinx investors a gateway into the digital transformation of investing and provide financial education to customers on cryptocurrency.
Harper, a Harvard Law School graduate, said he began working with Black web developers last year before the Covid pandemic to build the app, which aims to capitalize on mobile device trends in communities of color.
According to a 2019 report from Pew Research Center, 23% of Black Americans and 25% of Latinx Americans are “smart phone only” internet users compared with 12% of white Americans. The Pew study also showed Black Americans use a smartphone for mobile banking more than any other group.
Harper said he’s hoping to attract “unbanked” consumers and more sophisticated investors looking for a Black-owned site for cryptocurrency purchasing. “It’s not just about transferring money to folks, it’s about transferring information, ideas, and building community, and we see that that is the real value and the real differentiator.”
Najah Roberts, a cryptocurrency expert and owner of Crypto Blockchain Plug — a brick-and-mortar location in Inglewood, California, for cryptocurrency education and purchasing — will serve as the chief visionary officer for the app. As part of the launch, The Black Wall Street is planning a 30-city financial literacy tour that begins on April 30 in Los Angeles, with stops in Tulsa on May 31, a century since the original Black Wall Street was destroyed in a riot by white residents. Roberts will lead the tour and give fractional bitcoin shares to people who sign up.
The Black Wall Street offering enters a growing industry of fintech apps that allow peer-to-peer transfers including Square’s Cash App from PayPal’s Venmo. Visa estimates there is $4 trillion market for apps that replace the use of cash and checks in the United States. Rapper Killer Mike also launched this year the Greenwood app, another digital platform for investors of color.
Click here to read the full article on CNBC.
Want to hear a scary story? Here’s one: A family reckoning with a senseless, pervasive horror flees home to what they hope will be a place of safety and prosperity, only to find themselves pursued by that same demented presence.
Evil forces gather — their new home is haunted, too. Bloody visions terrorize them day and night. The dog is poisoned. It’s only a matter of time before the bodies start mounting.
But in the 10-part Amazon series “Them,” as in any good horror story, there is a twist: The victims are simply a middle-class Black family in the 1950s, seeking a better life in a Los Angeles suburb; the senseless horror is the racism of their white neighbors, who want them out. As the situation devolves, certain terrifying events may be supernatural, or they may be psychological.
And yet, as the series, the first season of which drops on Friday, asks: Does that distinction matter when the danger is ever-present?
“As the sinister elements outside the home ratchet up, that obviously allows for the cracks and fissures within each of them to be infiltrated by something malevolent,” the series’s creator, Little Marvin, said of the Black family at the center of “Them.” “But that malevolent thing, as sure as there is a supernatural component to our story, is deeply rooted in the emotional and psychological lives of these characters.”
It must get hard to believe your own eyes when your senses are being shocked over and over by cruelty, I said.
“Welcome to being Black,” Little Marvin replied.
Welcome, also, to the legacy of codified racism in America, which provided Little Marvin with a conceptual starting point for “Them.” Like the Jordan Peele film “Get Out” or last summer’s HBO hit “Lovecraft Country,” “Them,” which counts Lena Waithe as an executive producer, uses horror-genre conventions as allegorical octane for racist machinery that is all too real. And as “Watchmen” did for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the show is likely to educate many viewers on an ugly relic of American history that is not widely acknowledged: racially restrictive housing covenants.
If real estate legalese doesn’t sound like fodder for an edge-of-your-seat horror story, consider the implications. Just as government redlining helped create and reinforce segregation by determining who was eligible for mortgages, racial covenants did the same by restricting who was allowed to buy a property at all, finances be damned. A deed might explicitly forbid all owners, present and future, from selling the home to anyone of African or Asian descent. Many older deeds still bear such language
“Any house that was built between 1938 and 1948, in a subdivision, I would be surprised for it not to have racial restrictions in them,” said Carol M. Rose, a professor emeritus at Yale Law School who has studied racial covenants extensively. Those restrictions, Rose explained, which first appeared in the late 19th century, exploded in the early 20th century as farmlands were subdivided for large swaths of new housing
Racial covenants were notoriously common around northern cities like Detroit and Chicago — the Midwest didn’t mandate separate drinking fountains, but segregation and violence were just as real. And California was no different. A Supreme Court decision in 1948, Shelley v. Kraemer, made racial covenants no longer enforceable, creating opportunities for nonwhite families in places like Compton, Calif., where “Them” is set.
Deprived of a legal means of keeping their neighborhoods white, some racists resorted to extralegal methods, which is where the horror really begins. Sometimes the method was vandalism. Others, a Molotov cocktail.
“California is part of the story because people think that California is this sort of easy, breezy racial space, and no, it’s terrible,” said Jeannine Bell, a law professor at Indiana University who wrote “Hate Thy Neighbor,” a book about the violence faced by people in integrating neighborhoods. “It’s terrible for precisely the reasons that this series explores. The methods used in the Midwest were also used in California.”
The Emory family of “Them” flees the South as part of the Great Migration, in which, from 1916 to 1970, an estimated 6 million Black people left the region for cities of the North and West. Like them, the Emorys seek economic opportunity; the father, Henry (Ashley Thomas), is a college-educated engineer and World War II veteran, and he has relatives in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. When he lands a job out West, the family hits the road.
Read the full article at NYtimes.com
By Melissa Repko, CNBC
Target said it will hire more Black-owned companies, launch a program to identify and support promising minority entrepreneurs and add products from more than 500 Black-owned brands to its shelves or website.
Altogether, the discounter said Wednesday, it will spend more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025.
“We have a rich history of working with diverse businesses, but there’s more we can do to spark change across the retail industry, support the Black community and ensure Black guests feel welcomed and represented when they shop at Target,” chief growth officer Christina Hennington said in a news release.
The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and protests across the country have ratcheted up pressure on corporate leaders to advance racial equity and do more than simply cut a check — or risk losing business. The uneven death toll of the coronavirus pandemic and financial toll of the recession also spotlighted the country’s sharp racial disparities with health care and economic opportunity.
Floyd was killed in Target’s hometown of Minneapolis, now the site of the murder trial for the police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck. One Target store, located near the site of Floyd’s death, had to be completely rebuilt and some of its other stores were damaged during rioting.
Companies have spoken out about diversity and inclusion as consumers pay attention and some direct their dollars toward businesses that align with their values. Generation Z — the group of teens and early 20-somethings who are aging into shopping and establishing relationships with brands — care more about social justice compared with former generations, according to an annual survey of teens by Piper Sandler released Wednesday. Teens surveyed by the firm ranked racial equity as their most important political and social issue, followed by the environment and Black Lives Matter.
Over the past year, major retailers like Nike, Walmart and Ulta Beauty have rolled out their own pledges, such as devoting more shelf space to Black-owned products, evaluating how they hire and promote employees, featuring more Black people in their ads and reducing the number of police or security in stores to prevent racial profiling. A growing number of retailers, including Macy’s, Sephora and Gap, have signed on to the 15 Percent Pledge, which aims to make Black-owned products on store shelves proportional to the country’s Black population.
Among Target’s changes, the retailer said it will more actively seek out advertising firms, suppliers, construction companies and other kinds of businesses that are Black-owned. It said it will create a program called Forward Founders for early-stage start-ups led by Black entrepreneurs to help them develop, test and scale products to sell at mass retailers like Target. It will be modeled off of Target Accelerators, a program for start-ups that the retailer uses to foster up-and-coming brands and ultimately, to sell fresh and exclusive products that attract customers and help it differentiate from competitors.
In some categories, such as beauty, Target said it already has 50 Black-owned and Black-founded brands — but would like to add more for other kinds of merchandise.
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