Insight News

Oct 07th

Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture

Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture“Since the dawn of the hip-hop era in the 1970s, Black people have become increasingly freer and freer as individuals, with a wider range of possibilities spread out before us now than at any time in our past. Yet the circumstances of our collective life have degenerated in direct contrast to this fact, with a more impoverished vision of what it means to be Black today than ever before. If these exciting new circumstances we now find ourselves in, of which our president is the apotheosis, are to mean anything of lasting value, the zeitgeist… is going to have to change, too—permanently…

Will we, at long last, allow ourselves to abandon the instinct to self-sabotage and the narcissistic glorification of our own failure? Will the fact of daily exposure to a Black president in turn expose once and for all the lie that is and always has been keeping it real?
-- Excerpted from the Epilogue (pgs. 213-214i)

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film FunKam's Kapsules:
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

For movies opening June 4, 2010


Get Him to the Greek (R for graphic sexuality, and pervasive sexuality and drug use) Intercontinental road comedy about the hijinks which ensue when an ambitious intern (Jonah Hill) is assigned to escort an over-imbibing, womanizing rock star (Russell Brand) from London to L.A. for a comeback concert. Spinoff of Forgetting Sarah Marshall features Rose Byrne and Sean Diddy Combs, with cameos by Christina Aguilera, Pink, Pharrell, Meredith Viera and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman.

Amtrak's National Train Day blues connection

Amtrak's National Train Day blues connectionFor National Train Day 2010 Amtrak celebrated the connection between the history of blues music and America's railroads. To commemorate, Amtrak took the sons of Muddy Waters, "Big Bill" and Mud Morganfield on a musical tour through the Mississippi Delta, the birthplace of the blues, and the birthplace of their father. The tour started in New Orleans, toured Blues Markers in Mississippi, picked up blues great Bobby Rush in Memphis and ended at National Train Day festivities at Union Station in Chicago May 6-8.

Discover your African roots

Discover your African rootsThis Spring, a television series called, “Who Do You Think You Are?” which is based on a popular BBC Television series of the same name in the United Kingdom, aired in the US further fueling the unquenchable thirst for knowledge about personal identity and family history.

The American version was the work of producers Sarah Jessica Parker and Lisa Kudrow.

An African American firm that specializes in DNA-based genetic research participated in the television series enabling Emmitt Smith, the football player and “Dancing with the Stars” contestant to trace his ancestry. Using DNA, was able to determine Smith’s family origins in a present day country on the continent of Africa.

Gina Paige is vice president and co-founder for and was my guest via telephone interview on “Conversations with Al McFarlane” on KFAI FM90.3.

Lena Horne: One of the greatest performers ever

Lena Horne: One of the greatest performers everIt is almost universally agreed upon that Lena Horne was one of the greatest performing artist ever to grace the American stage, screen, and television. Lena was a heaven sent multifaceted talent who mastered the crafts of song, dance and acting. To add to this, she was a great conversationalist. She was one of those rare spiritual types who understood and possessed the ability to articulate her journey. She put you there, making you feel a part of what she lived. The work, the days, ties, hopes, disappointments, challenges, and triumphs. Lena lived high and at the same time broad and low, close to the ground.

Her legend on stage and in show business is widely known: at 16, she was in the chorus line at the famed Cotton Club.

She was the first Black person to sign a long term contract with a major Hollywood studio. She endured some of the everyday snubs, slights and insults that great Black performers routinely put up with during the hey day of mad dog racism. Through it all, Lena Horne survived, and indeed, thrived as one of the great lights, bar none, in the history of American entertainment. In a word, Lena was the bomb, for all of her 92 years. The mention of her name brings great joy, pride, courage, hope with optimism, to people across generations and across the world.

There is also a side of Lena Horne's life that is less generally known, and for which she was less appreciated. It is the side of her human generosity and deep love for Black people. At the onset of her career in Hollywood, she was given the option of "passing" because of her mostly "non negroid" features. It was requested by the movers and shakers of that day that she change her name so that she could pass, not as white--but as Mexican or some other exotic type, that was "non negro". It was suggested that she change her name to perhaps Sanchez, Gomez or Rodriguez.

Just Right mix of love and basketball in sentimental sitcom

Just Right mix of love and basketball in sentimental sitcomJust Wright - Film Review

How do you make a movie that feels totally fresh despite the fact that it follows a fairly transparent blueprint for a romantic comedy formula? Ask Sanaa Hamri, for not only did she first achieve this same feat back in 2006 with her directorial debut, Something New, but she’s now done it again with Just Wright, a syrupy-sweet love story guaranteed to leave you in tears as the closing credits roll, even though there’s never a doubt about how it will all end.

The picture stars Queen Latifah as Leslie Wright, a physical therapist and lifelong New Jersey Nets fan. She’s obsessed with the team because she was taken to their basketball games as a child by her father (James Pickens, Jr.) who raised her like the son he never had. Consequently, today the 35-year-old tomboy still goes to see them play regularly, always wearing jeans and a Nets jersey.

On “Common” ground

On “Common” groundCommon - The Just Wright interview with Kam Williams

Common was born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. in Chicago on March 13, 1972 to Lonnie, Sr. a former pro basketball player, and Dr. Mahila Ann Hines, an educator. He started rapping while still in high school, forming a trio called C.D.R. which opened for acts like N.W.A. and Big Daddy Kane. He adopted the alias Common Sense by 1992 which is when he released his first CD, entitled “Can I Borrow a Dollar?” He shortened his name to just Common after a lawsuit by a band claiming to have the exclusive trademark for “Common Sense.”
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