Saturday, March 12, 2005

It's A Good Time to Be of African Descent

It is a good time to be of African descent, all told. The number one film in America this past week was The Pacifier, starring the somewhat African-American Vin Diesel, brought in over $30 million its opening week. The week previous, Diary of a Mad Black Woman topped the box office, bringing to foreground that largely ignored cultural phenomenon "the chitlin cicuit." And, three weeks ago, Hitch, starring the affable and nonthreatening Will Smith was perched at the apex of film earnings. Finally, Chris Rock -- with mixed results -- hosted the Oscars, where Jamie Foxx won Best Actor, and Morgan Freeman Best Supporting Oscar.

An African-American woman, Condoleeza Rice, is arguably the most powerful woman in the world. The former National Security Advisor and Bush confidante took over as Secretary of State from Colin Powell, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who, according to rumor, has the job of head of the World Bank for the asking. And Barak Obama's decisive Senate victory in his Illinois Senate race against another African-American, Republican Alan Keyes, suggests that the generally whispered conventional wisdom that an African-American is radioactive in statewide races may finally be slated to the dustbin of history. With the retirement of Paul Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume -- former Congressman, former head of the NAACP -- is the hottest talk in DC as a replacement. If we are to trust the sources of Ed Gordon of NPR -- and The Corsair does -- African-American senators are a new trend, as he told The Chris Matthews Show last Sunday in the "Tell me something I don't know segment":

"Mr. GORDON: Encouraged by Barak Obama, we're going to see people like Harold Ford and Kwasi Mfume target Senate seats, and you'll see more African-Americans than ever before shoot for those seats.

"MATTHEWS: Do you think that Kwasi Mfume can move out the incumbent senator there, the Democrat?

"Mr. GORDON: He'll give it a good shot.

"MATTHEWS: I remember Harold Ford has been wanting to run for a long time. Do you think he has a good shot?

"Mr. GORDON: Absolutely. I think he'll win.

"MATTHEWS: Interesting, Tennessee."

Fascinating, Tennesse --home of Shiloh -- of all places. As events played out, Mfume will not have to move out an incumbent in '06, as the Sarbanes seat is wide open and up-for-grabs. But, as Mfumeis quoted in The Old Gray Lady (via The Washington Post):

"'Paul Sarbanes is my friend. It's too early for me to speculate. It's disrespectful for me to talk about what-if's.'"

But The Corsair roundly predicts Mfume will run, and be the clear front-runner.

In the music industry, the chaotic rise of 50 Cent dominates all discussion, according to ABC:

"New York rapper 50 Cent's new album The Massacre has sold 1.1 million units in just four days, the sixth highest album sales ever, music sales tracking company Nielsen SoundScan says.

"Director of Billboard charts Geoff Mayfield says this feat had not been repeated since the Beatles in 1964."

And, of course, after a week of sporadic gunfire and threats, Fitty and his protege The Game met at Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture in Harlem -- their Appomatox -- for a public rapprochment, a truce. And of all people, Al Sharpton, tempermentally well-suited as the unofficial commissioner of hip hop (better that than Democratic nominee) prompted the truce with theats of boycotts. Fitty has 3 hits on the Billboard Top Ten; The Game has the number 4 spot; and both contributed over $250,000 to the embattled Harlem Boys Choir.

Finally, Africa's ECOWAS put down a coup in Togo, with minimal Western aid, through collective pressure. Democratic elections are set for late April.

Of Lil Kim and "SHot 97" and Michael Jackson we will presently not speak. Let's not ruin a genuinely wonderful African-American moment. Okay?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Vin Diesel doesn't consider himself African American as much as multiracial, proud of both black and white ancestry. Moreover, none of his roles have been overtly 'black' in nature. After all, his first big screen film was "Saving Private Ryan" in which he played an Italian American.

In contrast, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has appeared on the cover of Ebony magazine and always mentions his Samoan and African-American ancestry. Indeed, in "Walking Tall," his character is mixed-race with a black father.

There several mixed-race actors like Rashida Jones (daughter of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton) or Wenthrop Miller (starred in "The Human Stain" and appears in Mariah Carey's latest video) who phenotypically appear white but always set the record straight that they are biracial but primarily play white characters since they "look" white.

So, isn't better to say that Vin Diesel is biracial or mixed since that is his preference--honoring both sides of his ancestry and giving the finger to bigots who believe in that one drop of black blood taints?

Just a thought...