Saturday, February 24, 2007

Guest Appearance on TV Sunday, 2/25

I will be on KPIX at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, February 25, discussing the Oscars with Byron Williams. It’s a short 7 minute segment at the very end. There was so much I wanted to say, but between the three of us, especially my counterpart and I, the salient points came across. The Black Enterprise article on Blacks in Hollywood was instructive, as was the Jet coverstory this week. I’m glad Byron and I had a talk beforehand since the 7 minutes flew by so quickly. It was interesting how the person I spoke to Riki Rafner was not the one who hosted the show, so the relationship I established with her did not translate as Dr. Wade wasn’t even aware until it was time to go on that we’d actually met at the African American Health Summit where she was one of the key note speakers.

I also purchased one of her books which is about the psychological effects of enslavement on our relationships with ourselves and our families…communities. On the way back to the East Bay though, we spoke about her new projects and what hadn’t been covered in the short segment like the films left out like Akeelah and the Bee. More importantly, I’d really wanted to mention Shareeka Epps, the supporting actress for Half-Nelson, a film about a crack addicted school teacher whom this child keeps afloat. Yes, it’s pretty amazing what our kids know, and what adults subject them too.

Anyway, this is the story I wrote before I left that morning. They printed my website incorrectly, which is Please pass this around and let me know what you think.

Last King of Scotland, OscarsI’m not advocating you see this film, just as I didn’t suggest people see Blood Diamonds. True the trade in conflict diamonds needs to stop, but the problem is a lot larger than the film suggests and what’s going on in Sierra Leone is connected to the mines in South and Southern Africa, and the monopolies created when a corporation like De Beers can shut down legal operations in non-conflict regions in Africa and elsewhere like the United States.
Any good is erased subliminally when the images paint evil with black skin.
In Last King, General Amin is depicted as a buffoon who doesn’t value life. As the Scottish doctor says to a former British colonist, “Uganda is a violent country; you have to meet brutality with harsher brutality.” We later see photos of mutilated bodies piled up along the roadside as government opposition is rounded up and tortured. Amin, though described at one point as a poor soldier, raised by the British Army, for the most part is seen as a crazed monster who is paranoid and distrustful of everyone except his Scottish doctor.

The film which opens in Kampala Friday, Feb. 23, was shot on location and did employ many Ugandans, and the hope is that the film will encourage tourism. I’m not certain about that. If anything it might make potential investors examine more closely the relationships this current government has with the west. Is it stable? Actor, Forrest Whitaker does such a great job in portraying Amin—a man so brilliant the light seemed to hurt his eyes. He was for the Palestinian liberation from Israeli oppression, for a free Africa controlled by Africans not immigrants who were capitalizing on the poor Africans, exporting goods and services, the dollar not turning even once before leaving forever.

The events in the country turned so quickly from favorable to a state of siege, that this viewer could not imagine or fathom the conditions that led to the coup which placed Amin in power or the support which greeted his appearances early on in the countryside. See

What happened between the show of support and the fall from grace?
I smelled conspiracy, a conspiracy hinted at in the film, but not flushed out. The Amin in the film was surrounded by former British officials who hadn’t severed any of their contacts and were working hard to destabilize this newly developed nation.

And they did.

The Last King of Scotland is more fuel on the briar that Africans are incapable of self-government. Perhaps it is also a statement to how incapable black people are of self-love. How could a man who says he loves his people as much as Amin does in the beginning of the film, turn on them so completely by the end of the film? The credits list his atrocities with illustrations. I wonder why the current Ugandan government agreed to a fictionalized take on Amin from the perspective of a naïve and totally clueless doctor from Scotland?

African people should boycott films with letters to the industry which perpetrate these negative stereotypes. Last year at the Oscars, the best foreign language film went to Tsotsi, a story about a South African gangster. Just like Last King, the story was lopsided. What economic conditions gave rise to a situation which made this child homeless and an outlaw? What about the huge population of homeless children now? Did any of the fame or money garnered affect their condition?

Let’s not forget Hustle and Flow getting best song and best actor going to Terrance Howard for his role as a pimp. When it comes to controlling the image, Africans in the Diaspora give too much credence to these popular forums. Instead of wasting our money supporting these fallacious arguments, we need to support independent African media outlets such as the San Francisco Black Film Festival, the Oakland International Film Festival and Jacques’ work in the San Francisco Bay View in developing new directors who tell the story no one in Hollywood wants to hear.

I’d much rather see the film from a Ugandan perspective whether documentary of feature. Uganda is still poor, there is still warfare—what was the point?

I hope Will Smith gets best actor for his role in Pursuit of Happyness. He was so wonderful in the role of a father with dreams of greatness who held onto his child as he worked to achieve his goal. Even if it weren’t a true story, it would have been just as great. I also like that it is set in San Francisco. We know those landmarks like that BART bathroom where the homeless dad and son spent the night.

Jennifer Hudson should certainly get best actress for her role in Dream Girls; she was marvelous! I couldn’t imagine the film without her, not could I imagine anyone other than Eddie Murphy as the choice for best supporting role. (We won’t even address Norbit except to say, avoid it at all costs. It moves from worse to worse.)

For best animation I vote for Happy Feet a story that looks at a colony of penguins who soon find it hard to find fish to eat because of development. One penguin whose a little different decides to leave home and find out why their fish is disappearing. Ostracized since childhood because he doesn’t have a pleasant singing voice, he uses his singing feet to tell their story to a wider community.

Savion Glover’s choreography and Prince’s score, not to mention the great actors made this film a great film with a powerful message about humanities effect on the delicate ecosystems here on earth. I hope people will remember to cut up those six pack rings afterwards, stop developing wildlife habitats. (Happy Feet is the story of so many species, and like the penguin, they are talking to us if we care to listen.)

I don’t know why Akeelah and the Bee didn’t get a nomination, yet Cars did. Nor do I understand how the child in Little Miss Sunshine got a nod, yet the child actress: Shareeka Epps in Half-Nelson didn’t when Ryan Gosling, who portrays a barely functional crack addict does. Did I mention Dan is a high school teacher and girls basketball coach? It’s that icky sticky.
As Drey, Epps holds the story together; her role connects Gosling’s “Dan” to school and life outside. She’s the six degrees that not only separate him from a fate too awful to imagine. Somehow the two save each other. Drey is the real heroineeven though she's on the same sinking ship at least she has on a life jacket. My Country, My Country and Iraq in Fragments have my vote for Best Documentary, and Children of Men, has my votes for the screenplay, cinematography and editing. It was an edgy film that shows where we’re headed if this homeland security nonsense continues.

I’ll be on KPIX this Sunday, February 25, 9:30 a.m. speaking about the Oscars later that evening with writer Byron Williams, and host Brenda K. Wade, Ph.D.

After I saw Last King I dashed over to another theatre to see Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls. Now that was a great film. Popular entertainment that hovers in the range of good taste. Granted the dope slinging baby mama was a bit much. I’m glad her boyfriend didn’t have “gold teef,” but she was so nuf ghetto. The three girls who are really sisters were cute and the attorney, law partner (actress Gabrielle Union’s “Julia”) who falls in love with her chauffeur “Monty” is not over the top. The hunk (Idris Elba’s Monty) who also happens to be the dad is polite and doesn’t speak ill of the girls’ mother (actress Tasha Smith), which is saying a lot. I also like the twists in the tale. Daddy’s Little Girls is not a children’s film, so get a babysitter. The film illustrates the old saying money can’t buy you love, nor for that matter can friends find it for you. Bayview's own Terri J. Vaughn is one of Julia's stuck-up friends. The Perry film is great even for fans who wanted to see Medea show up. Lou Gossett Jr.’s character could have used her help in ridding the neighborhood of drug dealers, but in the end.... Well I won't spoil it for you. Visit

For Akeelah see


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