Acting While Black

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Lately we’ve been slumped over on the sofa, unmoving, glassy-eyed, barely blinking and uncommunicative.

We’re okay, though. The only “virus” we’ve succumbed to (so far—knock on wood) is the addictive stupor of movie bingeing while locked up inside like everyone else.

During these dazed purgatorial viewings we’ve stumbled across that strange convention of mainly Sci-Fi movies but also lots of action movies, diminishing to a lesser degree as you delve into the other genres, where the black character is either the first one killed off or just eventually killed off period.

It may not be amusing on many levels but on at least one level it’s jaw-droppingly hilarious. So I’m gonna name a few of the most outlandish examples as an ode to the absurd, an elaborate Elizabethan bow to the comically bizarre.

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In The Lazarus Effect, Olivia Wilde kills her friends one by one in admittedly unpleasant ways. But while they later go out by choking, poison, and the swift, clean, preferable death of neck snapping, the first person she kills is Donald Glover of Community, the Martian, and Solo: A Star Wars story fame, and his death is spectacularly violent compared to theirs–namely being telekinetically hurled across the room into a locker and then crushed inside like a car compacter.

WTAF?! OMG!

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Remember The Transformers? There’s a “black” robot in The Transformers! Jazz! Guess what happens to him. He dies! Not right away, later, but who cares? He still dies! The “black” Transformer robot gets killed off!

Jazz’s curtain call actually didn’t bother me that much, since he was somewhat of an annoying cliché, even as a robot, but still…really?

Seriously?

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One of the most ironic and farcical deaths in schlocky sci-fi history happened to Ernie Hudson of Ghostbusters fame in Leviathan from 1989. Having survived all the horrors below and actually having made his way to the surface along with two others, he is summarily consumed by the monster (which was supposed to be dead) seconds before the other two characters scramble onto a helicopter and are whisked away to safety.

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I’m not sure when this started in earnest. Maybe the ‘80s? Certainly the ‘90s.

Because looking back, in opposite world, we can’t forget that Yaphet Kotto almost made it to the end of Alien in 1979. And he gets knocked off at exactly the same moment as Hollywood darling Veronica Cartwright.

In Carpenter’s The Thing from ’82, Keith David DOES make it to the end with Kurt Russell. I never can remember his name because he has two first names. David Keith? Keith David?

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Similarly, Keith David survives in 1988 for most of They Live, and in a pretty big role too.

They Live, by the way, was based on a mere short story by Ray Nelson from 1963. A tiny five-page short story called Eight O’clock in the Morning, a commentary on modern-day slavery,  toiling in the shadow of capitalism and getting absolutely nowhere while the powers that be continually insist that all you need to do is buy things, have fun, and “obey” to have a good life.

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It had always irked me that Kubrick kills Scatman Cruthers in The Shining, because having been a huge Stephen King fan as a teenager, I knew Scatman’s character didn’t die in the book. I didn’t know if Kubrick’s subconscious was buying into the stereotypes like everybody else or if it was just a director’s ego. Still, Scatman almost made it to the end.

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After the ‘70s, ‘80s and early ‘90s, though, I think hiccups like The Thing, They Live, and Alien became few and far between as the black sacrifice to the movie gods started becoming a “thing.” They even made fun of it with Omar Epps in Scream 2 in the late ‘90s.

A movie favorite of mine, 300, has Leonidas kicking the (black) Persian messenger into a well, and even though 300 was based on a comic book, the actual Spartans from history were not the righteous defenders of all good in the world, and the Persians were not the monsters and villains they were made out to be.

One of the best lines from the movie, though, from Xerxes, the 9-foot tall Persian King, speaking to Ephialtes: “Unlike cruel Leonidas who demands that you stand…I require only that you kneel.”

Which sounds a lot like the Chinese “curse” that says, “May you live in interesting times.”

The words sound really good at first, right? Then little by little you start to realize, hey, wait a minute…

But by then, it’s too late.

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One of the most ironic deaths ever—even more than Ernie Hudson getting dispatched by the monster two seconds before his cast mates are saved—is that of Duane Jones in Night of the Living Dead from 1968.

Duane Jones had a starring role as a strong character and capable leader (something fairly unheard of during those days) during a Zombie crisis and who—like Mr. Hudson—made it all the way through to the end… only to be shot by police… who thought he was undead.

Whoa!

But, boy, we were on the right track once with casting. I wonder what happened. One thing, though: it won’t last forever. This, too, shall pass. And become a footnote in history.

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As time went by, the acronym DWI turned into the jokey DWB (driving while black) which then in turn became a running theme: RWB, EWB, SLB (reading while black, eating while black, sleeping while black) which, beyond the ominous symbolism, is also an attempt at levity, something desperately needed these days.

So as my husband and I slowly de-evolve on the sofa before the flickering Netflix screen, and maybe you do, too, we can add to the growing list of acronyms with lighthearted humor as we wait for perspectives to change, society to shift (if even a little; already the skies are cleaner!) as the light at the end of the tunnel gets nearer:

SNNSFC: Saying no to Netflix and Sci-Fi Channel

TRHTDFDC: Trying to remember how to do fractions during coronavirus

SOTWDL: Staying on the wagon during lockdown

NSOTWDL: Not staying on the wagon during lockdown

SPPUZAWARTJSFWT: Surviving the pandemic/possible upcoming zombie apocalypse while any race by telling jokes, sharing food, and working together

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JUST BECAUSE

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Just because the days are stressful lately and this excerpt sent to me by a friend from David Foster Wallace’s “The Pale King” feels, to me, like a meditation, a gentle inundation, a still, sweet, patient hush…

Past the flannel plains and blacktop graphs and skylines of canted rust, and past the tobacco-brown river overhung with weeping trees and coins of sunlight through them on the water downriver, to the place beyond the windbreak, where untilled fields simmer shrilly in the A.M. heat: shattercane, lamb’s-quarter, cutgrass, sawbrier, nutgrass, jimsonweed, wild mint, dandelion, foxtain, muscadine, spine-cabbage, goldenrod, creeping charlie, butter-print, nightshade, ragweed, wild oat, vetch, butcher grass, invaginate volunteer beans, all heads gently nodding in a morning breeze like a mother’s soft hand on your cheek.

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An arrow of starlings fired from the windbreak’s thatch. The glitter of dew that stays where it is and steams all day. A sunflower, four more, one bowed, and horses in the distance standing rigid and still as toys. All nodding. Electric sounds of insects at their business. Ale-colored sunshine and pale sky and whorls of cirrus so high they cast no shadow. Insects all business all the time. Quartz and chert and schist and chondrite iron scabs in granite. Very old land. Look around you. The horizon trembling, shapeless. We are all of us brothers.

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Max in America: Into the Land of Trump

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A sheltered, artistic Mexican man.

An overprotective mother who passes away.

A balloon.

A journey across borders…both geographical and psychological.

I know everyone’s beaten down by the present U.S. administration and can probably barely endure another moment even thinking about it, but Henry Chamberlain’s Max in America: Into The Land of Trump comes at us sideways from a different point of view: one of a Mexican national.

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Remember them? The sex offenders and criminals running across our borders in droves, raping and pillaging wherever they go? Oh, wait a minute. That was the Vikings. Or was it Chaucer (yes, Chaucer!) or Jeffrey Epstein or Bill Cosby or obviously guilty but slapped on the wrist Kavanaugh or the Church covering up—to this day–for disturbed priests?

Rape aside, what about other criminals? The Madoffs and the Mansons, the Enron guys and the Ted Bundys? And yes, women too. Shouldn’t we worry about being murdered in our high schools by our fellow Americans or while we’re listening to music at a concert before we worry about Mexico?

I think so.

Realizing late in life that the beloved comics he’s always enjoyed lack Mexican-themed stories, Max comes to understand that his mother’s zero interest in Mexican culture fostered much of his blindness toward racial and cultural inequality, and once he “immigrates” to America, he can’t help but continue on to related, much larger issues.

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Once in the States, he begins to face the bigotry and biases that “ethnic” Americans face every day, and the author impresses upon us a startling truth out of this: “Your otherness becomes you.”

As Max continues on a fairy-tale like adventure buoyed by strange luck and almost ludicrously chance events which propel him into stand-up comedy on a quest across the States to “press the buttons” of a sometimes complacent society, I learned a lot, including some interesting stories about past personalities like George Herriman, an American cartoonist, famous for Krazy Kat, who passed for white but spoke about racial injustice through his character in code.

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Throw in the author’s delightful artwork before every chapter and lines like, “He might turn you in to ICE.”
“He might turn me into ice?”!
and you’ve got a quirky, odd saga told with insight, feeling, and humor. One can’t help but root for Max…who is, in the end, rooting for all of us.

I would definitely not skip over the epilogue, as a reader. The press conference following Trump and Putin’s secret meeting is displayed in full and is a mind-boggling read, complete with both of these dangerous men at one point actually applying the word “humanitarian” in regards to themselves. Mind-blowing. Craziness. Max in America.

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The Unseeming Horror of “Unseaming”

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When a story starts out, “You know he’s the one who made your beloved niece disappear,” it doesn’t bode well.

The first line of The Button Bin in Mike Allen’s collection of horror stories, “Unseaming,” is enough to raise the hair on your arms and the back of your neck. Allen, already well known as an editor and writer of speculative poetry, delivered “Unseaming” several years ago in all its luscious, spine-tingling dread and horror.

Imagine standing in front of a window. You’re holding a brick.

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You throw the brick through the window. With force.

You step close to the ragged hole and lower your hand, the sensitive flesh between your thumb and forefinger, steadily down toward a jagged shard jutting up at a crazy angle out into the open air.

That, in my opinion, is what it’s like to read “Unseaming.”

If the bizarre, mind-bending tales, often with an unexpected twist, aren’t enough, maybe the serrated, melodic writing will destabilize our repose as unnatural and chilling situations unfurl before us.

For example, we squirm uncomfortably but can’t look away as a grieving woman toes the edge of the abyss:

Soon she heard nothing else. An absence of music, an opposite of laughter, as if a throat sculpted pure mourning, emitted waves that drained away power and life as they washed over whatever they touched.

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If horror can be born somehow of lyricism, Mike Allen accomplishes that. And expect nightmares of all types: surreal and self-made. In one story, a hiker witnesses this:

The monster ascended the far side of the gully on legs like arched lightning, climbing into the murk at heart-wrenching speed.

When I go hiking, “legs like arched lightning” is the last thing I want to see. Where’s the racoon family or the friendly old man with the cane? Please don’t put the words “gully” and “climbing with heart-wrenching speed” together and expect me to visit Mr. Baldy again anytime soon.

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And then the other type of monstrosity declares THIS in the bookend of the collection:

To you I am a shriveled lump, but I speak with pride when I tell you that I’m a self-made monster, a Mandelbrot set, a Koch curve, a Menger sponge, and inside I have no boundaries.

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It’s not easy to find a book of horror, I think, that opines the state of heightened primordial sociopathy approaching omnipotence in such deliberate language peppered with an alarming and passionate undertone.  It takes talent to make the words “Koch curve” sound as deadly and sinister as “Nosferatu” or “The Mist.”

As an added point of intrigue, Mr. Allen has another collection of horror out there “The Spider Tapestries.” Spiders? Ughhh. Maybe it has nothing to do with spiders–I don’t know–but then why is she holding one–lovingly, I might add–on the cover?

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At any rate, I haven’t delved into this one yet.

Maybe you’ll get there before I do. But be careful if you do.

Don’t cut yourself….too deep.

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December Promote Your Book Party!

Thanks to Charles French again for hosting everyone’s books! Lots of good stuff in there. Too many books…not enough time.

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(http://hdcoolwallpapers.com)

It is now almost Winter, and it is time once again for a book promotion party!

I want to offer an opportunity for all writers who follow this blog to share information on their books. It can be very difficult to generate publicity for our writing, so I thought this little effort might help. All books may be mentioned, and there is no restriction on genre. This encompasses fiction, poetry, plays, and non-fiction. If I have neglected to mention a genre, please consider it to be included.

To participate, simply give your name, your book, information about it, and where to purchase it in the comments section. Then please be willing to reblog and/or tweet this post. The more people that see it, the more publicity we can generate for everyone’s books. I will continue to do these parties every few weeks.

Thank you for participating!

Promote your books!

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A Maggot…. again.

A fellow blogger reminded me of UFOs today, so I’m posting the link to one of the blogs I wrote long ago…when I had many fewer followers! If you’re not interested in the book review, just skip ahead to the paintings at the end, at least, and see if you find them as fascinating as I do. But John Fowles, author of A Maggot, is amazingly brilliant too.

https://staceyebryan.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/a-maggot-by-john-fowles-unidentified-flying-myths/

BONE FOLDER

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Writing contests.  Maddening. Challenging. Frustrating.

I haven’t had much luck with standing out in the crowd: of the handful I’ve entered, I only won one in college, and then later in life I made the second cut of a sci-fi contest but didn’t rate the final stage.

Sometimes after the contest was over I’d read the winning entry and not be overly impressed. Sour grapes much? Well, no, ’cause it wasn’t ALL the stories. Sometimes I was impressed, surprised, enthralled.

But other times it seemed like a judge’s niece or husband or BFF from high school had entered, and that judge had blackmailed the other judges with photos of marital indiscretions, copies of embezzled workplace funds, and knowledge of a history of questionable internet searches.

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This was the winner of a contest I entered in Ginosko several years ago, and I’m happy to announce I don’t think any blackmail involving underground cockfighting was involved. Not one iota of punctuation. Very short. But I kinda loved it.

 

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He was sad and angry because his friend had died in a way that made it suicide in everything but name and he sat in a place where they used to drink and talk about Japanese literature and bullshit about work in progress and he thought that his friend might be forgotten which would be unjust because he was part of the resistance whereas the living collaborated and his anger at himself coalesced into action of a sort and he went out and bought tiles and a foam brush and a sheet of acetate and gloves and a mask and fingernail polish remover and a bone folder and he made color copies of a photograph of his dead friend with the right type of ink and he pushed the mirror image button so that the image would not be reversed on transfer and he heated the tiles in the microwave and placed each copy of the photo onto each warm tile face down and coated them with the fingernail polish remover and smoothed them with the bone folder under the acetate and applied the tile sealer to fix the image forever and when he was done he took off the gloves and the mask and left the tiles to dry and he was crying but he did not notice or if he did he thought it was the fumes of the solvent in his eyes and then one night later that week he mixed up a batch of cement and went out and fixed the tiles with the picture of his dead friend to the facades of buildings all across the indifferent city and for the rest of the year he smiled seeing the tiles in secret places or being denounced as vandalism by the authorities.

– Jason Price Everett

<> on September 6, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan.

Banned Books Week and The U.L.S.

My go-to for everything that’s happening these days: Handmaid’s Tale. Cue the scene where the Commander’s wife, Serena, has a finger cut off for suggesting that women should be allowed to read. Not trying to make this about the woman stuff. Just the fanatical, tunnel-visioned, fear-driven, despotic, small-minded, unaccepting, tyrannical, dim-witted, exclusionary, anti-creative, anti-thought, anti-love, anti-possibility ethos many have had to live with and that we will have to live with too, more than we already are, if things keep inching forward the way they are………

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Banned Books Week — 9/22/19–9/28/19

And

The ULS: The Underground Library Society

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(https://pixabay.com)

In honor of Banned Books Week, I wanted to revisit this information. As the creator of the ULS, The Underground Library Society, and at the request of several followers, I have decided to put up lists of books that have been banned or challenged. If a book is challenged, that usually means there were people who wanted it removed from a school or library.  Both are forms of book censorship. It is important to note that I am not focusing only on books banned or challenged in the United States of America; unfortunately, censorship is a world wide action.

Here is my initial list of banned and challenged books:

The entire Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling;

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee;

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain;

Beloved by…

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SILENCE

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In the early 17th century, two Jesuit priests enter Japan when Christianity was strictly forbidden in an attempt to locate their missing mentor and to spread the message of Catholic Christianity.

Martin Scorsese’s “Silence,” based on Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel, was the director’s 25-year-long passion project finally brought to fruition in 2016. Across the board, the movie’s length was criticized (161 minutes) and complaints about the often plodding pace abounded amid declarations of “ambitious” and “gorgeous.”

I enjoyed the movie myself. I suppose it did tend to drag in places because it was so long. But the acting was layered and textured, surrounded by a gritty and grueling environment suffused with constant anxiety, mystery, and misunderstanding.

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After Shusaku Endo’s mother divorced his father, she converted to Roman Catholicism, and Shusaku followed suit, turning down a path not designed for the weak-hearted. During World War II, Endo was the focus of intense resentment due to his loyalty to what was viewed as the religion of Japan’s enemies. When studying in France after the war, the author suffered racial discrimination by fellow Christians in Europe.

Others have said that he is…

“almost by default … ‘a Japanese Catholic author’ struggling to ‘plant the seeds of his adopted religion’ in the ‘mudswamp’ of Japan. In the stage version, The Golden Country, an official also says: “But the mudswamp too has its good points, if you will but give yourself up to its comfortable warmth. The teachings of Christ are like a flame. Like a flame they set a man on fire. But the tepid warmth of Japan will eventually nurture sleep.”

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Sharp right turn to director Martin Scorsese. Due to severe asthma, Scorsese turned to movies (no surprise) and becoming an altar boy while growing up in New York. Tardiness and roughhousing got him kicked out of the altar boy gig, but his desire and passion for the church obviously remained. He is quoted as saying: “When one has a vocation, does it have to be clerical? Can’t you act out those tenets of whatever you believe in your own life without wearing a priest’s collar?”

That question is aimed toward the priests who apostatized in “Silence,” the act of stepping on a likeness of the Virgin Mary or Christ, or a fumie, to renounce their faith (either due to torture and/or to save others). The question arises whether or not one can take part in such an action but still retain their faith. Scorsese was evidently aiming the question at himself, too, having been ejected as an altar boy and not ever gaining any official capacity within the Church.

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Coming from a spiritual bent and not from organized religion, I still think the answer is absolutely. That the lack of a collar or robe or four walls or even announcing that you no longer believe in no way, shape, or form diminishes what the heart knows or what cultivates the soul. Easy to say today, I know, when we’re so far removed from earlier times when faith was the beginning and the end and there was no gray in between.

But what of the swamp Endo talks about, referring to Japan as a mudswamp incapable of bearing the fruit of Christianity, despite their rich tapestry of first Shintoism, then later Buddhism? The traditional missionary position of disregarding the particular beliefs of foreign cultures instead of studying them with a fascination bordering on awe that could only widen personal understanding and ultimately enrich the world at large, to me, is a tragic position, a wasteful slaughter of so much potential and promise.

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Eventually, though, Shusaku Endo, moved past the mudswamp into lighter, airier ground. As a 1995 L.A. Times article said:

“Deep River,” the author’s last novel, signals a healing of Endo’s inner split…His chief spokesman in the novel, the outcast Catholic seminarian Otsu, searches for “a form of Christianity that suits the Japanese mind” and concludes that Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists also have valid paths to God.

After God’s relentless, battering muteness in “Silence,” the message of Endo’s last novel is buoyant with inclusiveness and possibility, and so it makes perfect sense, considering the world of duality that we live in, a constant balancing of paradoxes–light and dark, up and down, good and evil–that he would be buried with two novels, and those two,  symbolic on so many levels of a strangely familiar struggle, one rife with silent abandonment, the other a deafening affirmation, were the two that were chosen.

THREE MICHAELS

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A while back, my mouth was agape as I read an article from Paste Magazine talking about what was then the new TV time travel show “Timeless”:

 “In one of the episode’s best lines, he tells the guard that he hopes he lives a long life so he can see Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson (“or just anybody named Michael”) and other notable African American figures (none of which he mentions except for Obama) because, ‘Time is not on your side.’”

Yeah, it’s a light article talking about a sci-fi TV show. We can’t expect an in-depth thesis about anything of real substance because in the end, it’s just…entertainment, right?

The jist of it is a black male character has traveled back in time to the ’30s and a racist guard in a jail cell is spewing the usual disrespectful and derogatory rhetoric at him.

But it’s the comeback that irks me.

And it’s the perspective of the article’s author that amazes me, that this person actually considered this one of the “best lines” in the episode. I thought it was one of the most offensive lines in the episode.

I don’t have anything against Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, or Mike Tyson, but they are not a well-rounded choice for the representation of a significantly changed “black future” that the jail guard had ahead of him.

That line and perspective to me constitute in large part not only why movies and television are so lacking in interesting ethnic variety and stories but why we’re also experiencing the on-going tragic issues we have today regarding the ethnic population, often specifically the African-American population, in our country.

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Okay. Maybe the character in “Timeless” doesn’t think fast under pressure. He’s an engineer, so he’s not dumb, but maybe that’s all he could come up with on short notice and it was supposed to be light and funny and entertaining. TV. Yay! Time travel. Whoo-hoo! Entertaining.

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But what about this: what if he had said, instead, “I can’t wait until you live to see Gerald A. Lawson and Patricia Bath and George E. Alcon. And why haven’t you heard of Elijah McCoy and Henry Brown? And didn’t you learn about how Lewis Latimer improved upon the light bulb by inventing the carbon filament to the extent that it became a common household feature?”

But that would be a different TV show, wouldn’t it? And more than likely, a different world. Because none of those names rang a bell for me (except McCoy, whose name is often linked to the phrase “the real McCoy”) while Mike Tyson, Michael Jackson, and Michael Jordan…well, duh! No-brainer! The fact that a majority of us probably don’t know who any of those people are is blatantly symbolic of where things have gone wrong as far as equal-opportunity information and knowledge is concerned.

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I mean, is the average schoolchild armed with the knowledge that their Playstation, Xbox and Wii are based on a business model created by Gerald A. Lawson involving the first home video-game system that used interchangeable cartridges?

Are they aware that Patricia Bath’s cataract Laserphaco Probe, much more accurate than previous drill-like instruments, has not only helped millions improve their eyesight but even restored vision to people who have been blind for decades?

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And how much is taught about George E. Alcorn in middle school textbooks? I would have to do a survey to find that out for sure, but I can’t imagine his Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer gets equal time with the inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci. Maybe kids are being exposed more about these things today. I wasn’t, though.

Once that bridge gets crossed where education begins marketing not only African-Americans, but people of other ethnicities, with the same aggressiveness and consistency that  European and Western society in general receive–and not just by donating a month to them–then the trickle-down will happen into the greater consciousness and continue eventually into pop culture, affording us greater choice in subject matter, characters, and story.

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Although movie and TV stories like these are okay for what they are, much of it for historical interest…

The Help

The Color Purple

Precious

12 Years a Slave

The Hate You Give

Driving Miss Daisy

The Butler

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…I think there’s endless room and interest and material for Henry Brown, the man who invented the modern-day fire-proof safe, Marc Hannah, creator of 3D Graphics technology, Percy Julian, inventor of the process of synthesis (thus far only a 2007 documentary called “Forgotten Genius” documents his life) and the virtually unknown Mary Seacole, the contemporary of the endlessly-touted Florence Nightingale.

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You think Oprah’s impressive? Take a look at pre-Oprah Sarah Breedlove who founded the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company for hair care products and cosmetics and became the 20th century’s first female millionaire. I’m amazed, in fact, that Oprah hasn’t played her yet! Actually, her story will be told in an upcoming Netflix series with Octavia Spencer beating Oprah to the punch. It’s a start!

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So, yeah, come on. You really remade “Roots”? Seriously? REMADE “Roots”? And what’s “Green Book”? A reverse “Driving Miss Daisy”?

In that arena, I give Will Smith props for trying: “The Pursuit of Happyness,” and “Concussion” are unusual topics and out-of-the-box thinking.  But although he’s improved as an actor with time, I’m not sure he was the best casting choice for those roles. And while “Hidden Figures” definitely was headed in the right direction where this topic is concerned, stories about interesting ethnic/black people still aren’t considered money makers and often don’t do well. But why is a movie about a White House butler so interesting? Why is a story about maids in the South so interesting?

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I think these other life stories that don’t involve either slavery or poverty or struggling to rise above poverty wouldn’t be considered risks that *don’t make money* if the same care and interest and excitement that’s shoveled into reboots of MacArthur and Marie Antoinette and Lincoln and Mozart were similarly shoveled into the personalities that have given blind people their vision back and revolutionized the way NASA conducts research.

In the end, that character from “Timeless” was right: time isn’t on our side. But for a different reason. How long will it take before the “safe” familiar characters and safe, familiar struggles and feel-good warm and fuzzy conclusions (Oh, look how loved and respected that butler is! Gosh, everyone eventually seems to get along when they’re driving together in a car!) are regarded as hackneyed and patronizing? How long will it take, in all reality, at this point, to mitigate, dilute and diminish the three Michaels effect?

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