Category: Your Voice Written by Britney Spear
Yes, folks, the ‘D’ is silent. But that’s about the only thing one cannot hear amid the media buzz that surrounds Quentin Tarantino’s latest homage to arguably the darkest part of American history.
Everyone has something to say about the new film ‘Django Unchained’. Viewer opinion on the movie’s content is about as numerous and varied as are mouths making the claims. Whether surfing the message boards on your favorite gossip sites, browsing social media, or even watching the national news, spectators can agree on one thing: this movie has people talking. Yet, the conversation that surrounds this film might be the first of its kind. It is a fascinating tale that causes many of us to walk out of the theater not knowing ‘what’ to think.
Talk Show host Tavis Smiley has called ‘Django’ a spoof of American slavery. Others, most notably the movie’s cast and Director, argue that it is rather an ugly truth, and a glimpse at a reality otherwise eradicated from history books.
Are we so quick to dismiss the film’s main character as a mere figment of Tarantino’s wild imagination? Is Jamie Foxx’s on screen persona nothing more than a fabricated black superhero? Perhaps we must examine the untold stories of history to answer these questions. Certain American figures do exist to show us that characters like ‘Django’ might have been real at the time of slavery.
Calvin Candie [Leonardo DiCaprio] called Django ‘one of ten thousand’. That might be the case; but examples of slave rebellion are more frequent than recognized. Think of figures like Nat Turner and even their white counterparts like John Brown. If you do not know these names, look them up. While rarely known to many other than history buffs, their bravery and willingness to challenge a devastating status quo during the pre-Civil war era speaks to the possibility of a lesser known truth. Perhaps one that ‘Django’ seeks to uncover. No movie has even gone to such great lengths to showcase such a feat of radicalism. Yet, is it to be applauded or shunned?
Hardly anyone can agree on what the movie seeks to accomplish. Whether for pure entertainment and shock value, or to tell an untold story, one cannot deny that tongues won’t stop wagging about the film.
Fact or fiction? You decide. One thing is for sure: this historical tale is making ‘history’ at box offices across the country as it reawakens a discussion about a time that some of us would rather not remember while others can never forget.
Follow Britney Spear on Twitter @missbritneysp
Last Updated on Friday, 11 January 2013 09:24
Category: Your Voice Written by Zack Burgess, Chronicle Senior Writer
Detroit is in a state of shock as we deal with the latest barrage of gun violence plaguing our city. There is no doubt that we have a problem that has eaten away at the very fabric of this city for the better part of my teenage and adult life.
Twenty five years ago, after a very good friend was murdered at my high school, it really started to hit me, the hideous wickedness that gun violence brings to families and neighborhoods. His family, my high school, Murray Wright, and the neighborhood in which I grew up in, Research Park, never quite recovered.
The enrollment at Murray dropped precipitously and eventually closed. And the guys from the neighborhood, who were there that dreadful day, talk about it as if it were yesterday. And Research? Let’s just say it does not resemble anything close to where I grew up. They have even changed the name.
How often have I asked myself, who are the people who bring guns into our neighborhoods? Who are these gun dealers? I can't help but think about the many people who are dead, imprisoned, or in wheelchairs.
We have to do more. What that is…is the million dollar question. No one person, or legislature, or organization can solve this problem. An entire community must work together to take control of gun control.
It’s ridiculous that our great city is known more for bloodshed than for its history and culture, its renowned universities and world-class institutions.
Furthermore, I believe that the state and city legislature is misguided. We are not going to arrest ourselves out of this situation. Everyone is misguided when it comes to guns in this country.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson in an email to the Chronicle gave some insight into what President Barack Obama’s broad agenda on gun control might be:
“The reforms under consideration include the basic: reinstating the ban on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. They include good governance: bolstering state reporting on felons, drug abuses, the mentally ill for the FBI database, strengthening mental health screening. They include what many of us would consider common sense: higher penalties for carrying a gun near our schools. And they include applying regulations already in place universally: requiring a background on every gun sale to check to screen out felons, the mentally unstable and terrorists.
In… most urban areas, this is a question of national security and basic public safety. Assault weapons outgun our police. Handguns shoot up innocent victims in drug wars. Terrorists and the drug cartels too easily find access to guns. And those who have a gun in the house for protection are more likely to shoot a relative than a robber.”
So sad. But so true.
I’m calling on the Department of Human Services, Family Court, the Detroit School District, and various community leaders to address youth gun violence. You notice I didn’t say the mayor’s office, city council or the police department. I think they are doing all that they can, given the circumstances.
This epidemic speaks to more than just our city, but to a lost generation. How can children be our future, if they can't live to see it?
We could go with more legislation and restrictions. That approach would be politically convenient and psychologically satisfying - especially after the violent year we just had. But is that really the answer?
I don’t think so. And neither should you.
Zack Burgess is the Senior Writer for the Chronicle. He can be contacted at
and followed on Twitter @zackburgess1.
Last Updated on Thursday, 10 January 2013 08:55
Category: Your Voice Written by The Grio
Talk show host Tavis Smiley has joined Spike Lee in condemning Quentin Tarantino’s hit film Django Unchained, and like the infamous auteur, he hasn’t even seen it.
“I refuse to see it. I’m not going to pay to see it. But I’ve read the screenplay, and I have 25 family members and friends who have seen it, and have had thousands of conversations about this movie, so I can tell you frame by frame what happens,” said Smiley in an interview with the Daily Beast.
In the same interview, Smiley calls out Tarantino for what he considers his “arrogance” and slams the filmmaker’s criticism of the legendary TV miniseries Roots.
In a previous interview with the Daily Beast, Tarantino said, “When you look at Roots, nothing about it rings true in the storytelling, and none of the performances ring true for me either.”
“It didn’t move me because it claimed to be something it wasn’t,”the director added.
Smiley also lamented the lack of commitment on Hollywood’s part to bringing a more historically accurate film about slavery to the big screen.
“I’m troubled that Hollywood won’t get serious about making an authentic film about the holocaust of slavery but they will greenlight a spoof about slavery, and it’s as if this spoof about slavery somehow makes slavery a bit easier to swallow.”
While Smiley stopped short of calling Tarantino racist he did call on African-Americans to “make some choices and some decisions about whether we continue to aid and abet Hollywood in the raping of our history.”
Smiley’s remarks come on the heels of comedian Katt Williams’ threat to beat up Tarantino over the ubiquitous use of the n-word in the slavery themed film.
Still, Tarantino has several prominent black defenders in the industry as well.
“I don’t think Quentin Tarantino has a racist bone in his body,” Training Day director Antoine Fuqua told the Hollywood Reporter.
“Besides, I’m good friends with Jamie Foxx and he wouldn’t have anything to do with a film that had anything racist to it,” he added.
“Django Unchained has opened up the door so that we can be able to have more slave stories, and many different kinds of depictions,” said Soul Food filmmaker George Tillman Jr. told theGrio.
To date, the critically acclaimed film has grossed over $100 million at the box office and has been drawing black audiences to theaters in droves.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 09:41
Category: Your Voice Written by Mark S. Lee
Welcome to 2013!
2012 was interesting year. One filled with ups and downs. Excitement and disappointment.
For Detroit, it was a roller coaster ride. With the Tigers going to the World Series and the continued excitement surrounding the rejuvenation of downtown and Midtown, the city had many thrills.
And on the flip side, with the budgetary crisis, continued increases in crime and other negative news offered up on a daily basis, the region experienced many lows.
Well, as we enter a New Year, hope continue to be boundless. We have an opportunity to shape this year in a way that takes this city to another level.
Like a newborn baby, the year presents many hopes and aspirations. The challenge is to craft a story that continues to shape Detroit's future. One filled with heightened hopes, aspirations and dreams.
If we don't aspire and dream as a region, then who will? We are the underdog and sleeping giant and, as the year unfolds, let's awaken--one that can show the rest of the country this great city is a leader--in the areas of entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation.
A city, that once put the world on wheels, now focused on collaboration and becoming the epicenter of small business, job development and creation.
As another year awaits us, one thing's for sure, expect the unexpected this year.
If we had a crystal ball, it would make things easier to predict and we could all certainly plan accordingly.
Unfortunately, we don't.
With this in mind, here are headlines I would like to see in Detroit and beyond this year:
-Fiscal cliff averted
-Detroit's budget is balanced
-Population slide stabilized and reversed
-Mayor and City Council Agree on a fiscal recovery plan
-Lions Bounce Back to win the NFC North and make the playoffs
-Plans announced for the old Packard Plant
-Big Three records record profits
-Hiring up 10% versus 2012
-Crime drops significantly
-Tigers win the World Series
-Ground's broken on the proposed Ilitch Entertainment complex
-NHL strikes ends
-Red Wings win the Stanley Cup
-Gilbert buys 5 more buildings
-10,000 more employees relocated downtown
-Kilpatrick trial ends with a verdict
-Record number of small businesses started in Detroit
-President Obama recognizes Detroit as an entrepreneur incubator leader
-Pistons bounce back with a strong second half
-Lower Woodward filled with new small businesses
-5 new restaurants open downtown
While these headlines might be a partial reality and partial dreams. The beauty of a new year is anything's possible and if we have big dreams like Dan Gilbert, we can make good things happen.
Detroit's issues have been well documented. Let's not continue to focus on the the past. However, we have an opportunity to come together (city and suburbs) and work together to focus on how to improve this region.
Think about it, this region, with its lakes and rivers, has natural beauty, a storied history, cultural gems, historical sports teams, and hard-working people who've help to build America's middle class.
In other words, this metropolitan area of over 5 million people has resources other cities don't have. Let's take advantage of it and make this truly a great American metropolis--again.
And, let's start in 2013 and build on it in future years and generations.
My hope for Detroit in 2013 is truly peace, growth and prosperity.
Are you with me?
Happy New Year!
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 10:55
Category: Your Voice Written by Tonyaa Weathersbee
We’ve seen this all before, and it’s hard to believe that, more than 50 years later, we’re seeing it again.
We saw it in Virginia in 1958 when segregationist lawmakers opted to shut down the entire public school system of Prince Edward County, Va., rather than allow black students to attend school with white students.
Those schools remained closed until 1964.
We saw it again in 2011, when anti-tax Tea Party congressmen, driven by an obsession with undermining the nation’s first black president and a woeful ignorance of macroeconomics, drove the country to the brink of default by refusing to allow him to raise the debt ceiling.
No matter that their hero, Ronald Reagan, raised the ceiling 18 times and George W. Bush raised it seven times.
While an agreement was finally reached, the political dysfunction on display led Standard and Poor’s — one of the top three credit rating organizations — to downgrade the United States’ credit rating from AAA to AA+.
For the first time ever.
Now, those same anti-tax zealots are about to take the country over the edge again – the edge this time being the fiscal cliff.
And apparently, they don’t care about that – as long as President Obama goes over the edge with it.
Some patriots they are.
According to the Associated Press, a number of Tea Party activists are cheering House Speaker John Boehner’s failure to persuade his fellow House members to agree to a compromise on averting the fiscal cliff – a series of automatic tax increases and spending cuts that will take effect on Jan. 1.
Among other things, the cliff will lead to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, as well as the Earned Income Tax Credit and increases in payroll and income taxes. Defense spending would be cut as well –and many economists have warned that going over the cliff could lead to another recession, and possibly another credit downgrade.
But apparently the Tea Party folks, who won’t agree to any compromise that raises taxes on the rich in spite of the fact that without an agreement, virtually everyone will be hit with steep cuts and tax increases, don’t see that.
They don’t see the American people suffering as much as they see them as collateral damage in their war to take out Obama.
Said South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly: “If it takes us going off a cliff to convince people of the mess we’re in, then so be it.
“We have a president who is a whiner. He has done nothing but blame President Bush. It’s time to make President Obama own this economy.”
Christine Morabito, president of the Greater Boston Tea Party, told AP that “sometimes, things have to get worse before they get better,” and that Republicans need to unite against Obama.
“It looked like from the very beginning they [the GOP] were just going to cave in to what President Obama wanted,” said Morabito. “I didn’t want that to happen. Now I’m hopeful that they’re standing up for taxpaying Americans.”
Both Connelly and Morabito are clueless.
The way to stand up for taxpaying Americans, in fact, all Americans, is to insure that they don’t have to endure more taxes because of political intransigence.
Yet the comments by these tea partiers and others reveal what their real mission is. Their mission is to punish the entire country for re-electing Obama; to make people pay for the sin of rejecting their politics of racial resentment and putting the black man back in the White House.
There are lessons here, of course.
One is an old one for the Republicans who welcomed the Tea Party-backed lawmakers into the fold but are now worried that their extremism may lead to the party’s further weakening: Be careful of what you ask for, because you just might get it.
The other is for voters who sat out the 2010 midterm elections that ushered in this wave of Tea Party Republicans who may now send the country crashing over the fiscal cliff: When you don’t vote, extremists get elected.
Extremists who, like the racist Virginia lawmakers more than 50 years ago, want to preserve their sense of privilege and supremacy at the expense of progress for everyone else.
Whether that progress is for a school system or, for that matter, an entire country.
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 January 2013 09:37
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