Voices & Soul
by Justice Putnam, Black Kos Poetry Editor
João da Cruz e Sousa was the son of freed slaves, born on the island side of what is now Florianopolis, in Southern Brazil. A pioneer of Symbolism in Afro-Brazilian literature, he was nonetheless shunned by his late 19th century peers. Fluent in French, Greek and Latin, and also a graduate of Math and Science taught by Fritz Mueller, Cruz e Sousa's intellectual contemporaries did not understand him and he held their work with contempt and disdain.
A racist mediocrity and the Parnassian Criticism that was currently en vogue, elicited the following anonymous "poetic review" of two collections he released in 1893, "Missal" and "Shields":
in distant Mozambique
has picked at true Art
with his beak
with sonorous grunts.
And all the blacks from Senegal
do a buck-and-wing
as they caterwaul
and hail him
with rockets exploding in the air."
A proud artist who was aware of the depth of his talent, Cruz e Souza refused to bow to the literary establishment, with which he could never racially, culturally, or socially identify. Both as an artist and as a man, he realized that his ‘identity’ and ‘fate’ were inseparable, and in defiance of their views toward him, he held the banner of Blackness strong and high.
like corpses lashed
lashed to my back
and interminably rotting,
all the empiricisms of prejudice,
the unknown layers
of long-dead strata,
had doomed forever
to nullify with the mocking papal
laughter of Haeckel!
All the doors and passage-ways
along the road of life are closed to me,
a poor Aryan artist-yes,
because I acquired,
by systematic study,
all the qualities of that great race.
To what end?
A sad black man,
detested by those with culture,
beaten down by society,
cast out of every bed,
spat upon in every household
like some evil leper!
To be an artist and black?
O my hatred,
my majestic malice
pure and benign
anoint my forehead
with your pure kiss
so that I may be both
proud and humble
Humble and generous
to the meek
but haughty to those lacking Desire,
lacking in Goodness and faith,
who know not the lamp of the gentle,
O my hatred,
my blessed emblem
which flaps in the wind
of my soul's infinity
while the others' banners
benign hatred be my shield!
against those villains of love,
whose infamy resounds from the
Seven Towers of Mortal Sin.
News round up by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor
Let’s go back in time, shall we? The year is 1997 and Debra Martin Chase, along with her producing partners Whitney Houston, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have decided that the hottest young star would be cast in their remake of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella. That star: a beautiful, brown skinned girl named Brandy Norwood. She and her Prince, the equally handsome and brown Filipino actor Paolo Montalban. Houston, then a global superstar, would portray the Fairy Godmother. Chase knew she was taking a bold risk, but she knew Hollywood would come around and see the genius in diverse casting.
Today, colorblind casting is almost the norm because of hit shows like Bridgerton, Broadway musicals such as Hamilton and SIX and British dramas such as Anne Boleyn and Persuasion. However, that doesn’t mean all audiences gleefully accept when a historical, literary or beloved character gets altered. Last September, Disney released the teaser trailer for the live action adaptation of Little Mermaid. Halle Bailey, who had been cast as Ariel, was resplendent in reddish-brown locs as she sang underneath the sea.
But the singer-turned-actress received an onslaught of racial backlash. Why? The unified criticism: Halle doesn’t look like the cartoon version (white with red hair and blue eyes), which for many was their introduction to the character. Haters even created a hashtag: #NotMyAriel. But many fans of the children’s classic and Bailey know how important representation matters. A louder, celebratory reaction from videos of little Black girls being mesmerized at the reveal of Bailey singing “Part of Your World” quieted the noise from the trolls.
Chase knows all too well when short-sighted naysayers don’t embrace the reality of diverse casting. “I remember people said, ‘This is never going to work. People are never going to accept a Black queen and a white king and a Filipino son,’’ remembers the producer, who would go on to see her gamble become one of the highest-rated TV movies ever. “I don’t want to say her name. She’s someone prominent in another industry and she was just like, ‘Honey, this is not going to work. People are just not going to accept this.’ And we just saw it. We believed in it.”
During her acceptance speech at Billboard’s Women in Music event, rapper Latto shouted out the most important women in her life who helped push the platinum selling artist to where she is today, including her attorney, Bernie Lawrence-Watkins: “My lawyer is a Black woman — Bernie. Hey Bernie!”
“It’s not too often you hear clients shouting out their lawyers. So for that to happen in a public forum, shows that she is appreciative of the services that our firm provides,” Lawrence-Watkins says. “It was a very touching moment for me.” (Jon Platt, chairman and CEO of Sony Music Publishing, even gave her a congratulatory call after the shoutout.)
Lawrence-Watkins began working with the “Big Energy” singer when she was a 17-year-old aspiring Atlanta rapper, fresh off of Lifetime’s reality TV competition, The Rap Game, which she won. After receiving a call from her father, the three met and have been working together ever since — with Lawrence-Watkins securing rights for all of Latto’s projects, brand rights, trademark, performances, tour deals and endorsement deals, including Sprite, WingStop, Burger King and Spotify. “I always make sure the deal is not done until she’s satisfied,” says Lawrence-Watkins.
With over 24 years of experience under her belt, Lawrence-Watkins’ roster of clients also includes 21 Savage, Baby Tate and Young Nudy, all of whom she negotiated record deals for. She picked up 21 Savage in 2015, during the making of his wildly successful EP, Savage Mode, released the following year. After the project’s release, Lawrence-Watkins describes the ensuing label response as a “bidding war,” with Epic Records coming out on top. Lawrence-Watkins negotiated quite the deal for 21, including ownership of all his masters, which she owes to the rapper’s leverage.
From coast to coast, Ozempic has become a hot topic; and an even hotter commodity.
The drug, an injectable launched in 2017 to treat type-2 diabetes, has rapidly become highly sought after throughout the country for its weight-loss side effects, impacting its availability. Alleged hoarding of the drug by Hollywood elites has become such a prevalent issue that actor Anthony Anderson, who lives with type-2 diabetes, recently condemned the use of Ozempic or any of its distant cousins — including Wegovy (FDA-approved to treat obesity), Mounjaro, Rybelsus, and Saxenda — for vanity weight loss purposes. Ahead of the Super Bowl, Anderson told People magazine, “hopefully, this trend will stop.”
“It’s creating a shortage for those of us who need the medicine that we need — and not for weight loss issues, but for our health,” he added.
He’s not entirely wrong; the “#ozempic” tag has well over 600 million views on TikTok to date. Per Time magazine, health software company Komodo Health reported over five million prescriptions written for Ozempic or similar drugs in 2022. Other coverage alleges celebrities and equally privileged elites are procuring off-label prescriptions or going through back channels to obtain the medicine, effectively making its unavailability something of a status symbol.
However, while there’s been a laser focus on those using these drugs for vanity purposes, the realities facing many Black Americans who also need Ozempic have gotten lost in the conversation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 75% of Black Americans have obesity, and four out of five Black women are at risk of developing the disease. Additionally, as previously reported by theGrio, roughly 37 million Americans have diabetes, including 12.7% of Black people. In all, 96 million Americans are at risk of developing diabetes.
In 2012, when Moses Aloo inherited a plot from his grandfather, his neighbourhood in Kisumu, western Kenya, had plenty of farmland. But over the past decade, as Kisumu has grown, Nyamasaria has become part of the city. Mr Aloo is building two houses on his land. He will rent them out, “hopefully to God-fearing people”, for 8,000 Kenyan shillings ($62) each per month, more than twice the going rate five years ago. “Now it is urban,” he says, “this is a prime area.”
The city’s growth has disrupted traditional ways. Jamlick Onchari, who rents a one-room house behind his small dairy in Nyamasaria, says that Kenyans who have moved from other parts of the country feel increasingly at home in the historic stronghold of the Luo ethnic group. “This mix-up thing,” he says, “with people from different tribes…it speeds up development because when people live together they bring ideas together.”
Mr Onchari puts his milky finger on why urbanisation matters. By bringing people and firms into close contact, cities make both more productive. Yet, even though urbanisation is enriching Africans, they are not benefiting as much as they could. The growth of African cities is idiosyncratic and inefficient. This is true not just of megacities such as Lagos and Kinshasa, but of towns and smaller cities, like Kisumu, that draw less attention but where most African urbanites live.
When the wave of independence began sweeping the continent in the 1950s, the vast majority of Africans lived in the countryside (see map). Today there are more city dwellers in Kenya than there were in all of Africa in 1950. As recently as 1990 just 31% of Africans lived in urban areas, according to Africapolis, a research project supported by the oecd, a group of mainly rich countries. (Its analysts define “urban” as areas with at least 10,000 people.) By 2015, the latest year for which Africapolis presents continent-wide data, half of Africans were city-dwellers. That share is forecast to rise to more than 70% by 2050.
Tyson is currently serving a suspension stemming from an incident in which she says her players were manipulated by an umpire and she was thrown out of a game for standing up for them.
The incident happened on March 4, 2023 as Howard University softball was visiting the University of California-Irvine. Tyson said it started with an umpire not giving her players adqeuate time to warm up. Tyson said what really set her off was the umpire telling her freshman catcher that she moved too slow. According to her, the player was unaware how inappropriate it was because it was her first collegiate start.
"This is triggering," Tyson wrote.
But Tyson says the umpire was very aware of what he was doing. "He positioned himself to block me & said this silently to her b/c he knew this was wrong! This isn’t integrity this is manipulation!," Tyson tweeted. "This started from inning 1 he was controlling her & the game he NEVER mentioned 90 seconds. She though this was normal."
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