Television

Janet Mock's Brilliant Cultural Insurgency

As perhaps the most visible trans woman in the public eye, being herself—and having fun doing it—is the feminist TV journalist's wildly effective form of activism.

(Photo: janetmock.com)
MSNBC Janet Mock hosts So POPular! on MSNBC's Shift platform. “ We got new music, I like it,” Janet Mock says, in a break between segments of her video show on a Friday morning in March. “Well done, Nick!” she exclaims to her producer, who’s in another room, communicating with her through her earpiece. Mock sings the tune and snakes her neck, snapping her fingers and rolling her torso in the chair from which she commands her set, which looks like a fancy but somewhat sterile living room. The music is new, but not much newer than the show, So Popular! , which premiered on MSNBC’s digital platform, Shift, in December. Mock’s panel of guest commentators has just left the set, after a discussion that covered Madonna’s stance on women’s rights, Kelly Osborne’s and Kathy Griffin’s departures from E!’s Fashion Police , and President Barack Obama’s remarks at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery. Today, the “feminist clique,” as Mock dubbed...

5 Ways to Bring Fairness Into College Basketball

Icon Sportswire via AP Images
Icon Sportswire via AP Images Wisconsin Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky (44) puts up a shot during the Div I Men's Championship - Third Round - Wisconsin Badgers v Oregon Ducks at the Centurylink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Wisconsin defeated Oregon 72-65 (Icon Sportswire via AP Images) This article originally appeared at Yes! magazine . D id you fill out your office bracket for this year’s NCAA basketball tournament? I did. Although, for a couple reasons, I don’t feel great about it. For one, I don’t know who’s going to win just about any game, so my chances of winning the pool are basically zero. And two, the event has lost most of its luster as the economic inequities of college sports have become exposed. March Madness is now a bigger cash cow than the Super Bowl, but it’s also college league, which means the only people not getting a piece of the billion-dollar pie are the players. There’s a word for that: exploitation. The entire economic foundation of college sports is built on...

The Many Ways the University of Oklahoma Fraternity Scandal Reveals America's Racism Denial

Bill Kristol blames rap music. And the fraternity's lawyer says the racist chanters were "tarred and feathered." (Yes, he did.)

(Photo: MSNBC Morning Joe screenshot)
W hat does a white person have to say or do to be considered racist? If you think a little ditty about lynching makes the cut—you’re wrong. On March 8, video surfaced online of the Greek organization Sigma Alpha Epsilon at University of Oklahoma singing a rousing rendition of a song about lynching. Yes, in 2015—not 1815. “You can hang him from a tree, but he will never sign with me! There will never be a n****r in SAE,” sang the fraternity brothers while they rode a charter bus either to or from an event, wearing tuxedos. Captured on video, Parker Rice and Levi Pettit —the students leading the chant—sang as if they were at a pep rally and their school was headed to a big championship game. They were joined by an ad hoc group of background singers that formed among the party-goers. When news of the video broke, students protested and University of Oklahoma president David Boren responded swiftly and rapidly, as did the national president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. The chapter was shut...

America's Only Black Piano-Maker Soldiers on Through Slights and Triumphs

When musician Warren Shadd decided to manufacture a line of high-tech pianos based on his own designs but with little capital, everyone thought he was crazy.

(Photo: Amanda Teuscher)
(Photo: Amanda Teuscher) Warren Shadd, the world's only African-American piano manufacturer, shows off the harp he designed for his line of grand pianos. “ No one gave me a million dollars,” Warren Shadd says from behind the nine-foot-three-inch concert grand piano he designed. “How do you do this with no money?” A million dollars is certainly helpful when starting any business. But if you want to be the first African American to manufacture products as capital- and labor-intensive as a line of pianos and don’t have that kind of money, it helps to have the mind of both an engineer and an artist, creative talent, an indelible work ethic, and a musical pedigree inherited from a family that was an integral part of Washington, D.C.’s mid-century jazz culture. Not to mention connections in the music business and a great ability to generate buzz. American popular music owes a lot—in some respects, nearly everything—to African Americans. So it may be surprising to learn that there are no...

Beyoncé Misses the Point of What Gospel Music Means to Black Americans

The selection of Queen Bey to deliver a song identified with Mahalia Jackson ignored the importance of spiritual conveyance in the music that moved a people to action. 

(Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
(Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP) Beyoncé performs "Take My Hand Precious Lord" at the 2015 Grammy Awards ceremony. This essay is published by The American Prospect in partnership with The OpEd Project's University of Texas at Austin Public Voices Fellowship. A ny recognition of black history and culture in this month or the next must acknowledge the central role spirituality and religiosity have played in the lives of African Americans. In the face of the killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and countless other black men and women who have needlessly lost their lives, if we ever needed faith before, we sure do need it now. So it was with great interest I watched the Grammys and reveled in the power and resonance of John Legend and Common performing “Glory” the song they wrote for the movie Selma . Then my heart sank instantly when a rendition of the gospel song “Take My Hand Precious Lord” was performed by Beyoncé. Historically, spirituals and gospel music played...

How to Be a Walking 'Confirmation Bias' (Role Model: Mia Love)

It's easy to write off Mia Love and Allen West but these very visible blacks hurt the quest for equality.

ABC News/This Week With George Stephanopoulos
ABC News/This Week With George Stephanpoulos Representative Mia Love, Republican of Utah, appeared on the January 4 edition of the ABC News program This Week With George Stephanpoulos to defend House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana in the wake of revelations that he once addressed a white supremacist group. H ave you ever been in a debate with your right-wing uncle and when you ask him for proof of his wild claims, he pulls up a Fox News article? Instinctively, you roll your eyes. Of course he sought out Fox News as a source—it’s a haven for people like him. Everything he already thinks about minorities, LGBTQ people, Muslims and single moms is there. Automatically turning to Fox News to search for information that he knows will affirm what he already believes is called a confirmation bias. On December 29, news broke that Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the new House majority whip, had addressed a white supremacist group in 2002. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David...

We Let Bill Cosby Into Our Homes, So He Owes Us an Explanation

America's once-favorite TV dad needs to take his own advice.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Entertainer and former classmate Bill Cosby speaks during a public memorial service for Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz Wednesday, June 4, 2014, at Temple University in Philadelphia. W hile the natural inclination is to separate Bill Cosby’s television character from his real life persona, the show we remember so fondly was not called The Huxtable Show . It was The Cosby Show . We did not really welcome Heathcliff into our homes. We welcomed Bill. It is Cosby, the accused serial rapist of 15 women from whom we await an explanation. He has the time: His planned NBC project was just pulled in the face of these resurfaced allegations. He won’t be cashing any residual checks from shows streamed on Netflix because like any contagion, everything Cosby is associated with is now contaminated. This reckoning particularly stings because of Cosby’s decades-long campaign of respectability politics within the black community. For years he has offered a socially...

Black Wealth On TV: Realities Don’t Match Perceptions

African Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, but have less than 3 percent of total wealth.

Bill Cosby, Carsey-Werner Company, National Broadcasting Company (NBC)
Carsey Warner/NBC R aised by a single mother in South Central Los Angeles in the 1990s, I didn’t realize just how poor my family was until I filled out my FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) when applying for colleges. That is when I learned that my total family income was below the poverty line. Instead of being embarrassed by the discovery, I was blown away by how my mom managed to do so much with so few resources. My family wasn’t rich, but I didn’t feel poor. Perhaps it was because I grew up watching reruns of Good Times , where the parents worked multiple jobs to ensure shelter in a high rise project. In other sitcoms such as Martin , The Jamie Foxx Show , and Steve Harvey , non-traditional family units shared one similarity: The main characters all had jobs. Sure, The Cosby Show (celebrating its 25th anniversary this season) was also a big hit and it showcased an upper-middle-class family. The Huxtabels depicted wealthy African Americans, and demonstrated the...

What's Missing in the American Media: Working People

So far this year not a single representative of a labor union has appeared on any of the four Sunday network talk shows, according to a new report. And entertainment TV has abandoned the working class.

Wind Dancer Productions in association with Carsey-Werner Company
Wind Dancer Productions in association with Carsey-Werner Company A still from a 1988 episode of Roseanne, which ran on CBS from 1988 to 1997. This article originally appeared on BillMoyers.com , the website of the Moyers & Company television program. W orking Americans are woefully underrepresented in our mainstream media. According to an analysis by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), the media watchdog group, so far this year “not a single representative of a labor union” has appeared on any of the four Sunday network talk shows (NBC’s Meet the Press , ABC’s This Week , Fox News Sunday and CBS’s Face the Nation ). And it’s not that they were too preoccupied with Beltway politics to examine issues that affect working families. According to FAIR, during the year these “shows touched on issues like poverty, jobs and workers’ rights. There were even discussions of efforts to organize college athletes… But representatives of organized labor were not part of these...

The Stupidity of Hating Your Senator for Living Where You've Sent Her to Work

(MSNBC/Morning Joe)
(MSNBC/Morning Joe) T his year, not one, but two, incumbent senators up for re-election have been dogged by the "issue" of the precise location where they rest their heads at the end of a weary day of lawmaking. First it was Republican Pat Roberts, who, we learned in February , lists the home of some friends as his official residence in Kansas; apparently he crashes there when he's in the state. And now it's Democrat Mary Landrieu, whose heretofore unimpeachable Louisiana roots (her father Moon was the mayor of New Orleans in the 1970s, and her brother Mitch holds that office today) are now being questioned. It seems that although Landrieu owns a home in Washington, she's registered to vote in the New Orleans house she grew up in, where her parents still reside (even though it's technically owned by Mary and her eight siblings, all of whose names begin with "M"—make of that what you will). The opposition researchers have certainly been earning their keep. But should the rest of us...

Why the Legacy of Katrina on New Orleans Is Different From Disasters That Befell Other Cities

Nine years after the storm, why is it that divine retribution remains in the discussion when considering Katrina?

(AP Photo/Dave Martin)
Rescue personnel search from victims as they traverse the New Orleans 8th Ward in the flooded city of New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Water continued to rise after the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina, which pounded the coast on August 29. H ow to remember Hurricane Katrina? I consider this each year as the anniversary approaches. I assume it’s something that most people do when the anniversary of a traumatic event draws near. New Orleans is not my hometown; I grew up two hours northwest from it in Louisiana’s fourth largest city, Lafayette . The day before Katrina reached land, my sister, who was in law school at Loyola University, called me (I was living in New York at the time) and said she was driving home. Everything from news to gossip portended the same: that Katrina was a beast and everyone should get out, or, at the very least, find adequate shelter. She fit as much from her apartment into her car as was humanly possible, boarded up her windows as best she could and...

How Chuck Todd Can Save Meet the Press

He's ready for his close-up. (Flickr/PBS NewsHour)
It's now official: Chuck Todd will be replacing David Gregory as host of the august NBC Sunday morning program Meet the Press , after a long period of declining ratings. If you're familiar with my previous criticism of the Sunday shows (see here or here ), you might imagine that I'd encourage Todd to bring more substance and an eclectic mix of guests to the program, freeing it from the endless and deathly recitations of competing talking points that characterize the genre. But no. In fact, I'd suggest that the path to success is to take everything that makes the shows so terrible, and do more of that. Meet the Press had its heyday under the late Tim Russert, who was revered as "Washington's toughest journalist." After his death in 2008 at a relatively young age, Russert was given the equivalent of a state funeral, as though he were a president and not a TV host. While his death was certainly tragic, I sometimes felt like the only person who, while he was still alive, thought Russert...

Watch Paul Waldman on Washington Journal

C-SPAN
The American Prospect 's contributing editor appeared on the June 29, 2014 edition of C-SPAN's Washington Journal .

Dear Thom Tillis: How Long Does It Take For a Black Person to Become a Traditional North Carolinian?

An open letter to the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, who is currently running for U.S. Senate, is prompted by his comments about the Republican Party's demographics.

AP Photo/Chuck Burton
AP Photo/Chuck Burton In this May 6, 2014, photo Thom Tillis speaks to supporters at a election night rally in Charlotte, N.C., after winning the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate Tuesday, May 6, 2014. D ear Thom: I hope I can call you Thom; you may certainly call me Cynthia. Given the circumstances—given how far the policies you've supported since becoming Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives have reached into my home and even my vagina —I feel we are on intimate terms that make surnames superfluous. In your 2012 comments to Carolina Business Review , unearthed by TPM last week, you talked about how Republicans need to reach out to communities of color, the type of GOP hand-wringing we've heard since Mitt Romney went down in flames. I believe your specific comment was this: The traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is more or less stable. It’s not growing. The African American population is roughly growing but the Hispanic population...

Epic! Cheney Made to Answer to Paul Waldman's Assessment of Iraq Record

Fox News
Fox News host Megyn Kelly yesterday put former Vice President Dick Cheney on the spot, reading to him the words of Prospect Contributing Editor Paul Waldman, and demanding a response. In his other gig at the Washington Post , Waldman wrote a searing assessment of Cheney's recent attack on President Barack Obama's Iraq policy, offered in a Wall Street Journal op-ed he co-authored with his daughter, Liz, who served in the Bush administration's State Department. In her interview of Dick and Liz Cheney, Kelly read this bit from Waldman's WaPo post : There is not a single person in America...who has been more wrong and more shamelessly dishonest on the topic of Iraq than Dick Cheney. And now, as the cascade of misery and death and chaos he did so much to unleash rages anew, Cheney has the unadulterated gall to come before the country and tell us that it’s all someone else’s fault... Then she asked, "The suggestion is that you caused this mess, Mr. Vice President. What say you?" As related...

Pages