blackink: In the lull between March Madness this weekend, try to fit in a viewing – or a re-viewing, if you will – of Spike Lee’s hoops-themed drama He Got Game. It would have been easy to write off the film, originally released in 1998, as a farfetched mishmash of traditional themes: a boy grasping for manhood in the absence of his father; the neighborhood prodigy trying to leave the hood behind; the motherless children; the corrupted criminal justice system; Denzel Washington’s character awkwardly attempting to get laid in a movie; etc.
At the time, it seemed as if Lee went to ridiculous — almost delusional — lengths to create Jesus Shuttlesworth. The film seemed more satire than docudrama.
Of course, LeBron James came along a few years later. If anything, his emergence has redeemed the movie: LeBron is our living, breathing Jesus Shuttlesworth.
And because I have no shame, I’m eagerly awaiting this week’s episode of “For the Love of Ray J.” Apparently, Brandy will drop by to administer a lie detector test to the remaining contestants. Don’t judge me. Where I come from, this is considered riveting tee-vee.
quadmoniker: We’ve had a lot of posts recently about food and healthy eating, especially since the Obama’s decided to plant a garden to emphasize local, organic vegetables. All that’s great, though I suspect I’m not the only one who’s a little done with the food talk after years of reading Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan. Their work is necessary and important, and mostly imparts the simplest message; the closer food is to as it is found in nature, the better it is for you. Mark Bittman was a little late to the party, but, in a recent column in the New York Times, he supplies some really delicious recipes for savory breakfasts. I haven’t gotten up early to make them, but I can tell you they definitely work for lunch and dinner, too. They’re also not difficult to cook. I really suggest the wheat berries with sesame, soy sauce and scallions.
shani-o: This week, I found myself sitting in the car (and making myself late for work) while listening to an episode of Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane. The episode was a conversation with Michigan State’s James T. Minor — a graduate of Mississippi’s Jackson State University — and Marybeth Gasman, a white professor at UPenn who’s written and contributed to several books about black colleges.
While the conversation did tread some old ground, it went further and deeper than most. It began with a mention of the financial difficulties faced by HBCUs, but as Gasman correctly pointed out, all schools are facing money issues right now. And while she acknowledged that blacks have historically had less access to wealth, she also faulted HBCUs for understimating the rate at which their alumni would give (black alumni apparently give at a higher rate than white alumni). The callers weren’t particularly insightful, but they did highlight how emotions about HBCUs often dominate the conversation about their efficacy. One caller believed HBCUs provided deeper bonds than majority institutions (not true), while another thought that growing up around black people meant she didn’t need the ‘nurturing environment’ HBCUs provide (a serious generalization).
Most fascinating was when Minor and Gasman discussed policy about how black schools are funded, as well as the incredible disparities in the numbers of black students being educated at HBCUs, and in what concentrations. For example: tiny Spelman College and Bennett College produce fully half of the black women who go into the graduate sciences. As Gasman said: “It tells you a couple things: one, we’re not producing very many black women going into the sciences, but it also shows you there’s something going on at those institutions that should probably be replicated at other institutions.”