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Viola Davis Breaks Down The Root Of The #OscarsSoWhite Discussion

Viola Davis joins the discussion on the lack of diversity, but says it goes deeper than the Academy. 

In the midst of the massive coverage surrounding the hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite and the discussion about the lack of diversity in Hollywood award's shows, Viola Davis is the next actress of color to come forward on the matter. Davis, who has been nominated twice at the awards show, joins the discussion, breaking down the problems with the Academy and this conversation. And while she may agree with Jada Pinkett Smith's sentiment, she says the problem is not with the Academy but a greater issue.

Davis told Entertainment Weekly that the issue goes beyond the Academy. "The problem is not with the Oscars, the problem is with the Hollywood movie-making system."

She also highlights Hollywood's lack of distribution of Black films. “How many Black films are being produced every year? How are they being distributed? The films that are being made, are the big-time producers thinking outside of the box in terms of how to cast the role?” she continues, "can you cast a Black woman in that role? Can you cast a Black man in that role?”

In the past couple of years, there have been few black-casted or produced films to hit theaters. And among those to make it to theaters a handful have been split into two categories, being movies like Tyler Perry films or the Wayans brother's parody flicks, which showcase black casts in a comedic spotlight, and films such as Selma, or The Help, all of which focus on the struggle of the black man or woman. The parodies often fail to be recognized and the dramas, although often recognized, typecast black actors in this singular role.

Davis went on to speak more about the issue. “The problem isn’t even our pay. You could probably line up all the A-list Black actresses out there [and] they probably don’t make what one A-list white woman makes in one film," she said. "That’s the problem. You can change the Academy, but if there are no Black films being produced, what is there to vote for?"

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In 'The Chi' Season Finale, Everyone Puts Together A Life With Broken Pieces

“I ain’t no perfect man. I’m trying to do the best that I can with what it is I have.”

Before the title screen appears or a single character on The Chi utters a word, Mos Def’s airy vocals from “Umi Says” permeate the on-screen montage of characters settling into the lives they’ve constructed. Brandon happily serves customers out of his food truck. Emmett tries getting in contact with Tiff, the mother of his third (and possible fourth) child, while at his job. Ronnie puts up positive affirmations on his fridge. Then, their lives smash into the fragments of moments and lessons that they’ve been this whole time.

Ronnie finally confronts his estranged father, who he lived across the street from his entire life, in an emotionally unnerving scene. In his heart-wrenching monologue, Ronnie tearfully explains to the man who created him that his son is nothing more than a lost child who grew into a broken adult by scavenging for pieces of a man to make himself whole. He says he “needed some things from you that I’ve been searching all over the place for.”

In that one scene, Ronnie’s alcoholism, and subsequent criminal history, can be tied to his never-ending search to fill the holes left by an absentee father. Ronnie is roughly 40 years old and a 1993 study conducted by professors June O’Neil and M. Anne Hill concluded kids who grow up in a household without a father had the highest incarceration rates than other groups of children. The feeling of abandonment by a parental figure is often cited in studies as a reason children grow up to disrespect authority figures and indulge in illicit substances.

In a flashback sequence from earlier in the season, Ronnie opines about feeling out of place returning to Chicago from the military because had no sense of direction or what to do everyday. His time in the military had detrimental effects on his mental state and nearly drove him to suicide but, also gave him the sense of family and purpose that Ronnie yearned for from his father. In essence, his father being absent from his life drove Ronnie to seek the structure of a military environment that became so integral to his well-being and perception of life that being removed from caused irreparable damage.

You never really know which people are shards of a broken life until you see the cracks. For the better part of two seasons, Brandon was an upstanding member of society who unwaveringly stuck to his morals. Yet, after revealing he had knowledge of Perry’s involvement with 63rd Street Mob to Jerrika, Brandon flips out on her over her disapproval. Jerrika thinks Brandon is falling into the same trap as others who have got involved with gangs. Brandon vehemently refutes that, seeing his work with the gang as a way for him to escape his past of staring into empty fridges, begging random people on the street for money to eat and pulling his mother out of pimps’ cars. Brandon didn’t knowingly join a gang, but due to an unflattering past bubbling under the surface of his positive demeanor, he sees being affiliated with an illegal organization as making the best out of the cards he was dealt.

The National Gang Crime Research Center (NGCRC) surveyed 4,000 gang members in a 1996 study which concluded that only 25 percent of them join gangs to make money. NGCRC director at the time, Greg Knox, and longtime juvenile probation officer, Tom Schneiderl, agree that for most young gang members, the central appeal is having protection from a group of peers who validate your life choices. Knox goes as far as to deduce from his research that “the deeper a kid’s involvement in a gang, the more dysfunctional his/her family life.” Perry validating Brandon’s ambition, the on-demand protection he could call on from Reg and the ability to escape his impoverished standing in life are primary reasons for Brandon reconciling his gang involvement with the content of his character.

In this episode, Ronnie is the long-term effect of a broken home, Brandon is the initial acknowledgement of those effects and Jake is the beginning of those effects. Perry tells Reg that “Jake needs to be insulated from the trappings of the block” by taking him from the trap house to working in Perry’s legitimate pizza business. That way they can prevent Jake from having a criminal record that would draw police attention when he gets older, and presumably, more active in the gang. Jake’s father has not been in the picture the entire series and we learned earlier this season that his mother is a recovering drug addict who Jake has never met. So, when Perry decides Jake’s future for him with his brother Reg, he’s doing so with the only parental figure in Jake’s life.

This is why Jake goes back to selling drugs outside of school even after his friend Kevin got suspended, or why he lived in Chicago his entire life but had no idea about Lake Michigan. Who he is, is the nature he has been given, just like the scorpion that bludgeons the frog helping it cross the water.

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Mark Makela

Bill Cosby Receives Backlash For "America's Dad" Father's Day Post

Bill Cosby caused quite the frenzy on social media this past Father's Day (June 16). Although the comedian and actor is currently sitting behind bars, he managed to make a number of people upset with his latest Twitter message.

"Hey, Hey, Hey…It’s America’s Dad," he tweeted. "I know it’s late, but to all of the Dads… It’s an honor to be called a Father, so let’s make today a renewed oath to fulfilling our purpose —strengthening our families and communities. #HappyFathersDay #RenewedOathToOurFamily"

Many Twitter users took issue with Cosby labeling himself, "America's Dad." While he has previously been considered as such due to his pivotal role on The Cosby Show, many felt it was inappropriate due to the countless accusations of rape and sexual assault made by more than 60 women throughout his career. Furthermore, Cosby is currently serving a three to 10-year prison sentence for three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

So, between Cosby's Father's Day post and O.J. Simpson's newly-launched account, it's turning out to be a weird month for Twitter. Check out Cosby's full message and the reactions below.

Hey, Hey, Hey...It’s America’s Dad...I know it’s late, but to all of the Dads... It’s an honor to be called a Father, so let’s make today a renewed oath to fulfilling our purpose —strengthening our families and communities.#HappyFathersDay#RenewedOathToOurFamily pic.twitter.com/6EGrF87t6G

— Bill Cosby (@BillCosby) June 17, 2019

Bill Cosby, disgraced father and husband, still in denial that he got busted. Maybe he and OJ could get a shared account.

— Fif de Florence (@DrFifiRx) June 17, 2019

https://twitter.com/kevonareed/status/1140607803855384576

https://twitter.com/wannahiketheat/status/1140607451722596354

pic.twitter.com/DJD397emHl

— Michael Peters (@peteydallas) June 17, 2019

pic.twitter.com/PWkqBiMZ9p

— Posa (@justposa) June 17, 2019

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Mike Coppola

The Cast Of 'SHAFT' Talk Family Traditions, Power And The Film's Legacy

Back in 1971, Richard Roundtree became the face of the legendary crime/blaxploitation film SHAFT. His influence in the role paved the way for a new generation of black detectives filled with a gluttonous amount of swag, clever one-liners, and action-packed scenes. Samuel L. Jackson followed suit in the franchise’s 2000 installment as he took over the streets of Uptown Manhattan and Harlem filling in for Roundtree’s original character.

Fast forward to 2019, and SHAFT’s legacy has risen to higher heights, incorporating Roundtree and Jackson together with an extension of their detective prowess. Director Tim Story created a familial driven movie centered around three different generations of SHAFT men. Roundtree plays the grandfather; Jackson plays the dad—and Jessie T. Usher plays the son. All three embark on a mission that’s laced with dirty politics, Islamophobia, and highflying action in efforts to solve a seemingly homicidal death.

The dynamics between all three are hilarious and dotted with lessons learned from past paternal influences. On a recent sunny Friday afternoon at Harlem's Red Rooster, the trio shared some of the traditions and virtues the paternal figures in real life have taught them. Most of the influence passed down to them was centered on working hard.

“People say to me, ‘Why do you work so much?’” Jackson said. “Well, all the grown people went to work every day when I got up. I figured that’s what we’re supposed to be doing—get up, pay a bill, and take care of everything that’s supposed to be taken care of.”

“For my family, it was cleanliness and masculinity,” Usher added. “The guys in my family were always well put together, very responsible especially my dad.”

In spite of the SHAFT men's power, the film's story wouldn’t be what it is without Regina Hall and Alexandra Shipp’s characters. They both play strong women caught in the middle of the mayhem created by the men they care about. Both are conscious of the power they exhibit as black women off and on screen, yet are aware of the dichotomy of how that strength is perceived in the world.

“It’s very interesting because I think a lot of times as powerful black women we are seen as angry black women,” Shipp says. “So it’s hard to have that voice and that opinion because a lot of times when we voice it; it becomes a negative rather than a positive. In order to hold that power, it has to be poised. It has to be with grace, I think there is strength in a strong but graceful black woman.”

“People have an idea of what strength is and how you do it and sometimes it’s the subtleties,” Regina adds. “Sometimes our influence is so powerful and it doesn’t always have to be loud I think a lot of times how we navigate is with conviction and patience.”

VIBE chatted with the cast of SHAFT about holding power, their red flags when it comes to dating, and why the SHAFT legacy continues to live on. Watch the interviews below.

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