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JoJo Whilden

Review: Netflix's 'Seven Seconds' And The Value Of Black Bodies In America

Seven Seconds is a stoic, cold reel that will leave you wanting more. 

Just four episodes into Seven Secondsthe tension, darkness, grittiness, everyday micro-aggressions and rampant sexism that peacefully co-exists within our legal system are uncomfortably visible. The Netflix original series centers around the racial injustices that take place within America's police departments, and exemplifies the country's chronic disease of dropping unarmed black bodies into the hands of morally corrupt enforcers.

Directed by Veena Sud, the 10-episode program chronicles the precarious process that assistant prosecutor K.J. Harper (Clare-Hope Ashitey) and detective Joe “Fish” Rinaldi (Michael Mosley) are left with when 15-year-old Brenton Butler dies after a hit-and-run by Peter Jablonski (Beau Knapp). The Jersey City police officer ran over the teen while rushing to attend the birth of his child, and left him laying in the snow at a park.

Brenton’s family—consisting of his mother Latrice (Regina King) and father Isaiah (Russell Hornsby), two average working class church-going African-American folk—is left devastated and hungry for answers. But unfortunately they fail to get them, as the corrupt cops who work with Jablonski do everything they can to cover for him.

While the plot is based on Butler’s death, the intricacies of being a person of color in America are heavily showcased through the rest of his family, and Harper along with her fellow Latino co-workers.

Harper, a black woman, is boggled down by life. Her aura is gloomy, stoic and jaded. Viewers get the sense that she’s tired of doing this kind of work, or for that matter, tired of seemingly being unable to deliver justice where it's due.

In one poignant scene, she attempts at reducing the time a black teen is locked up in a juvenile detention center during a court hearing. But as his parents watch helplessly, a Latino judge denies her offer and he is sentenced to a lot more time than anticipated or deserved. It’s a far too common story that continues to feed the narrative of mass incarceration within the black community.

Underneath it all, Harper struggles with alcoholism and becomes victim of her co-worker’s lewd comments and racist notions. Amid the hardships of being a black woman that works in a system that isn’t made to protect her, she also grapples with being a black woman who has to face telling black parents justice isn’t being served albeit it's being deserved.

“She doesn’t want to be the face of that situation because she feels like she can’t do it,” Ashitey says of her character’s conundrum over the phone. “She knew she would fail in that situation especially knowing the legal system the way she does.”

“It must be very hard to be a prosecutor or DA of color,” she continues. “They don’t want to be in a situation where people look at you like you have to fix something all the time because you’re part of this community, and you could prosecute this person, but you don’t because you don’t really have that power.”

Within the series, white privilege is also, of course, highlighted. There’s a joke about Puerto Ricans needing legal status, when they are granted U.S. Citizenship at birth. Brenton’s father shows up at the police precinct, and ends up getting beaten and arrested simply for being inquisitive about his son’s death. It’s like attempting to find godly redemption inside a devil’s playground.

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates breaks down the turbulent chasm that exists between black people and law enforcement in America by referencing the killing of Michael Brown in his book, Between the World and Me.

“Michael Brown did not die as so many of his defenders supposed. And still the questions behind the questions are never asked,” he writes. “Should assaulting an officer of the state be a capital offense, rendered without trial, with the officer as judge and executioner? Is that what we wish civilization to be? And all the time the Dreamers are pillaging Ferguson for municipal governance.”

As the series trickles down, the investigation leads to a catholic school girl named Nadine (Nadia Alexander) whose heroin addiction leads her to trick to support her habit. Her presence in the series adds to the heroin epidemic conversation that’s steadily infiltrating mundane American backyards. Essentially, everything leads to a big court feud between the plaintiffs and the defendants. But in the end you question if this was really a triumph.

Peter didn’t kill Brenton because he is black. However, his life is devalued because he is black. Amid the importance of seeking justice, the real message becomes very clear: black lives matter until law enforcement decides they don’t. Toni Morrison questions the double edge sword of what a black body means in society in The Origin of Others, “Once blackness is accepted as socially, politically, and medically defined, how does that definition affect black people?”

In Brenton’s case, Peter had seven seconds to define his worth.

Seven Seconds premieres February 23 on Netflix.

 

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The Notorious B.I.G. To Be Honored With "Christopher Wallace Way" In Brooklyn

Tuesday (May 21) marks what would’ve been the late Notorious B.I.G.’s 47th birthday, and in efforts to commemorate the legendary rapper, The Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation revealed that the intersection where Biggie called home will be named after him, Billboard reports.

The naming will take place on June 10 at a ceremony being held for the “Juicy” rapper. Wallace’s family is expected to attend the gathering, which will be held at the intersections of Gates Avenue and St. James Place. The crossroad will reportedly be named Christopher Wallace Way in the forthcoming month.

The news arrives days after Wu-Tang Clan's Staten Island street-naming ceremony. "I'm happy that NYC officials are finally giving the city's indigenous 'hip-hop' music the respect and recognition that it deserves," culture advocate LeRoy McCarthy told Gothamist in 2018. "It took a long time and lots of hard work to advance the Christopher Wallace Way & Wu-Tang Clan District street co-naming, but ya know what, Hip Hop Don't Stop."

Biggie's upcoming ceremony will be open to the public and will start around 12 p.m. ET. His mother, Voletta Wallace, his children, and close friends will be present in his honor.

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Nessa Confronts Janelle Evans Over Kaepernick Slander At 'Teen Mom 2' Reunion

If one thing is for sure, don't talk about Nessa Diab's family. The media personality and activist used her platform for good when she schooled Teen Mom 2 star Janelle Evans about hateful comments she made towards Diab's partner, Colin Kaepernick. 

The incident, which was intended to be a healthy conversation between the two aired Monday (May 20) during the Teen Mom 2 reunion. Throughout the season, Evans was reportedly upset about Teen Mom OG star Amber Portwood speaking about her husband David Eason on social media. Surprisingly, Evans orchestrated the same behavior when she made a Facebook post about Kaepernick and his partnership with Nike. Evans reportedly slammed Nike for working with Kaepernick and allegedly burned Nike gear in protest of their decision.

While Nessa didn't break down everything Evans said, she shared the post on the screen behind them.“When I saw those comments, I did not attack you online, nor did I disrespect you over the years,” Nessa said. “My man uses his platform to peacefully protest police brutality against black people...that is the issue...I would’ve appreciated it if you contacted me.”

Nessa brought up the incident in an effort to show Evans how hypocritical she was being towards Portwood.

Evans denied doing the post and later accused MTV of using her. “I honestly have no idea who your boyfriend is...I would like to see [the comments] because what if it was an ad...was it an ad?” Jenelle asked. “I’m highly confused right now. I don’t know anything about your husband, and I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about. I swear to god, I’m done with this bulls**t. This is exactly why I didn’t want to f***ing come here,” she said. “This is about my storyline, and you want to bring up your issues? Okay. You got your show.”

As Evans stormed off stage, Nessa remained calm and detailed her working relationship with the mother of three.

“I’ve known Jenelle over the years, and I’ve always been fair and just to her," she said. "It wouldn’t have been authentic to who I am to be on this stage with someone who disrespected my family on social media.”

Shortly after the reunion aired, Evans continued to deny the allegations while her husband went on to attack Nessa and mock the death of slain rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle.

If the reunion wasn’t about David Jenelle then why is he already going off and attacking Nessa? The amount this chick lies is seriously beyond incredible 🤣. pic.twitter.com/uIouVOw98O

— Greenwalls4life (@Codybfan87) April 8, 2019

Fans of both women have defended their actions but Nessa has remained mum on what happened. Part 2 of the Teen Mom 2 finale will air next Monday on MTV. Watch the exchange up top.

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Dimitrios Kambouris

Halle Berry Receives Praise For Refusing To Skip Black Journalists On Red Carpet

Halle Berry is receiving all the praise at the moment, not only for her latest role in the new John Wick movie but for refusing to skip two interviews with a pair of black journalists on the red carpet.

Emerald Marie, a reporter from Where Is The Buzz TV, was one just two black journalists who were sent to the premiere of John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum. Emerald recalled being excited to interview the Oscar winner, but was quickly cut off by the actress' publicist. Instead of walking away, however, Berry made the decision to turn around and speak with Emerald and the other black male journalist, Lamar Dawson.

“I can't skip my brother and sister,"  Berry said, according to Marie.

The latest incident is unfortunately common for black journalists and media companies. "Oftentimes, black reporters and black outlets are pushed to the end and unable to get the proper interview that they need,” Marie explained. Because of Berry's generosity, Marie said she has a "newfound respect" for the actress.

Dawson also released a statement to VIBE about his interaction with Berry. "Emerald and I were standing next to each other on the carpet and were discussing how too often Black reporters are skipped at these events--and then it nearly happened to us. It's a big issue that needs to be addressed. Our stories deserve to be told, too," he said. "When Halle came back, I was able to talk to her quickly about her show 'Boomerang' and how important it is for the show to feature Black, LGBTQ storylines--an interview question the mainstream outlets aren't going to ask thus underscoring the importance of diversity in newsrooms and the importance of outlets that seek to give a voice to marginalized people. I'm grateful for Halle for seeing us out there."

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum starring Keanu Reeves and Halle Berry hit theaters today (May 17). Check out Emerald Marie and Lamar Dawson's full recaps from the red carpet below.

 

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I wanted to share this story because so often we hear people say “support black business” We all know it’s hard being the Minortity in many industries! For Halle Berry to make a conscious effort to turn back around and make sure the only two black faces we recognized & allocated the time to get our coverage is just another reason why she is a Leader & Queen 👑 @halleberry ❤️‼️🎤 #blackbrandsmatter #johnwick3 #blackreporters thank you @whereisthebuzz for this platform

A post shared by @ emerald.marie.tv on May 15, 2019 at 6:34pm PDT

 

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Last week, I shared a story about how too often Black journalists are often skipped on red carpets, but at the “John Wick 3” premiere I was covering, Halle Berry came back to talk to me and the only other Black reporter, @emerald.marie.tv. The story has been getting traction and Halle was asked about it today at another premiere by @hay_itslay and I am deeply moved by her response and the response from many of you. I hope it sparks much needed change in the industry. ✊🏾

A post shared by LAMAR DAWSON (@dirrtykingofpop) on May 16, 2019 at 2:35pm PDT

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