Are We Erasing the Image of Black Women? Controversy over Nina Simone Hollywood Biopic.

Came across this post this morning on Facebook from Bougie Black Girl about Nina Simone, ‘colorism’ and the controversy surrounding the casting of an upcoming biopic. I had to share it with folks and encourage folks to sign the petition.. which is directed at record mogul Jimmy Iovine and long time writer Cynthia Mort. They are replacing Mary J Blige w/ actress Zoe Saldana to play Nina.. The move has caused a huge firestorm..It’s definitely a case of erasing history.. To better understand,¬† people should read this letter from Nina Simone’s daughter printed below then take a look at the picture below..Once you do this you’ll see the problem. It’s a profound one…..Here’s the letter from Simone’s daughter..

-Davey D-

Greetings Nina Simone Lovers, Simone here.

I have read many of the comments am happy you all took the time to share your thoughts and feelings.

Here’s mine:

When the announcement initially hit the press with MJ Blige cast as Nina (about 6 yrs ago) I heard it along with everyone else. The story was written as a love story between my mother and her former nurse, Clifton Henderson and primarily takes place during the last 8 years of her life.Please note, this project is unauthorized. The Nina Simone Estate was never asked permission nor invited to participate.

I have seen many names regarding who you think should play the role of Nina. Remember Angela Bassett as Tina Turner? SHE NAILED IT! Angela Bassett is an ACTRESS! And, we all know she lip synced along with Tina and did an amazing job. Personally, I prefer an actress to a singer. Just because a person is great at one does not mean they will be great at the other. If written, funded and CAST PROPERLY a movie about my mother will make an lasting imprint.

My vision of a movie about my mother includes SO many pivotal moments that are monumentally important towards relaying the journey of a woman whose journey began as a child prodigy born in North Carolina in the 1930’s…too many to list here but, trust when I say the tale will inspire through the sheer sharing of HOW Eunice Waymon became Nina Simone, The High Priestess Of Soul renowned worldwide. How many of you know my mother’s FIRST love was classical music? Do you know the hours she practiced preparing to audition for the Curtis Institute of Music only to be rejected because of the color of her skin? **After my mother made her transition I accepted a diploma from that very same institute with a speech she began writing but was unable to finish prior to her death.** As a child, my mother was told her nose was too big and she was too dark yet she graduated valedictorian of her high school class – The Allen School for Girls – AND, skipped two grades. Nina was one of the most outspoken, prolifically gifted artists using the stage to speak out against racism during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. Her friends included Betty Shabazz, Lorraine Hansberry (my godmother), Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Miriam Makeba, Stokely Carmichael, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens worldwide. Had she become a classical pianist, which was her dream….shattered, I doubt she would have found her true destiny. Nina Simone was a voice for her people and she spoke out HONESTLY, sang to us FROM HER SOUL, shared her joy, pain, anger and intelligence poetically in a style all her own. My mother stood up for justice, by any means necessary hahahaha YES, she was a revolutionary til the day she died. From Tragedy to Transcendence – MY VISION. The whole arc of her life which is inspirational, educational, entertaining and downright shocking at times is what needs to be told THE RIGHT WAY.

By the way:

Clifton Henderson was gay. He was not attracted to women. So, the truth is…Nina Simone and Clifton Henderson NEVER had a relationship other than a business one.

Please correct me, but isn’t a biopic the story of one’s life?

I have faith things will work out the right way and my mother’s real story will be told. For all she endured while here and all of the lives she has touched, she DESERVES to be remembered for who she truly was; not some made up love story from a former nurse/manager (now deceased) who sold his life rights because of his relationship to Nina Simone.

Ciao Y’All….Simone

Here’s a link to the petition

One of my Favorite Rappers is Killer Mike.. One of My Favorite Albums is R.A.P. Music..Our Intv w/ Him

It’s always a pleasure and enlightening to sit down and chop it up w/ Atlanta emcee Killer Mike. He’s never at loss for words and he pulls no punches when speaking on political situations. Our recent sit down w/ Mike was no exception.. We talked at length about his new album R.A.P. Music which was produced by EL-P of Def Jux fame. Many would not associate the pair because on the surface they appear to be on opposite sides of the musical spectrum, but in reality they have lots in common.. The album they created is a hard-hitting masterpiece that seriously bumps and lyrically is a breath of fresh air and a much-needed nourishment shot for the dome.

During our interview we started off talking about the album’s lead single ‘Reagan’. This is an excellent scathing critique of one of the worst presidents this country ever produced who in recent years has seen millions of dollars poured into campaigns to sanitize his image. Killer Mike accurately reminds us that Reagan was a criminal who answered to a powerful cartel who ultimately controlled him. Mike goes in on both the song and interview about Reagan.

He also pulls no punches on other Presidents including Barack Obama who he famously stood up for and supported in 2008. In fact during the 2008 Ozone Awards, Killer Mike sitting on a panel pushed his rap colleagues to clean themselves up, put on their Sunday best and not allow any industry rap BS be the downfall of than candidate Obama.

In our interview, Killer Mike explains that his position on Obama didn’t ‘evolve’, it was part and parcel of what one should do when you elect someone to office. He noted that all politicians need to be pushed and held accountable and his responsibility as someone who is active in voting and helping get folks in office is to speak up, be loud and make sure they understand there will be political consequence fr not doing right by the folks who support him/her.¬† So, yes he supported Obama. In 08 he was the best man for the job, but the nature of the Presidency is to do the bidding of those who push him the hardest, and hence Mike brings heat in challenging Obama and anyone who is in office.

In our interview Killer Mike lays out what he says should be top priorities for any President seeking his vote as well as many within the Black Community. He details a job program in which folks coming into the community must partner with residents. He also talks about expunging the record of those who were incarcerated and returning home. Mike talks about the importance of providing programs and opportunities so one doesn’t return to prison which ultimately impacts the larger community.

During our conversation we talked about standout songs like the melodic ‘Anywhere But Here‘, where Mike gives us a thoughtful and compelling view of New York City and Atlanta. In the first part of the song, he talks about Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Stop and Frisk and the ghost of Sean Bell and others who are victims to police terrorism. He talks about the importance holding police accountable via the Mayor and other politicians who control them. He explained that anyone who allows the police to be out of control¬† don’t politically punish the Mayor for allowing this to happen, has missed the mark in a big way..

New York City is contrasted w/ Killer Mike’s hometown of Atlanta which he describes as a Black male heaven because of its abundance of opportunity, Black office holders and beautiful women. In the song Mike notes how in a city of such abundance, Black blood is still being spilled, with young brothers playing the role of villan vs the good guy who many feel never win.

It’s a powerful cut and during our interview Mike expands upon the political and social dynamics of Atlanta and its relationship to the rest of Georgia. He noted that one day he may actually run for office because he feels that strong about his city and wants to see it improve.

Just is just a short summary and doesn’t do justice to Killer Mike’s passion and love for his community and this music we call Hip Hop.. We divide this interview up in two parts..

Click links below to listen to our interview w/ Killer Mike

Killer Mike pt1

Killer Mike pt2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPyjJ1MMUzQ