February 21, 2008 — Vol. 43, No. 28
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Novelist indicts hip-hop through the lense of slavery

Robin Hamilton

She is a slave who dreams the future — and is fearful of what she sees.

When we are introduced to Liz Spocott, the protagonist in James McBride’s new novel “Song Yet Sung,” we are met with the raw and complex dynamic between blacks and whites during the pre-Civil War years, coupled with a stinging indictment of today’s hip-hop culture.

“What if a slave woke up and saw where we are now?” McBride asks. Seen through the eyes of Spocott, the answer is sobering.

Enduring the indignity of enslavement and navigating the intricate path of the Underground Railroad, Liz is a reluctant heroine in the pursuit of freedom — a freedom she isn’t so sure exists. Her dreams warn her of a future filled with “ … Negros driving horseless carriages on shiny rubber wheels … and colored men dressed in garish costumes like children … every bit of pride, decency, and morality squeezed out of them.” Full story

‘Debaters,’ Keys win big at Image Awards

Kam Williams

“The Great Debaters” dominated the movie categories at last week’s 39th Annual NAACP Image Awards, earning Best Picture honors while stars Denzel Washington, Denzel Whitaker and Jurnee Smollett all took home individual trophies for their performances.

With four trophies, Alicia Keys was the big winner in the music categories, while TBS’ “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne,” the ABC medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” and the HBO original picture “Life Support” each earned a trio in the area of television.

This year’s Image Awards also featured gracious acceptance speeches from three lifetime honorees: Aretha Franklin, who received the Vanguard Award; Ruby Dee, recipient of the Chairman’s Award; and Stevie Wonder, who was inducted into the NAACP Hall of Fame.

The ceremony, held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, was broadcast live last Thursday night on Fox.

Hosting the event was D.L. Hughley, who last year found himself in hot water along with Don Imus for comments the comedian made on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in support of the briefly disgraced DJ. For those who may have forgotten, Hughley said that the young women from the Rutgers University basketball team were, in fact, “nappy-headed” and “some of the ugliest women I’ve seen in my whole life.” Apparently, that water is now safely under the bridge, as Imus has long since returned to radio and Hughley presented a considerably cleaner act in his capacity as Image Awards emcee. Full story

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