After much anticipation, Coming 2 America was released this past weekend. As underwhelming as it was to me, there were still moments that elicited a sense of nostalgia for the original movie. I was delighted to see many of the former actors reprise their roles and some newcomers in the entertainment industry get an opportunity to showcase their skills. The film seems to progressively move the franchise forward by addressing some problematic issues of sexism from the original, yet failed to remove a plot device that made its otherwise noble acts seem worthless. I’m going to spoil the film for the three people that haven’t seen it yet, but there’s a scene very early in the movie that depicts Akeem being date raped. The film being rated PG-13 leaves some room for imagination during the scene, but it’s very evident that the sex wasn’t consensual. As socially progressive as it seems we’re moving as a society, I still question why we’re rarely shocked when men are sexually assaulted on film.
Coming 2 America didn’t need to use date rape as a plot device, much like other forms of content don’t need sexual assault to move a story along, yet we often find public commotion hit its crescendo when the victims are white women. Black men don’t receive the luxury of society at large making a fuss over us when we’re raped on film. The duality is glaring when comparing two of the most popular shows in television history, Game of Thrones and Bridgerton. Game of Thrones has sexual assaults of three main characters. There was much uproar, rightfully so, concerning the assaults in the media and online with fans of the show. If anyone recalls, there was the rape of Daenerys in the very first episode, Cersei Lannister being raped by her brother Jamie in the fourth season, and Sansa Stark sexually assaulted by Ramsey Bolton during season five. The Coming To America franchise is not as large, yet it’s widely known enough that shock should find its way outside of obscure conversations happening on Twitter. Conversely, the rape of a main character, the Duke of Hastings, who is portrayed by a Black man, in the widely popular Netflix show Bridgerton, received a handful of articles written about its “uncomfortableness”, yet nothing nearly as the attention the assaults of white female characters received on Game of Thrones. Interestingly enough, the sexual assault of the Duke was even toned down from the explicitness of the book which the show uses as source material.
After the release of Coming 2 America, I’ve had discussions with folks that had a range of opinions on the film from good to ok to trash. Only one of these conversations were centered around the date rape of Akeem. I’m not too surprised that there hasn’t been that much ado around non-consensual sex where a man (particularly a Black man) is the victim. It’s a scenario that happens, but doesn’t make for trendy conversation. The problem lies with outcry that’s more discerning than general. Rape is rape. No matter how the victim identifies or how they present themselves to the world. Black men are often negatively stereotyped as sexual predators that shouldn’t have any sort of agency, even when they’re the ones being assaulted. Maybe we’ll get better with our selective shock when it comes to these issues, especially when Black men are the victims. That wishful thinking requires people to think of Black men outside of their already limited perspectives of us. We’ll see...
Doing The Work
Russell Westbrook and Nina Earl opening an academy
NBA star Russell Westbrook is partnering with his wife, Nina Earl, and the LA Promise Fund to start a school in Los Angeles. The goal of the academy is to provide access to a college and career education that uplifts and empowers students in South Los Angeles. Westbrook is the second NBA player to start his own school. In July 2018, LeBron James launched his I Promise School in Akron, Ohio.
Square purchases a majority share of Tidal from Jay-Z
Last week, Jay-Z announced, through Roc Nation, that Square was acquiring a majority of the streaming service Tidal. The deal was made with stock and cash for $297 million, with Jay-Z retaining a board seat at Square. Jay-Z and a host of artists purchased Tidal in 2015 for $56 million.
Justice Or Just Us
Kenneth Walker, boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, had charges permanently dismissed
A Kentucky Circuit Court Judge has permanently dismissed charges for Kenneth Walker, the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor. Walker was charged with assault and attempted murder of a police officer after law enforcement officers entered the apartment of Taylor and Walker. Louisville police entered the apartment through a no knock warrant that resulted in the officers killing Taylor.
Dating show set in South Africa only has three Black contestants
“Love Island South Africa”, a spin-off of a popular dating show, is being rightfully criticized for its lack of Black people on the show. South Africa’s citizenry is 80% Black, yet the dating show has cast only three Black contestants. For anyone that knows the full history of South Africa, this news should not be surprising.
What I”m Listening To
Drizzy Drake does it again. The Canadian has one of the most consistent careers in music and has not slowed down since the debut of his mixtape in 2009. Even though Scary Hours 2 is a three pack, it provides enough lyrical material for you to keep the songs on repeat to decipher what the Boy is rapping about. The tape features guest appearances from Lil Baby (his verse was top tier) and Rick Ross.
Even with some insurmountable challenges facing us as Black men, it’s still important that we make our health a top priority. According to analysis undertaken by the Brookings Institute, Black men have a much lower life expectancy compared to other demographics. There are several external factors contributing to that, but we must focus on what’s in our control - food and exercise. The full report can be read here.
Without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men. - Patrice Lumumba