05-20-2018  8:37 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

3 high school seniors die in crash weeks before graduation

YONCALLA, Ore. (AP) — School officials say three senior girls were killed in a car crash on Interstate 5 in western Oregon, just weeks before graduation.Eagle Point High School said on its Facebook page that Luciana Tellez, Giselle Montano and Esmeralda Nava died Saturday night after their...

The Latest: Cougar that attacked cyclists was underweight

SEATTLE (AP) — The Latest on a cougar attack that killed one mountain biker and wounded another outside Seattle (all times local):4:10 p.m.Authorities say the cougar that attacked two cyclists east of Seattle, killing one of them, appears to have been emaciated.Washington Department of Fish...

Cyclists tried to scare cougar but it attacked, killing 1

SEATTLE (AP) — The two mountain bikers did what they were supposed to do when they noticed a mountain lion tailing them on a trail east of Seattle.They got off their bikes. They faced the beast, shouted and tried to spook it. After it charged, one even smacked the cougar with his bike, and...

The Latest: Cougar that attacked cyclists was underweight

SEATTLE (AP) — The Latest on a cougar attack that killed one mountain biker and wounded another outside Seattle (all times local):4:10 p.m.Authorities say the cougar that attacked two cyclists east of Seattle, killing one of them, appears to have been emaciated.Washington Department of Fish...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

The Latest: Janet Jackson honored at Billboard Awards

The Latest on the Billboard Music Awards (all times local):7:18 p.m.The youngest of the legendary Jackson musical family, Janet Jackson gave her first televised performance in nine years at the Billboard Music Awards.She was honored as the first black woman to receive the Billboard Icon Award on...

Principal apologizes for 'insensitive' prom tickets language

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) — The principal of a New Jersey high school has apologized for what he called "insensitive" language on tickets for the upcoming senior prom.The Courier Post reported the Cherry Hill High School East senior prom tickets urged students to "party like it's 1776" during...

2018 midterms: An early heat for 2020 Democrats?

ATLANTA (AP) — Look closely enough at the 2018 midterm campaign and you'll see the stirrings of a Democratic scramble to reclaim the White House from President Donald Trump.The leading players — from established national figures such as former Vice President Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders...

ENTERTAINMENT

School victims honored at Billboard Awards; Janet, BTS shine

The 2018 Billboard Music Awards paid tribute to the students and teachers affected by recent deadly shootings in Texas and Florida, while the night also featured show-stopping performances by iconic singer Janet Jackson and K-pop group BTS.A tearful and emotional Kelly Clarkson, who hosted the...

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend reveal name of newborn son

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chrissy Teigen and John Legend now have a baby boy to go with their toddler girl.The 32-year-old model and 39-year-old singer, whose real name is John Roger Stephens, introduced Miles Theodore Stephens to the world on Sunday.Teigen had been hinting to her millions of...

'Deadpool 2' ends Avengers' box-office reign, rakes in 5M

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Deadpool and his foul-mouthed crew of misfits and malcontents have taken down the Avengers.Fox's "Deadpool 2" brought in 5 million this weekend, giving it the second-highest opening ever for an R-rated movie and ending the three-week reign of Disney's "Avengers:...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Curry comes alive to score 35, Warriors rout Rockets by 41

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry got his groove back to score 35 points with five 3-pointers, shooting...

School victims honored at Billboard Awards; Janet, BTS shine

The 2018 Billboard Music Awards paid tribute to the students and teachers affected by recent deadly shootings in...

In North Korea nuke site closing, spectacle trumps substance

TOKYO (AP) — Foreign journalists will be allowed to journey deep into the mountains of North Korea this...

Pope Francis to invest 14 new cardinals in June

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday revealed his latest picks to be cardinals in the Catholic...

Britain basks in royal wedding afterglow; grave gets bouquet

LONDON (AP) — Unwilling to kiss Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding goodbye just yet, Britain basked...

Kerry says civil discourse is under threat around the world

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday warned that...

Roger Ross Williams
By Kam Williams | The Skanner News

In 2010, Roger Ross Williams became the only African American to win an Academy Award for directing and producing the documentary Music by Prudence. Three years later, he directed God Loves Uganda which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to enormous critical acclaim before airing on the PBS series "Independent Lens."

He recently finished shooting Life, Animated, an animated documentary inspired by Pulitzer Prize-winner Ron Suskind's memoir about raising his autistic son. And Roger has several works currently in development, including an interactive project called Traveling While Black and a feature documentary about the prison Industrial complex for The Why? Foundation.

He serves on the artist advisory board for the Sundance Institute, and splits his time between upstate New York and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Here, he talks about his latest offering, Blackface, a CNN short film about a minstrel Christmas character celebrated in the Netherlands known as Black Pete.

 

Kam Williams: Hi Roger, thanks for the interview.

Roger Ross Williams: Thanks, Kam.

 

KW: What inspired you to make Blackface?

RRW: When I first saw a White Dutch person dressed up as Black Pete, I was both sickened and shocked. It’s hard to stand next to someone who views your skin color and hair as a costume. As a filmmaker, whenever I get that feeling, I want to explore what motivates people to engage in such offensive behavior and enlighten folks about its origins.

 KW: Do you think that there's malice towards blacks underpinning the Dutch Christmas tradition?

RRW: I think many Dutch just don’t know the history of Black Pete, that he is rooted in slavery, and how he was used to dehumanize a race of people. Once they realize this, many stop, but those who continue are either in denial, insensitive or actually racists.

 

KW: Given the assassination in Amsterdam of Theo Van Gogh over his making a movie about Islam, my guess is that the Dutch probably aren't very receptive currently to criticism of this nature.

RRW: After the film came out, I got death threats and had to have a bodyguard. It was interesting because many of the emails I got started out by saying it was their tradition and an innocent children’s holiday and ended by calling me the N-word or a “stupid Black monkey.” How is that not racist? It just takes one racist crackpot to commit an act of violence against me. A Dutch woman even stopped me at the dog walk and told me I needed to “get over slavery” and that she would “die” for Black Pete.

 

KW: Do you think we live in an overly sensitive politically-correct age, where people have to fear offending others by behavior considered acceptable just a decade ago?

RRW: It’s not an issue of political correctness. It’s a issue of racism. Blackface was never acceptable to the Black population in the Netherlands. They have been protesting against it since the 1930s. The majority of Black people were just afraid to speak up because non-Whites are not treated as part of Dutch society.

There is much institutionalized racism in The Netherlands and the non-White population is just now beginning to fight for their rights. Black Pete is just one example of what is going on there. So racism was never acceptable to the people who suffer from it.

 

KW: How do you feel when you see a Dutch person in Blackface? The same as when you see American college students donning it on Halloween or for a ghetto-themed frat party?

RRW: Yes, it’s a horrible feeling to be mocked and ridiculed because of your race.

 

KW: You married a Dutchman. How does he feel about his country's Blackface tradition?

RRW: He’s ashamed and embarrassed by it. He grew up with it like everyone else, but as soon as he realized it hurt others, he began to speak out against it. He produced and edited Blackface.

 

KW: What message are you hoping to convey with the film?

RRW: That symbolic racism is hurtful and that it is especially hurtful to Black children who get called Black Pete in school and grow up with the sense that they are inferior to white kids. And that racism is a global problem and it is as damaging to Whites as it is to non-Whites. Everyone must fight against it.

 

KW: Thanks again for the time, Roger, and best of luck with Blackface.

RRW: My pleasure, Kam. 

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