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Sunday
Apr172016

Addressing The Allegations Against Afrika Bambattaa - Chris "Preach" Smith



For the past week, I’ve had one or two people come to me in 
search of dialogue regarding Afrika Bambattaa and the recent
allegations made against him by Ronald Savage of sexual abuse.
One friend sent me a link to a story via Twitter. They followed up
with a question asking if they needed to get rid of their “Planet Rock”
vinyl record. Another person simply asked why there weren’t
more people talking about this.

The answers to both those questions, like the situation, is
highly complicated.

For those that haven’t kept up with the ongoing story, former
Democratic Party activist and author Savage spoke with the 
veteran radio host Star on a podcast and revealed that he’d 
been struggling with years of emotional damage - damage that
came as a result of being molested as a teen on five occasions
by Bambattaa around 1980. It was more painful to Savage since
he viewed the pioneer as a neighborhood father figure and refuge
from the streets. In the time since the story was covered last
Sunday, the New York Daily News has published another piece in
which three other men have come forward with similar claims.
The Universal Zulu Nation have issued vehement denials of the
initial charges by Savage in a full statement via All Hip-Hop. Afrika
Bambatta himself made a public statement to Rolling Stone, denying
the allegations as “a cowardly attempt to tarnish my reputation and
legacy in hip-hop at this time.”

Afrika Bambattaa is credited with being the godfather of hip-hop
culture, and rightly so. His contributions as a DJ, and as the
founder of the Universal Zulu Nation to the American and global
culture are undisputed. A brother from the South Bronx making
such an impact during a time when many left the borough for 
dead was, and still is inspirational. Bambattaa is an idol to many,
including myself. But when situations like this arise, you find
yourself having to wrangle with the fact once again that those
that have been lifted up onto pedastals may be pulled down or
may come crashing down due to their own flaws and decisions.
Even as I was working on the initial draft of this article, I found
myself really conflicted as to whether to speak on it. But I - and 
we - as a community, have to have this on the table. We cannot
sit and ignore the situation, no matter the opinions that may be
on either side. 

There are going to be folks who feel that even the continued 
mention of this situation will feed into an overreaching government
conspiracy to take down Afrika Bambattaa. They feel he is being
threatened, and as a result they are being threatened. But he,
and the Universal Zulu Nation have issued statements and are
still doing their thing. Savage, for his part, states that he has spoken
out as a way to support two bills currently in debate by New York State
lawmakers: one that would remove a 90-day claim window that is the
precursor to suing a government or public entity and the Child Victim
Act which would eradicate the statute of limitations in sexual abuse 
cases and give older victims a one-year window to pursue litigation.  
One of the other recent accusers, Hassan Campbell, acknowledged 
that he has met with Zulu Nation members and Bambattaa himself
to address his own claims of abuse in the past.

Another reason to discuss this situation at length, and frankly, with
each other is this: we live in an era where the court of public opinion
can and has proven to be as flawed as the current system of legal
courts has been in this country. We find ourselves in lengthy Twitter
back-and-forths and Facebook debates, not to mention the dank
ugliness that lies in the comments of articles and forums. The question
then becomes, how do I look at and interpret the situation to form my
own opinon based on what I feel is right?
 I think there’s the reluctance
to be caught up in those battles online that prevent folks from speaking
on this in a rational manner with each other, along with dealing with
those who put their ego above their point. There’s also the idea of the
fact that it’s men making these claims, which brings up rap music’s
problems with addressing and dealing with homophobia(i.e. Mister Cee),
not to mention how it has created a misogynistic environment that has
been accepted as par for the course in rap music. Not wanting to hear 
out Savage and examine the whole situation before making a judgement
is adding to what the harmful effects of power are: eliminating the narrative
that would compete -or not- on its own merit with the narrative of the power
structure in place. I do also think that it isn’t out of the realm to want
to hear more from Bam and the Zulu Nation regarding this. 

I often say at times, “Your faves are always going to be problematic. It’s 
up to you how much you can deal with from them, if you’re willing to do
so at all.” This situation is no different. The allegations against Afrika
Bambattaa are serious, and have to be viewed as such. I do feel that there’s
always more merit to a situation being discussed and confronted, no
matter how ugly it has the potential to be or how uncomfortable it makes
us. Because in that way, the truth will make itself heard one way or the other.

Wednesday
Mar232016

Phife Dawg, Forever Flawless - Chris "Preach" Smith



“Cuz where I come from quality is job one
 And everybody up on Linden know we get the job done”


I don’t think I can ever get used to hearing bad news
in the morning. It’s an unfortunate, but all too true part
of life. And this morning ranked among them, because 
I got the news that Phife Dawg, the Five Foot Assassin
and one-fourth of Queens’ own A Tribe Called Quest, left
this world. The cause wasn’t reported, but I and many of
us could figure that he just needed to rest. As I went on
throughout my day, winding through the neighborhood
I grew up in and still call home, here and there I could 
hear different ATCQ tracks being played. From cars, from
storefronts. Right now, as I’m typing this, the New York
Knicks are beating down the Chicago Bulls and the MSG
Network has been playing Tribe instrumentals at certain
breaks. I’d like to think Phife is up top enjoying the win,
but he’s also probably asking where was all of that finesse
earlier in the season.(And if you thought of the classic end
to his verse on “Problems”, you get some dap.)

Losing Phife Dawg is in some ways, losing another part of 
the New York City that made me and many others. New 
York City, and Queens for that matter. So much about the
city has changed, and not entirely for the better. The area
of Saint Albans is still standing strong, although a good deal
of people have made their way “down South” to Maryland,
Florida and other places because of rising prices and the 
city getting entirely too hectic. The Coliseum Mall, a place 
that Phife would hit up for kicks, is now empty and waiting
to be a real estate broker’s science experiment. Even though
Phife had relocated to Atlanta years ago, Queens was always
a part of him no matter where he went. That’s what we all
loved about him - he was the cat we’d see jawing with the
homies by the ball court waiting to get next or just chilling.
Phife was an everyday cat to us. Even as Tribe entered the 
rap scene with a distinct Afrocentric air that bordered on what
some would call “hippie”, Phife was the one dude who you
could see coming at someone’s neck either in a battle or 
on the corner.

Think about it - a lot of folks focused on Q-Tip for various 
reasons, but Phife not only held his own, he was equal to
Tip. THAT is what composed the core dynamic of ATCQ. It’s
more evident now mainly because of Phife’s lyricism which
made him one of the most charismatic in the game. I used
to get into a debate here and there with folks who felt that 
he was just “aight”. To me, Phife was one of the most versatile
lyricists from the “Golden Era”. He had the friendly, easy tone
that one finds with the great radio disk jockeys like Mr. Magic.
But you better believe he could SNAP on a track, earning
that Five Foot Assassin title with ease. There’s a bunch of
examples you can point to. His opening bars on “Buggin’ Out.”
The rapid-fire verse on the frenetic but harmonious “Lyrics
To Go”. The fact that he had arguably the BEST verse on a track
with Tip, Redman AND Busta Rhymes, that track being “Stepping
It Up” from ATCQ’s last album, The Love Movement. Even his
tracks as a solo artist had weight - if you haven’t had the chance
to, go listen to his Ventilation LP. It’s an album that didn’t get
the exposure it should’ve, and its a shame because it’s a solid
effort. 

Phife Dawg made an impact because he was also a visionary in
his own right. A sports fanatic who could never be seen without
a fitted or some sort of jersey, he was a connecting bridge between
that world and hip-hop culture and as a result, popular culture.
He parlayed that into doing some reporting on college basketball
and even scouting for different prep schools when not in the studio.
He also had a flair for tapping into pop culture with his rhymes
(who could forget the “Seaman’s furniture” line from Electric 
Relaxation”) and could also pepper his lyrics with patois that 
honored his Trinidadian roots and further bolstered his ties to an
area of the city that boasts a heavy Caribbean population. His 
visionary spirit also lay in his friendship and collaboration with
the late J Dilla, which would continue with another hit single in
tribute to the producer, “Dear Dilla”. He even had production on
that same Ventilation album from Hi-Tek and Supa Dave West
just before they both got major shine working with Talib Kweli.



So…I choose to remember Phife Dawg with joy and abandon.
I choose to remember him for what he meant and still means
to me, Linden Boulevard, Queens, New York City and the world. 
What right do I have to really, truly mourn too long for someone
who made his presence known so emphatically, but still managed
to be an affable and humble dude to everyone who crossed his
path. As much as there’s some pain in realizing that you’ll never
see him bounce on stage and spit fire into the mic again, can a
spirit like that ever really leave us? The man went through a serious
fight with diabetes and had to have a kidney transplant. Yet and
still, he kept on living and rhyming, doing it his way. I choose to
remember Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor as an inspiration. Hearing
his words pour out of a boombox in a bodega, seeing so many
ESPN shows pay homage to him - that’s the mark of someone
who was supremely and utterly flawless with his. And that’s
something that will live on in our hearts and in hip-hop.

Rest well, Phife. 

Saturday
Jan302016

The Unsinkable Cam Newton

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The 50th Super Bowl will take place eight days from now in Santa Clara,
California between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. The clash
is being viewed as one for the ages because of the opposing storylines of the
quarterbacks involved. Peyton Manning, one of the game’s greatest at the
position, is possibly looking to do what John Elway did and ride off into the
sunset with another Super Bowl win. For Cam Newton, a Super Bowl win
would be the perfect finish to a nearly perfect season in the NFL. But there’s
been a heavy cloud hanging around this game, set squarely there because of
Cam Newton. He addressed it recently, by saying he knows it’s due to being
an African-American quarterback. The truth is, it is that and much more.

Cam Newton makes it six Black quarterbacks that have appeared in the big
game. So far, only two who’ve appeared have won it all - Doug Williams and
Russell Wilson. Cam’s appearance is to some, a sign of the talent many saw
as he led Auburn to a national collegiate championship in 2011 beginning to
truly take hold professionally. The former Heisman trophy winner has grown
as a QB, and become a major name due to a certain swagger he exudes. The
“dab”. The shoes. The dancing in the end zone. And with this swagger, this
confidence comes the inevitable brushback that appears whenever someone
confident of color makes a mark. You may know it as prejudice. 

There are those who’ll always throw shots at the successful, for different reasons.
In some cases, they have a bit more truthful weight - Cam has been dubbed “Scam”
Newton for his part in an incident involving a stolen laptop while he was at the
University of Florida and the involvement of his father in attempting to coerce money
from Mississippi State University in order for Cam to transfer there. Cam owned up to
the laptop incident & after being suspended by Auburn initially regarding the bribery
charges, he was reinstated by the college with the NCAA backing him. But it seems
that what rankles some these days is that Newton is having TOO much fun. Every
week this past season it seemed there was a letter written to some newspaper or
website that felt his dancing was too explicit & indecent. Yes folks, in a time where
Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers is a spokesman for State Farm based on his
pelvic gyration move patterned after a wrestler, Cam’s celebrations are too much.
Reading social media pages after each of the Panthers’ wins this season reeked of racism
& disgust boiled over in talk of “values” and “having respect for the game”. Yet we have
Johnny Manziel of the Cleveland Browns who HIT HIS GIRLFRIEND on camera, has gone
into rehab for alcohol and has flouted team rules to the point of allegedly wearing a
disguise while sneaking off to Las Vegas before a game being regarded by some as a
party animal. It’s not hard to tell why there’s so much ire for Newton. The Panthers
organization had their own questions before drafting him, even going so far as asking
Cam(at owner Jerry Richardson’s behest)not to get any tattoos or lengthen his hair.
This, despite other team members already having these. It was a move that in the
long run, was meant to preserve Newton’s persona as fairly clean-cut. Newton didn’t
have any real room to argue against it, what with how Michael Vick’s career came
crashing down and the failed careers of highly rated QB’s at that time like Akili Smith
and Jamarcus Russell. Look at Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers. He got to
the Super Bowl and there was a furor over his tattoos which led to the attempts to
label him a thug.
One has to consider that the quarterback is part of the American mythology
that has been constructed for decades. Football is one of the two sports we have
that we excel at without question that no other country can dominate. Why? Because
it is a game of controlled violence and keen intellect. And the quarterback is the one
to sort through it all & lead his team to victory. The Black NFL quarterback now is
still fighting to be well regarded within the league overall. While Doug Williams led
the Washington Redskins to a championship & Russell Wilson did the same with the
Seattle Seahawks, the difference between them and Cam is that Cam is more
outspoken & tied into contemporary Black culture. And he’s proud of it enough to
flaunt it. This is not a knock on Williams or Wilson - they’re reserved men who are
proud African-Americans. But that gets unfairly interpreted by a cross-section of white
America as being “respectable” or “knowing their place”. Same thing was stuck on
Donovan McNabb as a contrast to Michael Vick. In the eyes of these malcontents,
Cam is another bad Negro like Vick was. And the air of respectability confuses those
looking in - veteran & analyst Ryan Clark claims it’s culture, not race that is behind
the criticism of Cam Newton. You cannot separate the two. Not when you have a
league that historically has been at odds with the Black quarterback, either trying
to make him a wide receiver or defensive back upon being drafted or not drafting
them outright, giving them the only options of semi-pro football or the Canadian
Football League. Not when one of the bones of contention before the NFL-AFL
merger of the 1960’s was due to the prominence of Black players in the AFL and
their willingness to at least play Blacks at the QB position on a fleeting basis. 
Photo Credit: USA Today

Cam Newton is aware of this. He’s aware what drives these individuals to look at him
this way, call him these names. He knows that no matter how many touchdown footballs
he gives to little children, no matter the charity work he does, no matter that he’s a
Christian and a pescatarian, that a Black QB like him shouldn’t win a Super Bowl because
he’s arrogant.(he plays in the South, so I’m sure “uppity” is also in play.) he also doesn’t
give a damn. And that is not only fueled by his journey to this point, which includes a
near-fatal car accident two years ago, but the knowledge of other Black QB’s before him
who didn’t have a shot. Names like Joe Gilliam, Condredge Holloway. Names like Vick,
whose career was severely impacted by dogfighting & prison for two years, not to mention
some questionable coaching (looking at you Dan Reeves). Cam is fortunate to be in this
position with a coach in Ron Rivera who’s won a Super Bowl as a member of the 1985
Chicago Bears and a team of capable veterans. He’s fortunate that the Panthers are a
stronger organization than the 49ers, who have crumbled in the 4 years since their
last Super Bowl appearance with their coach leaving and player exits due to retirement
or drugs and domestic violence issues being too problematic to ignore. For what it’s
worth, I hope he dabs it up on Super Bowl Sunday. All the way to the White House.
Let the keyboard bigots and other social media trolls write a petition that will mean
nothing then. Because if Cam gets this first one, he’ll be on the forefront for quite a
while.  

 

Wednesday
Jan202016

No More Parties In SA - Chris "Preach" Smith



Just before midnight last evening, what already proved
to be a traumatic beginning to this year in music was
solidly underscored by the retirement of the prolific rapper,
actor and activist Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def. The news was
delivered via a voicemail message that was released
through Kanye West’s website. The message began with
a freestyle that was a riff on Kanye’s latest single release,
“No More Parties In L.A.” and contained a shoutout to
‘Ye for being a “real friend” and that he would release one
last album this year and also cease doing motion pictures.
This comes in the wake of Bey being arrested by authorities
in South Africa after trying to travel to Ethiopia to perform
in a concert there. The Department of Home Affairs claims
that Yasiin was using a fradulent document, namely a World
Passport. They also state that the rapper had entered South
Africa in 2013 and had been illegally living in the country
after staying past the alloted time in conjunction with his
visa which expired in 2014. A representative for Bey stated
to the press two days before this announcment that the arrest
at Cape Town International Airport was unwarranted, and
that the document was accepted before by the South African
government. Yaasin has done shows in the past couple of
years in different nations, but there is no record of what
documentation he used to travel.

This situation on the surface is puzzling, and offers up many
more questions than answers. It’s no secret that Yasiin has
been an outspoken advocate for justice and human rights,
most notably shown as he underwent the force feeding method
of torture that was inflicted on prisoners at Guananamo Bay,
Cuba under the direction of the United States government on
videotape. This has been brewing since the rapper was unable
to make a show here in Washington D.C. last year due to some
travel hangups. One has to ask: if Mos has been traveling with
this World Passport, why would the South African government
accept it on prior occasions and not now? Granted, the World
Passport is a travel document created by the World Service 
Authority, a group that was created by the late Garry Davis
based on the 30 articles of the United Nations Declaration of
Human Rights that was created in 1948. The document is not
globally fully accepted because there have been individuals using
it under false names among other security issues, but it is legally
accepted in Ecuador, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Togo, Mauritania and
Zambia. Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are also World
Passport owners. A representative for the group claims they’re
now in touch with Bey’s lawyers and says that this was accepted by
South Africa beforehand. Another problem that comes up is this: if he
has been living illegally in the country according to authorities, why
arrest him now and demand that he leave instead of in 2014 when
it was determined he stayed past the limit?

The situation does bring into light a pressing question in terms of
nations and borders. One of the hot topics of this current American
presidential election season is immigration. Syria, racked to the core
by a civil war, has seen hundreds of thousands flee their homeland
into Europe and Canada and sparingly into this country. Without 
being marked as purely the stuff of conspiracy theorists, identity
through the passport and the ideas of how one can truly be a citizen
of the world are in question. Chuck D and Public Enemy have been
hammering this home throughout their careers. More and more
we are seeing how the Black and Brown diaspora is connecting via
social media and travel. Tie that into the social justice movements
here and abroad. It does figure in to this situation. Now, this next
question may be pure speculation but it has to be asked: is Yasiin
marked by some authority somewhere because of his sociopolitical
beliefs and activism work? For embracing Islam as he does so? We’ve
seen musicians being asked to leave countries before i.e. Snoop Dogg.
But when it becomes political, it takes on a whole new meaning. You
almost forget that South Africa in their apartheid era spurred the
flight and exile of their own artists in Miriam Makeba and Hugh Maskela
among many others. Given the recent stirrings of protest from students
who fight to strip colonial markings and influence from their universities
there as well as for more fair inclusion of Black students, one wonders
what the government’s true thoughts are about an expatriate American
rapper with a conscious message in that mix. 

The saddest thing of all about this situation is that Bey looks to be 
done with entertainment, period. It’s going to be damn hard to really
imagine no more music from him. It’s going to be damn hard to not
see his personality jump out at you on the screen. As I finish editing
this piece, the television is blasting one of my favorite sci-fi films, The
Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy that he starred in. It hits me that Mos
has been on the scene in some form or fashion for over two decades
going all the way back to The Cosby Mysteries. That’s a long period of
time. And perhaps other things in his life have led him to make this
decision. When he references Kanye’s recent song “Real Friends”, in
listening to the message, you hear the weight. Whatever the outcome
of this is, there are no more parties to be had in South Africa. And 
wherever Yasiin Bey chooses to go next, hopefully it can be in peace. 

Tuesday
Dec012015

"Fargo" & Confronting The White Winterland - Chris "Preach" Smith

Photo Credit: FX

In the past few years, fans of dramatic television series
here in the United States have seen a sharp uptick in
the level of high quality programming on their screens.
It’s no accident - the traditional major networks have
been struggling to compete with serial offerings from
cable networks like HBO and Showtime as well as other
networks like FX. Add Netflix and Amazon to the mix
and we now are in the midst of a treasure trove of solid
TV programming available. For me, it becomes a bit of
work just to keep up with the amount of shows to check
out. One that has caught my eye from last year has
been Fargo, inspired by the iconic Coen Brothers movie
from 1996 and now in its second season on FX. It might
be the best series on television right now. And one of
those reasons is the character of Hanzee Dent, the Native
American right-hand man of the vicious Minnesota crime 
boss Dodd Gerhardt.

Fargo has been a crowd-pleaser because it has embraced
the dark humor of Joel and Ethan Coen’s film of the same
name, and has delivered compelling characters along with
storylines taken from real-life events. Plus a lot of gritty
action and noir elements don’t hurt either. This combo is
all the more important because of the frozen Midwestern
setting. White as far as the eye can see, in both the ethnic
population and the landscape. This season, Fargo has become
a prequel of sorts to the previous one that was set in 1996.
When the show opens up, we are confronted with a Native
actor on the set of a fictitious Ronald Reagan picture set in
the Old West during a break. The clueless director makes an
awkward comment about the actor’s “people” being part 
of the massacre the film is portraying. From that point on,
you realize that this show is not going to shy away from 
the bigotry that has attacked and decimated the indigenous
people of America. Native people being viewed as sentimental
and stereotypical and ultimately just part of the scenery.
Which is kind of how Hanzee is introduced, as a silent witness
to Dodd and his brother Rye’s(Kieran Culkin) argument in 
that same episode. Dent, played by veteran actor and Standing
Rock Sioux Native American Zahn McClarnon, seems to be just
another gunman in a Midwestern crime family that goes back
to World War II. It’s a perfect set-up for the show’s creators
and the character to touch upon something we just haven’t
gotten in period films and TV - race.

This season of Fargo goes there - not bluntly, but in a manner 
that’s pointed and subversive. Take for example the first murder
in the first episode that gets the ball rolling, a sort of comedy
of errors initiated by Rye Gerhardt. The Black cook in the Waffle
Hut comes out to try to stop Rye and gets a bullet that fatally
wounds him. A sheriff comes in afterwards with Lou Solverson
(Patrick Wilson), and recognizes him as a former high school football
standout. That’s it, but it is enough to give a slight bit of definition
to a character of color where other shows may not have bothered.
This instance helps the viewer to see how race, and matters related
to it, are viewed and expressed in 1979 Minnesota and North Dakota.
There’s a lot of complexity in the air that joins with the uncertainty.
For Hanzee Dent, and for Mike Milligan, the hitman for the Kansas
City mob played by Bokeem Woodbine, they are the most visceral 
signs of how the times have changed in the American heartland and
also how they haven’t. With Milligan being a Black representative of
arguably the most infamous crime organization the United States has
ever known, he has to not only be good but highly exceptional. In a
performance that should warrant Emmy consideration, Woodbine
imbues Milligan with a personality that honors the flavor of what
executive producer Noah Hawley wanted and stokes the audience’s
hidden desire to root for the bad guy. (The accent though. The first
time I heard it, I was in stitches.) Milligan is confident, strident even
in the face of uncertainty. There’s one scene that is striking - when
Simone Gerhardt comes to him and suggestively comes on to him,
Milligan’s retort is eloquent but as blunt as a Louisville Slugger as he
lays down his terms for her assistance in bringing down her family.
The familiar trope of a white woman clinging to a Black man via
sexuality is used here to add more drama and in the process, shatter
the stereotype of the Black buck without a mind of his own. Even
the fact that Mike’s conversation with the boss in which the boss 
attacks him for being incompetent solely because he’s “a darkie”
and Milligan’s own comeback denotes the complexity of his role.

Photo Credit: FX

As for Hanzee, he gradually steps away from the background
to make his own imprint. (Side note: McClarnon has revealed
that the character’s name comes from the Lakota word of
aháŋzi, which is translated to mean shade or shadow.) Starting
with the second episode, in which he calmly tells Dodd he’s cut
the ears off an enemy held in the family barn, Hanzee shows
that he is the shadow of the Gerhardt family and all that it
implies. He’s not taken in by any code but his own, and is loyal
to a point. Hanzee is also fiercely aware that being Native also
means being invisible, as evidenced by a conversation he has
with the mechanic Sonny as they speak about their Vietnam
War experiences. “Did you work the tunnels? “Send the Indian”,
they’d say. Who cares about booby traps?” Invisible but yet so
expendable. This feeling underscores the rage that Hanzee lets
out as he dispatches people in future episodes. It’s a feeling of
being connected and yet being constantly trampled upon by
almost everyone he meets including Dodd down the line.(More
on that in a bit.) Yet you can’t help but feel for him, even as he
assaults people dispassionately. You can’t help but feel that Dent
is only doing what he’s observed being done to his people in the
name of life, liberty and other American vaules that others will
tout as a cover for their misdeeds. McClarnon’s acting is highly
nuanced, with enough grit and enough pain that’s evoked without
a ton of dialogue. He uses brevity and silence to pick apart the
previous Hollywood-enforced views of indigenous characters and
reinforces that innate desire again to have a connection to the
bad guy. It’s part of what Fargo does so well - allow the audience
to connect with every character and give each actor the chance
to emote fully. Even when Dodd(Jeffrey Donovan)goes full on 
white male racist, seeing Hanzee just empty a bullet into his 
brain makes you…cheer. Because you can only imagine what he
went through in that Robinson Crusoe-esque relationship.

Photo Credit: FX

The fact that Hanzee Dent and Mike Milligan are two men 
of color on the opposite sides of a turf war between two 
older crime organizations that are the empires of immigrant
white males is not something to brush aside in this story.
Both men are actutely aware of their roles. Both have 
endured and become dispassionate assassins because of 
their circumstances(Dent being in one of those religious 
schools for Natives in a flashback, and Milligan speaking 
briefly about hardships with his mother). But both have 
also proven to speak to a hidden facet within this season
of Fargo - they both have observed enough about the nature
of the American society they came up in to survive. To be
more ruthless and yet keenly aware of why. The show has
been highly acclaimed by many this season, and I think that
it’s justified in the way these two anti-heroes have been
depicted. It speaks not only to the power of television dramas
that are constructed well, but it also provides more ammo
for the push to have television be more reflective of its 
viewing public. For Zahn McClarnon and Bokeem Woodbine
to have such standout performances amidst a mighty cast
that includes heavy hitters is important not only for TV 
but for more diversity represented in artistic media period.
I’ll be awaiting the end of the series with great expectation
as to what awaits these two on the white winterland.

 

 

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