In Dakar, Senegal, a woman goes into a dark, small room called an m’bar, a goldsmith studio. The walls are covered with black dust, and she is there to commission an intricate piece of gold jewelry that will be part of her family’s wealth, as well as a symbol of her status, political power and prestige. She’s accompanied by a griot, who will sing songs praising the client’s family connections and her beauty to inspire the teugue, the goldsmith, to create an especially exquisite piece of jewelry. Continue reading In Senegal, Female Empowerment, Prestige and Wealth Is Measured in Glittering Gold
The storyline sounds innocuous. A young, well-dressed widow is raising an adorable 5-year-old son in a nice apartment while working as a nurse. However, using that middle-class premise for the first comedy to showcase a black family in 1968 turned “Julia” into a battlefield in the still-ongoing war about how African-Americans are represented on TV today. Squarely situated at an intersection between popular culture and racial politics, “Julia” became a beachhead for critics who insisted that television should not sacrifice African-American authenticity to win viewers. Continue reading Was the 1968 TV Show “Julia” a Milestone or a Millstone for Diversity?