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Beyoncé Drops Surprise New Song ‘Black Parade’ on Juneteenth

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Beyoncé pulled “a Beyoncé” yet again – and it comes with a powerful message and purpose.

What We Know:

  • On June 19 – also known as Juneteenth which is the holiday commemorating the effective end of slavery in the United States that has taken on a deeper meaning in 2020 in the midst of calls for racial justice and recognition that Black Lives Matter – the superstar surprise-dropped her new song “Black Parade,” as well as an extended. five-minute-plus version exclusively on TIDAL.
  • Earlier in the day, Beyoncé honored Juneteenth on Instagram writing: “Happy Juneteenth Weekend! I hope we continue to share joy and celebrate each other, even in the midst of struggle. Please continue to remember our beauty, strength and power.”
  • Soon after the post, Beyoncé released her new single “Black Parade,” the singer’s first new solo music since her contributions to The Lion King companion album The Gift in 2019. Beyoncé also most recently appeared on a remix of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage.”
  • Beyoncé’s Black Parade site explained more of the song’s purpose and also provides a directory of Black-owned businesses ranging from art & design, restaurants, beauty products, lifestyle, wellness, bookstores and more, curated by her personal stylist Zerina Akers who founded the @black.owned.everything business directory.
  • The song, written by Beyoncé and co-produced by Derek Dixie (the Emmy-nominated music director of HOMECOMING: A Film by Beyoncé Knowles), also features her husband Jay-Z, as co-writer along with others.
  • The iconic artist has long referenced her roots as a Texan, the state just south of Oklahoma where Trump’s rally was being held over the weekend, and once again takes the listener on a trip to the world she knows. “I’m goin’ back to the South … Back where my roots ain’t watered down,” she sings at the top of the track.

You can listen to “Black Parade” on Tidal now or stream via YouTube.

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Dominique Browder is a Digital Content Creator for UnmutedCo. Dominique is creating news content for Black News Alerts website, social media and newsletter. She enjoys the freedom and loose structure at UnmutedCo and loves how she is able to gain a more hands-on experience. When she is not writing and researching content, Dominique lends her skills to empowering women.

Entertainment

“In the Heights” Casting Calls Attention to Colorism in Latinx Community

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Lin Manuel Miranda’s film adaptation of his musical, In the Heights, came under fire from Afro-Latinx viewers for its lack of representation of black members of their community.

What We Know:

  • Miranda’s In the Heights is designed as a semi-autobiographical depiction of the Washington Heights neighborhood in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It shows a struggling but vibrant community and for many has been a beacon of representation. However, the film adaption fails to display the true fabric of Washington Heights as it neglects the large population of Black Latinx people that live there.
  • Discussion about the colorism seen in the film’s casting was spurred by a June interview with The Root’s Felice León and director Jon M. Chu. She asked Chu his thoughts on the lack of Black Latinx representation in the film. He responded with, “That was something that we talked about and that I needed to be educated about. In the end, when we were looking at the cast, we tried to get the people who were best for the roles.”
  • Chu and actress Melissa Barerra pointed out the movie’s background dancers as examples of black representation in the film, which did not satisfy viewers. Colorism has long been an issue in the Latinx community as Afro-Latinx members often get erased, especially those of Caribbean descent.

Culture critic Soraya McDonald stated, “These discussions are ones we end up having because there is such an atmosphere of scarcity when it comes to these stories.”

  • Miranda has come under fire for black erasure before with his highly successful show Hamilton. Despite having a predominantly black cast, many feel it erases black people from the historical narrative. Chu has also come into similar criticism for his 2018 film Crazy Rich Asian‘s depiction of Singapore and its omission of Malay, Indian, and other ethnic populations.
  • Franceli Chapman, an Afro-Latina actress and Washington Heights native, said, “Washington Heights is a real place with real people. When you walk through that neighborhood, what it looks like is not being reflected on screen.” Miranda has since apologized in a statement released on Twitter, acknowledging the criticism.

  • A study conducted in 2019 and released this year found that, of Black women cast in leading roles in the past decade, only 19% had dark skin. Rebecca Carroll, culture critic and author of Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir, stated, “For the folks who may not even notice the erasure – white audiences – their willful ignorance is not merely validated but cemented. For the people who see the Black background dancers as sufficient representation and/or progress, that remains progress. And for those of us who find the erasure absolutely glaring, we have to start all over again with why it matters.”

While In the Heights can still be celebrated for the representation of Latinx communities it does provide, the film clearly identifies the need for more discussion around colorism in the industry.

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Education

George Clooney And Other Stars Launch Public LA Film School

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George Clooney is one of many stars co-founding a public high school in the Los Angeles United School District to provide underserved communities an opportunity to break into the film industry.

What We Know:

  • Clooney, Kerry Washington, Don Cheadle, Mindy Kaling, and Eva Longoria are just a few listed as the founding members of the Roybal School of Film and Television Production. Housed in the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center in the Westlake District area of LA, the magnet program will provide curriculum, practical training, and internships.
  • In a statement, Clooney said, “Our aim is to better reflect the diversity in our country. That means starting early. It means creating high school programs that teach young people about cameras, and editing and visual effects and sound and all the career opportunities this industry has to offer.” LAUSD teachers will be given access to industry professionals in order to achieve these goals.
  • Under the direction of principal Blanca Crus, the school’s curriculum will be developed to meet the standards of the State of California. Austin Beutner, LAUSD Superintendent, expressed his approval, “Physics is involved in the choice of lens by a cinematographer, math is part of the foundation for a musical score…critical thinking skills are needed to design a set, screenwriters need a foundation in literacy, and a make-up artist needs to know chemistry of the different materials they might use — all of this will be tied into the curriculum at the school.”
  • The Roybal School of Film and Television is expected to launch in the fall of 2022. The plan is to enroll underclassmen to begin and expand to upperclassmen in the following two years. There will then be an opportunity to expand the pilot program to more schools in LA.

Initiatives like these spearheaded by actors in the industry show the desire for the film world to better capture the American experience in all capacities.

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Coronavirus

Uncertainty As In-Person Concerts Return This Summer

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(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Starting this summer and extending into the fall, musicians and bands are returning to the stage. Names like Green Day, Harry Styles, and Garth Brooks have announced tour dates.

What We Know:

  • The Foo Fighters kicked off the return of the concert scene with a big show in Madison Square Garden this past Sunday to celebrate the reopening. It was the first time in 400 days that the venue had been used for a concert. In order to attend, guests had to have proof of full vaccination, but COVID protocols for large gatherings continue to vary state by state.
  • As artists continue to announce summer tour dates, it’s clear there is excitement to return to the road. One Republic’s Ryan Tedder told CNN, “I think live music will explode. I think this has created a scenario in which everyone that’s alive has this lease on their time in moving forward, at least for the next year or two.”
  • Touring professionals were hit the hardest when concerts shut down in March of 2020. A lot of crew members are balancing feelings of relief and caution. David Morgan, James Taylor’s front-of-house engineer, stated, “I’m completely vaccinated but there’s still the unknown factor of what happens when you get 15,000 people into an arena. We don’t know that yet. This is all uncharted territory.”
  • Morgan was planning on retiring last year, but the pandemic cost him $100,000 in income, which will force him to be on the road for at least another year. As James Taylor’s tour dates loom, he is apprehensive to see how the events will pan out, “I’m wondering how much physical separation there’s actually going to be. I’m wondering what the vaccine policy in the building is going to be.”
  • Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer’s “Hella Mega” tour plans on extensive safety protocols. The trio of bands are exclusively performing at outdoor venues and all members of the road team must be vaccinated. A COVID compliance office will travel with them to keep organizers up to date on different states’ regulations. However, unvaccinated fans could lead to a potential outbreak and jeopardize these tours for another period of time.

The financial hardships experienced by concert staff in the last year have left behind some apprehension as the pandemic subsides. While artists and fans alike are excited to experience live performances again, the risk of cancellations is a factor.

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