#BackChannel: Trump And Black Women Plus A Review Of LeBron’s ‘Shut Up And Dribble'

Nov 15, 2018

President Donald Trump has made no secret of his disdain for many members of the media. Last week his administration revoked the White House press pass for CNN’s Jim Acosta and threatened to retaliate against other reporters if they did not “treat the White House with respect.” His recent attacks on three female African-American reporters highlight what some analysts call an ongoing trend: Trump singles out women and minorities.

They all try and defend themselves, and I just think it's ridiculous because each and every one of them had a legitimate question that they wanted to ask.
- Natalie Bullock Brown

Popular culture experts Natalie Bullock Brown and Mark Anthony Neal join host Frank Stasio to talk about Trump’s comments as part of #BackChannel, The State of Things’ recurring series connecting culture and context. They also review the new Netflix rom-com “Nappily Ever After” about a black woman’s journey to embrace her hair starring Sanaa Lathan, and “The Hate U Give,” a new film based on Angie Thomas’ 2017 novel by the same name. The film looks at police violence through the eyes of a 16-year-old African-American girl. Brown and Neal pay tribute to two recently-deceased artists: poet and playwright Ntozake Shange and trumpeter Roy Hargrove. They also analyze the new three-part Showtime docuseries “Shut Up and Dribble” from LeBron James which looks at the history of the NBA and black athletes’ activism.

Interview Highlights:

Mark Anthony Neal on Trump’s attack on three female black journalists: One of the reasons why he could isolate [the three journalists] is because that isolation reflects what the isolation looks like in these newsrooms. The fact that they are minorities and few and far between in the newsrooms just gets reproduced among the White House Press Corps.

Natalie Bullock Brown on the legacy of poet and playwright Ntozake Shange: I call the character of Starr and a whole generation of African-American kids: The Generation of Watchers. They’ve come of age watching these brutal deaths of African-Americans and other folks largely on handheld devices … It allows us to kind of work through this kind of rupture that occurs in her life when she actually has to deal with this violence face-to-face in ways that’s not mediated by handheld devices.

Many of the folks who have followed after her [Ntozake Shange] aptly described her as a beast. A beast of nature in terms of what she was able to produce.
- Mark Anthony Neal

Natalie Bullock Brown on the new Netflix film "Nappily Ever After": It does feel like it’s a little late to the party in terms of affirming your natural self. All the celebration that takes place on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook with black women really affirming each other and natural hair and natural beauty has been going on for a minute. But, even still … it’s a film that I pulled a lot from. I think one of the main themes is being authentic and not trying to live up to some standard of perfection that’s unsustainable. I mean, for anybody, but certainly for black women.

Mark Anthony Neal on the new film “The Hate U Give”: I call the character of Starr and a whole generation of African-American kids: The Generation of Watchers. They’ve come of age watching these brutal deaths of African-Americans and other folks largely on handheld devices … It allows us to work through this kind of rupture that occurs in [Starr’s] life when she actually has to deal with this violence face-to-face in ways that’s not mediated by handheld devices.

Mark Anthony Neal on the new LeBron James' docuseries "Shut Up and Dribble": There’s a way in which we’ve never seen a basketball player like LeBron … We have never seen the athlete in the prime of his career so committed to creating spaces to address issues of social justice and inequality, and it’s not about him. It’s about his willingness to create platforms, to produce content that deals with this. You see LeBron now, and you see “Shut Up and Dribble,” and you almost want the basketball career to be just over because you’re imagining what he’s going to be able to do and the kind of content he’s going to be able to produce over the next 20-25 years.

Natalie Bullock Brown on trumpeter Roy Hargrove: I got to go and listen to [his] music live … He absolutely understood … the larger context from which he springs. He understood the history of not only trumpeters, jazz trumpeters, but also of jazz. And he was steeped in the bebop tradition, and you could hear it … He sounded like he had been playing much longer and was much older and experienced than he actually was. And that was part of his brilliance.