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#BackChannel: The 1619 Project, Comedy From Chapelle, And New Music From NC’s Rapsody

Billy Porter made Emmy history Sunday when he became the first openly gay black man to win lead actor in a drama category for his role in the FX series “Pose.”

Actor Jharrel Jerome also made history as the first Afro-Latino to take home an acting Emmy. Jerome won for his portrayal of Korey Wise in Ava DuVernay’s Netflix series “When They See Us.” Only three major Emmy awards went to people of color this year, so what do these wins mean in a context in which Hollywood’s award ceremonies are still #sowhite? Popular culture experts Mark Anthony Neal and Natalie Bullock Brown share their analysis of the 2019 Emmy Awards with host Frank Stasio in the latest installment of #BackChannel, The State of Things’ recurring series connecting culture and context.

'We're still in a moment where black folks don't really get to tell the full spectrum of who we are through stories, especially through Hollywood.' - Natalie Bullock Brown

They also reflect on The New York Times’ 1619 Project, a collection of writing and photography that marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of African slaves to Virginia. Plus, why did Jemele Hill’s inaugural article for The Atlantic cause such a stir? Brown and Neal recap the controversy around the piece “It’s Time for Black Athletes to Leave White Colleges.”

'The reason why we love Dave Chapelle is we had become accustomed to seeing someone who would punch up at power ... But what we heard in 'Sticks and Stones' was someone who consistently punching down.'- Mark Anthony Neal

They also review the provocative Dave Chappelle Netflix special “Sticks and Stones” and the new HBO series "A Black Lady Sketch Show"created by Robin Thede. They share what they did and did not find funny and consider what audiences want from today’s comics. And they review new music from Missy Elliott and North Carolina’s Rapsody. Elliott’s EP “Iconology” is her first release in close to 15 years, while Rapsody’s 16-track album “Eve” is a tribute to her heroes, including Nina Simone, Oprah Winfrey and Sojourner Truth. Natalie Bullock Brown is a filmmaker and teaching assistant professor at North Carolina State University, and Mark Anthony Neal is the James B. Duke professor and chair of the department of African and African American studies at Duke University in Durham.

Watch the "A Black Lady Sketch Show" trailer and Missy Elliott's 2019 VMA performance:

Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist, host, creator, and executive editor of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.