Check It Out: ‘Treme,’ the Successor to ‘The Wire’

Actor Wendell Pierce talks about the upcoming TV series Treme.

Let’s get this straight: nothing will ever “succeed” The Wire. For my money, The Wire captured the complexity, diversity, and pathology of the black community better than any series we’ve seen on the small screen.

But if The Wire can’t be topped, perhaps its brilliance can be repeated.

That’s the hope for the upcoming series Treme. This new TV series comes from David Simon, The Wire’s creator, producer, and primary author. Treme will be based in New Orleans, and will look at the lives of musicians in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. (Treme is a neighborhood in New Orleans where many musicians live.)

Wendell Pierce, who is from New Orleans and played police detective Bunk Moreland on The Wire, will have a lead role in the new series. He shares his thoughts with the New Orleans weekly The Gambit. Clearly, he is overjoyed with the idea of doing a show that focuses on his hometown.

Wendell Pierce

The show is expected to debut in 2010. I’m looking forward to it.

Black Woman Walking – By Tracey Rose

This is a mini-documentary about disrespect toward black women… watch for the very poignant ending.

Is there a relationship between that and this…

Black Female Interracial Marriage Ezine


Date a White Guy

…? It’s something to think about.

Which Black Director is Most Boffo at the Box Office: Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, John Singleton, or Keenan Ivory Wayans?

When a movie makes a lot of money in its theatrical release, they say it’s “boffo at the box office.”

The four most prominent black directors of the past 10-15 years are Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, John Singleton, and Keenan Ivory Wayans. Which of these four has had the most success at the box office?

I went to two sites that provide box office informtion by director: Box Office Mojo and The Numbers. The two sites differ slightly in the numbers they report. When there were differences, I took the average of the two sites.

Here are the box office numbers for the four directors.

Spike Lee
Tyler Perry
John Singleton
Keenan Wayans

Total Box Office





Average Box Office





In total, John Singleton has been the most successful in total box office, but Keenan Ivory Wayans has done the best on average.

These numbers reflect the domestic box office only. Foreign box office and rental numbers are not included, as they are harder to get. If I can find the time, I might go back and update this post with foreign and rental sales information.

These are the movies for each director, and their domestic box office:

Spike Lee Movies

If Lee’s numbers were adjusted for inflation, they’d look better compared to the other directors. But even so, it’s clear that Lee is not a big money maker. Only one of his films, Inside Man, did over $50 million at the box office.

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In Washington, Shallow Waters Run Deep (Shallow Gingrich vs Deep Obama)

This is sorta silly season in politics. – Barack Obama, during the 2008 Presidential campaign.

When is it NOT silly season in Washington? Our politics have become so shallow, so stuck on things that don’t matter, that they border on being irrelevant.

That’s true for many Washington politicians in general, and Republican politicians in particular.

Case in point: Republican Newt Gingrich, who was once Speaker of the House and a respected deep thinker. It seems he’s gone off the shallow end. For Gingrich, no attack on Obama is too trivial or trifling.

A couple of weeks ago, in the wake of the Somali pirate attack on the Maersk Alabama, Gingrich said it was time for Obama to show the world he was tough on piracy. As Gingrich noted on the ABC show This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

Look, this is the administration [Obama’s] which keeps trying to find some kind of magical solution that doesn’t involve effort, and doesn’t involve risk, and doesn’t involve making hard decisions….. we ought to simply, as a civilized world, say we are gonna stop the pirates in the region. Period. It’s very good for the rest of the world to see that there’s someplace in the planet where people are willing to draw a line and say certain things won’t be tolerated.

Gingrich went on to say that piracy was a global threat along the lines of Iran, North Korea, and Mexico, and represented a test of the President’s resolve. That led Stephanopoulos to ask conservative commentator George Will whether the pirates were in fact a test for President Obama. Will responded

Good Heavens, no. The Speaker’s very litany of nuisances around the world — some rising considerably above nuisance — indicates just how down on the chain of concerns this should be. Again…. this is well below what mugging was in New York City, because as Paul [Krugamn] said the sea’s really quite safe.

Why did Gingrich elevate the piracy incident to the top of the list of foreign policy concerns? Because in the event that the pirate incident didn’t work out well-say, with the unfortunate death of Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips, whom the Somali pirates were holding hostage-Gingrich could call it big failure by Obama on the world stage.

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Algernon Austin Explains How Black Public Intellectuals Get It Wrong About Black Progress and the Black Poor

One of my favorite blogs is The Thora Institute. It’s the work of Dr. Algernon Austin, a social scientist and economist who works for the Economic Policy Institute.

One issue that Dr. Austin has addressed on numerous occasions is the mistaken beliefs held by some black intellectuals concerning black progress, or the lack thereof.

For example, consider these comments from Austin’s blog, regarding a review by Stanford University law professor Richard Thompson Ford of the book More Than Just Race by William Julius Wilson.

The second sentence of your New York Times book review of William Julius Wilson’s More Than Just Race states: “The poverty, violence and hopelessness in America’s inner cities have become increasingly dire in the four decades since the height of the civil rights movement.” This statement is not correct.

The Census Bureau reports that in 1966 the black poverty rate was 41.8 percent. In 2007, it was 24.5 percent, 17.3 percentage points lower than in 1966. The Center for Disease Control’s Health, United States, 2008 reports that in 1970 the age-adjusted homicide rate for black men was 78.2 for every 100,000 men. In 2005, it was 37.3 per 100,000. For black females, the 1970 homicide rate was 14.7 and 6.1 in 2005.

Many of the leading black public intellectuals are nostalgic for the past, but this is only because they do not accurately remember how rough the 1960s and 1970s were.

Just about every leading black public intellectual who discusses the black poor recently gets these and other basic facts wrong. The consensus among these black elites is that there is an epidemic of bad behavior among lower-income blacks that has led to a big increase in black poverty. Juan Williams states, “too many poor and low-income black people are not taking advantage of opportunities to get themselves out of poverty.” Cynthia Tucker claims, “drug use, poor classroom performance and the embrace of outlaw culture have done nothing but cement the black underclass at the bottom of American society.” Henry Louis Gates argues that America now has “the largest [black] underclass in our history” and “it’s time to concede that, yes, there is a culture of poverty.” You see that your second sentence fits with this theme.

Apparently, none of these commentators took much time to examine the black poverty trends. Over the 1990s, when lower-income blacks were supposedly mired in a culture of poverty, they experienced the largest reduction in black poverty since the 1960s. In 1992, the black poverty rate was 33.4 percent. By 2000, it had reached its lowest level on record, 22.5 percent. The culture-of-poverty idea or the “tangle of pathology” as William Julius Wilson has called it does not help us understand this historic decline in black poverty.

Just to be clear: Austin would be the first to say that the African American community faces a number of challenges, including internal ones, in dealing with problems such as poverty, crime and violence.

But even so, the idea that black people are stuck in a hopeless and helpless pathological spiral is unwarranted by the facts. The fact is, the black community has made significant social progress over the past 50 years.

It seems that we place an inordinate of effort in articulating what’s wrong with the black community, as opposed to detailing our successes, and pinpointing what works.

We need to talk more about how black people can win.

Factoid: Black State Legislators in 2009

There are now a record 628 African Americans in the legislatures of the 50 states, according to the National Black Caucus of State Legislatures and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Last year there were 622 Africans Americans state legislators.

A list with the count of African Americans in each state legislature is at the web site for the Conference of State Legislatures. I have prepared this edited version of the list:

Count and Percentage of Black State Legislators, 2009 (Sorted by Percentage of Blacks in the Legislature {% of Total Seats})

Some comments:

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Quality of Life, by Race and Gender: the Human Development Index

How do you measure the quality of life in broad terms for nations, or large groups within nations?

Most quantitative measures of quality of life are based on standard of living statistics, which in turn are based mostly on income or other purely economic factors.

A group called the Human Development Project (the Project) finds fault with that approach, saying that other measures are needed to truly understand how well people are living:

The indicators most frequently deployed in evaluating public welfare-GDP, the Dow Jones and NASDAQ, consumer spending and the like-only address one aspect of the American experience.

The human development model emphasizes the broader, everyday experience of ordinary people, including the economic, social, legal, psychological, cultural, environmental processes that shape the range of options available to us.

This approach has gained support around the world as a valuable tool in analyzing the well-being of large population groups.

The Project has developed a rating system called the Human Development Index which measures achievement in three basic categories:
• long and healthy life (as indicated by life expectancy at birth)
• access to knowledge (indicated by al degree attainment and school enrollment)
• decent standard of living (indicated by median earnings)

By applying these measures, the Project has developed the following Human Development Index scores for the United States, by race and gender:

American Human Development Index (HD) Rankings by Race and Gender, 2005
* Enrollment can exceed 100% if persons 25 years old or more are enrolled in school.
Source: The Measure of America: American Human Development Report 2008-2009

Of note:

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