Akira’s Hip Hop Shop: A Love Story Set to a Different Beat [VIDEO]

Buy Akira's Hip Hop Shop! Sunday morning channel surfing while multi-tasking brought this gem of an independent short film to my television. Akira’s Hip Hop Shop is about an interracial relationship that’s rarely talked about let alone became the focus of a film. Asian male – black female couples are very rarely seen. This blog post is not about the sociological reasons why that coupling is not seen as frequently as Black male – Asian female couples or any other combination of couples.

Akira (James Kyson Lee) is faced with many daunting choices in addition to his love for Daphne (Emayatzy Corinealdi). Family pressures and ultimatums weigh heavily on his decisions regarding his relationship with Daphne and commitment to fulfilling his personal dreams and aspirations. Daphne is forced to  decide how she will live out her dreams.

Outside of the Asian male-black female, the movie is much of the same old things --- stereotypes about sex and disapproving family and friends. While Akira and Daphne are of different ethnic backgrounds, their similar interests in music and Asian culture make for refreshing dialog. They also find they are a lot more similar than different.

This is a short film. The full-length version of the movie (37 minutes) is available on and fills in the gaps of the shortened version but you still want more of this film. I don’t want to spoil the movie if you haven’t seen it; if you like romantic comedy with a little drama, check out Akira’s Hip Hop Shop.

Get Akira's Hip Hop Shop now!

Official Trailer: Akira’s Hip Hop Shop

Official Website: Akira’s Hip Hop Shop

Rent it or buy it online: Akira’s Hip Hop Shop

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Howard Witt, Mainstream Media and the Black Blogosphere

Here is a video interview of my favorite journalist, Howard Witt, of the Chicago Tribune. He gives props to the black blogosphere (Afrosphere) and the effectiveness of the activism generated by black blogs in the case of Shaquanda Cotton and the Jena 6.

Witt has wisely and effectively harnessed the power of the media working with bloggers as opposed to viewing blogs as competition. I do hope the bloodletting in mainstream media ceases soon because there is a tremendous probability that the masses will never be made aware of injustices such as the Jena 6 and Shaquanda Cotton.

H/T = The Urban Report and The Electronic Village

Howard Witt Recipient of Toni House Journalism Award

Des Moines — Howard Witt, national correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, has won the 2008 American Judicature Society’s Toni House Journalism Award. Witt is the Tribune’s Southwest bureau chief based out of Houston. The award is named after the late U.S. Supreme Court public information officer Toni House. It honors outstanding journalism that enhances public understanding of the courts and contributes to the improvement of the administration of justice. The award will be presented at a ceremony later this year.

Witt was selected as the recipient for a career body of work that has heightened public awareness of continuing racial disparities in America. Most notably, Witt wrote the first national story on racial tensions in Jena, Louisiana, now commonly known as the Jena 6 story. Witt’s other prominent stories led to the release of Shaquanda Cotton, a black teen who received seven years in jail for shoving her school hall monitor in Paris, Texas, and to a large civil award for Billy Ray Johnson, a mentally disabled black man in Texas who was beaten and left for dead by four white youths who received only a slap on the wrist in criminal court.

Witt is the tenth recipient of the award. Previous recipients include Nina Totenberg, National Public Radio legal affairs correspondent; Marcia Coyle, Washington Bureau Chief of the National Law Journal; and Lyle Denniston, U.S. Supreme Court and legal affairs correspondent for the Boston Globe.

An important aspect of the AJS mission is to further public understanding of the judicial system. Toni House reflected that commitment by devoting her career to explaining the workings of the court system to the public—first as a journalist and later as the U.S. Supreme Court’s public information officer. At the time of her death in 1998, House was of member of the AJS Executive Committee.

Howard Witt awarded for fairness in reports on race

I am late in posting this but one of my favorite journalists, Howard Witt, has been honored with a well-deserved award for his body of work. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you already know of him and his objective reporting on issues such as the Jena 6 and the Shaquanda Cotton case. He's also reported on other issues that you can read about below.

Witt was also a finalist for the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in the category of national reporting.

Click here for summary of Howard Witt's work on the Chicago Tribune.

Howard Witt on Bill O'Reilly

Chicago Tribune's Howard Witt wins
Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers
for Reports on Race

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Chicago Tribune Southwest Bureau Chief Howard Witt has won the 2008 Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers for his coverage of racial issues in America.

Judges recognized Witt for his exemplary evenhandedness in covering the complex, often thorny issues surrounding race relations in the U.S. and the unfinished business of the nation's civil rights movement. They praised his work as scrupulously fair and described him as a "reporter who will not be beat, who plays no favorites, who reveals disturbing truths."

Witt's body of work, "Justice in Black and White," included stories ranging from his groundbreaking reports on the Jena 6 case in Louisiana, to articles about the inequities of the judicial system, environmental racism and the brutal beating of Billy Ray Johnson, a mentally retarded black man in Texas. Through them all, Witt uncovered evidence of the racial tension that continues to divide America.

The Taylor Award judges also recognized two finalists:

The Palm Beach Post and staff writer Christine Evans for the five-part series "America's New Main Street: The Many Faces of Immigration." Evans researched the forces that have transformed Lake Worth, Fla. into a microcosm of the changing face of America today. Her reports about the effects of immigration on the community were recognized as "a richly human and humane treatment of the immigration issue that is too often missing from other accounts…an exercise in fairness, an antidote to stereotypes."

Rocky Mountain News and its four-day series "Beyond the Boom," which examines the impact of oil drilling on Colorado's citizens, environment and economy, and uncovers both the positive and negative consequences of the oil boom. One judge noted that "the editorial mandate that every stakeholder involved or affected be offered a voice in the pieces, the masterful graphics and explainer-sidebars and the attempt by the news organization to illuminate the way to go forward was magnificent."

The team behind the Rocky Mountain series included reporters Laura Frank, Gargi Chakrabarty, Todd Hartman and Burt Hubbard; Matt McClain, photographer; Michael Hall, graphics; Steve Miller, designer; and Tim Burroughs, copy editor.

The Nieman Foundation received a record number of applications for the award this year. Nieman Curator Bob Giles noted that the choosing a winner and two finalists was difficult due to the high quality of the entries: "We saw many exceptional, well crafted, in-depth reports on a wide range of topics. Despite the challenges facing the industry, print journalists continue to do extraordinary work. It's clear that their newspapers strive to ensure that stories are fair in doing so, they render readers a great service."

In making their selections, the judges for the awards identify stories that they believe meet the highest standards of fairness in all aspects of the journalistic process: reporting, writing, editing, headlines, photographs, illustrations and presentation.

The judges for the 2007 Taylor award were Ernest Schreiber, editor of the Lancaster New Era in Lancaster, Pa.; science writer John Mangels of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio, and a current Knight Fellow at MIT; Maggie Mulvihill, I-Team producer for WBZ-TV in Boston and a 2005 Nieman Fellow; and Walter Ray Watson, a senior producer at NPR in Washington, D.C. and a 2008 Nieman Fellow. Bob Giles, curator of the Nieman Foundation, was chair of the jury.

The 2008 Taylor Awards were presented on April 17, 2008 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass.

The Taylor honor includes a $10,000 prize for the winner and $1,000 each for the two top finalists. The award program was established through gifts for an endowment by members of the Taylor family, who published The Boston Globe from 1872 to 1999. The purpose of the award is to encourage fairness in news coverage by America's daily newspapers.

William O. Taylor, chairman emeritus of the Globe, embraced the idea of an award for fairness in newspapers as a way to give something back to the craft to which five generations of his family devoted their working lives. The Taylor family's 127-year stewardship of the Globe was characterized by an enduring commitment to fairness. At his invitation, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard agreed to administer the prize starting in 2002.

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard administers the oldest midcareer fellowship program for journalists in the world. Since the program was established in 1938, more than 1,200 journalists of accomplishment from 88 countries have received Nieman Fellowships and have visited the university for a year of study and exploration.

The Nieman Foundation also publishes the quarterly magazine Nieman Reports, the nation's oldest magazine devoted to a critical examination of the practice of journalism. Additionally, the foundation is home to the Nieman Program on Narrative Journalism and the Nieman Watchdog Journalism Project, which encourages reporters and editors to monitor and hold accountable those who exert power in all aspects of public life.

Previous Winners and Finalists of the Taylor Family Award
for Fairness in Newspapers

Winner: Lancaster New Era (Lancaster, Pa.)
Finalists: The New York Times and The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio)

Winner: The Sacramento Bee
Finalists: The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) and East Valley Tribune (Mesa, Ariz.)

Winner: The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.)
Finalists: Akron Beacon Journal and The Orange County Register

Winner: The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)
Finalists: The Wall Street Journal and The Des Moines Register

Winner: The Boston Globe
Finalists: The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio) and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Winner: The Hartford Courant
Finalists: The Sun (Baltimore, Md.) and The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, La.)

Why doesn’t JET Magazine use male centerfold models?

If you are a black American, chances are you've seen and read JET magazine during your lifetime. For the life of me, I can't remember not having JET or EBONY in my household. Both magazines have done an excellent job in capturing and recording news and history of black people from around the globe.

One of the trademarks of JET is the Beauty of the Week which is a centerfold photo of a woman in a swimsuit, usually a bikini. The men I know usually flip to that page first and then read the news. A post I wrote back in November about one of the JET Beauty models led to a comment by one of the JET photographers, Jacquie Riley Thomas, who took offense to the word 'cheesy' that I used in my post.

Ms. Thomas thought I referred to the photography as cheesy; which is far from the truth. I do think that whole woman in a swimsuit concept is cheesy. I've often wondered, and I might as well write it here, why there aren't any men centerfold models in JET. I know Johnson Publishing Company produces a swimsuit calendar called JET Brothers so a male centerfold is an easy change.

When JET does decide to make that move, here's my short list of guys for the JET Brother of the Week centerfold. Let's see…in no particular order: Terrell Owens, Shemar Moore, Boris Kodjoe, Dustin Brown, the UPS guy that delivers to my office, Harry Lennix and Michael Jai White.

I could go on and on about the sexual objectification of women but that's not really the point. Until men are used as JET centerfold models, no matter how nice the photography, I will continue to think the concept is cheesy.