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The duo at LiveTone Studios

The duo at LiveTone Studios

It was close to midnight when I finally made it to LiveTone studios located in what Urban Memphis calls "Blackhaven." The term of endearment echoes the rich pride of the people who live in this part o

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  • Written by Kelvin Cowans/Special to the New Tri-State Defender

Did ‘Scandal’ success propel Alfre Woodard into presidential role on ‘State of Affairs?’

Did ‘Scandal’ success propel Alfre Woodard into presidential role on ‘State of Affairs?’

Numerous black actors have played the president of the United States over the years on film and television, including Morgan Freeman, Dennis Haysbert, Richard Pryor and Jamie Foxx. But with a new pilot called "State of Affairs," NBC is offering up the first black woman POTUS.

Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning actress Alfre Woodward will play President Roberta Payton in the drama that is being billed as a cross between "Scandal" and "The West Wing." Woodard is joined by Katherine Heigl, whose character is a CIA operative who does daily debriefings with the president. Heigl's character is also the ex-girlfriend of President Payton's late son.

No further details about the pilot are available, but just the fact that a major network's drama will star a black woman as the leader of the free world is a significant milestone in how black women are depicted in pop culture.

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  • Written by Demetria Irwin/theGrio

Study: Violent video games with black characters fuel racism

Study: Violent video games with black characters fuel racism

You start your favorite video game, go to character select, pick a black avatar—be it a fighter or gangster—and start playing. As a white person, what effect, if any, does this have on you?

According to a new study, the effect is significant: White players who adopt black characters are more likely to exhibit aggression and express strongly negative attitudes toward blacks, even after ending the game.

"The media have the power to perpetuate the stereotype that blacks are violent, and this is certainly seen in video games," said Brad Bushman, an Ohio State University communications professor and psychologist who co-authored the study. "This violent stereotype may be more prevalent in video games than in any other form of media because being a black character in a video game is almost synonymous with being a violent character."

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  • Written by Breanna Edwards/The Root

Black theater success is reshaping one of America’s whitest fields

Black theater success is reshaping one of America’s whitest fields

The theater world has long been considered one of the most elite—and least diverse—in American culture. And as I've previously covered for The Root, at present there are only a handful of African-American Broadway producers, despite the fact that 46 new shows opened last season.

Over the years, though, there have been occasional African-American playwriting successes. Lorraine Hansberry was the first black female writer to have a show—the classic "A Raisin in the Sun," produced on Broadway—and it recently returned to Broadway, 55 years after its debut, with Denzel Washington now as the star.

August Wilson became the first black playwright to win a Tony Award for best play in 1987. But when Playbill, the publication best known for publishing Broadway programs, attempted to compile a list of influential black playwrights in the late '90s, the number of those with actual Broadway productions or mainstream crossover success of any kind was uncomfortably small.

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  • Written by Keli Goff/The Root

It’s official: Aaron McGruder out at ‘Boondocks’

It’s official: Aaron McGruder out at ‘Boondocks’

Aaron McGruder, creator and executive producer of "The Boondocks," has had no involvement with the upcoming fourth season of the cartoon, Adult Swim confirms, fueling suspicions that began on Facebook, where McGruder claimed "The Boondocks" page had been "hijacked."

According to a press release issued by Adult Swim, "this season was produced without the involvement of Aaron McGruder, when a mutually agreeable production schedule could not be determined."

In response to a request for comment, McGruder would only confirm that he has had no involvement with this season of the show.

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  • Written by Stephen A. Crockett Jr./The Root

‘Afraid of Dark’ filmmaker hopes to make black men ‘harder to kill’

‘Afraid of Dark’ filmmaker hopes to make black men ‘harder to kill’

Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Oscar Grant, Jonathan Ferrell.

The news seems saturated with stories of young black men and boys whose lives were cut short — often because they were perceived as a threat.

Moved to action by the trend, one director has set out to investigate the images and myths around black males that feed those negative perceptions.

With "Afraid of Dark," documentary filmmaker Mya B. says she hopes to make real the lives of everyday black men onscreen in hopes it could, "make them harder to kill."

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  • Written by Donovan X. Ramsey/theGrio

Have Uncle Ruckus and ‘The Boondocks’ been hijacked?

Have Uncle Ruckus and ‘The Boondocks’ been hijacked?

In November 2005 the Cartoon Network debuted "The Boondocks" during its late-night Adult Swim programming and gave us a glimpse into the fictitious Freeman family, who had just moved from the South Side of Chicago to the mostly white, made-up suburb of Woodcrest. In the premiere, viewers heard 10-year-old Huey Freeman proclaim that "Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil and the government is lying about 9/11."

They got to see the penis of Robert Jebediah Freeman – aka Granddad – during an in-home, butt-naked infomercial workout, and they were treated to a stirring rendition of Uncle Ruckus' "Don't Trust Those New Niggers Over There!"

The show was edgy and racy and all the adjectives that can describe supremely well-done black satire. And then, after only three seasons and 45 episodes, it was gone. Fans took to the Internet wondering if the controversial cartoon had been canceled. There was speculation about the creator Aaron McGruder's schedule and how long it took to craft each episode. There was speculation about the liberal use of the word "nigger," and Tyler Perry's alleged anger over his depiction in the "Pause" episode in season 3, as reasons for its sudden disappearance.

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  • Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom

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