Nafessa Williams, Cress Williams, China Anne McClain
By Mwabi Kaira

It's been a long time since black audiences have had an actual variety of shows led by an entirely black cast or lead black actors to choose from. It feels like a 90’s resurgence right now and boy, does it feel great! These two shows are off to a great start and they are MUST SEE TV.

Cress Williams is 'Black Lightning'

Black Lightning

Confession: I know nothing about Marvel and DC Comics and the superheroes in them so I wasn’t sure I would be lost watching CW’s Black Lightning which premiered Tuesday night. I know die-hard fans who know everything about these fictional subspecies of humans born with superhuman abilities known as metahumans. Black Lightning is a metahuman created in 1977 by DC Comics.

I settled in with 2.31 million other viewers and was thrown into the complex lives of the Pierce family. Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams and yes he played our beloved Scooter on Living Single), is the principal of Garfield High and the brother who would do anything to invest and protect the kids in the neighborhood. His daughters Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain - remember her from Daddy’s Little Girls?) are night and day in personalities. Anissa is woke and proudly protesting injustice while fiercely protecting her little sister and working as a teacher at Garfield. Jennifer is sick of being compared to her father and sister and doesn’t want to be the goody-two-shoes of the family so she makes questionable teenage choices with huge consequences.

The premiere episode of Black Lightning gave us protesting, driving while black blues, gang violence, sibling strife, and drama free co-parenting between Jefferson and his ex-wife Lynn (Christine Adams). Jefferson Pierce happily put the superpowers of Black Lightning to bed a decade ago as a promise to Lynn but must now resurrect him to save his girls and keep his neighborhood from harm. 
 


Husband and wife duo Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil (The Game, Being Mary Jane) created Black Lightning and it airs on Tuesday nights at 9 PM on The CW.

NEXT UP....
Connie Britton, Angela Bassett & Peter Krause 

9-1-1

I only needed one name to tune into Fox’s 9-1-1 when it premiered on January 3rd; Angela Bassett. Not just any Angela Bassett, but Waiting to Exhale Bernadine Harris hair Angela Bassett. 9-1-1 explores the lives and careers of first responders; police officers, paramedics and firefighters, and 911 phone operators. These first responders put their lives on the line every day to save others and draws from real-life, high-pressure experiences. So far we have seen a young man thrown from a rollercoaster ride, a baby rescued from being flushed down a toilet, a yellow python wrapped around its owners neck, and how first responders deal with medical emergencies of their own.

Angela Bassett plays Athena Grant, LAPD patrol sergeant keeping her head above water as her marriage to Michael (Rockmond Dunbar) is ending. 9-1-1 focuses on the firehouse where Athena’s friend Henrietta “Hen” Wilson (Aisha Hinds, who you may remember doing a fantastic job as Harriet Tubman in Underground) is a firefighter/paramedic. Scenes between sister-girls on the job being supportive and loving are much welcomed in comparison to the “we can’t get along” narrative usually shown. Cocoa Brown playing Carla Price, caretaker to 911 operator Abby Clark’s Mom, is much needed light heartedness in storylines so heavy. Rounding out 9-1-1’s cast are Peter Krause, Oliver Stark, Kenneth Choi and Connie Britton.

9-1-1 is created by 'American Horror Story' creator Ryan Murphy and had a record 15 million viewers tune in to the premiere episode. On January 16 it was announced that 9-1-1 had already been picked up for season 2 after only 2 episodes.

9-1-1 airs on Wednesday nights at 9 PM on Fox.

Have you checked out either of these shows?
Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her at http://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com/

We don't always think of women of color when it comes to sports like, say, SPEEDSKATING, but that hasn't stopped 17-year-old Ghanaian-American, Maame Biney, who recently made history as the first black woman to quality for the U.S. Olympic speedskating team! She'll compete in the Winter Games in Pyeongchang this February. In case you missed it, watch the thrilling race and bask in the joy that Maame exuded after her historic win. Trust, it'll brighten your day!

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Mel B.
If you've ever professed your undying love for someone in the form of a permanent body tattoo, and had that relationship end, chances are you've considered whether or not to keep it. Here's what 'America's Got Talent' judge, and former Spice Girl, Mel B. did when she and ex-husband Stephen Belafonte broke up! Have you ever had to get rid of a tattoo?
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The subject of healthy hair will always be a topic of conversation among women of color.  Recently, I was contacted by the editor of Un_Ruly.com  about an exciting, upcoming project.  They're currently hosting a casting call for women with relaxed hair living in New York or Los Angeles.

Those selected will participate in a video series on the topic of our hair.  I'm excited about the project and look forward to seeing the open dialogue featuring diverse women of all hair types textures.

 Previous Hair Story articles have highlighted the journeys of Naomi Campbell, Taraji P Henson, Viola Davis and many more.

The casting is open from now until December 22, 2017.  Let's help spread the word.  They're seeking women with relaxed hair to add diversity to the conversation. If you or anyone you know live in  NY or LA, and would like to be a part of this project, head over to un_ruly.com  to sign up.

Attorney General Bill Schuette takes questions after announcing new charges against two high-ranking state health officials in the fourth round of criminal charges in the Flint drinking water crisis on Wednesday June 14, 2017 during a press conference at Riverfront Banquet Center in downtown Flint. Photo: Detroit Free Press

Is justice in the waters of Flint, Michigan?

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Since 2014 the residents of the small Michigan town have been forced to bathe, cook, and drink bottled water exclusively. That year, the decision was made to change the water source from a Detroit water company to the Flint River. Despite warnings of crumbling, toxic pipes, and improperly treated water, city officials gave the switch the go ahead. Their motive? Money.

That same year, the amount of lead in the waters of Flint reached toxic levels. This issue has been widely reported and the main focus of the story, but not much has been done to prosecute anyone. The fact is, lead poisoning is treatable.

Legionnaires, however, is the undercover story, and the more serious disease. According to the Mayo Clinic website, it’s caused by bacteria which was found in the Flint water supply and can cause respiratory failure, septic shock, and acute kidney failure. Legionnaires is especially fatal in adults over the age of 50.

In 2014, an outbreak of Legionnaire's, stemming from the water in the river hit Genesee County, where Flint is located. Ten people contracted and consequently died of Legionnaire's. Dozens more were infected.

Recent documentation proves that the city not only knew that there was an outbreak of Legionnaires which had likely been caused by the poisonous pipes, they decided to withhold that information from the citizens of Flint for a full year.

Many were upset by the lack of action over the last three years, but it seems as though the other shoe has finally fallen. Five city officials were charged with manslaughter, the most serious charges that have been brought.

Since January 2016, when the court proceedings started, eleven people, mostly government are facing a total of 48 criminal charges. The five who are faced with manslaughter are looking at 15 years in prison.

It feels good to know that someone is looking out for the residents of Flint and that for once, justice is being served for a community of primarily Black and Brown people. The population of Flint is almost 60% Black. It’s rare that communities of color receive any justice at all for crimes committed against them big or small.

These very serious charges brought forth a small ray of hope in an otherwise bleak situation, but as people of color, we can’t just sit back as if all is good in Flint. Charges or no charges, the residents still need clean water. This crime was committed against people, families, children.

We have to continue the call for justice, just as loudly as the call for correction. It’s just as important to save citizens as it is to persecute criminals.



That being said how do you feel about these new charges? Do you think the state courts are doing enough? Comment below!
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