ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



He [Tupac] did this interview in The Source Magazine in which he started ripping

on interracial relationships, saying that they ruined the black race and stuff like that.

I got pretty irate and frustrated, so I wrote him an open letter. 



Kam Williams Interviews Rashida Jones

Younger Daughter of Jazz Icon Quincy Jones


Born in L.A. on February 25, 1976, Rashida Leah Jones is the younger daughter of jazz icon/composer/arranger/record producer Quincy Jones and actress Peggy Lipton of Mod Squad fame. Rashida was raised in Bel Air and attended the prestigious Buckley School where she was a member of the National Honor Society and voted the “Girl Most Likely to Succeed.” The academic overachiever also received religious training at a Hebrew school en route to Harvard University, and she continues to practice Judaism today.

Not one to shrink away from controversy, the brainy beauty came to the defense of her father as a teenager when he was criticized by Tupac Shakur in a 1994 interview with Source Magazine. During a rant against interracial relationships, the late gangsta’ rapper specifically indicted Quincy Jones for marrying a white woman, adding that his children were “all mixed and [expletive] up because they were biracial.”

Although some might question the wisdom of even getting into a pissing fight with a gun-toting, convicted felon who advocated selling crack to kids, Rashida nonetheless summoned up the gumption to confront Tupac, publicly taking him to task for his scathing remarks. His curious response, however, was to woo her big sister, Kidada, and by 1996 the couple was engaged and planning their wedding when ’Pac was blown away in an ambush which remains unsolved to this day.

The next year, Rashida graduated from Harvard before kick-starting her acting career in the TV miniseries The Last Don. Since then, she’s been a staple on the tube, appearing on such shows as Freaks and Geeks, Boston Public, Chappelle’s Show, and most recently, The Office. And her new sitcom, Parks and Recreation, where she will co-star opposite SNL alum Amy Poehler, is set to premiere on NBC on April 9th.

Although twice named to People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People in the World list (in 2002 and 2007), Rashida remains grounded, having been romantically linked not only to heartthrob Josh Hartnett, but also to relatively homely-looking guys like Tobey Maguire, SNL’s Seth Meyers, Mark Ronson, and John Krasinski, a fellow cast member on The Office,.

Here, she talks about her new movie, I Love You, Man, a romantic comedy where she plays the fiancée of a nerdy loner (Paul Rudd) desperate to make a friend (Jason Segel) to serve as best man at their impending wedding.   

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KW: Hey Rashida, thanks for the time.

Rashida Jones: No problem.

KW: What interested you in making I Love You, Man?

Rashida Jones: First of all, the script was hilarious, and it was just really nice to find a female character that was dynamic, outspoken, interesting and actually an important part of the plot. 

KW: How did you feel about the picture’s bawdy brand of humor?

Rashida Jones: I’m not easily offended. I have a pretty high tolerance for raunchiness or shock value, so I’m the wrong person to use as a gauge. I just liked the fact that the comedy, for the most part, is definitely based in reality which naturally lends itself to making crazy jokes.

KW: I’m probably a little more prudish than the average person, because I will admit that at the screening I attended, the rest of the audience was howling from beginning to end, and they even gave it a hearty round of applause at the end. I loved it, too, but I was certainly shocked here and there. 

Rashida Jones: That’s great!

KW: How did you like working with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel?

Rashida Jones: They’re both absolutely just the most generous, kind and hilarious people I’ve ever worked with. It was really a treat.

KW: I see that your new sitcom, Parks and Recreation, will be premiering soon. Will you continue to appear on The Office?

Rashida Jones: It’s not looking that way at the moment, because I’m playing a different character, and those shows are scheduled to come on back-to-back.

KW: You’ve got a new movie and a new TV show. Which medium do you prefer to work in?

Rashida Jones: It’s nice to be able to do both TV and film. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully, I’ll be able to bounce around in both.

KW: I was very impressed by your performance and chemistry with Paul in this film. So, if it’s a big hit, as I suspect, I’d guess this is going to be a real breakout role for you.

Rashida Jones: Thank you. I hope that that’s the case. If not, at the very least, I’m really proud of it. I think it turned out really well. 

KW: I know that you also sing. Any plans to pursue that further right now?  

Rashida Jones: Music will always be a part of my life, but career-wise, acting is where my heart is.

KW: I heard that you have a photographic memory. Is that true?

Rashida Jones: No. I don’t know where that came from. I think my dad might have said that in a moment of pride, adding to the list of things he’s proud about.

KW: Speaking of your father, is there any truth to the rumor that he was the taxi driver for the Fresh Prince of Bel Air?

Rashida Jones: No, that’s not true. Who told you that?

KW: My son, who knows every episode inside and out. It sure looks a lot like your Dad in that opening sequence. And his name comes up as executive producer right after the cabbie’s seen on the screen.

Rashida Jones: I know.

KW: Incredible! I always thought that I had a piece of inside knowledge that the cab driver was Quincy Jones. But you would know. Do you think the actor even looks like your Dad?

Rashida Jones: Kind of. I can’t really remember, but kind of.

KW: I’ve always told people that it’s Quincy Jones, but I guess I’ve been wrong all these years.

Rashida Jones: I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong.

KW: Well, it’ll be interesting Googling to get to the bottom of it now. You’ve made People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People twice, five years apart, most recently in 2007. How does that feel?

Rashida Jones: It feels really nice. Maybe I’m getting better with age.

KW: What I find just as interesting is you’re making Harper’s Bazaar’s Best Dressed List.

Rashida Jones: Yes, thank you.

KW: How would you describe your sense of style?

Rashida Jones: I like to wear what make me feel great, which can mean the color, or that the fit’s right, or that it’s just an interesting piece of clothing. I like to change it up. 

KW: Do you have favorite designers?

Rashida Jones: I do have designers that I love to wear, like Philip Lim and Marc Jacobs whose stuff I know will look good on my body. But still, I always like to express myself by changing things up.

KW: What was the idea behind that series of hilarious public service announcements you and Natalie Portman made together? I saw them on youtube.

Rashida Jones: It was right before the election, and we went to the writers of Funny or Die because we basically wanted to do something poking fun at those political commercials which we felt were way too serious. So, we decided to do something really stupid.  

KW: How do you feel about Obama’s winning?

Rashida Jones: I’m elated! That was the only hope we had left in this country. It made me feel really proud to be an American for the first time in a long time.

KW: In terms of Judaism, are you Orthodox, Conservative or Reformed? Do you keep a kosher kitchen?

Rashida Jones: No, I do not keep kosher. I grew up reformed. I never had my bat mitzvah, but I still practice and go to synagogue on high holidays. 

KW: Who are you inviting to your Seder this year at Passover?

Rashida Jones: You know, I don’t have a Seder. I always have to piggyback on somebody else’s. I’ll probably go to my friend’s parents’ house.

KW: I’m not Jewish, but I wrote a piece about a Seder I was invited to that look like the United Nations, since they had invited a motley group of people of every color, creed and ethnicity. There were more Gentiles there than Jews.

Rashida Jones: How nice. That’s real the spirit of Passover.

KW: What was the source of your beef with Tupac?

Rashida Jones: He did this interview in The Source Magazine in which he started ripping on interracial relationships, saying that they ruined the black race and stuff like that. I got pretty irate and frustrated, so I wrote him an open letter.   

KW: When he was murdered, did the police come to speak to you?

Rashida Jones: No.

KW: Just kidding. How did you feel when your sister, Kidada, started dating him?

Rashida Jones: He apologized a lot, but we had to work through it.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

Rashida Jones: That’s a good question, but no, I can’t come up with an answer to that, because I’m so used to being asked everything. [Chuckles]

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

Rashida Jones: That’s really sweet. Yes, I actually am happy. Thank you for asking. 

KW: The Laz Alonso question: Is there anything your fans can do to help you?

Rashida Jones: Not for me particularly, but something that irks me is the crazy, stalker-ish, aspects of this voyeuristic culture. People are never really satiated by looking at celebrities whose lives have nothing to do with their own. It’s just supporting this really awful culture where people are being harassed and stalked every day, every minute of the day. I don’t think that’s what people bargained for when they decided to become an actor or singer. It can start with people not supporting that tabloid culture.  

KW: That’s probably why the WASP philosophy is that your name should only in the paper twice, when you’re born, and when you die.

Rashida Jones: There you go. I like that. That’s a very good philosophy, but I think I’m way beyond that now. [Laughs]

KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?

Rashida Jones: Yeah, definitely. I’m afraid of roaches.

KW: Then don’t move to Manhattan.

Rashida Jones: I know. I’ve lived in New York, so I already went through that.

KW: The “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan question: Where in L.A. do you live?

Rashida Jones: I live in L.A., but I’d rather not say where.

KW: I understand. Teri Emerson would like to know, when was the last time you had a good belly laugh?

Rashida Jones: During the entire filming of I Love You, Man. It was incredible how much I got to laugh on the set.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

Rashida Jones: I am reading this book called Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker. It’s an account of the events leading up to World War II from different perspectives of people around the world.    

KW: What was it like growing up with such talented and well-known parents?

Rashida Jones: I don’t know what it’s like to not grow up with that, because I don’t have the other experience. But my parents made a concerted and effective effort to really keep us normal. I had a wonderfully loving, supportive and sheltered childhood, so it never really occurred to me that that was an issue until I went to college.  

KW: How did you like Harvard?

Rashida Jones: It was great. I had a wonderful experience there.

KW: Have you ever traced your ancestry?

Rashida Jones: Yeah, my dad had our family tree done a long time ago. My great-great grandmother on one side was a slave. We were able to trace our ancestry back through her owner’s lover and her owner who gave her his last name. On the slave owner side, there was a long lineage which included American presidents and Winston Churchill. I don’t know a lot about my mom’s side, but she’s Irish- Jewish on one side, and Russian-Polish-Jewish on the other side. 

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What music are you listening to nowadays? 

Rashida Jones: I’m a big Kanye West fan. And I really like this singer/songwriter named Bon Iver.

KW: What was the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome in life?

Rashida Jones: I would say dealing with sickness and death.

KW: I’m sorry to hear that. Thanks again for the interview, Rashida, and best of luck with both the new movie and new TV show. 

Rashida Jones: Thank you.

posted 15 March 2009

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *


Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America.

This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Pictures and Progress

Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity

Edited by Maurice O. Wallace and Shawn Michelle Smith

Pictures and Progress explores how, during the nineteenth century and the early twentieth, prominent African American intellectuals and activists understood photography’s power to shape perceptions about race and employed the new medium in their quest for social and political justice. They sought both to counter widely circulating racist imagery and to use self-representation as a means of empowerment. In this collection of essays, scholars from various disciplines consider figures including Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and W. E. B. Du Bois as important and innovative theorists and practitioners of photography. In addition, brief interpretive essays, or “snapshots,” highlight and analyze the work of four early African American photographers. Featuring more than seventy images, Pictures and Progress brings to light the wide-ranging practices of early African American photography, as well as the effects of photography on racialized thinking.

*   *   *   *   *

It’s The Middle Class Stupid!

By James Carville and Stan Greenberg

It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! confirms what we have all suspected: Washington and Wall Street have really screwed things up for the average American. Work has been devalued. Education costs are out of sight. Effort and ambition have never been so scantily rewarded. Political guru James Carville and pollster extraordinaire Stan Greenberg argue that our political parties must admit their failures and the electorate must reclaim its voice, because taking on the wealthy and the privileged is not class warfare—it is a matter of survival. Told in the alternating voices of these two top political strategists, It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! provides eye-opening and provocative arguments on where our government—including the White House—has gone wrong, and what voters can do about it. 

Controversial and outspoken, authoritative and shrewd, It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! is destined to make waves during the 2012 presidential campaign, and will set the agenda for legislative battles and political dust-ups during the next administration.

*   *   *   *   *

Allah, Liberty, and Love

The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom

By Irshad Manji

In Allah, Liberty and Love, Irshad Manji paves a path for Muslims and non-Muslims to transcend the fears that stop so many of us from living with honest-to-God integrity: the fear of offending others in a multicultural world as well as the fear of questioning our own communities. Since publishing her international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today, Manji has moved from anger to aspiration. She shows how any of us can reconcile faith with freedom and thus discover the Allah of liberty and love—the universal God that loves us enough to give us choices and the capacity to make them. Among the most visible Muslim reformers of our era, Manji draws on her experience in the trenches to share stories that are deeply poignant, frequently funny and always revealing about these morally confused times.

What prevents young Muslims, even in the West, from expressing their need for religious reinterpretation? What scares non-Muslims about openly supporting liberal voices within Islam? How did we get into the mess of tolerating intolerable customs, such as honor killings, and how do we change that noxious status quo?

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 14 July 2012




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