My latest column for the SF Chronicle: Black belt jonesing—U.S. martial arts culture's roots in the black community
Protest has erupted on filmgeek sites across the Web over Will Smith's decision to cast his son Jaden as the "Karate" Kid in his remake of the 1984 movie (karate's in air-quotes here because, given that my man Jackie Chan is stepping into Pat Morita's shoes as the wise but reluctant master, we're talkin' kung fu here, people).By and large the beef is typical remake rage, but not a few commenters have questioned the casting of an African American to replace Ralph Macchio's Daniel-san. My column this week talks about why, given the real and deep roots of American martial arts culture in the black community, this is less of a perversion than a correction. In fact, it may be a waypoint to the future: With a chapter in martial arts culture poised to close, as Asian icons like Jackie, Jet Li and others age toward retirement, black fighting stars may well represent the next generation of heroes of the genre and field. The column features awesome thoughts from producer Warrington Hudlin (House Party, Boomerang), actor Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite), and assistant professor Amy Ongiri, author of the forthcoming Spectacular Blackness. Worth a read, if I say so myself!