This panel will focus on battling the stereotypes that shape the perception of race and black men - in particular are deliberately managed and constructed through so-called 'Reality TV' shows, corporate marketing and branding efforts, and sponsorship and athletic contracts. Moreover, we will reflect on opportunities (through advertisers, contracts, and outside pressure) to push back on falsely edited and problematic depictions that reinforce stereotypes.
Moderator Star Jones, Author, NBC Today Show Personality will lead the discussion featuring Tricia Rose, Professor of Africana Studies, Brown University, Matthew J. Middleton, Esq, Of Counsel Sweeney, Johnson & Scates, Erika Munro Kennerly, Vice President, Tru TV, Rashad Robinson, Executive Director, Color of Change, and Isiah Thomas, former Detroit Piston, former President of Basketball Operations/ Knicks.
Erika Munro Kennerly
Erika Munro Kennerly is a Business Affairs executive at truTV, a Turner Broadcasting System cable television network, where she currently holds the title of Vice President, Business Affairs. Mrs. Kennerly’s primary duties at truTV are to advise, counsel, and consult on a variety of television development and business affairs matters; as well as cultivate and maintain extensive relationships within talent agencies and entertainment companies/firms.
Prior to joining truTV, Mrs. Kennerly acquired extensive legal and business affairs experience in the entertainment field at a variety of law firms and entertainment companies. After beginning her legal career as a civil litigation associate at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, LLP and then as an entertainment/IP litigation associate at Pryor Cashman Sherman and Flynn, LLP, Mrs. Kennerly was hired by music mogul Russell Simmons to be the Director of Business Affairs for his internet start-up- RS1W, Inc. d/b/a www.360HipHop.com. At 360HipHop, Mrs. Kennerly handled all of the company’s entertainment-related business and legal affairs matters. Mrs. Kennerly was later appointed as BET.com’s Assistant General Counsel where her business and legal affairs duties extended to both 360HipHop.com (which was acquired by BET) and BET.com. Mrs. Kennerly’s new media expertise later led to her being hired by Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG), where she served as a legal consultant for Arista Records. At Arista, Mrs. Kennerly headed a team of attorneys and support staff who counseled, advised, and supported Arista’s legal department in the area of online music distribution. Thereafter, Mrs. Kennerly was appointed to the role of Senior Counsel, VH1 Business and Legal Affairs where she served as a television development and production attorney for VH1, a MTV Networks programming service.
Mrs. Kennerly is the author of the publication “Under Age, Under Contract, and Under-Protected: An Overview of the Administration & Regulation of Contracts With Minors in the Entertainment Industry in New York and California”. Columbia-VLA Journal of Law and the Arts, Vol. 20, No-3, Spring 1996.
Mrs. Kennerly was appointed as a Presidential Scholar at Hampton University, graduating with Highest Honors and earning her Bachelors of Arts degree in Mass Media Arts/Communications. She received her JD from Columbia Law School where she was named a Susan Price Carr Scholar.
She is Turner Broadcasting System's 2012 "Working Mother of the Year”, as awarded by Working Mother Magazine, and is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., BWEL, and is a board member of Legal Outreach, Inc. and Project SET.
Matthew J. Middleton is Of Counsel to the law firm of Sweeny, Johnson & Scates, LLP a full service entertainment law firm in midtown Manhattan. Mr. Middleton has over 15 years of experience as a transactional attorney in the area of entertainment law. Applying competency, integrity, and professionalism as his mantra for successful client representation, Mr. Middleton’s entertainment practice focuses on providing counsel to recording artists, television and music producers, filmmakers, songwriters, managers, executives, independent labels & production companies, music publishers, authors, athletes and actors with respect to all facets of the entertainment industry. Specifically, Mr. Middleton specializes in complex recording deal negotiations, reality television projects, domestic and international touring, music publishing, branding & corporate sponsorship, intellectual property licensing, and motion picture project development.
Prior to joining Sweeney, Johnson & Scates, Mr. Middleton was a Partner at the law firm of Simon, Eisenberg & Baum, LLP and the head of the firm’s Entertainment Law Practice Group. During his career Matt Middleton has represented various reality TV stars as well as Grammy award-winning recording artists, songwriters and producers, including but not limited to Kanye West, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, Fabolous, Mario, DMX, Jagged Edge and the estate of the Notorious B.I.G. where he brokered the deal for the hit movie “Notorious” about the life of Christopher Wallace.
Middleton began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney with the New York County District Attorney’s office. As a prosecutor in the trial division, Middleton tried felony cases in New York State Supreme Court. In 1997 Mr. Middleton shifted his complete focus to entertainment law full time and started his own boutique entertainment law firm where he served as the managing partner.
Mr. Middleton attended Howard University School of Law on a full merit scholarship after graduating from Howard Undergrad cum laude in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and a minor in Business Administration.
Mr. Middleton is a member of the New York State Bar where he is admitted to practice, and presently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Black Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA) and is the Advisory Chair of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association’s Entertainment Law Section. He is a member of the National Association of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) where he has participated as an Executive Committee Member of its Entertainment Law Initiative (ELI).
Rashad Robinson serves as Executive Director of ColorOfChange, the nation’s largest online civil rights organization. Under Robinson’s leadership, ColorOfChange has been at the forefront of issues ranging from fighting for justice for Trayvon Martin, to battling attempts to suppress the Black vote, to ending Pat Buchanan’s tenure as an MSNBC analyst. Robinson spearheaded ColorOfChange’s American Legislative Council (ALEC) national campaign. After ColorOfChange exposed ALEC’s involvement in passing discriminatory Voter ID and harmful shoot first laws, nearly 45 corporations ended their financial support of ALEC.
Robinson has appeared in hundreds of news stories, interviews, and political discussions through outlets including ABC, BET, CNN, MSNBC, OWN, The New York Times, Fast Company and NPR. His op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, L.A. Times, Newsday and Huffington Post, among others. For the past three years, Robinson has been selected as one of “The Root 100,” a list of emerging and influential African Americans under 45 years old. He previously held leadership roles at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Right to Vote Campaign and FairVote.
Robinson currently serves on the Board of Directors for ALLOUT, The Global Campaign for LGBT Equality and Applied Research Center.
Tricia Rose was born and raised in New York City. She spent her childhood in Harlem and the Bronx. She graduated from Yale University where she received a BA in Sociology and then received her Ph.D. from Brown University in American Studies. She recently returned to Brown, where she is Professor of Africana Studies.
Professor Rose is most well-known for her ground-breaking book on the emergence of hip hop culture. Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America won several awards and is considered a defining and foundational text for the study of hip hop. She is also the co-editor of the youth music and youth culture collection: Microphone Fiends, and in 2003 published a rare history of black women’s sexual life stories, called Longing To Tell: Black Women Talk About Sexuality and Intimacy.
In 2008, Professor Rose returned to hip hop with: THE HIP HOP WARS: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop—And Why It Matters.
Tricia Rose lectures and presents seminars and workshops to scholarly and general audiences on a wide range of issues relating to race in America, popular culture, gender and sexuality and art and social justice. Rose has also been featured on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and other national and local media outlets. More of her work can be found Time, Essence, The New York Times and The Village Voice to name a few. She encourages you to connect with her on her website, www.triciarose.com, on Twitter and on Facebook.
Born and raised on Chicago’s West Side, Isiah Lord Thomas III’s professional career spans more than three generations in business and sports. Thomas has garnered worldwide attention for his contributions in all levels of professional basketball, including induction into the NBA Hall of Fame, and for his distinctive business initiatives and philanthropic endeavors.
Chairman and CEO of Isiah International, Thomas is successfully applying his skills to the business world, building a career in waste removal & recycling, multi-family housing, and the sports industries.
As a player, Thomas built a reputation as a tireless worker and competitor. Thomas’s leadership and fighting spirit helped guide the last-place Detroit Pistons to back-to-back championships in 1988 and 1989. Thomas’ leadership and sharp business sense continue to serve him well in his post-playing days as a coach and executive, with the Continental Basketball Association, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, and the New York Knicks.
Off the court, he is pursuing a new challenge by dedicating his time to improving his community. Inspired by his mother’s work to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and families in Chicago, Thomas founded Mary’s Court in her honor to support the health, safety, academic and personal achievement of Chicago’s youth and youth around the country.
Thomas has gained national recognition for his role in Chicago’s Peace Tournaments and his advocacy to prevent youth violence. He has awarded over 100 scholarships to criminal justice students through The Isiah Thomas Scholarship at Indiana University, his alma mater. He continues to work on his Master’s in Education from University of California at Berkeley.
Thomas is currently serving as an analyst for NBATV and a regular contributor to NBA.com.
Thomas has two children and he currently lives in New York with his wife of 27 years and college sweetheart, Lynn Kendall.