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The next time I see Martin Lawrence shout, “Wasssuuppp!” as if the line is somehow funny, there’s going to be a war. Why are there so many comedians like him in film, anyway? For every true-to-life African-American film character I see, there seem to be a hundred or more Lawrences running around as supposed comic relief. I guess the market has spoken: Most moviegoers seem to prefer fluffy films such as Big Momma’s House to weightier fare such as Beloved or Amistad. But who decided that African-American characters have to be nonentities or stereotype-embracing new-millennium Stepin Fetchits? Do the melanin-enhanced get a say in the matter? Writer and executive producer Tina Andrews, producer and director Haile Gerima, and independent producer Michelle Parkerson are among the noted filmmakers and screenwriters who will tackle these and other questions during today’s panel discussion “Fade to Black: The Final Cut—Taking Control of Black Images in Film.” At 2 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th and Independence Avenue SW. Free. (202) 357-4500. (Natalie Davis)