Child Abuse

Folks always laugh at Faye Dunaway’s portrayal of actress Joan Crawford in the movie “Mommie Dearest.” And yes she was ridiculously over the top. While the movie was borderline parody of Crawford’s life, it did give some insight to the issue of child abuse.  Particularly, at the hands of a hands of a celebrity.  People tend to think children are better off  when they are being raised in a wealthy home.

Another film that takes a more horrifying look at child abuse is “An American Crime.”  I watched this movie a couple of months ago on Netflix. The film kept me up all night after I watched it, with the lights on. “An American Crime” is based on the true story of neglect and abuse of 15-year-old Sylvia Likens.

I am bringing up these two films to show that child abuse runs deep in our country. The truth is the majority of us don’t take children seriously. I am from the South where folks are quick to say children should be seen and not heard. They are also quick to grab a belt or switch to “tear that azz up” if  child gets out of line.

Personally, I hated being a kid. You have no rights and are vulnerable to the flaky whims and exploitation of adults.

When I saw the pictures of the open wounds football player Adrian Peterson left on his 4-year old son, I was disgusted. It brought back memories of when I got “whooped” as a child. While my parents never went as far as Peterson, unfortunately “whoopings” are overly embraced in the Black community.

Recently, I visited a blog where Black folks were talking about the Peterson case, the majority of folks bragged about their whoopings as a child. They bragged about being forced to get their own switch from a tree or running from grandma’s shoe. All claimed it made them better people.

I don’t look fondly back on the whoopings I received. I don’t believe in spanking children. I think spankings are problematic because when is it enough? Parents tend to take their frustrations out on their children, as it looks like in the Peterson case.

For Black parents, who often are having to navigate daily microaggressions, racism, harassment and other forms of white oppression, I’m sure are releasing some of that stress onto their children.

It has been argued whippings/whoppings came out of slavery. I’d buy it.

“Of course, slaves were personal property and were supposed to be obedient. And slave masters could do with them as they pleased, without repercussions, including beating them…For the ancestors of today’s African-Americans, the physical violence of slavery — including whipping, beating and other acts — served to humiliate them, break them, and keep them in control. And even after slavery up until today, many black parents have disciplined their children by giving them a “whoopin” or a beating every now and then, some more often than others.” http://thegrio.com/2009/11/18/precious-the-new-movie-by/

I don’t have children. So maybe it’s easy for me to be on my high horse on this issue.  I have a friend who said she would never let her child watch TV. And guess what, the child watches TV.  She found that it helped to distract her child when she needs to do chores around the house.

I would like to think I would stick to my principle of not hitting a child on their defenseless body.  I mean, people don’t have to be parents. If folks have decided to take on the responsibility of parenting, at least make an effort to learn about the various was to correct a child, not just beat them down.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

This past weekend marked the 20th anniversary of The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA):

“The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) is a United States federal law (Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, H.R. 3355) signed as Pub.L. 103–322 by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994 (codified in part at 42 U.S.C. sections 13701 through 14040). The Act provides $1.6 billion toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allows civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave un-prosecuted.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence_Against_Women_Act

The issue of domestic violence (DV) has been in the media (as of late) due to the cases of Ray Rice, Greg Oden, Floyd Mayweather, and others. And I’m sure more will cases will be popping up.

Some Black folks feel that men of color are being unfairly used as the face of DV. Probably. But if these men kept their hands to themselves they wouldn’t be such easy targets. However, I agree white abusers like Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Sean Penn, etc., have been protected by the media.

In any case, Black folks shouldn’t worry about what white folks are doing with their abusers, we only need to be concerned with what our community does with ours. DV is not more prevalent in the Black community. But due to a complicated history with the criminal justice system and already negative stereotypes about Black men, the Black community is leery about speaking about this issue in public. Black women, in particularly, don’t want to be seen as disloyal to the community or “getting another brother locked up.”

The issue of combating DV is complex in the Black community. I hope to write more about this in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

There have been many discussions specifically about the Ray Rice case.  I was most moved by a recent interview with actor Terry Crews. Crews spoke about growing up as a child in a DV home. We need more men of color to speak about their experiences with DV, as well as speak out for women and children.

Summer Recap #3

I usually like to get my summer movies on, but this was another flat summer of sequels (why in the world is there a Transformers 4?) and white male superheros (while the stories of Spawn, Storm, Black Panther, etc. sit on the sidelines).  I figured I might as well keep my money in my pocket.

However, there was one unique film that peaked my interest, so I decided to go see it. “Snowpiercer” is a sci-fi film based on a Korean film based on a french graphic novel.

“Set in a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the planet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system emerges.” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1706620/

The film had some good action scenes and original moments. My one beef with this film, like majority of films set in the future, there are rarely any people of color. Which is strange, when it’s a known fact populations of color will dominate in the next few years, let alone in 2031.  Okay, I guess you can argue most die in the snowstorm, but 99% of them?

Octavia Spencer plays Tanya (you know I loved that name ;) She is the lone black character who lives in the tail of the train, where the poor folks reside. Well, I take that back. She does have a son, so that makes two black folks. Oh, then there is a random black character introduced later, so three total :(   And dammit to hell,  why did they have Spencer’s character hollering about some chicken. The other folks of color are basically Asian sidekicks, who are drug addicts.

A good friend thought “Snowpiercer” was an amazing film. I wouldn’t go that far. There were times when my mind started wandering, because I didn’t know what the hell was going on.  And there were so many plot holes, I lost count. But I would still recommend the film.  It’s something a bit different compared to the other summer films. Also, I love films that look at the break down of civilization, class warfare, etc., because that’s where we are headed. These films give you some survival insights.

Welp, that wraps up my summer recaps. Have a good weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Recap #2

Y’all, I flopped on my summer reading list. I didn’t get a chance to read any of the books I picked out. I just had a lot of things going on this summer, so my reading fell to the wayside. Which I am extremely bummed about, because I love to read.

Well, actually, I was able to squeeze out one book…

A month ago, I was visiting  with a friend and told her I needed to catch up on my summer reading. She asked me if I knew about Tayari Jones’s book “Leaving Atlanta.” I had heard of it, but had never gotten around to reading it. My friend had an opportunity to study with Jones in Lisbon for a writing workshop.  She spoke highly of Jones and her work and recommended I read her book. She offered to lend me her copy, and gently warned me not to lose it as Jones had signed it :)

I’m glad she gave me the book. Jones’s fictional novel is based on the Atlanta child murders in the late 70’s:

“Jones herself was in the fifth grade when thirty African American children were murdered from the neighborhoods near her home and school. When asked why she chose this subject matter for her first novel, she says, “This novel is my way of documenting a particular moment in history. It is a love letter to my generation and also an effort to remember my own childhood. To remind myself and my readers what it was like to been eleven and at the mercy of the world.” http://www.tayarijones.com/about/

Leaving…” is told from the perspective of three young people: Tasha, Rodney, and Octavia. The characters are all interesting, but it is the last story of Octavia, that really moved me. Octavia is teased at school for being “too dark” and poor, but she is the smartest and most caring of the bunch. Her character is forced to deal with a lot, making you want the best for her. I would love to see a book based on Octavia.

So, while I failed to read the books on my summer list, I am glad I had a chance to read this book instead. “Leaving Atlanta” is a unique story that looks at a horrifying time in the lives of black children, yet is rarely written about.

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Summer Recap #1

Damn. I can’t believe it’s September already.  My summer kind of sucked though, so for first time in my life, happy that it’s almost fall. I really don’t know what the hell happened, but glad to have those days behind me. I hope everyone else had a good summer. I really didn’t do much. I lost my main job, so spent the majority of my time looking for extra work. Since my funds were tight, I wasn’t able to travel.

The one blessing was that I was still able to get my grub on :) If y’all haven’t caught on by now, I love to eat.  Despite having some personal setbacks, it was nice to be able to go out with friends. Good friends, food, and a drank can help ease the hardest of times.

I’m excited to get my blogging groove back.

Good riddance summer!

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Groupon meal ;)
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Breakfast with a buddy.
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Food cart treats-fried plantains and donuts.

Happy August!

Hey all! I thought I would do a quick check-in.

I hope the summer has been treating folks right. I’ve had several ups and downs, so far, but keep pushing ahead :O/

If you’ve been watching/reading the news, I’m sure you have heard about a few police abuse cases that have happened in the black community.  It just goes to show that racism doesn’t stop because the sun is shining. Sometimes it exacerbates it.

Police brutality is nothing new in the black community. As a matter of fact, it has been argued that current policing polices, came out of slavery. First starting with the role of the overseer, and later slave patrols.

“The use of patrols to capture runaway slaves was one of the precursors of formal police forces, especially in the South. This disastrous legacy persisted as an element of the police role even after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In some cases, police harassment simply meant people of African descent were more likely to be stopped and questioned by the police, while at the other extreme, they have suffered beatings, and even murder, at the hands of White police.” http://www.plsonline.eku.edu/insidelook/brief-history-slavery-and-origins-american-policing

If you don’t know about the murder of Eric Garner, do a Goggle search..NOW. The police’s unnecessary violence against Garner (who himself had stopped a fight between two people), started a heat wave of a blatant anti-black agenda by the police.  After the Garner case, a video surfaced of a white police office viciously beating a 59-year-old grandmother. Like Garner, her offense was not on a level to constitute such brutality.  Next, came another account of police using the same method that killed Garner, the banned chokehold on a pregnant black woman.  And just recently, a black woman was dragged, pulled and pushed half-naked out of her apartment. Her offense. Nothing. The police had broken into the wrong home.

In the article, ‘Mistaken Identity,’ The Violent Un-Gendering of Black Women, and the NYPD,’ it discussed the hostility exhibited by the police against the black community. It also touched on how neither gender or even age, protects black folks. Black women, children, and the elderly are routinely beaten, sprayed with mace, or shot.

“The speaker on the video’s question “Where the female cops?” belies how the cops are in our heads. We don’t question their necessity even as they are brutalizing us in the hallways of our apartments. The question should always be “Why are you here?” We must train ourselves to ask it. More black police officers, more women cops will not alter the fact that policing is oppressive.” http://www.usprisonculture.com/blog/2014/08/04/mistaken-identity-the-violent-un-gendering-of-black-women-and-the-nypd/

Stay safe out there, y’all. I will officially be back in September!

Summer Break/Summer Reading

Wow, I need a break!

The blog will be on summer hiatus starting today until early September. I will pop in if anything controversial happens (which should be sooner than later) or if there’s something interesting I want to share. Otherwise, I’m cooling the keyboard.

I’m going to be busy this summer, but I hope to catch up on my summer reading. Last summer, I tried to read 3-4 books. I’m going to challenge myself again ;)

Speaking of books, rest in power to author Walter Dean Myers. His death was reported last night.  I used to love his books as a kid.  My favorite was “The Young Landlords.” I’m surprised some of his books haven’t been turned into movies. Oh wait, they are about black youth :O/ Myers will be missed.

Here are the books on my summer reading list.  I encourage folks to read along!

Wish me luck! And I wish y’all a fabulous summer!

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Photo from: http://www.healthyblackwoman.com

Black Girl In Suburbia/ Spent: Looking for Change

This past weekend I attended a showing of the documentary “Black Girl in Suburbia.” It’s a revolutionary film, in that, it focuses on a segment of the black population that tends to be ignored. The film features middle school to high school black girls.

“Black Girl In Suburbia is a feature documentary that looks into the experiences of black girls growing up in predominately white communities. This is a different look into suburbia from the perspective of women of color. This film explores through professional and personal interviews the conflict and issues black girls have relating to both white and black communities.” http://www.blackgirlinsuburbia.com/

Initially, I was skeptical of the film.  The host of the film stated, there were several people who were resistant to the film being shown. Perhaps the people who were against the film, thought it was going to be a bunch of middle class black folks moaning about how hard it is to be black. I know I did.

But the young girls/women who spoke on camera were diverse in their voices, identities, and experiences. I particularly liked their honesty when discussing issues of hair and dating as a black girl in predominately white communities.

“Black Girl…” is a unique film and one that I recommend. I look forward to more films from director Melissa Lowery.

Another thought-provoking film, was posted by ColorLines, a few days ago. “Spent: Looking for Change,” chronicles how many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Or check cashing loan to check cashing loan.

“Spent” is a rare look at the nearly 70 million Americans residing in households that either don’t have a regular checking account (unbanked) or that rely on a combination of traditional checking and alternative services like payday or check cashing loans to get by (underbanked).” http://colorlines.com/archives/2014/06/Paycheck_to_paycheck.html

I related a lot to this film. Despite having no children and being fairly educated,  I am part of the working poor. It’s bizarre because someone like myself should be living it up. However, I am constantly struggling.

Of course, things always tend to be worse for black folks. We are the last ones hired first ones fired. But really so many of us are suffering.

I’m shocked there hasn’t been anarchy yet, because things are getting worse not better.