Sista in the Brotherhood

A few days ago, I went to see the play “My Walk Has Never Been Average.” The play looks at the lives of black tradeswomen.

“My Walk Has Never Been Average, written by Roberta Hunte and Bonnie Ratner, is a multi-media presentation based on the lives of women whose stories are never told. Adapted for the stage from in- depth, first-person interviews with 15 Black women in trades, labor and crafts, these stories reveal great inner strength and accomplishment in the face of the multiple oppressions facing Black working class women in America. These are stories of families and communities, of fighting for survival and achieving success, and of relationship dynamics when women move out of nontraditional roles.” 

I laughed, got a little misty eyed, and did a lot of signifying with other black women in the audience. It was a great experience.

I was happy to hear Roberta Hunte (professor/co-writer of the play) has decided to make a short film on the same subject matter.

“We are excited to bring to life our short tradeswoman film! The story is about a young black tradeswomen named Laniece as she arrives at her new job site. Though she is eager to work, her co-workers are less than welcoming. She struggles and in a moment of difficulty, she must figure out how to rise above her situation. The film reflects the experience of many tradeswomen, but also, it also touches on the wider theme of personal transformation–with a dash of humor.” https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dawnjones/sista-in-the-brotherhood

She has started a Kickstarter campaign I love a good DIY (Do It Yourself) project.

Support if you can 😉

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New Movie: Beyond The Lights

I first saw the trailer for this film at the theater a week or so ago. As I watched, it occurred to me that there hasn’t been a young Black love story in a minute.  The majority of contemporary black films tend to focus on mature Black professionals.  When the credits rolled, I caught that writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood was behind this film. It all made sense. Bythewood is why we have the classic Black love story “Love and Basketball.”

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

“Beyond the Lights” looks at the current world of pop music. It’s actually kind of surprising that this subject matter hasn’t been tackled before now. Pop music is filled these days with things to clown..uh, be deconstructed. From the culture vulturing to the forced sexuality of a lot of young female singers, there could be ten “Beyond the Lights” films made.

In “Beyond The Lights,” Director Gina Prince-Bythewood weaves a story of music and romance, examining how a young girl’s (Noni Jean) youthful aspirations to become a singer are later shaped by the image-obsessed pop culture landscape her music exists in. Struggling with her newfound success, she attempts suicide, but is saved by a police officer, Kaz (Nate Parker), who sees something deeper in her.http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/urbanworld-2014-review-gina-prince-bythewoods-beyond-the-lights-a-fun-fierce-showbiz-love-story-20140923

The film hits theaters in November.

Reality Television

I’ve been watching some wacky shows, y’all. I tend to pride myself on the fact that I don’t have a TV. Yet, I still get sucked into the world of reality television via Hulu. Here are three shows that have been taking up my time :O/

Married at First Sight:

A few years ago, I studied abroad in Southern India. I attended lectures at a local Women’s University. One of the lectures looked at the dating and marriage practices of Indian women. Well, there is no dating. Arranged marriages are still the standard in India culture. As one young woman shared, one risks a lot if one goes against the wishes of their parents/family. You would basically lose your whole support system. While I don’t agree with (forced) arranged marriages, it was understandable why the young women were hesitant to rebel against it.

“Married at First Sight” tackled this age-old tradition with a twist, as participants asked to be matched and married to a complete stranger.

“From a pool of more than 600 individuals, four specialists — psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona, psychologist Dr. Pepper Schwartz, sexologist Dr. Logan Levkoff and spiritualist Greg Epstein — used “scientific methods” to narrow down these determined human lab rats down into three couples, who do not even know one another’s names before they walk down the aisle…The men and women range from ages 26 to 33 and see the process as one that easily will find them their soul mate, whereas the experts are using the institution of marriage to make these couples more serious about relationships and working things out together.” http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/married-at-first-sight-tv-716893

The Black couple, Monet and Vaughn, made the show interesting. Sadly, their relationship deteriorated rather quickly.  I was a bit worried that a Black psychologist wasn’t on hand to work with the couple.  All the experts were white. I shared my thoughts on a discussion board dedicated to the show, and some folks agreed. There were a few who didn’t. They said because the couple’s problems were common relationship problems (e.g. communication), the race of the experts didn’t matter.

However, my concerns were confirmed, on the reunion show. Monet and Vaughn were still arguing like cats and dogs…six months later! Then Monet dropped a bomb. She said she felt like she really couldn’t be herself on the show because she didn’t want to feed into negative stereotypes about Black women. I think a Black psychologist would’ve picked up on this. The fear of being her authentic self, probably contributed to an already complex relationship.  Also, the fact that Vaughn let it slip out to Monet that he really wanted an Alicia Keys/Paula Patton type of Black woman. Monet was brown-skinned with a curvy body and short hair. I think a Black psychologist could have helped with this colorism issue.

The show was definitely a guilty pleasure.  *holds head down in shame*

The Quest:

Okay, this show was a mess. You had folks using medieval voices and fighting imaginary dragons. WTF! But I couldn’t take my eyes away.

“Twelve people compete in a reality competition that takes place against the backdrop of a high fantasy setting, the kingdom of Everealm. While the ongoing storyline is scripted and the contestants are interacting with actors throughout the competition, the actual challenges and eliminations are genuine and determined by the contestants’ abilities and decisions…The series was filmed on location in Austria, for the most part at Burg Kreuzenstein,[5] just north of Vienna.[6] The Quest was developed by a production team who had produced The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Amazing Race and Queer Eye.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Quest_%282014_TV_series%29

I missed a couple of episode, but that ones I watched were enough. I was cracking the hell up half the time because the contestants were dead serous. They really thought they were saving a kingdom. I guess everyone has their thing.  *side eye*

Utopia:

“Utopia” is based on a popular Danish television show.

“The series follows a cast of 15 men and women who are placed in isolation and filmed twenty-four hours a day for one year. The cast must create their own society and figure out how to survive. The series is shown twice a week, with online streaming 24/7 with 129 hidden and unhidden cameras all over the Utopia compound. The live streams began on August 29 2014, the day when the 15 pioneers will enter Utopia.[3] Over 5,000 people auditioned for the series.[4] Every month, three pioneers will be nominated for elimination — to be sent back to their everyday lives. The live-streamers will decide which new pioneers get their chance to become Utopian.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utopia_%28U.S._reality_TV_series%29

Since this is on the FOX Network, Black folks are invisible on the show. There’s ONE Black woman on the show. And she’s pregnant. Huh? FOX trying to be funny. Amanda barely gets any airtime and obviously we won’t get to see her smooching with any of the “hunks” on the show.

I wondered how they would handle any racial issues that came up. Majority white contestants and just a few Black folks? Oh yeah, there was going to be some racism on display.  And sure enough, on the most recent episode, one of the white male residents made derogatory remarks about Black men.

Of course, the Black man on the show was offended. Aaron confronted the guy and basically was told he was being too sensitive. It was a great display of white racism at work.  When caught being racist, white folks try to make the person of color feel like that “just can’t take a joke.” They project their insecurities onto the person of color.  It’s manipulative and disingenuous. He meant what he said. Unfortunately, Aaron later decided to accept the fools apology. Maybe it’s a matter of him thinking keep your friends  close but your enemies closer. I hope so.

Y’all, I just wrote a review on reality television. *help me!*

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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