Monthly Archives: November 2015

‘Underground’ TV Series

Really, slavery set to the background of rap music? It seems someone has watched Django too many times. The  new ‘Underground’ TV series features Jurnee Smollett-Bell the cute little girl from “Eve’s Bayou” (well, I guess she’s a grown woman now).

The show will debut in early 2016.

“Get ready for an escape drama like no other. Underground is set in the pre-Civil War South and follows a group of plantation slaves as they search for freedom, by any means necessary, with plantation owners closely following behind, and paying mercenaries for their return. The WGN America drama highlights the Underground Railroad, which consisted of a secret network of men and women who put their lives on the line to help slaves escape the South.”

I tend to have mixed emotions about slavery movies. I think it’s important to tell the stories from this time. Our country is too quick to act like slavery was just an “unfortunate act” and not the exploitation/abuse/rape of human beings for hundreds of years (and then subsequent years of anti-blackness/oppression via Reconstruction/Jim Crow/lynchings, etc.) or as Texas textbooks tried to rewrite history that slaves weren’t slaves just “workers.”

However, the chosen narrative tends to be that of the downtrodden slave. I don’t only want to see whippings/abuse of slaves, it often tends to border on torture porn. How about a film on slave revolts/rebellions? Nat Turner has still not got his due. Or women slaves who resisted rape/selling of their children by engaging in infanticide as depicted in Toni Morrison’s book “Beloved.”

Hopefully, ‘Underground’ goes in this direction. And please bring some dignity to the character of Harriet Tubman.

Barbershop 3/Giving Thanks

Okay, the first barbershop was decent enough. The second one I don’t even remember. Now a third one with no Michael Ealy? Blah. I guess the movies try to be positive, although Ice Cube got on my nerves this past summer with his “Straight out of Compton” anti-woman antics. The film comes out spring of next year.

This is the time of year folks post on Facebook “thanks-giving” lists sharing all the things they are grateful for in their lives. I usually find these lists annoying, but after this bizarre year of the rise of Donald Trump, the continued violence against black folks/folks of color, push back against reproductive rights, etc.,  I find myself also reflecting on the more positive aspects in my life/the world. You have to to stay sane in these increasingly cold-hearted times…

  • Thanks for my new little one. He brings me love, happiness, and no sleep all at the same time  🙂
  • Thanks for my recent birthday celebration. I usually bemoan another candle on the cake, but hell I could be dead.
  • Thanks to friends who supported me when I needed help with housing/relocation this year.
  • Thanks to the the three women who started #blacklivesmatter igniting a new wave of social justice/civil rights/student activism across the country.
  • Thanks to President Obama for telling folks to stop “popping off” at the mouth. I have my issues with him, but he does have a way of bringing flavor to boring American politics.
  • And last but not least love to the Native/Indigenous folks as we get ready to celebrate the colonizer’s holiday. Special shout out to Mrs. Universe Ashley Callingbull who refuses to let folks shut down her work for Native/Indigenous women. Go girl.

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India’s Daughter

A few years ago, I got the opportunity to travel to Southern India. It was a community service course offered via my graduate program. We traveled from Chennai to Madurai. The cities were beautiful as well as the Tamil people.

The purpose of the trip was to learn about the roles/lives of Indian women. We attended lectures at a women’s college and engaged with the students around/off campus.  One of the more interesting lectures we attended was on dating/love relationships. Basically, those things just didn’t happen in India culture. Arranged marriages are still dominate in India and a young woman has a lot to lose if it’s even suspected she likes a boy, let alone actually talking or going out in public with one.

Of course, as a feminist I was annoyed by this but many of the young women saw nothing wrong with it. This is the world they have been raised and conditioned in.  Even if they didn’t like it, why risk being rejected from your family/society. The consequences were too great.  However, there are Indian feminists/activists who are resisting the oppression faced by women in India.

You see that activism in the PBS documentary “India’s Daughter.” The film chronicles the horrifying gang rape/murder of 23-year-old medical student Jyoti Singh. The film interviews one of the rapists and defense attorneys. Their rationale for the young woman’s assault is disturbing. Basically, she had no right to be out with a boy late at night. The boy was actually just a classmate and “late at night” was only around 7-8pm. One of the attorneys even stated he would light his daughter on fire if she ever did such a thing.

It was a hard film to watch, especially as it brought back memories of my time in India. I meet so many dynamic young women, who because of the reinforced rape/anti-woman culture, will have a hard time living lives free from abuse.

Yet, one can’t get too smug about “those” people being uneducated, etc. The fact of the matter is male violence against women is a worldwide problem. This is illustrated in the ending credits highlighting the staggering statistics of sexual assault against women in different countries.

I mean we just had a Canadian judge tell a young teen to close her legs when being sexually assaulted.  Or the Georgia police chief who said women can’t get raped they’re just stupid. Or the U.S. representative who said a real rape victim’s body knows how to shut down a pregnancy. Ignorance knows no cultural bonds.

“India’s Daughter” will be available online until February 13, 2016.

Rest in peace Jyoti.

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Black Women and HIV

Folks were shocked when Charlie Sheen confirmed his HIV status. I don’t know why. HIV/AIDS is still wrecking havoc in this country, despite the diminished attention given to the issue over the years. Women of color, Black women in particular, are the majority of new HIV cases. Yet, their plight has been virtually ignored in mainstream media.

“Every 35 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in this country.  Yet the impact of HIV among Black women and girls is even more startling.  Nationally, Black women account for 66% of new cases of HIV among women.  HIV/AIDS related illness is now the leading cause of death among Black women ages 25-34. As the national dialogue focuses on strategies for addressing the HIV epidemic in this country, the need is greater than ever for a heightened among Black women in HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care.” http://www.bwhi.org/issues-and-resources/black-women-and-hiv-aids

A lot of these cases tend to be attributed to heterosexual relationships. It has been argued, due to our patriarchal society, women tend to be pressured to bend to the sexual whims of men and/or forgive infidelity, numerous sex partners, etc.  This imbalance of power in intimate/sexual relationships between men and women make women more vulnerable to getting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Alice Keys has been one of the few celebrities who continues to put a spotlight on the experiences of women/women of color living with HIV.

Fix My Mom

The other night I had trouble falling asleep, so I scrolled Goggle Play to find something to watch. I came across Oxygen Channel’s “Fix My Mom.” Initially, I thought it was a makeover show. I was thrilled as these are guaranteed snooze fests. If you’ve seen one cut/color, dramatic cat eyeliner, and chunky heeled boot look you’ve seen them all. I snuggled deep into my covers prepared to get my zzzs on.

I was surprised to find out that the show was about mother/daughter conflict. I have always been fascinated by these type of relationships as I got along well enough with my mom (RIP). It wasn’t a Pollyanna love affair by any means, but we minded our own business.  All the mother/daughter pairings were unique, but mother/daughter Tonja and Kami were the most interesting to me. Mother Tonja gets frustrated by daughter Kami’s “soft” personality. It seems mom has bought into the strong black woman rhetoric, and expects daughter to fall in line. I felt for the daughter. I’m sure it’s hard being a sensitive young black woman in a world that expects you to always keep a stiff upper lip/have a sassy comeback. Hopefully, by show’s end the two will mend their relationship. They are too cute with their natural do’s.

The show didn’t put me to sleep but it was entertaining enough. However, I doubt I will tune in again.

Hell, I’ve got my own problems.

Chi-Raq

Spike Lee so crazy.

I am a huge Lee fan. I give him props for renewing interest in black cinema almost 30 years ago with his debut film “She’s Gotta Have It.” I think Lee brings a unique style and pro-black stance to the film industry. He represented Black Lives Matter before black lives mattered. You always know when you are watching a Lee production even when it’s not a “black” film (“Inside Man”). Sometimes he goes too far (I’m still trying to figure out what the hell “Red Hook Summer” was about) and he tends to be hit or miss with his black female characters. Mostly miss.

So, I’m curious to see how he handles all the dynamic black women featured in the trailer for his new film “Chi-Raq.”

“Chi-Raq, Spike Lee’s latest joint, is an update of Aristophanes’ anti-war comedy Lysistrata, otherwise known as the play where all the women of Athens stop having sex with their husbands in an effort to bring the devastating Peloponnesian War to an end. Set in the modern day south Chicago Urban war zone nicknamed Chi-Raq (as in “Iraq”) the story sees a group of women organize against the on-going violence after the murder of a child by a stray bullet, by withholding sexual access to the point that even strippers refuse to work. What follows challenges the nature of sex, race and violence in America and the world.” http://deadline.com/2015/11/chi-raq-trailer-greek-comedy-in-chiacgos-south-side-1201605210/

Uh, oh. Black women and sexuality isn’t Lee’s strong point as was shown in the ill-fated “Girl 6.”  There’s also the controversial sexual assault of the lead character in “She’s…” Lee has said to be ashamed of that scene.  As he should be.

Well, we shall see how “Chi-Raq” turns out. What I enjoy about Lee’s films is that there tends to be messages for the black community, white racism, and ourselves. He better not be coming out with some nonsense.