Category Archives: homophobia

Empire

Poor Taraji P Henson.

Since being nominated for an Academy Award in 2008, Henson’s career has seemed to be a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Nothing significant has taken off for her. But this can be said for the majority of Oscar-nominated/winning Black women actresses. Unlike their white female counterparts, they tend to struggle. There’s been hope for Viola Davis (nominated for Academy Awards for her performances in “Doubt” and “The Help) and Lupita Nyong’o (Academy Award winner for her role as Patsey in “12 Years a Slave”). Davis is currently starring on the hit show “How To Get Away With Murder” and Nyong’o is slated to star in an adaption of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s “Americanah,” “Star Wars: Episode 7,” and “The Jungle Book.”

Henson’s acting is definitely on caliber with these women, so it’s surprising she hasn’t had her own big breakout opportunity. She may have found it in “Empire.” “A unique family drama set in the world of a hip hop empire.”http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3228904/

I watched “Empire” on Hulu this past weekend. I thought it was okay. Also, I’m a bit turned off with Terrance Howard these days. I used to think he was a great actor, but he comes across as one-note these days. And it doesn’t help that he seems to have misogynistic feelings about women/allegations of abuse. But Henson did bring the heat with her “Cookie” character. She really is the star of the show.

There’s been criticism that “Empire” feeds into stereotypes about black folks. Well, of course it does, it’s on the FOX Network. But I also think “Empire” is just trying to capitalize on the current adult drama craze that mixes thriller/sex/murder/power/vengeance that can be found in shows like “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Scandal,” “Revenge,” “Deception,”  etc.

Besides side-eyeing Howard, I’ve also been side-eyeing some of the comments made by one of the creators of the show…Lee Daniels.  One of his goals  with the  show is to address homophobia in the hip hop community. Okay, cool. But his rhetoric has basically been  that the black community is more homophobic than other communities, which is not true. If that were the case, white LGBTQI folks would have wonderful coming out stories, which they don’t. The issue of homophobia is a problem in all communities.

It will be interesting to see where the “Empire” storyline goes. If it will even survive a season. It’s all over the map, right now. Henson deserves so much more, so hopefully it works out for her.

Laverne Cox and bell hooks Talk About Feminism and Pop Culture

Whoa! bell hooks has been KILLING it these last couple of days, as she does another week-long residency at The New School. She’s had some great discussions with white feminist icon Gloria Steinman and fellow black intellectual, Cornel West (the two of them had me rolling).  My favorite conversation was the one between her and Laverne Cox.

Cox stars on the television show “Orange is the New Black.” I have not watched the show. It hasn’t really interested me (and in their talk) hooks articulated some of my concerns about the show.  However, it’s been great to see Cox get mainstream shine. It’s rare you see contemporary black celebrities knowledgeable about politics/social injustices. Particularly, the work Cox does around transgender rights.

Enjoy their fun and thoughtful discussion by clicking the link 🙂

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Photo from: http://colorlines.com/

http://new.livestream.com/TheNewSchool/bell-hooks-Laverne-Cox/videos/64265837

 

Queen Latifah to play Bessie Smith

Last week it was reported that Queen Latifah would be portraying Bessie Smith in a HBO movie. If you don’t know who Bessie Smith is, you better ask somebody!

“Bessie Smith earned the title of “Empress of the Blues” by virtue of her forceful vocal delivery and command of the genre. Her singing displayed a soulfully phrased, boldly delivered and nearly definitive grasp of the blues. In addition, she was an all-around entertainer who danced, acted and performed comedy routines with her touring company. She was the highest-paid black performer of her day and arguably reached a level of success greater than that of any African-American entertainer before her.” See more at: http://rockhall.com/inductees/bessie-smith/bio/#sthash.CUnrPOtu.dpuf

I think the Queen is a good choice for this role. She can actually carry a tune and exudes the same charming personality as the late Smith.

The film is being written and directed by Dee Rees, which means it may actually turn out decent. Rees was creative talent behind the heartwarming film “Pariah.” “Pariah” tells the story of a Black teen girl who struggles with coming out to her parents.  You have to check it out to see Rees skills.

Any who, I can’t wait to see this film. It’s been in the works for a while, so glad it’s finally moving forward.

Let me leave you with some Ms. Smith to kick off your week…

SAAM #2: NO! The Rape Documentary

Rape is one of the most evil acts one can commit on another. What makes it more alarming is that it tends to be perpetuated by folks we know. Yet, even in 2014, rape is still depicted as a stranger hiding in bushes. The fact is survivors tend to know their assailants. These people tend to be relatives, friends, ex-partners, co-workers, casual acquaintances, etc.

The rapist isn’t a masked man

  • Approximately 66% of rape victims know their assailant. (2000 NCVS)
  • Approximately 48% of victims are raped by a friend or acquaintance; 30% by a stranger; 16% by an intimate; 2% by another relative; and in 4% of cases the relationship is unknown. (2000 NCVS)

http://www.sarsonline.org/resources-stats/reports-laws-statics

In communities of color, especially the black community, sexual violence is even more complex. Black women not only have to accept the fact that they know their rapists, but grapple with what will be their next step. Despite being more prone to sexual violence, Black women/women of color tend to be very racially loyal.

A lot of it has to do with Black women worrying about feeding into stereotypes about Black men or not wanting to “lock another brother up.” This fierce community protection comes at the expense of Black women’s physical and mental health:

“Historically, law enforcement has been used to control African-American communities through brutality and racial profiling. It may be difficult for a Black woman to seek help if she feels it could be at the expense of African-American men or her community. The history of racial injustice (particularly the stereotype of the Black male as a sexual predator) and the need to protect her community from further attack might persuade a survivor to remain silent.”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/shenegotiates/2012/04/25/black-women-sexual-assault-and-the-art-of-resistance/

In her film, NO! The Rape Documentary, Aishah Shahidah Simmons does a great job of deconstructing the myths about rape and how sexual violence affects the lives of Black women.  She shows how the intersectionality of racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism,  etc., prevent Black women from reporting their assaults.  She also shows the healing process of the survivors in the film.

I met Aishah a few years ago, when she did a screening of NO! in my city. I was extremely moved by the film, and was so glad that someone was speaking out on this issue.It took her over 13 years to make the documentary. She was committed to making the film because she thought it was important that this issue was discussed in the Black community. Much respect for that!

I have shown the NO! documentary as a way to support Black women’s voices during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). I encourage other folks to do so as well. It can be a great way to start a conversation on how this issue is unique to Black women. And the ways Black men can be our allies.  If my group had a bigger budget, we would’ve also brought Aishah to speak about her film. If your school or organization has the funds, not only show the film, invite Aishah!  She’s an amazing woman who we should support.

The NO! Rape Documentary is a powerful act of resistance against the oppression of Black women’s voices/bodies.

The Skinny

I love watching independent films on Netflix. I especially like when I find quirky black films that have fallen under the radar. This weekend I watched a cute film called  “The Skinny.” 

Feature film from award-winning writer/director Patrik-Ian Polk, tells the story of five black Brown University classmate s- four gay men and one lesbian – reuniting in the Big Apple for a weekend of sin, fun, secrets, lies and drama.” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2107835/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

Photo from: blackfilm.com

Patrik-Ian Polk is the writer/creator of the first popular all black gay show “Noah’s Arc.”  Polk is currently promoting his latest film ‘Blackbird.’ The film stars Mo’Nique and Isaiah Washington.

Polk is someone folks need to keep an eye on. Plus, we need to support our indie black directors/writers/etc.

DIY Black Women-3

Indiegogo campaigns are a great way to fund DIY projects. It’s a crowdfunding resource:

“Crowdfunding (alternately crowd financing, equity crowdfunding, crowd equity, crowd-sourced fundraising) is the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdfunding

Indiegogo campaigns are relatively easy to create. The biggest thing is making sure you have interesting perks, so that folks want to give up their $$$. Indiegogo campaigns can be potentiality seen by millions of people, as they tend to be shared across social media (twitter, tumblr, blogs, etc.)  I always see these campaigns on my Facebook newsfeed.

It’s free to sign up with Indiegogo. There is a small fee on any money raised. If you reach your goal it’s 4% if you don’t it’s 9%.  You can choose between fixed funding or flexible funding.

I hope one day to get it together and start a campaign for a DIY project. Any who,  The Black Portlanders is one of my favorite campaigns happening right now. The Black Portlanders is all about photographing Black people in Portland, Oregon. This campaign has some sweet perks 🙂

 

Also, check out the article “In the Spirit of Community Building: 5 Projects You Should Fund in February.”  There are some awesome projects needing support 🙂

African/Nollywood Films (4)

Hey all…sorry for the late post. Today, I went to see the Nigerian thriller ‘Last Flight to Abuja’ It was an interesting film. The film is loosely based on the plane crash of Dana Air Flight 992/Nigeria’s aviation issues. It was an interesting film. The director Obi Emelonye also attended the screening. He spoke about the booming Nigerian/Nollywood film industry and for us to be kind to his film, as most Nigerian films are made on low budgets  🙂

The acting was decent. The film supposedly stars some of Nigeria’s biggest movie stars. I don’t know who the stars are, but one guy looked just like Isaiah Washington 🙂

My one issue with the film was the obsession with relationships/romance. I know this tends to be a standard in Nollywood films, but it kind of worked my nerves 🙂 I know some of it’s because I’m not really into romantic type films, but it was also because of the portrayal of women in the film. Women were basically folks to be conquered/seduced, okay to be cheated on/lied to, and evil/manipulative. Also, all the women kind of looked alike. I also didn’t care for one of the characters lamenting about folks thinking she’s a lesbian, because she’s a pilot. This seemed out-of-place for a contemporary film…

Other than some of the eye raising gender issues, the movie held my interest. The plane crash wasn’t as scary as one would think (maybe because of the low-budget factor). And damn it, why was a character asking a woman on a romantic date, as they are going down! *Sigh* Ha, ha!

It’s still a good movie to check out:

Photo from: www.channelstv.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFPz0_uQoFo

a Madea Christmas

If you are a black woman with black girlfriends/relatives, at some point  you will be forced to watch a Tyler Perry film.  I’m not a fan, yet I have seen several of his movies. Last year, I visited my family for the holidays. I had to endure hours of Perry’s TV shows “House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns.” I can’t believe I made it out alive.   Many bloggers have deconstructed the classism/colorism, misogyny, and homophobia of Perry’s films.   And yes, these are some of the reasons why I am not a fan. I also think his story lines are just bad.  The films tend to be sooo dramatic to the point it becomes parody (I think this is why Perry also tends to be criticized for having minstrel characters). Yeah, yeah I know Perry’s richer than I will ever be (fans rhetoric).  Any who, Perry is playing Madea again (sigh). The film comes out December 13. I’m sure I will be seeing this whether I like it or not…

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Spike Lee on Oprah’s Next Chapter

Lately, black folks have been hard on Spike Lee. I remember when Django Unchained came out last year, and Lee made it known he wasn’t feeling the movie  I remember a lot of my younger black Facebook friends, really going in on him. Someone even posted, “I loved Django.  Spike Lee needs to shut the f*ck up.” I remember being shocked to read that.

Young black folks (and some older ones) don’t realize how much Spike Lee revolutionized black cinema.  These folks were babies/not yet born when Lee debuted his film “She’s Gotta Have It.” Lee has made classic black films like “School Daze,” “Do The Right Thing,” and “Malcolm X.”

While I do think Lee could/should improve his representations of black women,  I can’t bash the man. He has tried to show the humanity/complexity of black life. Who else could make a thoughtful film about the black survivors of Hurricane Katrina?  Or the moving story of the murder of four little girls?

I also respect Lee for supporting Dee Rees making her film “Pariah.” I believe strongly that ALL black stories need to be told. It was progressive of Lee to support a film about a young black lesbian.  The film was virtually ignored by black media/black celebrities. So, much props to Lee for putting himself out there.

Any who, I’m doing all this ranting because Lee is being featured on Oprah’s Next Chapter. Check it out, if ya can:

Happy Veterans Day 2013

While most of us loathe war (at least I hope so), we try to sympathize with our veterans/military folk. Plus, if you really study about people who join the military,  you understand many tend be low-income, undereducated, and/or come from communities of color.  They register with the service as a way to get out of bad situations, fund their education, or support their families. Poor women of color tend to be the most vulnerable to military recruitment. They also tend to receive the worst treatment while in the military. The list of grievances regarding racism, sexism, homophobia and sexual assault is long in the military.  Hell, you wouldn’t catch me signing up. But, these women do it the same as other folks, to earn money/build careers. Also, some women of color just like adventure. So, I give honor to all the veterans today, but especially women of color who go through so much in war zones and within the military.

Check out these resources about women of color in the military:

I’m Still Standing: From Captive U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen–My Journey Home by Shoshana Johnson 

Home from the Military

Black Women Fallen Soldiers

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