Happy Fall!!

How was everyone’s summer? With the arrival of fall last Thursday, I thought it was a good time to mosey on back to the blog. My summer was okay. I made it through the smoldering southern heat. I found a survival job. And my baby turned one years old. So all in all it wasn’t too horrible.

Usually, I love the summer months. But this year the heat was so bad, I’m actually looking forward to the happenings of the fall season (cool weather, holidays, etc.)

While I’m normally not a big TV watcher, this fall has brought some great black shows. There has been big praise for “Atlanta” and “Queen Sugar.” I am also looking forward to “Pitch” about a young black woman trying to make it in white male-dominated/”All American” sport, baseball. The story most likely inspired by the life of  Mo’ne Davis.

I’ m glad to be back and ready to get my black feminist cultural critic on!! 🙂

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On the FOX Network, but what can ya do…

Sexual Violence and Black Women/Girls #2

The WGN show “Underground” has thankfully not had too many cringe moments. The show follows seven runaway slaves (the Macon 7) hoping to get to freedom via Harriet Tubman’s famous underground railroad.

The show is interesting and seems committed to telling the harsh realities of black folks under slavery/white supremacy. I only have a couple of beefs with the show. The insistence on incorporating modern music into the story line. I don’t like being emotionally swayed by a heartwarming slave spiritual, only to have it rudely interrupted with a song about popping bottles. John Legend please stop looking to Django for musical inspiration.

My other issue with the show is the relationship between plantation owner Tom Macon (Reed Diamond) and house slave Ernestine (Amirah Vann).

I can’t remember which episode, either two or three, Ernestine is naked in the wine cellar calling to “master” Macon. He enters the room, strips down, and watches as Ernestine pours wine all over herself. They kiss passionately. In a later episode, Ernestine refuses to have “relations” with Macon in the house. He demands that she does, but apologizes like a kid after she gives him the evil eye.

I hate when shows/movies depict “relationships” between a slave owner and his slave lover as if they are equals. While it may seem Ernestine has some kind of power over Macon, in the end she is still his slave. When you are a slave, it is never consensual sex. You have no true say over your life, no matter how many “rewards”are heaped upon you.

10 Horrifying Facts about the Sexual Exploitation of Enslaved Black Women http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/11/05/10-horrifying-facts-about-the-sexual-exploitation-of-enslaved-black-women-you-may-not-know/

Ernestine touches on this one night as she drunkenly laments her situation. She actually envies the field slaves. “They are worked from sun up to sun down, but they are able to go home to loved ones/be with their own kind.” She says. “Here, I can never be. And after a while you start becoming like them (white folks).”

What is not talked enough in mainstream feminism’s fight against rape culture, is that the foundation of rape culture came out of slavery. Well, it started with the initial exploitation of Native/Indigenous women. But it was heightened with the legally sanctioned sexual abuse of black women.  Black women’s bodies were considered property to be done with as one wanted.

Slave women never had any say in the matter. It’s important to remember this.

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Photo from: nerdreactor.com

Chasing Destiny

One of my favorite girl groups is En Vogue. They were the quintessential 90’s girl group with their beautiful harmonies, sleek fashions, and attractive but attainable looks.

I was pleased to see Kelly Rowland give homage to the group in her new show “Chasing Destiny.”

Rowland, one of the key members of Destiny’s Child, hopes to find the next generation’s “it” girl group.

The first episode was interesting, if not tedious. You know the cliche tryouts, backstories, and repeat singers from other reality shows who are still trying to catch a break.

However, Rowland brings charm and cuteness to the show, so it’s worth tuning in. She also has a vision for the group which is appealing. I had to smile when she said “give me my chocolate” when looking over photos for potential group members. Rowland recently talked about the importance of “chocolate” black women in the music industry.

One of my pet peeves with shows like this, is that so much effort is put into finding people, but often the groups go nowhere.

Sometimes it’s because they really aren’t all that great to begin with, but a lot of the times folks are extremely talented but not properly promoted.

I hope Kelly’s group actually make it. Especially since she does seem to want to expand the images of black women in music. This is needed as black women singers have become pigeonholed if they aren’t dipped in the Rihanna or Beyonce prototype. It’s why phenomenal singers like Jazmine Sullivan, Fantasia,  and others have struggled so.

Sisters In Law

“Sisters In Law” is a new reality show on WE tv that “follows a close-knit group of elite high-powered black female lawyers as they juggle their families, busy careers, and even more demanding social calendars.” http://www.wetv.com/shows/sisters-in-law

I was able to catch the first episode of “Sisters In Law” before it officially premises on March 24th. Well,  I can say, the women are fashionably fly. Otherwise, the show quickly spirals down to “Love and Hip Hop” dramatics of over the top arguments and “female rivalry.”  A bit disappointing for a show that’s supposed to be about high-powered black female lawyers. I always wonder don’t folks worry about ruining their names/brand by acting a mess on tv, but what do I know. I couldn’t relate to any of the women, although I guess I’m not supposed to as they are representing Houston, Texas’s black upper class. Future shows have the women discussing issues regarding police brutality and black lives matter so “Sisters In Law” may have some redeeming value in the end.

Oh well,  did I say the women looked fly?

 

Truth and Power

“Truth and Power” is a new series that “tells the stories of ordinary people going to extraordinary lengths to uncover breaches of public trust by governments and private institutions.” http://www.pivot.tv/

The first episode focused on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The activists shared stories of how they’ve been tracked by the government. One talked about being at a protest rally and a police officer calling her out by her twitter handle. Scary. But the truth is anyone who has written/played a part of the BLM movement is probably on a list somewhere.

I’m a conspiracy theorist at heart, so this show was right up my alley. The BLM movement is unique in that it was founded by three queer black women and has been mostly sustained by the activism of young black women. They are not the cliche older black male clergy leaders who usually dominate and are more willing to compromise with “the man.” BLM activism is unconventional. These young black women’s persistent resistance is definitely a threat to the status quo.

The Oscars

Initially, I wasn’t going to write about the hoopla surrounding the Oscars. I agree there needs to be more diversity/embracing of characters/stories of color. And while it’s fun to see your favorite actor/actress of color win the coveted statue, in the end it’s another self-congratulatory award show for overpaid celebrities. When you have poor folks becoming sick from contaminated water due to heartless city officials, in the grand scheme of things the Oscar boycott was meh to me. Particularly, since there has been criticism of how the Oscars are racist since forever.

But then some white actors/actresses started running their mouths. The one good thing that tends to come from controversies like the Oscar white out, is that folks show you who they really are. Folks who you thought were “liberal” and “colorblind” turn out to be clueless racists. The common complaint from these white actors/actresses is that maybe black folks just weren’t good enough to be nominated. This tends to be a typical response by many white folks when called out on the lack of diversity in work environments, etc.  Of course, they had to be mediocre, because white folks performances are always top notch *eye roll.*

Another amusing comment was made by actor Michael Cain. He said black folks just needed to be “patient.” What is this…1916 and not 2016? Has the whole Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) been invisible to him? Black folks are refusing to wait. This was recently illustrated by a BLM protestor who interrupted a news conference holding up the sign #LaquanMcDonald‬People aren’t playing anymore.

The most offensive comment was made by actress Julie Delpy.

“It’s funny — women can’t talk. I sometimes wish I were African American because people don’t bash them afterward.”

Huh? She really would prefer to be black, eh? Anyway, isn’t Jada Pinkett-Smith a woman. She has been heavily criticized by folks, including this Delpy woman. Or does her womanhood don’t count because she’s an “African-American.” White feminists already failing in the new year. It’s interesting when speaking about women they are obviously only thinking about white women. From Patricia Arquette to Madonna they have framed their pro-woman rhetoric that exclude/insult black women/women of color. They don’t see us on the same level. Hmm…

In any case, it will be interesting to see how the Oscars turn out this year. It’s usually a snore fest so folks not showing up would at least give black folks a good chuckle when reviewing the YouTube clips.

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Photo from: en.wikipedia.org

 

 

 

Billboard’s Women in Music

Recently, I asked a young woman to tell me what the quan was. She broke out in a full dance routine. What in the world. What happened to the good old roger rabbit. You know you are getting older when…

The truth is, like most Gen-X folks, I’m stuck in the 80’s/90’s musically. There are some contemporary folks I like (Janelle Monáe, FKA Twigs, Fantasia, etc.), but overall most music today is cringe worthy. And what’s with all the culture vulture /blackface antics going on with white singers today. They are annoying, but I digress.

It’s been nice to see some of the old school women comeback. One of those trendsetters, Missy Elliot, will be honored at Billboard’s Women in Music. Elliot helped revolutionize music in the 90’s and doesn’t seem to be quitting anytime soon. Good for her. We need to stop the youth obsession happening in music today. Back in the day it was not uncommon for folks to start their singing careers in their 30’s. The awards show will air this Friday on Lifetime.

The Walking Dead/MockingJay

I love The Walking Dead series. It has all the elements of drama, suspense, and gore that an Apocalypse obsessed woman like me needs.  I have finally watched all the new episodes…I was a season behind.   The death of Tyrese, Carol threatening to feed a little boy to zombies, the tower crushing the “unbreakable” walls.  Yes! That’s what I’m talking about. The show always has great twists. I can’t wait to see what the crew does when the new season starts in February. I’ve been wanting to read the graphic comics, but was surprised to learn there are over a hundred issues. Umm, never mind. Ain’t nobody got time for that. The show will do for now.

I have also finally caught up with the The Hunger Game Trilogy. Well, I still need to watch “Mockingjay Part. 2,” but I get the gist of the final film. “The Hunger Games” movies have worried me. There are sci-fi/futuristic films that come off as unbelievable, but there is something scary about how real”The Hunger Games” movies feel. It’s probably because the current gap between the rich and poor is alarming.  And the fact that the elite seem oblivious/even hostile to the plight of the poor.

Recently, a friend shared a video where a guy conducted a “money suit” experiment. He pinned a bunch of $1 bills all over his jacket and walked around with a sign that read “take some if you really need it.” As he strolled through a well off neighborhood, folks wearing/carrying designer outfits/bags would silently walk up and snatch the money. The guy would ask “do you really need it?” The people would ignore him, stuffing the cash into their Burberry bags. He then walked down a public street. A homeless guy read the sign a couple of times before hesitantly approaching the guy. He quietly asked for a couple of bucks.  The suit man was surprised. “You’re not going to take more?” He asked. The homeless guy said no, he just wanted  few bucks to get something to eat. In the end, the guy doing the experiment gave him some extra funds.

The experiment made me think of “The Hunger Games.” The 1% percent taking more than what they need/hoarding resources, while the have nots too nicely ask for what is rightfully theirs.  As with “The Hunger Games” films, it’s beyond time for an uprising.

 

‘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.

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.