I saw the movie Precious, but what about her mother, Mary?

I am my mother’s daughter and my mother is the daughter of my grandmother. And both their stories and silences speak through me.

I begin with this mantra because spiritually and mentally I desperately need to understand why tears stained and wrinkled my cheeks as I watched the movie Precious. Yes, I am a Cancer and have been known to wear my heart on my sleeve, but there was something so violent and painful about how Lee Daniels portrayed Precious’ mother that tears could only convey my ill ease and anger. Mind you, there are many critiques I could write about the movie. However, I think summer’s Lost in Translation: A Response to Precious gets at the root of why so many people like myself wanted to storm out of the theater babbling among many things, “I can’t stand Tyler Perry’s @s$ who makes millions off of black women being damaged.” So, if you want to read a good critique, please read summer’s Lost in Translation. I guess I should also say that I have not read Push by Sapphire and all my comments are in response to the movie, Precious.

So, I begin by asking the question, what if the movie Precious was not told from the point of view of Precious, but told from the point of view of Mary. I know many of you are scratching your heads asking, “Who’s Mary?” Well, Mary is Precious’ mother. I think it is important that we know the name of the woman who is “solely” responsible for making her daughter overweight, infecting her daughter with HIV, allowing her father to rape her, and forcing her to quit school to get welfare. Given all of this, I think it is important to know the name of Precious’ mother, Mary.

Yes, I know that the purpose of the movie was to tell the daughter’s story. But, as I watched Mary silence, physically abuse, and sexually sodomize her daughter, all I could think about as tears flowed was Mary’s story and how she became who she was. What were the political, social, cultural, and economic forces “intersecting” to shape how she saw her daughter and how she saw herself? Mary is not one dimensional in the sense of simply being organically evil. But, Lee Daniels—as he also did in Monster’s Ball—did a good, downright extraordinary job of painting her as such, ignoring the many structural and cultural forces at play during the 70s and 80s that made the image of the black welfare queen palatable and punitive.

Morehouse: from your closet speaks truth

House of Legacy Eternal

House of Legacy Eternal


walkin the category of Ultimate Boy realness

walkin the category of Ultimate Boy realness

Personally, I find sagging pants, du-rags, grills and accessories distasteful; however, I stand by people’s right to be self-expressive, particularly when it comes to ‘cross-dressing.’ In talking about Morehouse College dress code, I have to give props to Frank Leon Roberts for his post on the Root.  In Morehouse’s efforts to preserve its legacy, it created a dress code which hinders student self-expression.

The “Appropriate Attire Policy” is the product of Robert Franklin, President of Morehouse; it is his attempt to create the modern “Renaissance Man.”  In his words, “[he]…hopes to have the next generation of Morehouse graduates live up to the school’s legacy-

I Faced History One Day and Found Myself

Face Histroy

I faced history one day and found myself. Beginning in my 9th grade year of high school, I was a “Facing History and Ourselves” student in Cleveland, Ohio. My first experience with this organization was with a Holocaust survivor named Max Adelman. I can still hear his voice ringing in my ear as I remember him stating that, when he was in the work camps he use to wonder “does the world care,” arriving on the negative side of this question. I also realized that at one time, I didn’t care. In middle school I was known as the class bully, taking my title so far that once I nearly broke a kid’s arm.

I faced history one day and and became an activist. Listening to Max Adelman made me look within myself, and challenged me to make sure I was caring for everyone, even those outside of my universe of obligation. FacingHistoryWhen the class lesson was on identity, it allowed me to put my life into perspective, understand who I was as an individual, and illustrated that I can have an impact on the society around me. When the class lesson was about making choices, it challenged me to study the history of the world and my personal past, so that in high school I was no longer the class bully, but the student that spoke against violence in and outside of school. When my facing history class started the session on choosing to participate, I became committed to activism. In high school, I went on to fight for youth rights and became the co-founder of a non-profit called Ohio Youth Voices.


Welcome to the Black Youth Project


Welcome!  Today marks the official launch of the new Black Youth Project website.  Here you will find blogs, our rap lyrics database, news articles, reports, curriculum and much more.  Click here to read the official press release and here to watch a video, both of which give an overview of what we offer on this new website.  Thanks for visiting and we hope that you come back again soon!


The Black Youth Project

Judging Life


By no means am I a constitutional scholar. I have yet to attend a law school class, and I have never given an oral argument before The Supreme Court. With that said, whatever I may lack in legal acumen, I make up for with “real world knowledge”. Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States of America heard arguments on whether sentencing juveniles to life without parole violated the eighth amendment prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment”. For the record, I am a staunch opponent of sentencing juveniles to life without parole. It’s not because I’m a bleeding-heart liberal that doesn’t believe in punishment. No, what I do believe in is science and empiricism. A National Institutes of Health study suggests that the region of the brain that inhibits risky behavior is not fully formed until age 25. This explains why teens are more likely than any other age group to be in an auto accident, but it also explains the lack of maturity and foresight among adolescents.

Gone Til November: The Obama Mixtape

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ron Sachs / Rex Features ( 814301t )

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ron Sachs / Rex Features ( 814301t )

Due to my desire to post on Precious, I failed to fulfill a writing assignment.  I think I was supposed to post something about the 1st anniversary of the election of President Barack Obama.  I didn’t know we celebrated the anniversaries of elections, but weird stuff happens when black people are involved.  Frankly, I don’t really have much to say.  I think my blogging record speaks for itself.  I did not feel like the Jeffersons on Election Night 2008.  In fact, I was pretty critical of the whole thing.  But I’m not going to be cranky about this.  Like my grandmother said, if you don’t have anything nice to say, make a mixtape.  (Okay, she really didn’t say that.)  So that’s what I’ve decided to do.

I suppose it’s not really a mixtape, but rather several EPs.  Either way, though I love Radiohead, I’m not going to give the birthers any love by calling this thing “Hail to the Thief.”

Week of November 2, 2009 – November 8, 2009

College Campaigns for Values
Bill Maxwell, St. Petersburg Times, November 8, 2009

Food Stamps: A Canary in the Coal Mine?
Douglas C. Lyons, Sun Sentinel, November 7, 2009

ACLU Sues County Over Graduation Rate
Mark Freeman, Sun Sentinel, November 6, 2009

Black Students Told to Act Like Slaves
United Press International, November 6, 2009

Social Awareness Activist Inspires Children to Look Beyond Perceptions
Sean Maher, Oakland Tribune, November 6, 2009

U-Md. Students Protest Official’s Firing
Daniel de Vise, Washington Post, November 6, 2009

It’s up to Us’; About 100 Attend Forum Aimed at Stopping Deadly Violence
Dave Munday, The Post and Courier, November 5, 2009

Officials Seeing Racial Progress
Jenny Hurwitz, The Times-Picayune, November 5, 2009

’State of Black Pittsburgh’ Will be Explored
Chris Ramirez, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 5, 2009

Minority Students Earned Greater Number of Academic Degrees in Fiscal Year 2006
National Science Foundation, November 4, 2009

Half of U.S. Kids Will Get Food Stamps, Study Says
Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press, November 2, 2009

What Do Baggy Pants Really Say?
Dawn Turner Trice, Chicago Tribune, November 2, 2009

Lost in Translation: A Response to 'Precious'

Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry said Precious was awesome and that everyone should go see it. Since I am the most obedient of Negroes, I saw it last Friday. If Flavor Flav is the world’s greatest hype man, this duo is officially the world’s greatest hype machine. I found Precious slightly underwhelming, uninspiring, and lacking much of what makes the novel, Push by Sapphire, so powerful. Sorry, Ms. Winfrey. I had no “A-ha!” moment.