We’ve seen the Sammy Sosa picture(s) by now. The Michael Jackson jokes are stale and unimaginative. So I won’t make any here. Yet as a black blogger, I guess I have to say something. So I will mention just a couple of things. This is a mere sketch. Would love it if you all would fill-in and/or correct me.
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire is a film about an obese, sixteen year-old black girl growing up in Harlem. She is illiterate, has a really mean mama who beats, rapes, and berates her. She has two children by her father, who also infected her with HIV. Think Color Purple. After getting kicked out of junior high for being pregnant (and not for being too damned old) she arrives at an alternative school where she makes friends with other disadvantaged colored youth and finds herself by reading and writing. Think Lean on Me.
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.
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. 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. When 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! 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
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.