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Category Archives: Black people need to read more

The Harm in “The Help”

It’s been a good year for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. Both Davis and Spencer toiled through bit roles and pieces in some of Hollywood’s biggest movies over the years but never quite got the credit or shine either actress was due. This especially holds true for Viola Davis, an exceptional talent who always managed to make minimal roles memorable (you might not have noticed her turn as a lawyer on certain episodes of the show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit back when it was still relevant because Stabler was on there or as the fed-up mayor of Los Angeles in the Jamie Foxx-Gerard Butler flick Law Abiding Citizen). Spencer, on the other hand, was most known for playing comic relief roles. She technically still is.

2011 was crucial for both of them, however, as it propelled both actresses into the spotlight through the motion picture adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s surprising best-selling book, The Help. Now, I admit, I haven’t yet had a chance to read the novel in full yet, so I hesitated about writing this blog until I did that. But the more I wait, the more Davis, Spencer, and The Help itself continue to garner accolades, to be rewarded and awarded… and I’m not entirely sure how to feel about that.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tales From The Metro(rail)

Junkie (novel)

Image via Wikipedia

So recently I’ve moved to D.C. to pursue opportunities in my field, Government, as a Fellow, fancy I know, at a fundraising shop. Yesterday I left a fundraiser with a free tray of fruit, because I’m still broke. I made my way from the absolutely beautiful house we used as a setting for the shindig and headed to the Eastern Market Metro Stop. Whilst paying for my metrocard, who made public transportation so expensive, I thought “hmm I should eat these pineapples before they get warm” no one like lukewarm pineapples. As I took my seat to wait on the train I opened up the lovely tray and this is what happened.

Me – Me, Chad Stanton

Surprisingly Well Dressed Junkie – A junkie with the Bubbles look and alcohol on his breath, except dude had on a blazer, clean white shirt, jeans and and some wingtips

*Surprisingly Well Dressed Junkie enters and sets next to me*

*I start eating pineapple chunks (Junkie or not I’m eating these dxmn chunks)*

SWDJ: Yo can I get one of those joints?

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Angry Brides Get A Little Help Striking Back!

Social Justice- the fight for awareness and tolerance of all cultures and social groups. Social Justice can do a lot to help as well as harm certain causes. The Civil Rights Movement has propelled African Americans and many other underrepresented groups (especially white women) to be recognized as not having the same opportunities and rights as their counterparts of power. Since the Civil Rights Movement, the tactics such as marches and protest have been desensitized limiting the power of their abilities to mobilize and communicate to the masses the unjust that certain groups may be experiencing. For this reason, advocates have had to be innovative in their tactics to express their concerns. Many examples of this have been facebook and twitter campaigns as well as walkouts and boycotts of businesses. The most recent way of acknowledging an oppressed group that has caught my attention as been the recent phenomenon of  the “Angry Birds” creators. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Book Review: The Autobiography of Malcolm X

"The most important book I'll ever read..."-Spike Lee

For the first time in a long time I decided to read recreationally and heed the advice I gave readers (about educating ourselves) in my first post. Naturally intrigued by history and its protagonists, I am drawn to autobiographies. Hence I chose the Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley [many years before Roots]. Read the rest of this entry »

 

MILK & HONEY never tasted so good!

Think of I Want to Work with Diddy mixed with Baldwin Hills with an updated A Different World on the side. We all, whether we’re ready to admit it or not, watch these shows for various different reasons, but they all have one thing in common. They show young black people progressing. Now imagine the good that all of these shows have all rolled up in one. I don’t know about y’all, but that’s my dream show, and if we work hard, it just might come true in the near future!!!  Read the rest of this entry »

 

Single Ladies that are not quite “Living Single”

I heard about this show about two years ago when a producer I use to intern for mentioned the new project she was working on. She described it as a Sex in the City set in Atlanta featuring black women. Interesting and exciting, huh? Maybe. Then, I didn’t hear about it until the week before its premiere. There could be a blog within itself asking the question why this show wasn’t promoted much, but I don’t want to go off on a tangent.

I write this blog fresh from watching the premiere. I tried to wait, but my laptop sat at my feet calling my name. The feeling from the ending, and throughout the entire show, still lingers. A feeling of … confusion. For some reason, I’m extremely unsure about this show. I really don’t know how I feel about this show just yet. I want to see how it’s going to develop.  But for some reason, I really want to like it!

First, two hours was just too long. It felt more like an under developed movie than a television show premiere. It had its moments, but it became taxing to watch. I kept looking to see how much time was left, and it started after the first 30 minutes of the show. That’s never a good feeling to have. I also almost turned it off about 20 minutes before its end. Hopefully the hour-long episodes won’t be so bad.

Secondly, it was an overload… of everything. I feel drained after watching that show. The pilot was just too much too fast. It was a whole season of drama within one episode. Ask anyone, I love my fair share of drama, so when I say it’s too much, then it’s too much. I think I would have been more interested if I had time to be invested in the characters (and that the key tool in a sitcom). There was so much drama, I was desensitized by the end of the show, and I didn’t care what happened.

With all the drama and the loooooong premiere episode, the resolution became cheesy. I cannot argue that they have some great set ups, but I’m kind of disappointed that so much happened so soon. There was heavy drama within the first two minutes. Why so soon? Reel me in, please! Then reveal. If you give me drama before I care about the character, the drama makes me roll my eyes and say “Get over yourself”. The great thing about a television show is that you have time to play with a lot of things. As much as I want them to keep up the stakes, I’m a little frightened of the drama overload. After all of that, the only reason I want to come back next week is to see how they handle an hour.

I also fee like they drummed the “single ladies” theme into our head. Okay, I get that the show is supposed to be about single ladies. I got that from the title, but do it subtly.  Living Single was about living single, but you weren’t always reminded. As a (newly) single woman, I don’t want to keep being reminded that I’m single. I want to subconsciously connect to the trials and tribulations of the single life.

As much as I want to like this show, it just seems… overdone. I feel like they’re trying to hard, and that’s an extra turn off. There were some good moments and nice story set ups, but it didn’t wow me. And a pilot is supposed to wow me, so I will come back next week. Yes, I may be coming back next week, but I don’t have high hopes. I’m waiting on them to prove to me that I’m wrong. I’m charging the problems up to the too long series premiere. I guess I can equate this feeling to when I watch Love That Girl and Let’s Stay Together watching the next episode hoping it will be good, and both of those shows are womp! I’m ready to support, so I hope there’s something to support.

 

Black History 24/7 #1: Raising Fences

Greetings, thREADERS! I decided that today would be the perfect time to kick off my “Black History Year” movement. As was promised in my previous entry, my pledge is to educate you all weekly with a Black History fact or review of something “Black related.” I’m starting off… with a book.

Raising Fences: A Black Man’s Love Story is the second-best book I’ve ever read. I’m fortunate to where people know I’m a huge bibliophile nerd and often ask me to recommend something to them when they’re looking for a new book to read. I don’t mention Building Fences often because, well, for years, it’s been my little secret. I hold it very dear to me because it’s one that I personally relate to in many ways. Luckily for you, THREADers, I feel I can trust y’all with this “secret.” So I’m sharing it now.

Raising Fences is an autobiography written by Michael Datcher, a journalist and spoken-word poet from Los Angeles. With writers like Teri Woods and Vickie Stringer finding their works being deemed too raw for mainstream (when, quite honestly, Donald Goines and Robert “Iceberg Slim” Beck published similar stories decades earlier) and thusly starting up their own “strictly hood fiction” publishing companies that quickly gained a following; and writers like Eric Jerome Dickey, Bebe Moore Campbell, and Omar Tyree firmly staking their claim on national book lists, it was easy for someone lesser known to slip through the cracks in 2001 (though The Today Show Book Club took notice). Datcher’s story is very different from these authors’ works. It doesn’t drip sex or violence, or overindulge in profanity. Its male protagonist isn’t cocky and doesn’t boast about his sexual prowess. Its male protagonist is Datcher himself, a man trying to find love and a better definition of himself that exists outside of the fact that he was brought up without a father.

The premise for the book’s title can be summed up in the opening words of Chapter Two –

“I’ve been obsessed with being a husband and father since I was seven years old. Quiet as it’s kept, many young Black men have the same obsession. Picket-fence dreams. A played-out metaphor in the white community but one still secretly riding the bench in Black neighborhoods nationwide…  [But we young Black men] Hide Huxtable-family dreams in the corner: Can’t let someone catch us hoping that hard.”

That paragraph sets the tone for the rest of the book. From then on, it’s clear that Datcher is “wide open” – he’s baring his soul for the reader, seeking neither affirmation nor encouragement, but merely just wanting some place to tell his story. And it just so happens that the pages of this book serve as Datcher’s safest haven. Without giving away too much of the story, Datcher recounts many things throughout the book, including how he dealt with being an adopted child; life-changing, borderline traumatic encounters with police at a young age; how his earliest approach to sex was based upon him wanting to “measure up” in the eyes of his boys; and how he found therapy (and perhaps rebirth) in prayer and especially in poetry.

Poetry plays a huge part in Raising Fences. Datcher lets readers know early on of his involvement with the World Stage Poets of Los Angeles, but that doesn’t prepare them for how fluid the book actually is. Building Fences reads like a 280-page epic poem, a Black man’s Beowulf where the “Grindel” is his own personal demons and self-questioning. Chapter by chapter, as Datcher bounces back and forth between childhood, young adult experiences, and his adult life, readers will watch him grow before their eyes. They’ll see him stumble, see him (re)gain confidence, see him become a stronger, more self-assured man… so much to where, at one point, he relies upon his love of poetry in order to take the most daring leap of his life. Datcher also inserts some poems written by his fellow World Stage Poets. I first read this book in 2003 and even now, I still feel affected by the “Raising Children” poem.

I strongly recommend every young Black man read Raising Fences; but really, anybody should. It provides an unflinching, vulnerable look into the mind of a Black man. It doesn’t make excuses, it doesn’t say “this is the way a man acts because that’s what a man does.” Instead, this book provides readers with an alternative image: Often, the Black man is depicted as someone with built up brick walls shielding his spirit and feelings. This book recognizes the other kind of Black man, one who is trying to “raise fences” around the life he is trying to build – fences just high enough to protect his dreams, but not so high that they shut out anyone willing to hear his story.

 

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