Uncorked 2020 Movie is . . . fantastic actually. 🍷

I finished watching Uncorked about a month ago. Like the main character, Elijah, I wasn’t yet cemented on what I thought of it. I was incredibly wishy-washy.

Me: I think I liked it, but the ending . . .

Also Me: I loved it, and yet why didn’t it just . . . GIVE ME WHAT I WANTED FOR ELIJAH!

::Proceeds to Ugly Cry::

Uncorked is a family drama about Elijah (played by up-and-coming actor, Mamoudou Athie) , a Memphis-born and bred young man, who is pursuing a lifelong dream of becoming a master sommelier.

Sommelier

The above meme is hilarious. Since I am actually a girly-girl, I do love and appreciate the fancy things. One of my brother’s friends is a sommelier and it’s such a treat to pick his brain about his olfactory “superpowers”, if  you will. Oh, and of course there’s their taste buds. As a little person, I considered sommelier as a profession. I also considered being a mortician in high school, but we can’t be everything!

I do so love a good glass of wine. I also adore the pretty bottles! And the prettier the bottle the better! Once they’re emptied of their Bacchus-blessed contents, I place them on the top of my bookcases or use them as decorations along a windowsill. Que Nice!

Uncorked is written by Prentice Penny (I love that name — kyaaaaa!) who happens to be a Black man. He’s also the film’s director and the love he poured into this film shows in every bit of dialogue, every scene, every moment. Even the sighs and silence hold great gravitas. I laughed. I cried. I bobbed my head to the music. The soundtrack is another sparkling facet of this jewel of a film!

The last five minutes of the movie had me firmly glued to the screen. I couldn’t look away. I needed to know what would become of Elijah. Did he? Or didn’t he? The rest of this review does not contain spoilers, but I will say that one of the most traumatic moments in the movie irritated me so much that perhaps I should have drank a glass of wine. 🍷

Now, when I mention trauma I’m not speaking about the trite and stereotypical manner that “the media” often handles it while dealing with the Black experience. No, no, no. And that’s one of the main things I love about this wonderful movie. The movie focuses on an every day family dealing with every day things that happens every day. It’s glorious in its mundane approach and both the setting and plot devices are more common than most people realize. People — yes ESPECIALLY Black people are MORE than their trauma!

Now, what brought me to finally accepting this movie — especially its ending?

Well, I can empathize and learn from Elijah’s story.

I submitted some more short stories and poems for publication about two weeks ago, (I may share the feedback I received in future posts and I may call it “Laugh at My Tears” — no? “Learn from My Tears”? lol) and I received some . . . rejections. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

The question is what do we choose to do about it?

You Are Going to Want to Give Up - DON'T

 

 

Diversity Illusionist Part 2: What Not to Write

Growing up, I watched Golden Girls with my family. We enjoyed Sophia Petrillo’s sensibilities, her spunkiness, and her flashbacks that were framed with one of television’s best quotes:

Golden Girls_Sophia_Picture It

With that said, let’s picture a golden age of technology where people—young, old, rich, poor, (please insert whatever and whoever you are)—with a clickety-clack-click-clackety of their finicky fingertips possesses the power to order a pizza, incite wars, or (in the case of this blog post) generate energy (positive or negative) around an idea or a movement.

Or a book.

How about book burnings?

Well, you don’t have to picture it. It’s happening or has happened. And I’m not referring to Nazis Germany.

Book Burnings

And the latest outrage in the literary world has made major waves.

American Dirt Twitter Responses
I agree. We all need to multi-faceted representation, Vanessa. We need balance. Thank you! 🙂

Interesting, speaking of white privilege, one of my co-workers believes that white privilege doesn’t exist because if it did, he would be rich and not teaching for a living. I don’t understand that logic. I really don’t. Hmm. Interesting.

But I digress. Moving on.

I haven’t yet fully researched the controversy swirling around American Dirt as deeply as I would have liked, and I will say this: When you’re a person of color, you may be quick to often applaud anything that represents you with lightning-speed, especially when you learn about it from an allegedly trusted source. It’s a reflex response to hoot, holler, and cheer because you are so thirsty for representation, sometimes compromises will be made, and your guards lowered before you fully understand or have had the time to gather all the necessary information required for sound judgment. That aside, I have researched the controversy involving Courtney Milan and I believe and support her. I also believe that she is a victim of an unfair system where the guilty individuals, who are not only aware of this injustice, are fully complicit in maintaining such an imbalanced system for their own benefit and little do they know—their own detriment. It’s truly and shamefully dysfunctional.

And this isn’t the only dysfunction afflicting the writing community.

White People's Press
How is it destructive? Be specific.
White People's Press2_Hegelian Dialect
How has it failed? I demand receipts!

For the past several years, writers and readers have stabbed fingers at others, opened arms, held hands, dried tears, and taken up both picket signs, pitch forks, torches or tissues in response to each other in the Industry labeling those deemed offensive as racist, sexist, not woke, culturally insensitive, homophobic, transphobic, due to what the accused has said, written, or done. Allies on both sides clash, while bystanders munch on unlimited supplies of “Giffy” popcorn (the digital comment-reading kind, obviously – punny!).

Eating Popcorn Gif

For example, there was a huge uproar regarding a YA author whose work was flagged as racist because she had slavery in her novel. With such a wintry response, the book withered, froze, and died. Well, for a time. I won’t delve much deeper into that slice of drama pie in this post though. I will say this, I’m glad that her novel has arrived on this planet.

That way, other readers (including myself) can judge her work for themselves.

That aside, I do agree that if any form of median (visual or written word) is inappropriate or hurts a marginalized group (which inevitably hurts us all) then people should indeed speak out, provided that it comes from a genuine place I like to call “constructively good intentions” because as we know good intentions alone may lead us to places we would rather not go and have no desire to visit.

What Not to Write?

Diversity Illusionist often set the what-not-to-write parameters. I considered comparing them to the Neverending Story’s Sphinxes’ Gate, but not a fully operational one. In the movie, Atreyu must pass through the gate with confidence. The Sphinxes are gatekeepers, who block out those who are not worthy to enter due to an imperfection, such as a lack of confidence. Their closed eyes symbolize impartiality . . . or blindness. But that is a flawed analogy. I also thought to compare them to the Labyrinth’s Two-Door Riddle, but again this comparison doesn’t work.

Or perhaps the malignant Diversity Illusionist are like Lucy from Charlie Brown.

lucy-football-charlie-brown

Hmmm. Still not good enough of a comparison. And that’s fine because Diversity Illusionists are people, and it’s unfair to distill them into a meme, trope, or any other two-dimensional something or other. And I strongly believe that people as individuals have the ability to learn, improve, and persevere.

Remember that riveting reality television show where a dapper gent and a raven-haired beauty materialized looking like they just strolled off a catwalk or Hollywood red-carpet, before they abducted individuals whose friends and family sentenced these poor, fashionably challenged dears as tacky abominations? There are times when I would have easily qualified as a contestant on that series called, What Not to Wear. Why? Because I wholeheartedly enjoy the comfort of mumus, sweatpants, and oversized t-shirts opposed to the quasi-stylish attire (I’m no fashionista or diva, however, I have been mistaken for thus) you may witness me wearing in public. I occasionally “borrow” my husband’s boxers and masquerade them as shorts in the comfort and privacy of our home. 😊 Sorry, not sorry, I’m guilty as charged.

And there had been a time when one of my stories had been questioned for existing on the grounds that “. . . you’re not from that culture.” For instance, I wrote a short story centered around a young bi-ethnic girl (half-Black and half-Japanese) coming to terms with her dual heritage, due to her mother’s love for the Japanese tea ceremony. I had some of my Japanese friends read it to ensure that I was respectful and accurate about the culture. (“Tell me truth!” “It’s fine.” “Really?” “Yes.” “No! Tell me the truth! I can take it!” “You need to fix that. And that”. “Whew. Okay, thank you.”) Even though I speak Japanese, have lived and taught there, doesn’t mean that I will get everything right. I’m all about empathy and fairness.

I wasn’t literally told by anyone (yet) that I shouldn’t write this story, but it was implied. What I find strangely interesting (and unfair) is that there are presently a plethora of white authors that get a resounding “pass go and collect $$$” for writing these kinds of stories. And they’ve been bequeathed carte blanche-status to write them and profit from them for decades. The responses—both positive and negative—have little effect contrary to what detractors from this reality have argued or believed. Detractors imply that diversity has failed, and that white people are not able to write, produce, or direct works within the Industry.

When you're accustomed to privilege
Yes Shaun, I agree, and let’s pick up the momentum with the term Equity.

Consider this image:

equity-vs-equality
Tear down the wall! Tear down the wall!

For some reason, the longer I analyzed these images the more they irritated me — especially the one for Equity. Why? Because of the damn wall! If equity is supposed to be better, then why is there still a wall?! I mean, sure the boxes do indeed help the littlest person to see over the wall, but why not get rid of the damn wall! Where’s a digital bulldozer when you need one? Where’s Wreck-It Ralph?

Wreck It, Ralph

It’s been argued that we are in a post-racial era. It’s been argued that those that bring up race are the real racists. These are fallacious arguments full of sound and fury . . . leaving people thirsty and angry. It’s like consuming a bag of Takis, which leaves your fingers covered in powdery spices and a great thirst for water that does nothing but spread the heat in your dry mouth.

In order for there to be true equality and equity, the wall must be destroyed, and until that happens boxes (opportunities) are needed.

In 2018, there was a white author complaining in the Twitterverse that the urban fantasy genre populated with the classically European vampires you may find sauntering in an Anita Blake setting, was no longer trending due to a major push for “own voices”. In turn, she felt as if she and writers like her were being pushed out. What she didn’t seem to realize is that the #OwnVoices movement, (coined by Corinne Duyvis, a white author who is all about authentic inclusion and identifies as disabled) would have little to no effect on the urban fantasy genre. Her argument that #Own Voices was taking away from her is fallacious at best, and ridiculous as heck. I will probably write more about this in a future post.

Let me be clear, of course I’m not entirely opposed to white people telling non-white stories. And if I were, would it change the status quo? Heck no! White authors just need to do it right. However, if they’ve been able to do so without pushback and the demand for more than mediocrity until recently, is there any incentive to up their game? During one of my author trips, I attended a workshop taught by Linda Sue Park, author of all things incredibly cool—especially this book:

A Long Walk to Water_Park

The workshop focuses on writing “the other” with empathy, compassion, and most of all real-life experiences. She beautifully calls this technique “A Seat at the Table”. She explained the reason she’s able to write about both the South Korean (her heritage) experience and white folks is because due to the fact that whites (primarily USA) is the “standard” that most people of all ethnic groups can write about whites. But the main reason she’s able to write about white people is because of her authentic and personal life experiences. The “white standard/baseline)  has been the status quo for a long, long, long time in the United States and around the world due to influences found in comic books, music, commercials, plenty of novels, documentaries, novels, and on and on ad nauseum.

White people everywhere

Now, regarding how to write nonwhite characters here’s the gist:

Basically, if your literary soul has been lit with an unquenchable fire to write, thus “giving a face” to the supposedly faceless (ha ha ha we’re really not faceless though) ask yourself, first and foremost:

  1. How do you qualify?
  2. Have you sat at the table with this group of people? How often? Your place? Their place? A public place?
    1. Not just calling them up or reaching out via Twitter, Facebook, etc. for sensitivity reading, dear. I mean really sat at the table, meaning your kitchen table? Were these dear people your friends BEFORE this fire was lit? Is this a cash crop where you picked up these people as friends because you want to appear “woke”, full of virtue, glory, and cookies?
  3. Have you researched? How much? What have you learned about the characters and the intended audience? What pushback and/or constructive criticism may come? How will you handle it?
  4. Finally, what more can you bring to this conversation that will indeed grow feet independent of you? Why are you even writing this?

If this non-exhaustive list of questions makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s okay. It’s better than okay. It’s good. Sometimes we have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. It’s good for the soul and helps us to glow and grow.

Even people within their own ethnic groups aren’t immune to the “What Not to Write” category. Tyler Perry, who is a successful producer and writer has created a lot of content during 2019. One series in particular is called, Sistas, which is about “single black women navigat[ing] their complicated love lives, careers, and friendships”. Perry is what one could describe as “Black Excellence”. However, the criticism that he has received implies that he, too, needs to ask himself the above questions based on the responses from fans:

Tyler Perry-Sistas

Tyler Perry definitely shines with the luster of “star power”. So does Robert Downey, Jr.

Unfortunately, star power or quality isn’t always enough to bring in money . . . or amazing reviews. In my previous post, I used the Dr. Dolittle remake as an example for the Industry’s Make It Rain $ Playbook, and I’ve noticed the movie is not doing so well. In fact, it’s estimated to lose up to $100 million dollars. 😦 Some reasons for this could be is that audiences have known Robert as Iron Man for over a decade. Back in the 1990s, star power guaranteed a movie or a show’s success. Now, financial success seems to be more dependent on the script (writers) and the characters the actors portray rather than the actors themselves. That too is interesting.

Now, back to Tyler Perry. Hopefully if he brings in new writers that come from the demographic he’s writing (young, black millennial age range women) will most likely help to flesh out his characters, thus giving the show more depth and the audiences ability to effortlessly and effectively relate to his content in a more organic and authentic way.

For instance, I wrote and sold another short story, which I revised into a prose poem revolving around a black girl with albinism. I may be a Black woman, but I’m not a person with albinism. But I did my research, reached out to people, watched documentaries, listened to interviews to be as empathetic, accurate, and respectful as possible. I’m a writer. Words have great power. And with great power comes great . . .  (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you know) . . . say it with me:

Spider Man Responsiblity

Lol.

My teenaged students hate when someone does or says something that they deem as “old” or “that’s so 2010”. I think it’s an instance of what they consider clichéd. “Mrs. Desir,” they sometimes lament, “That dab he did is so old! Yuck!” “Well,” I reply with a sigh, “Hip Hop is considered old since it was around long before you were born, so is that old too and thus useless? If so,  I guess you can’t like that kind of music anymore. Too bad, eh?” A false equivalency, I suppose, but it does the job. 😊 Hee hee hee.

They often squirm, no longer comfortable with the logical question I posed. Some smile and say, “I still like it.”

I reply, “I’m glad you do.”

Conversation over. Comfort reigns yet again.

Hmmm. Speaking of comfort, it’s one of the main reasons why I think the Industry has been and continues to not only seem tone-deaf, but also what some could describe as “out of touch”. Both shortcomings are learned behavior, but when I say this it doesn’t mean that they’re acceptable behaviors because they can and must be unlearned. At times, insiders have even displayed their inability to accept change or even push for it when doing so benefits everyone. Hey, I’ll be the first to admit that change can be painful. Change can also be downright terrifying, but whether we like it or not, change often comes uninvited, unescapable, and rarely evanescent.

Likewise, if authors like Toni Morrison had invited comfort as a guest, books like The Bluest Eye and Beloved would never have existed. It couldn’t have. They’re incredibly uncomfortable works of literature, but the discomfort doesn’t diminish their impact and remarkability.

And speaking of remarkability, even the most uncomfortable books have that je ne sais quoi of marketability. One can liken them to an intolerably violent car accident . . . you want to avoid staring, fingers tightening around the steering wheel, head ducking as you crawl on in snail-paced traffic, but you just can’t . . .

Look Away

In my previous post, I discussed intertexuality. I miss watching The Golden Girls (four older women share a house in Miami beach) and in the 1990s when Living Single aired, I realized that what I loved about The Golden Girls I found in Living Single. The New York brownstone setting and the younger age of the main characters added a novel layer to a familiar tale, laced with relatable themes, realistic plot twists, logical and pleasurable expectations that resonated with a new generation.  Living Single was so amazing that it even inspired or as Erika Alexander commented, “invented the template” for Friends. Friends, some would argue, is an all-white rip-off of Living Single.

Living Single_Erika Alexander

Intertexuality? Or something insidious? Hmmm. What do you think? Sound off in the comments.

Regarding ratings, Living Single was indeed popular, but it in no way matched the viewership of Friends.

Living Single-Lack of Funding
An instance of Equity vs Equality?

Perhaps the Warner Bros. marketing peeps assumed that because Living Single had a majority all-black cast that it wasn’t for white people. If that’s the case, what about A Different World, which served as both a doorway and a window to American families all over the United States? This reminds me of instances of when white romance readers won’t pick up a romance novel with a black couple on it. Or, they’ll buy it for their “black friend” because it’s “not for them”. Huh? Love is love is love, n’est pas? Shake my head.

A Different World

As a writer, I noticed that The Golden Girls most likely inspired (not copied) Living Single. And I’ve realized something else . . . I miss watching both shows, and have enjoyed re-watching them as they were on Hulu. I don’t necessarily need reboots and I’d love watching something that is unabashedly inspired by them in the future.

So, to answer the question “what not to write?”

That depends on you as a whole, which includes (but not limited to) your experiences, your intentions, and your willingness to let your guard down.

Happy Writing!

 

 

Diversity Illusionist Part 1: Mirrors, Windows, and Other Worlds

First things first.

I tried to be succinct! Epic Fail. Apologies! So, what started as a quick response, ended up being almost 2200 words. And then that rolled over into more. Part 2 will be available in a couple of days.

*********

Earlier this month another blogger, Raimey Gallant, discussed a not so Happily-Ever-After episode churning in the literary world of Romancelandia involving Courtney Milan, whom I support. You may want to check that out before reading my take on this disconcerting topic.

Rainey explained that there are two kinds of diversity advocates.

1. Full-Equity Diversity Advocates: those publishing stakeholders, whether they be authors, critics, literary agents, editors, etc., who advocate for equity no matter how much space and power they have to give up in the process.
2. Fair-Weather Diversity Advocates: these are publishing stakeholders who say, “Yes, come in, but stop when we reach our quota” or, “Do come in, but that’s far enough,” or, “Welcome, so long as you’re the kinds of diversity we like.”

I agree with her, and I fear that there may be a third kind that does more harm than the second type.

Before I dive into my take on this nightmare sh!tefest of f#ckery, let’s stretch our limbs into the warm, nurturing sunlight of background knowledge . . .

Analyze this image and consider the messages and conclusions:

Mirror_Diversity in Children's Books 2015
WTF? 12.5%? If it wasn’t for Scooby-Doo and those meddling kids, too! 😉

Now, let’s consider this beautifully bejewelled quote:

Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real
or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.

-Rudine Sims Bishop, 1990

And this:

Books Transmit Values

It’s truly amazing how powerful and timeless words are. It’s also amazing how different people can come to similar conclusions about books and their impact on people. I’m a Myers fan and I’m so glad I found Bishop’s quote during my research for this post. In a previous post, I shared my experiences as a budding writer and ravenous reader.

With headlines like these, who dares for diversity and inclusion?

Marvel Executives Cry Baa Baa Baa

No, Marvel Executives. It’s not that we don’t want diversity, we just want it done right! We also don’t want or need fake allies pretending to help when they only want to harm genuine efforts toward progress! 😦

I’m tired of seeing harmful stereotypes and tropes weaponized against Black woman and girls in the form of:

  1. The Mammy
  2. The Jezebel
  3. The Masculinized Warrior

We, too are multifaceted, and need a balance in representation!

For example, in the middle-grade novel that it is on the Florida’s ELA curriculum reading list, a little Black girl is used as a Magical Negro to teach and guide a little white boy in quasi-desegregated Georgia. In one unbelievable scene, Frita, punches a white boy that is bullying Gabriel. This little girl sacrifices her safety, compromises her father’s teachings (he’s a strong church leader in his community), and her family’s safety (KKK is you know, a thing) . . . for what though?

Blurb_Liberation of Gabriel King

If I didn’t witness on a daily basis how books, social media, movies, and music have the power to transmit values often in a negative way for Black girls, I wouldn’t possess the understanding as to why this seemingly innocuous novel has a negative effect on children when taught in an empathy-lacking vacuum. After all, the themes found in between the covers sing of friendship, fear can enslave you, liberate yourself with bravery, have the ability to teach important lessons, but at what cost? Unfortunately, not all values transmitted through books are noble. For example, a lot of the black girls (including myself) that I knew growing up believed that we had to defend and cape not just for ourselves, but for others. We were everyone’s Super Hero, but it was a rare occurrence when someone would come along to protect and defend us. If you’re struggling to understand this reality, please visit these YouTubers and learn:

YouTube_Chrissie TVYouTube_RashidaYouTube_For Harriet

 

The Liberation of Gabriel King

My primary purpose for writing this post is to shine a spotlight on another kind of Diversity Advocate. And as my thinking matures or evolves, the conclusions I’ve drawn may further develop, cement, or crystallize. Regardless, I love making sense of things. Let’s collaborate.

So . . .

mario-here-we-go

Twilight of the Diversity Illusionist

You’ve most likely heard of the term Social Justice Warrior. This term has been hijacked and bastardized from its original meaning:

Social Justice Definition

Social Justice Warrior

In the 2006 romantic mystery movie starring Edward Norton and Jessica Biel, The Illusionist, “nothing is what it seems”.

The same can be said about diversity, inclusion, the movers, shakers, players, and what’s at stake.

So, I had to coin the term #DiversityIllusionist to refocus the narrative.

Based on my observations, Diversity Illusionists are Industry stakeholders that appear to understand and/or superficially desire diversity to thrive and be successful, due to their ignorance and inexperience.

Keeping up appearances is everything with these kinds of folks. They use the proper hashtags, they support the “correct” on-going movements. They “like”, retweet, and share, and take all the right photos. They speak oh-so-very well about diversity and inclusion that it seems oh-so genuine.

If only . . .

When my oldest son was little, he loved the Little Miss and Mr. Men picture book series by Roger Hargreaves. One of our favorites was Little Miss Helpful.

Little Miss Helpful

Like the character teaser states above, Little Miss Helpful’s help is tragically not helpful. It’s downright destructive or comically problematic.

She reminds me of the Diversity Illusionist that hear the “masses” crying for diversity and inclusion and then they come running to help, but unfortunately they often only make things more worse. These kind of Diversity Illusionist are benign. They’re for the most part what one could call “tone-deaf” or they can’t read the room. And because of their ignorance, discord ensues, thus impeding progress.

The second half of the third kind of Diversity Advocate slink in the shadows, planting pieces of their contempt, hatred, stereotypes, bigotry, sexism, elitism, and venom like Voldemort plants horcruxes, as they poison the waters. I dub them the malignant Diversity Illusionist. They proclaim to be all about diversity and inclusion; however, their real purpose is to undermine the cause and to cry and beat their chest when things go sideways, “See! It didn’t work! It doesn’t sell! Diversity is a lie!”

For example, you may get re-makings and rabid reactions like this from either the benign or malignant ones:

Ariel Shouldn't Be Black

The argument above that people had a right to be angry regarding Ariel being “re-imagined” as a Black girl is a false equivalency. Ariel is a mermaid (an obviously humanoid creature) that chooses to be human for the sake of love. Comparing this “re-make” to the species swaps of dogs and anthropomorphic hot dog eating, faster than the speed of sound hedgehogs is marked with ignorance and reeks of oversimplification. It’s also insulting. Nonwhite people, in this case a Black actress, are not animals that will be immune and oblivious to the angry outcry of “reverse-racism” criers.

Little Mermaid Ariel

Disclaimer: Let it be understood that I’m not for or against Ariel being re-imagined as a gorgeous Black young lady. I have a different argument altogether: What bothers me is why are those with so much power behind what gets produced crying and whining when critics (both black, white, and every other shade in between) throw righteous shade at their mediocre efforts: “See,” Power Keepers whine, “we’re being more inclusive. We’re being diverse! Look what we’ve done! We made Ariel Black! See what we’ve done! Praise us! Praise us! Only the racist and sexist are mad, mad, mad at the sacrifices we’ve made on the Diversity Pyre!” when they could actually do real work by looking at the already huge treasure trove of African-American, African, Asian, Caribbean, Pacific Island myths and inviting writers from those groups (Moana anyone, and yet) instead of taking already established fairy tale characters, and then just slapping a new brown face on it. This is not what I or others are asking for, and why should we settle for less?

Are Black characters and stories so undesirable, unnecessary, and so un-inspirationally (is this a word? Uh, it is now!) “other” that we have to be fronted by a white and already established face and story? If so, have those that have chosen this route unaware of how demoralizing this is? Do they even care?

Dillon-MaryBelleAndTheMermaid-sj
This gorgeous painting is from Virginia Hamilton’s “Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales” (1995). Proud owner of the book! 🙂

Regardless, this is no longer the time for laziness, myopia (this is 2020 and the vision must be clear, after all), or apathy! 🙂

Words like virtue-signaling, cancel culture, and battle cries such as “go woke or go broke” have been over 9000 Super-Saiyan-screamed all over digital spaces, such as Twitter and Facebook. Lines have been drawn with permanent marker, arrangements made to improve inclusive numbers, but how come there hasn’t been much progress?

No, really . . . why hasn’t there been much real progress?

To speak up about the need for diversity is one thing, but to actually go about filling that need is another thing entirely.

Torture Porn? No thank you.

I agree that books can be a mirror, window, or door to other peoples or places; however, not every window is meant to be peeked into. That’s why the term Peeping Tom deserves its negative connotation. The same goes for voyeurs of the sadistic kind. When Black people are brutalized in films, there’s no doubt in my mind that it pleases those that consider us less than human or a blight on the planet. While watching these scenes which are created to garner empathy, none will be found for those that watch to smile and cheer at the inhumanity done to other humans.

I won’t deny that there has been an increase in movies with non-white characters or even movies and series written by Black writers and producers. Oh, there most definitely have been. That’s fantastic. And there have been disgruntled reactionary rumblings in the Black spaces and groups and channels I frequently visit. Two primary laments that repeatedly come up are:

“We don’t need or want another slave movie”

“We don’t need to see another murdered-by-the-police story”.

And more:

“Is it too much to ask to see a healthy, Black couple just living their lives?” or “I’d love to see more Black people in horror–you know, not dying within the first scene . . . or an other-ised monstrosity?”

But asking does not mean you shall receive.

So then when we end up getting “movies” like this:

When what we really wanted was something more like these:

makes me wonder what the heck is going on. 😐

Disclaimer1

These are my opinions. I do not speak for all Black people.

B-b-but It’s Not About Race . . . aka It’s All About the Benjamins, Baby!

Believe it or not . . . money and race are not exclusionary. Both can simultaneously exist and not cancel each other out. For those that argue diversity is failing or that it doesn’t work because audiences won’t spend money on it is a false conclusion. Furthermore, just because something is lucrative does not equate its level of value or worth.

That aside, there have been a lot of remakes!

Some call this rehashing of old ideas and nostalgia-bathing intertextuality. And believe me, there’s nothing wrong with nostalgia.

Intertextuality is an idea that any text has been influenced and shaped by texts that have preceded it. Thus, no film exists on its own and consciously or unconsciously all films borrow ideas from other films, past or present. In other words, there is nothing new under the sun. Needless to say, my take on Little Red Riding Hood will still be unique because it comes from my own personal experiences and idiosyncrasies that make me moi.

Intertextuality is now a bankable thing, but I go for the head and will also call this phenomenon Lucrative Ego-Tripping.

Tony Stark Make it Rain

Dr. Dolittle Remake
Color me surprised . . . another remake! ::gasp::

Basically, the latest movies from both the DCU, MCU, and even the beloved Disney live-action remakes are sometimes regurgitated “goodness”, sure to sell, and sell oh-so-very well, which poses the rhetorical question: why try something new when the old guarantees overflowing coffers?

Diversity and Inclusion

To the naysayers, fakers (looking at you, Diversity Illusionist!), and haters diversity and inclusion isn’t going away. It is not a trend. It is not the latest fashion. It is not charity work done by well-meaning and sometimes mealy-mouthed people looking to get a pat on the head paired with a glass of milk and a cookie.

It is the way of the world.

And the world is a beautifully diverse place.

So, books in all shapes and forms should reflect this reality.

After all, books are the conduit to all that and more.

A Reader lives_Martin

Consider and reflect on where you stand . . . happy reading and writing!

 

A Poem a Day Series 2019 – Day 29

Into the Light

Let the Light Enter

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper1825 – 1911

The dying words of Goethe.
“Light! more light! the shadows deepen,
   And my life is ebbing low,
Throw the windows widely open:
   Light! more light! before I go.”
“Softly let the balmy sunshine
   Play around my dying bed,
E’er the dimly lighted valley
   I with lonely feet must tread.”
“Light! more light! for Death is weaving
   Shadows ‘round my waning sight,
And I fain would gaze upon him
   Through a stream of earthly light.”
Not for greater gifts of genius;
   Not for thoughts more grandly bright,
All the dying poet whispers
   Is a prayer for light, more light.
Heeds he not the gathered laurels,
   Fading slowly from his sight;
All the poet’s aspirations
   Centre in that prayer for light.

 

This poem is in the public domain. 

A Poem a Day Series 2019 – Day 19

Prayer at Sunrise

James Weldon Johnson1871 – 1938

Now thou art risen, and thy day begun.
How shrink the shrouding mists before thy face,
As up thou spring’st to thy diurnal race!
How darkness chases darkness to the west,
As shades of light on light rise radiant from thy crest!
For thee, great source of strength, emblem of might,
In hours of darkest gloom there is no night.
Thou shinest on though clouds hide thee from sight,
And through each break thou sendest down thy light.

O greater Maker of this Thy great sun,
Give me the strength this one day’s race to run,
Fill me with light, fill me with sun-like strength,
Fill me with joy to rob the day its length.
Light from within, light that will outward shine,
Strength to make strong some weaker heart than mine,
Joy to make glad each soul that feels its touch;
Great Father of the sun, I ask this much.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 28, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

A Poem a Day Series – Day 16

Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day is a holiday in Washington DC to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act, which president Abraham Lincoln signed on April 16, 1862. It is annually held on April 16.

On Liberty and Slavery

Alas! and am I born for this,
   To wear this slavish chain?
Deprived of all created bliss,
   Through hardship, toil, and pain!
   
How long have I in bondage lain,
   And languished to be free!
Alas! and must I still complain--
   Deprived of liberty.

Oh, Heaven! and is there no relief
   This side the silent grave--
To soothe the pain--to quell the grief
   And anguish of a slave?
   
Come, Liberty, thou cheerful sound,
   Roll through my ravished ears!
Come, let my grief in joys be drowned,
   And drive away my fears.
   
Say unto foul oppression, Cease:
   Ye tyrants rage no more,
And let the joyful trump of peace,
   Now bid the vassal soar.
   
Soar on the pinions of that dove
   Which long has cooed for thee,
And breathed her notes from Afric’s grove,
   The sound of Liberty.
   
Oh, Liberty! thou golden prize,
   So often sought by blood--
We crave thy sacred sun to rise,
   The gift of nature’s God!
   
Bid Slavery hide her haggard face,
   And barbarism fly:
I scorn to see the sad disgrace
   In which enslaved I lie.
   
Dear Liberty! upon thy breast,
   I languish to respire;
And like the Swan upon her nest,
   I’d to thy smiles retire.
   
Oh, blest asylum--heavenly balm!
   Unto thy boughs I flee--
And in thy shades the storm shall calm,
   With songs of Liberty!

This poem is in the public domain.

A Poem a Day Series 2019 – Day 13

Twilighs with Stars

El Beso

Twilight—and you
Quiet—the stars; 
Snare of the shine of your teeth, 
Your provocative laughter, 
The gloom of your hair; 
Lure of you, eye and lip; 
Yearning, yearning, 
Languor, surrender; 
Your mouth, 
And madness, madness, 
Tremulous, breathless, flaming, 
The space of a sigh; 
Then awakening—remembrance, 
Pain, regret—your sobbing; 
And again, quiet—the stars, 
Twilight—and you.

This poem is in the public domain.