I’ve had to use a few tissues, my toddler’s sock, the edge of my bed sheets (whatever is nearby)…to soak up my tears. Why do you ask? I’m listening to the audiobook “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir” by Patrisse Khan-Cullors. Check it out, if you can. Especially before March 29th. Khan-Cullors will be on Facebook Live Book Club to answer questions/chat about her work 🙂
The last few weeks the public has been inundated with shocking revelations of predatory behavior in Hollywood. So much so, I needed time to process before writing about it. Some folks have been skeptical of the allegations, as many of the women have waited 5-10 years (if not more) to share their stories. While I’m sure most folks figured there were shenanigans going on in Hollywood, I think it’s been hard for people to grasp that it’s on such a wide scale. Especially, with celebrities they admired. I think it speaks to the fact, that this country has not really addressed the pervasiveness of sexual violence against women.
Recently, I came across a post that pointed out that we need to make a distinction between sexual assault, sexual harassment, and just asshole behavior. I thought this was important, and probably what’s contributing to most of us feeling overwhelmed. The mixing of incidents, is creating confusion. Ellen Page shared that Brett Ratner “outted” her on set. While offensive, and the way he did it was vulgar, it’s not rape. Lupita Nyong’o wrote an article about her interactions with Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein lured Lupita into several uncomfortable situations, one that resulted in her having to give him a massage, for her own safety. She experienced harassment, but it wasn’t rape. Other women (and men) talked about incidents they’ve endured, while disturbing, many were asshole antics…but it wasn’t rape.
This is not about oppression olympics, all of these scenarios feed into the larger issue of rape culture. However, it’s making me a little anxious folks are lumping a outting story (as Kevin Spacey also tried to do), or someone giving a perverted sneer, with rape.
The purpose of the event is to highlight issues affecting Black women across the country.
- State violence against Black women
- The criminalization of Black women
- Rape culture/Sexualized violence
- Murders of trans Black women
- Addressing missing Black girls and women
and much more.
A few weeks ago, I sent in a form to their main website hoping to get more information about the event. The organizers are encouraging sister marches in other cities. I didn’t realize I was signing up on the spot to lead a march! 🙂
But it’s fine. I love planning events, especially something that seeks to empower Black girls/women. Also, I try to be a woman of my word and when the organizers contacted me via email, I decided to push forward.
Support the work of these amazing women in DC or if you know about a similar gathering in your city. If you are a Black woman in Portland, come on out to my event. I’ve decided to host a townhall, since it’s too last-minute for an actual march. We are in precarious times, and Black women have to make sure we don’t continue to be marginalized/silenced.
Poor Taraji P Henson.
Since being nominated for an Academy Award in 2008, Henson’s career has seemed to be a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Nothing significant has taken off for her. But this can be said for the majority of Oscar-nominated/winning Black women actresses. Unlike their white female counterparts, they tend to struggle. There’s been hope for Viola Davis (nominated for Academy Awards for her performances in “Doubt” and “The Help) and Lupita Nyong’o (Academy Award winner for her role as Patsey in “12 Years a Slave”). Davis is currently starring on the hit show “How To Get Away With Murder” and Nyong’o is slated to star in an adaption of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s “Americanah,” “Star Wars: Episode 7,” and “The Jungle Book.”
Henson’s acting is definitely on caliber with these women, so it’s surprising she hasn’t had her own big breakout opportunity. She may have found it in “Empire.” “A unique family drama set in the world of a hip hop empire.” –http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3228904/
I watched “Empire” on Hulu this past weekend. I thought it was okay. Also, I’m a bit turned off with Terrance Howard these days. I used to think he was a great actor, but he comes across as one-note these days. And it doesn’t help that he seems to have misogynistic feelings about women/allegations of abuse. But Henson did bring the heat with her “Cookie” character. She really is the star of the show.
There’s been criticism that “Empire” feeds into stereotypes about black folks. Well, of course it does, it’s on the FOX Network. But I also think “Empire” is just trying to capitalize on the current adult drama craze that mixes thriller/sex/murder/power/vengeance that can be found in shows like “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Scandal,” “Revenge,” “Deception,” etc.
Besides side-eyeing Howard, I’ve also been side-eyeing some of the comments made by one of the creators of the show…Lee Daniels. One of his goals with the show is to address homophobia in the hip hop community. Okay, cool. But his rhetoric has basically been that the black community is more homophobic than other communities, which is not true. If that were the case, white LGBTQI folks would have wonderful coming out stories, which they don’t. The issue of homophobia is a problem in all communities.
It will be interesting to see where the “Empire” storyline goes. If it will even survive a season. It’s all over the map, right now. Henson deserves so much more, so hopefully it works out for her.
Whoa! bell hooks has been KILLING it these last couple of days, as she does another week-long residency at The New School. She’s had some great discussions with white feminist icon Gloria Steinman and fellow black intellectual, Cornel West (the two of them had me rolling). My favorite conversation was the one between her and Laverne Cox.
Cox stars on the television show “Orange is the New Black.” I have not watched the show. It hasn’t really interested me (and in their talk) hooks articulated some of my concerns about the show. However, it’s been great to see Cox get mainstream shine. It’s rare you see contemporary black celebrities knowledgeable about politics/social injustices. Particularly, the work Cox does around transgender rights.
Enjoy their fun and thoughtful discussion by clicking the link 🙂
Last week it was reported that Queen Latifah would be portraying Bessie Smith in a HBO movie. If you don’t know who Bessie Smith is, you better ask somebody!
“Bessie Smith earned the title of “Empress of the Blues” by virtue of her forceful vocal delivery and command of the genre. Her singing displayed a soulfully phrased, boldly delivered and nearly definitive grasp of the blues. In addition, she was an all-around entertainer who danced, acted and performed comedy routines with her touring company. She was the highest-paid black performer of her day and arguably reached a level of success greater than that of any African-American entertainer before her.” See more at: http://rockhall.com/inductees/bessie-smith/bio/#sthash.CUnrPOtu.dpuf
I think the Queen is a good choice for this role. She can actually carry a tune and exudes the same charming personality as the late Smith.
The film is being written and directed by Dee Rees, which means it may actually turn out decent. Rees was creative talent behind the heartwarming film “Pariah.” “Pariah” tells the story of a Black teen girl who struggles with coming out to her parents. You have to check it out to see Rees skills.
Any who, I can’t wait to see this film. It’s been in the works for a while, so glad it’s finally moving forward.
Let me leave you with some Ms. Smith to kick off your week…
Rape is one of the most evil acts one can commit on another. What makes it more alarming is that it tends to be perpetuated by folks we know. Yet, even in 2014, rape is still depicted as a stranger hiding in bushes. The fact is survivors tend to know their assailants. These people tend to be relatives, friends, ex-partners, co-workers, casual acquaintances, etc.
The rapist isn’t a masked man
- Approximately 66% of rape victims know their assailant. (2000 NCVS)
- Approximately 48% of victims are raped by a friend or acquaintance; 30% by a stranger; 16% by an intimate; 2% by another relative; and in 4% of cases the relationship is unknown. (2000 NCVS)
In communities of color, especially the black community, sexual violence is even more complex. Black women not only have to accept the fact that they know their rapists, but grapple with what will be their next step. Despite being more prone to sexual violence, Black women/women of color tend to be very racially loyal.
A lot of it has to do with Black women worrying about feeding into stereotypes about Black men or not wanting to “lock another brother up.” This fierce community protection comes at the expense of Black women’s physical and mental health:
“Historically, law enforcement has been used to control African-American communities through brutality and racial profiling. It may be difficult for a Black woman to seek help if she feels it could be at the expense of African-American men or her community. The history of racial injustice (particularly the stereotype of the Black male as a sexual predator) and the need to protect her community from further attack might persuade a survivor to remain silent.”
In her film, NO! The Rape Documentary, Aishah Shahidah Simmons does a great job of deconstructing the myths about rape and how sexual violence affects the lives of Black women. She shows how the intersectionality of racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, etc., prevent Black women from reporting their assaults. She also shows the healing process of the survivors in the film.
I met Aishah a few years ago, when she did a screening of NO! in my city. I was extremely moved by the film, and was so glad that someone was speaking out on this issue.It took her over 13 years to make the documentary. She was committed to making the film because she thought it was important that this issue was discussed in the Black community. Much respect for that!
I have shown the NO! documentary as a way to support Black women’s voices during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). I encourage other folks to do so as well. It can be a great way to start a conversation on how this issue is unique to Black women. And the ways Black men can be our allies. If my group had a bigger budget, we would’ve also brought Aishah to speak about her film. If your school or organization has the funds, not only show the film, invite Aishah! She’s an amazing woman who we should support.
The NO! Rape Documentary is a powerful act of resistance against the oppression of Black women’s voices/bodies.
I love watching independent films on Netflix. I especially like when I find quirky black films that have fallen under the radar. This weekend I watched a cute film called “The Skinny.”
“Feature film from award-winning writer/director Patrik-Ian Polk, tells the story of five black Brown University classmate s- four gay men and one lesbian – reuniting in the Big Apple for a weekend of sin, fun, secrets, lies and drama.” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2107835/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl
Patrik-Ian Polk is the writer/creator of the first popular all black gay show “Noah’s Arc.” Polk is currently promoting his latest film ‘Blackbird.’ The film stars Mo’Nique and Isaiah Washington.
Polk is someone folks need to keep an eye on. Plus, we need to support our indie black directors/writers/etc.
Indiegogo campaigns are a great way to fund DIY projects. It’s a crowdfunding resource:
“Crowdfunding (alternately crowd financing, equity crowdfunding, crowd equity, crowd-sourced fundraising) is the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdfunding
Indiegogo campaigns are relatively easy to create. The biggest thing is making sure you have interesting perks, so that folks want to give up their $$$. Indiegogo campaigns can be potentiality seen by millions of people, as they tend to be shared across social media (twitter, tumblr, blogs, etc.) I always see these campaigns on my Facebook newsfeed.
It’s free to sign up with Indiegogo. There is a small fee on any money raised. If you reach your goal it’s 4% if you don’t it’s 9%. You can choose between fixed funding or flexible funding.
I hope one day to get it together and start a campaign for a DIY project. Any who, The Black Portlanders is one of my favorite campaigns happening right now. The Black Portlanders is all about photographing Black people in Portland, Oregon. This campaign has some sweet perks 🙂
Also, check out the article “In the Spirit of Community Building: 5 Projects You Should Fund in February.” There are some awesome projects needing support 🙂
Hey all…sorry for the late post. Today, I went to see the Nigerian thriller ‘Last Flight to Abuja’ It was an interesting film. The film is loosely based on the plane crash of Dana Air Flight 992/Nigeria’s aviation issues. It was an interesting film. The director Obi Emelonye also attended the screening. He spoke about the booming Nigerian/Nollywood film industry and for us to be kind to his film, as most Nigerian films are made on low budgets 🙂
The acting was decent. The film supposedly stars some of Nigeria’s biggest movie stars. I don’t know who the stars are, but one guy looked just like Isaiah Washington 🙂
My one issue with the film was the obsession with relationships/romance. I know this tends to be a standard in Nollywood films, but it kind of worked my nerves 🙂 I know some of it’s because I’m not really into romantic type films, but it was also because of the portrayal of women in the film. Women were basically folks to be conquered/seduced, okay to be cheated on/lied to, and evil/manipulative. Also, all the women kind of looked alike. I also didn’t care for one of the characters lamenting about folks thinking she’s a lesbian, because she’s a pilot. This seemed out-of-place for a contemporary film…
Other than some of the eye raising gender issues, the movie held my interest. The plane crash wasn’t as scary as one would think (maybe because of the low-budget factor). And damn it, why was a character asking a woman on a romantic date, as they are going down! *Sigh* Ha, ha!
It’s still a good movie to check out: