Monday, January 19, 2009

We've Come So Far...but Have So Far To Go

This picture was taken at around 1913.
Whites hung two Black men accused of raping a White female.
To them, justice was served.
This was 96 Years ago.

This picture was taken in 1981.
Only 28 years ago.
This boy, 19-year-old Michael Donald, was randomly picked out by Klansmen in Alabama.
The men were tried, convicted, and imprisoned. in 2005...24 YEARS later.

24 years. For lynching an innocent man.
And Post Civil-Rights, even.

I dare anyone to rest in the fact that we have, as a nation, "arrived".
I am not, by far, one of those people who exercise paranoia and weave conspiracy into my everyday routines. However, I feel that the majority of the problem is that people feel that we shouldn't take responsibility for what's going on, on our own soil. Our own land. People grow wary of mentioning race relations; claiming it to be an irrelevant issue. We've detached ourselves from the sins of our fathers. We apologize and feel that this is sufficient.

I am with you. Walking with you to move forward to a new sense of Unity. But, you nor I can ignore the deep-seeded pain that I still sometimes feel. Sometimes, it confuses and frustrates you...I know. I didn't experience any of it....but when I look at the pictures of Michael Donald...I feel hurt like you wouldn't imagine. Because I am like him. I am him. Had it been my town, and my street, and my face...I would have been hanging from that tree.And it could have been you behind that white sheet.

I think if we are to grow as a country, we should stand under the Glory of Almighty God and painfully stare at our own tendencies. Just fathom what has happened on our land since the first people set foot here...

It includes more than Columbus Day, Independence Day, and 9/11...

2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

God Bless America.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Black + Exploitation

There are many double standards held in our society; rock hard like granite and so infused into our everyday lifestyles that amending or even addressing them would mean uprooting mindsets and destroying foundations. It is quite obvious that many of the existing double standards are based on race. This is a topic that I will never shy away from, no matter how much people feel it is no longer relevant, or overdone. [Side Note: I had a girl in one of my classes say that she is tired of people always making things about race. To which I softly replied, "Well. You may have been blessed to live a life where race was never an issue...but many others are not so privileged. Therefore, your job is not to complain about the pain of others, but be to compassionate and empathetic...even though you will never truly understand."]

So, if you are looking for a more reader-friendly blog, I suggest you close this browser window now.

I've been considering cinema's role in race relations today. Thanks to my recent viewing of Spike Lee's Bamboozled, it really got me thinking. It makes me angry when I think of how African-Americans were/are portrayed in the entertainment industry: greedy ignoramuses good only for the audience's amusement. The "abolishment" of slavery only ended one portion of the struggle. We were still seen as lesser. Illegitimate. Inhuman. So, way before King Jr. had a dream, Blacks longed for an existence where they were not only free, but human. Truly equal.

Traditional blackface is no longer practiced. However, I cannot help but consider how black cinema, affectionately known as "Blaxploitation", is now become counter-productive. [Side Note #2: You may say to me, "Please. It is NOT that serious." Of course not. Whites didn't think it was that serious, either. I think it's slightly ironic that only blacks are allowed to use racial if we somehow earned the right to be racist. Acts of hate cannot truly be avenged through retribution...but by repentance and education.]

Things are not as bad as they used to be overall...but the "Blaxploitation" film genre is currently doing more harm than good within the black community. Movies that uplift us; with black directors (i.e. Denzel Washington's Antwoin Fisher) gets more nods nationwide than within the black race. Meanwhile films like Pootie Tang and Next Friday can be quoted by my 10 year old nephew from memory. Our kids have no idea who Dorthea Dandridge or Reuben "The Hurricane" Carter is, but they will spend $11.50 to go see Get Rich or Die Tryin'.

There are some shows/movies that are social commentary (i.e. The Boondocks)...this is not what I mean. I am speaking of continual, explicit (or covert), and deliberate disrespect of our culture. Taking our struggles, history, and ambitions, and turning them into a formula to entertain the masses. I won't get into BET's role in demolishing the African American's dignity to the rest of the free world...but here are a list of films that you may remember that I'm putting on my "Banned List". Meaning I will NOT be promoting or keeping these films in my house...

1. Pootie Tang
2. Soul Plane
3. Hustle & Flow
4. Shaft (2000)
5. Booty Call
6. Woo
7. Two Can Play That Game
8. Superfly
9. How High
10. High School High
11. Juwanna Mann
12. The Cookout
13. The Wash
14. Scary Movie
15. Next Friday
16. The Friday After Next
(Note: The First Friday isn't up here because it isn't as exploitative as the other two.)
17. The Mack
18. B.A.P.S (Classic...but still all wrong.)
19. Bringing Down the House (I love Queen Latifah...but they still didn't address how she was disrespected throughout the WHOLE FILM.)
20. Big Momma's House (I already cringe at Tyler Perry playing Madea...but he is starting to cut back on readily playing that character in his movies.)
21. Norbit (It's funny...but it's racial pokes have no point. It's offensive just for the sake of being offensive.)
22. BeBe's Kids
23. Monster's Ball (It should NOT have taken THAT to get sis an Oscar...I'm sorry.)

...there are more...but I'll leave the list relatively short.
I am just sick and tired of being portrayed in a one-dimensional light on screen. There are things that I will smile and confirm...but I don't want that to become my sole source of identity.

If I had to pick the 5 Most Important Black Films, they would be:
1. Malcolm X
2. Higher Learning
3. Do The Right Thing
4. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
5. The Color Purple