Tag Archives: african american women

“The Help”: Is it just me or…

…are black people not feeling this movie trailer?  I’ve witnessed a very conflicted reaction to the trailer of the new movie “The Help” recently, in a movie theater that was filled with black folk.  Conflicted is the best way I can describe the mix of disgust and curiosity.  Am I surprised? No. It’s 2011, but the subject matter and images still sting.  Nothing like a dark-skinned black woman serving white folks in a maids uniform…in a period movie…set in the deep south.  Sigh.  Especially when it centers around a classic white savior character.  Since it takes place during the Civil Rights era, I think the author could have done a better job of developing the black lead character.  However, would Hollywood even make such a movie if it didn’t have a white lead?  I don’t know.

Unlike a lot of people I know, I read the book last year.  I can see how the movie trailer is off-putting without the book as reference.  I had some problems with the book, but overall I thought it was a decent read given the full context of who wrote it and the back story presented.  At times, reading it was heart wrenching for me as a black woman whose family is from Mississippi (mom’s side) and who’s great-grandmother was a maid for several white families.  Parts of the story were plain old scary, as racism sometimes is.

I don’t know for sure how this movie is going to be received by the black community.  I think Michele Wallace’s recent review in Essence is dead on (if they post it to the site, I’ll link to it).  In my opinion, this is not going to be a celebrated movie (like “The Color Purple”), but I’m glad that great actresses like Viola Davis and Cicely Tyson are taking on the roles in this film so that they are played with dignity.

One more point that doesn’t help: A Maid Sees Herself in a Novel, and Objects – Yep, a black maid, named Ablene, that worked for Kathryn Stockett’s older brother is suing her.  Dag! At least name the main black character in your book something other than your brother’s REAL, black maid’s name.  Come on!  To add insult, the woman says that part of the storyline was taken from her life.

NY Times | “Ablene Cooper, a 60-year-old woman who has long worked as a maid here, has filed a lawsuit against Kathryn Stockett, the author of the best-selling novel “The Help,” about black maids working for white families in Jackson in the 1960s.

In the complaint, Ms. Cooper argues that one of the book’s principal characters, Aibileen Clark, is an unpermitted appropriation of her name and image, which she finds emotionally distressing.

It is more complicated than that. For the past dozen years, Ms. Cooper has worked for Ms. Stockett’s older brother, Robert, and sister-in-law, Carroll, and still does.

“Ain’t too many Ablenes,” Ms. Cooper said at a law office after a day’s work at the Stocketts, for whom she has helped raise two children. Ms. Cooper also said that she had their support in her legal quest.

“What she did, they said it was wrong,” Ms. Cooper said of the Stocketts, members of a prominent Jackson family. “They came to me and said, ‘Ms. Aibee, we love you, we support you,’ and they told me to do what I got to do.””

Quote from Viola Davis in the August issue of Essence magazine:

”Of course I had trepidations. Why do I have to play the mammy? But what do you do as an actor if one of the most multifaceted and rich roles you’ve ever been given is a maid in 1962 Mississippi? Do you not take the role because you feel like in some ways it’s not a good message to send to Black people? No. The message is the quality of the work. That is the greater message… As Black women, we’re always given these seemingly devastating experiences – experiences that could absolutely break us. But what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly. What we do as Black women is take the worst situations and create from that point.”


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Django Unchained: I’m not interested in any movie where black women are repeatedly raped

I don’t know about you, but a movie featuring mildly thought out black female slave characters who are repeatedly raped at a club for white slave owners is not my idea of a great film.  I don’t want to see a female slave raped in front of her husband.  I don’t want to see her tortured and degraded…or locked in a cage naked.  OH and I’m not too keen about this content combined with a whole lot of other blaxploitation style slave torture (Whippings, beatings, etc).

What am I talking about?  Django Unchained.  The upcoming Quentin Tarantino film set to be released in Dec 2012 that black women need to start protesting now.  I mean really!!  We need to get on this, SIS. (I’m not going to even start on how I’m not for this movie coming out the month after Obama wins…again.  Let’s be real, no black person will want to see this if he loses either.)  Remember when Disney tried to give the first Black Princess the name “Maddy” (Too close to Mammy)?  Yep, WE got that changed and that wasn’t as bad as this.

Some sistas are ready to organize: “If all goes as the leaked script has planned for this “comedy”, audiences will get to see the character “Broomhilda”, an enslaved Black woman, naked for almost her entire time on screen, flashing her breasts on a slave auction block, and graphically raped – repeatedly – throughout the movie, at least 4 or 5 times, by individual and groups of white men. It’s also reported that this character is degraded in other ways throughout the movie, like being doused in mud, locked in a cage, and raped in front of her husband. Supposedly, all in good fun. And judging from Tarantino’s history of extremely graphic and offensive imagery in his past “comedic” works such as “Pulp Fiction”, the imagery used to degrade Black women in this so-called “comedy” will not be lighthearted fare. ” (Stop The Media Smear Campaign Against Black Women)

The script leaked and the reviews are all over the internet from those who have seen it.  Sure, Sure, a script can change and this one should if what I’m reading is correct.  Jamie Fox, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kerry Washington have been named as potential actors interested (Here is a list of the roles in the movie).  I don’t think they would sign on to something as terrible as what I’ve read, but you never know.  The economy is bad.  Hell, Jamie did star in “Booty Call”.  He’s apparently up for the lead role.  Funny thing, people who’ve read the script are saying that the lead is not the “Mandigo”/Nat Turner role people think it’s going to be.  He’s playing second fiddle most of the film to a German bounty hunter who takes him under his wing.  Think of Tommy Lee Jones working with Will Smith’s character in Men in Black…but make Will a slave.  Yeah, something like that.  A slave revolt/retribution movie with a white male lead as the star.  That’s Hollywood.

Shadow and Act says: “I’ve Read Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” Script, And, Well, It’s Not Nat Turner’s Revolt…”

“Speaking of its blaxploitation influences… regarding the lead female character in this, named Broomhilda, Django’s slave wife, whom he’s separated from, and seeks. She’s the lead female in the film, but her part is limited to really just physicalities. She has the most screen time of any other woman in the film, which is why I call her the lead female character, but, really, there’s no Shosanna in this one, as there was in Inglorious Basterds. The black female “lead” here doesn’t get the same kind of dignified treatment that Tarantino gave Shosanna. Not even close. Yes, I know it’s a different time altogether, but, I’m sure he could have afforded Broomhilda some complexities, and maybe even made her a heroine in her own right.

There are some 4 or 5 scenes in which the she’s, shall we say, “exposed”… i.e. naked; and they felt gratuitous to me; 2 in which she’s raped by white men. When we first meet her, she’s on the auction block and asked to bare her breasts to potential buyers; later, she’s chased through a hotel, through hallways, and lobbies, etc, by a slave master, completely naked, after being woken up from sleep, with a whip across her naked body; and still later, she’s locked up naked in a steel box as punishment for trying to run away. Yes, I’m sure these are all scenarios that very well likely could have played out at the time; however, Tarantino could have opted to depict her in another light altogether, but instead chose this less flattering, exploitative one.”

I feel a campaign a-brewing to get the makers of this flick to scrap some of that exploitative sexual violence towards black women.   Oh and I’m sure that people (Spike Lee) will be mad about use of the N-word.  It will be Roots all over again for some of you, since it’s a period piece. If people thought there were a lot of N-words thrown around in “Jackie Brown” or “Pulp Fiction”, they haven’t seen anything yet.

I hope the script is a dry run because the concept his potential.  Hey, I’m up for a slaves vs. masters revenge movie.  Sure Quentin, show or all the brutality and violence.  Put it in people’s faces.  However, historical accuracy doesn’t call for this level of sexual violence against black women.  It’s not funny.  It’s in bad taste.


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Scott Sisters: I don’t like Haley Barbour, However…

…he gets 2 1/2 cool points for pardoning the Scott Sisters. He still reminds me of Boss Hog from Dukes of Hazard a little to much for me to even jokingly be comfortable with him as a viable candidate for President.  When I hear him talk I fully expect to be sprayed with a firehose, knocking the “Ain’t I A Man” poster out of my hands.  He sounds racist…like people say “You sound ghetto”, so don’t act like I’m being harsh.  I don’t think I’m being racist.  At a minimum, I am judging him due to his accent and the region he represents.

There is southern and then there is Mississippi.  When I heard about the Scott Sister’s story, my soul said that the place of my mother’s people has not changed much since it’s bloody days of lynching, murder, overt racism and “putting negroes in their place”.  Here’s a synopisis of their story from the NAACP’s Letter of Petition to Barbour:

Jamie and Gladys Scott – the “Scott Sisters” – have been incarcerated in Mississippi for the last 16 years for an armed robbery which, according to court testimony, yielded $11. They have consistently denied involvement in the crime. Although neither of the Scott Sisters had a prior criminal record, they were each sentenced to an extraordinary double life sentence.

The presiding judge in their trial, Judge Marcus Gordon, has a history of racially biased rulings, including granting bail to the KKK murderer of the three civil rights workers: Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner.

Furthermore, Jamie Scott now has lost renal function in one of her kidneys and cannot survive without a transplant. She has suffered repeated infections and been hospitalized due to unsanitary prison conditions. The Department of Corrections will not allow tests for kidney compatibility even though numerous volunteers have come forward.

Also, at the time of their arrest, Jamie was 22 years old and Gladys was 19 years old and pregnant. Two African-American youth, who admitted taking the money, stated at the Scott Sisters’ trial that they falsely implicated the sisters in order to receive a reduced sentence.  From what I read, the youth did end up in jail, but only served about 3 years.

NPR reported that Republican Gov. Haley Barbour decided in December to release them. “One condition: That 35-year-old Gladys follow through on her offer to donate a kidney (provided that doctors say it’s safe for her to do so) to 38-year-old Jamie, who needs regular dialysis…”  Um…there is always a catch, huh.  How about you just let them go because the evidence and sentence are shady and let them handle their family business without any intrusion??

Anyway…I just wanted to give my 2 cents on ole Haley since the 2012 election predictions and in full swing and people are wondering if he will run.  It took TOOO long for these women to receive justice.  However, I’m glad that Gov. Barbour saw the light and released them.  That being said, I agree with Earl Ofari Hutchinson.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Daily Voice columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson suggested the action was being taken, in part, because “Barbour sniffs the presidency,” a sentiment echoed by some others. “The governor of Mississippi did this for political reasons,” the sisters’ mother, Eveyln Rasco, told WAPT TV in Jackson. “He did it because I heard he was running for president,” she said. “I don’t think he did it because he opened his heart to do it.” – Daily Voice

I guess he’ll have a defense for accusations of racism on the campaign trail, huh?


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No Wedding, No Womb: Sistas, Let’s Lead the Cause

I know black women who won’t swim because they might get their perm or weave wet.

I know black women who won’t let you borrow their keys or give you a place to stay for a week or two.

I know black women who would give you their last dime

I know black women who are so convincing, they could talk a leopard out of its spots.

I know black women who manage each dime of their paycheck like they are working for the Obama Administration and correcting the BS of the American banking system.

I know black women who are the coldest, most put together people on the planet.

I’ve seen black women overcome obstacles, handle their business, love like no other, help their communities, and carry the load.  We can be opinionated, steadfast, loving, passionate, pushy and exacting.  Even our errors are correct, as Nikki Giovanni might say.   We are some of the strongest people on the planet and we often have to make some serious decisions.  One of the toughest decisions can be who we share our bed with, our womb with. However, I know a LOT of women who have made a conscious decision to wait until they are married to conceive.

This is why I believe that the goal of the NO Wedding, NO Womb campaign is something that Black Women can really embrace.  NWNW calls for WOMEN [and men] to put the needs of children first, and advocates that couples abstain from having children until they are emotionally, physically and financially able to care for them.

Is this about bashing single mothers?  NO.  Frankly I know a lot of single mothers who would happily embrace the concept that people should think long and hard about having a child out-of-wedlock.  There are burdens and joys to being a single mom.  I believe that most would not call it all roses.

Black women, we control access to our wombs.  We carry the genes of slave foremothers who did not have choice when it came to reproduction, but have passed on their strength to us.  WE can make a difference in our communities by embracing the message that African-Americans should consider waiting until marriage to have children.


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Study Looks at Risks Associated With Oral Contraceptives for Black Women

Black women taking low-dose oral contraceptives have a risk of side effects that can lead to heart disease and diabetes, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology, Reuters Health reports.

For the study, NIH researcher Anne Summer and colleagues examined 104 healthy black women who did not have diabetes. Twenty-one of the women were taking oral contraceptives and 83 were not.

Researchers found that compared with the other participants, the women taking oral contraceptives had higher glucose levels after fasting for two hours and higher fasting triglyceride levels. They also were more insulin-resistant. In an analysis based on weight, researchers found that women taking oral contraceptives who were not considered obese were more insulin resistant and were more likely to be glucose intolerant.

According to the study, “Compared with white women, African-American women are more insulin resistant, have a higher prevalence of glucose intolerance and paradoxically lower triglyceride levels. Therefore, the metabolic effects of oral contraceptive pill observed in white women cannot be extrapolated to African-American women.” [full article]


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Were Black women in support of R. Kelly during the trial?

Here’s part of a recent Newsweek article titled “Why did so many African-American women support R. Kelly?Were we in support of R. Kelly, Sistas????

Letisha Harlins made sure she took her lunch break early last Friday so she could sit in her black Honda and listen to the live radio broadcast of the R. Kelly verdict. Kelly was once Harlin’s favorite musical celebrity. She plastered his album covers on her walls when she was in high school, and she saw him in concert nine times. But her support of the R&B crooner stopped six years ago when Kelly was arrested and charged with 14 counts of child pornography and child endangerment. The charges were the result of a videotape allegedly showing Kelly having sex with an underage girl. Harlins, now 24, was crushed. “I just couldn’t believe it,” says the native of Chicago, which is also Kelly’s hometown. “I’d put him on this pedestal for years and then I saw the tape. I can’t even look at him anymore. I couldn’t stand it.”

Harlins was crushed again this month when Kelly was found not guilty of all the charges. But almost as disturbing to her was how African-Americans, and especially African-American women, reacted to Kelly’s acquittal. When the verdict was announced, dozens of black women (and some black men) cheered outside the courtroom as the singer made his way past them to his waiting tour bus. It wasn’t just in Chicago. African-American blogs such as Young, Black and Fabulous, What About Our Daughters and Essence quickly filled up with letters from women exclaiming their joy over Kelly’s freedom. “That had to hurt the most,” said Harlins. “Seeing black women who could have very well been that girl–or had a daughter that could have been that girl–cheer that he got off. How could a woman not support the punishment of someone who hurt another woman? I just can’t understand it.”

It’s important to note that the alleged victim herself refused to testify and had insisted that she wasn’t on the tape; Kelly, too, insisted it wasn’t him on the tape. Those factors undoubtedly contributed to Kelly’s acquittal. Still, the reaction to the case raises a host of familiar, difficult issues, starting with the role celebrity can play in a criminal trial. Fame has long affected–or perverted–the way justice is meted out by a jury. The celebrity effect is arguably more pronounced when the defendant is black, in part because African-Americans feel protective when one of their own achieves mainstream success. “It’s sick,” says Aaron McGruder, creator of the comic strip “Boondocks,” which featured a scathing episode focused on Kelly and his supporters. “The love we have for our celebrities in the black community no matter what they do is crazy, and there is no excuse for it. It’s just blind and clueless.” As the O. J. Simpson case demonstrated, some African-Americans believe that the criminal-justice system is so stacked against them, they almost don’t care if a defendant is actually innocent or guilty. “I know it sounds crazy, but it’s just nice so see a brother beat the system–the way I know white guys with money do all the time,” said Lamont Gillyard, 25, a loan officer in Los Angeles. “It’s not right, but there are so many black men in jail for stuff they didn’t do, it’s hard not feel like this is a way of balancing out the game that isn’t fair anyway.” Continue reading

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African American Women and Type 2 Diabetes

ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2007) — Eating foods high on the glycemic index, which measures the effect of carbohydrates on blood glucose levels, may be associated with the risk for developing type 2 diabetes in Chinese women and in African-American women, according to two new studies. However, eating more cereal fiber may be associated with a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes in African-American women.

“Our results indicate that black women can reduce their risk of diabetes by eating a diet that is high in cereal fiber,” the authors write. “Incorporating fiber sources into the diet is relatively easy: a simple change from white bread (two slices provides 1.2 grams of fiber) to whole wheat bread (two slices provides 3.8 grams of fiber) or substituting a cup of raisin bran (5 to 8 grams of fiber) or oatmeal (4 grams of fiber) for a cup of corn chex (0.5 grams of fiber) or rice chex (0.3 grams of fiber) will move a person from a low fiber intake category to a moderate intake category, with a corresponding 10 percent reduction in risk.”

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HIV/Aids at Epidemic Levels in Wash DC, Afr Americans Impacted

I read the synopsis version of this article on the cover of the Washington Post Express this morning on the train…DAG.  It’s not a secret, just something people don’t want to admit is true.  I’d like to say I’m surprised, but I’m not.  1 in 20 have HIV…that is sub-saharan Africa level, huh?  This info is based on just a sample…I wonder what a real study would find? Here’s some info from the article.  Negroes, you might wanna find yourself supporting a grassroots effort or event for World Aids Day 2007 on December 1!!!!  HIV/Aids is something that the black community is going to have to address and own.

The first statistics ever amassed on HIV in the District, released today in a sweeping report, reveal “a modern epidemic” remarkable for its size, complexity and reach into all parts of the city.

The numbers most starkly illustrate HIV’s impact on the African American community. More than 80 percent of the 3,269 HIV cases identified between 2001 and 2006 were among black men, women and adolescents. Among women who tested positive, a rising percentage of local cases, nine of 10 were African American.

The 120-page report, which includes the city’s first AIDS update since 2000, shows how a condition once considered a gay disease has moved into the general population. HIV was spread through heterosexual contact in more than 37 percent of the District’s cases detected in that time period, in contrast to the 25 percent of cases attributable to men having sex with men.

“It blows the stereotype out of the water,” said Shannon Hader, who became head of the District’s HIV/AIDS Administration in October. Increases by sex, age and ward over the past six years underscore her blunt conclusion that “HIV is everybody’s disease here.”

The new numbers are a statistical snapshot, not an estimate of the prevalence of infection in the District, which is nearly 60 percent black.

Read the rest of this article – Washington Post

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NBC Starting 5 Part Series on Black Women on Nov 26


NBC News With Brian Williams” will take a look at the issues facing African-American women across our nation in a new series “African-American Women: Where They Stand.” The series will cover a wide-range of issues from their role in the ’08 Presidential race, to the increased health-risks that they need to be concerned about.

Monday’s installment will discuss African-American women’s progress in the education field. Nearly two-thirds of African-American undergraduates are women. At black colleges, the ratio of women to men is 7 to 1. And that is leading to a disparity in the number of African-American women who go on to own their own businesses. Rehema Ellis will talk to educators, students and businesswomen about why this disparity exists.

Tuesday, Ellis will look at the relationships of African-American women. Many agree the gender disparity in education and business among African-Americans is having an effect on relationships that African American women have. Some even say the implications could redefine “Black America’s family and social structure.” In the past fifty years, the percentage of African-American women between 25-54 who have never been married has doubled from 20% to 40%. (Compared to just 16% of white women who have never been married today). Ellis sits down with the members of a Chicago book club and talk about this difference and how it impacts them.

Dr. Nancy Snyderman will discuss the increases risks for breast cancer for African-American women on Wednesday. Mortality rates for African-American women are higher than any other racial or ethnic group for nearly every major cause of death, including breast cancer. Black women with breast cancer are nearly 30% more likely to die from it than white women. Premenopausal black women are more than twice as likely to get a more aggressive form of the disease. And, not only are African-American women more likely to die from breast cancer, but they’re less likely to get life-saving treatments. Dr. Snyderman will profile one of the only oncologists in the world who specializes in the treatment of African-American women with breast cancer.

On Thursday, Ron Allen will take viewers to South Carolina — the first southern primary state — and ask the question: Will race trump gender or gender trump race? In South Carolina, black women made up nearly 30 percent of all democratic primary voters in 2004. This year, polls show a significant number are undecided, torn between choosing the first African-American or first female Presidential candidate. Allen talks with the undecided, as well the state directors for the Clinton and Obama campaigns, who happen to be African-American women.

To close the series on Friday, Dr. Snyderman will raise the frightening statistic that African-American women are 85% more likely to get diabetes, a major complication for heart disease. And, like breast cancer, more black women die from heart disease than white women. Dr. Snyderman will profile a leading expert and a unique church-based outreach program in South Carolina that seeks to spread the word about heart disease risks to black women congregants.

Mara Schiavocampo, Digital Correspondent for “Nightly News,” will address two hot topics in the African – American community: interracial dating and the impact of hip hop music on black women. Interracial dating is a growing trend in the African – American community. An Essence.com- essence.com poll found that 81% of participants approved of black women dating non- black men.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau report in 2000, 95,000 black women were married to white men. In 2005, that number increased to 134,000. Schiavocampo will talk to experts about the trend and discuss how this defines the “Black family” of the future.

Schiavocampo will convene a panel of leading black men and women from the hip-hop industry for an engaging discussion on whether hip hop lyrics and videos positively or negatively affect black women. The roundtable also will address how these portrayals are affecting relationships between black women and black men.

Consumers can go online to join the discussion and share their thoughts
on message boards. They can also read and respond to blog entries at http://www.nightly.msnbc.com.

Alexandra Wallace is the executive producer of “NBC Nightly News with
Brian Williams.” Bob Epstein is the senior broadcast producer, and Rich
Latour is the senior producer for this series.

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