Tag Archives: black community

“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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Question: In 2010, Is There Anyone You Would Call a Black Leader?

I’m talking about leaders in the sense that Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were leaders.  Who are the leaders of the Black Community today?  They don’t have to be as widely known, or publicly recognizable as King and Brother Malcolm.  It’s about impact.

Who would you call a Black Leader in 2010?

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UC San Diego Tries to Find Out Who Threw a “Compton Cookout” for Black History Month

The LA Times is reporting that UC San Diego administration and local civil rights activists have condemned a student party themed “Compton Cookout” in honor of Black History Month.

Campus administrators said Wednesday that they were investigating whether the off-campus party, held Monday, and its Facebook invitation violated the university’s code of conduct and whether its sponsors should be disciplined. Members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity were identified as among the organizers, but the fraternity president has criticized the event and said his club did not sponsor it.

Promising a taste of “life in the ghetto,” the Facebook invitation contained many racist stereotypes. For example, it urged women to dress as “ghetto chicks” who “usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes.” It said the menu would include chicken and watermelon.

History professor Danny Widener, who directs the university’s African American studies program, said he was outraged but not surprised by the party. He said African American students comprise less than 2% of undergraduates at UC San Diego, which he described as inhospitable to them. ”The campus climate is one in which you are constantly regarded as a statistical anomaly at best,” he said. [Source: LA Times | Full Article]

My Opinion: If we in the Black Community continue to allow so-called “ghetto fabulous” culture to be the predominant export from our urban sector, we will continue to see incidents like this. When one travels around the globe, you see people of all races and creeds mimicking urban culture, especially hip hop culture. If we don’t want to see young, white college students mocking this same culture, we have to be aware and accountable. If we don’t want to see black culture boiled down to clothing, bling and speech patterns, we have to stop promoting images, music, etc. that are not affirming. If “ghetto” is not balanced by a more complete pictures of African-Americans, what do we really expect to happen. There is work to do, and with a void of leadership and strong national movements, each individual has to do their part. Consider whether the movies, television show, and music you consume contribute to a positive world view of the Black community.

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Morehouse’s first white valedictorian

I had to share this article because the guy is from my hometown, Kansas City. He’s a cutie too. One of those Spelman girls needs to try “Something New”. LOL  Oh reverse racism…you’ll see it in the article.  Sad, but…I’m not surprised.  Come on Morehouse Men…let’s try to be a little more open minded!

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) — Joshua Packwood knows what it’s like to be a minority. This weekend he’ll be the first white valedictorian to graduate from the historically black, all male Morehouse College in the school’s 141-year history.

Morehouse, in Atlanta, Georgia, is one the nation’s most prestigious universities of its kind. For more than a century, the school has prided itself on personifying the dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the school’s most notable alums, by producing “Morehouse Men” – intelligent and successful black leaders.

“Because I’m one of the only white students, it’s easy to call me ‘the white boy,’ I’m naturally going to stand out,” says Packwood.

But Packwood, 22, doesn’t stand out solely because he is white or has maintained a 4.0 grade point average. For those who don’t know him, what is surprising is that a Rhodes Scholar finalist turned down a full scholarship to Columbia University to attend the all-black men’s university.

This came naturally to Packwood, who attended a predominantly black high school.

“A large majority of my friends, like all my girlfriends have been minorities,” says Packwood. “So it was very, it was kind of strange that I always kind of gravitated to the black community.”

Packwood fit in immediately at Morehouse. His charm, movie-star good looks and chiseled physique made him popular among students. He was elected dorm president and to class council during freshmen year – and was a favorite at campus fashion shows.

Life hasn’t always been easy for Packwood. He grew up in a poor area of Kansas City, Missouri, where he says he found himself gravitating to the black community at a young age. Continue reading

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Over 1,400 African-American babies are aborted each day

“Abortion is so critical to us, because this is essentially a genocide. According to the census of 2006, African Americans are reproducing below replacement level, which is 2.1 children per household, and we are now at 1.9. We need to turn this around quickly, because over 1,400 African-American babies are aborted every day. That’s going in the wrong direction.” – Walter B. Hoye II, executive elder of Progressive Missionary Baptist Church of Berkeley

I’ve posted about African-Americans and abortion before and it’s a very very touchy subject.  In the black community, I find that most people have a don’t ask don’t tell policy.  Whether someone has had one…you don’t ask.  That’s med’ling in grown business, if you will.  If you had one, you only tell the people you trust or you keep it to yourself.  But of course, the topic is not one that anyone would consider cause for casual conversation.  Why?  I think the major factors are the huge black christian community that considers it and premarital sex sinful and community stigma around abortion.  The stigma part of the equation created in me an internal struggle.  I really couldn’t say that I was pro-abortion, because I don’t believe a life should die because you and your partner don’t want it or made a mistake and didn’t use a condom…etc.  However, I don’t think that children should be born into families where they are not wanted, will not have proper parenting, or will suffer as a result.  I also don’t think that it’s my job to decide whether other women should have the option (especially in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother or child is endangered by the pregnancy).  It’s a very very touchy issue.   In the end, when it comes to questions of life and death, I believe that there is a place for government, church, and personal choice.  Ultimately I think that each individual, male and female should have the choice of many informed choices when it comes to pregnancy.  Abortion, adoption, parenthood, It’s not my choice to make.

But enough of what I think…I want to know what you readers think about African-Americans and abortion. 

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Black People and Weight Loss: Part Deux

By Makeisha Lee, Health and Nutritional Advisor

Columbus, OH (BlackNews.com) – Tyler Perry’s movie, Why Did I Get Married?, struck a cord of pain with our community for several reasons. However, there was one undeniable, universal appeal that of identification with the overweight character, played by Jill Scott. From the embarrassment that obesity caused the character when denied air travel, to the unrelenting ridicule from her mate, and even self-degrading comments was, “oh too familiar” for a lot of us.

According to New York Times reviewers, Perry charters waters that other writers only dare to present on-screen without the shield of humor. Agreeably and proudly we applaud him for having the courage to highlight such a pervasive and painful issue, while maintaining dignity and integrity!

We need to have this issue out in the open for dialogue, in an up-close and personal fashion so that we may get at the crux of the problem – once for all time. With obesity stats for Blacks off the charts like Tyler Perry’s movie sales, we need to turn on the floodlights so that we all can see clearly what our path should really be to get healthy and lean.

In my first column (African American Weight Loss Cycle – Part One), it was eluded to that there may in fact be some conspiracies involved in keeping the Black population sick and overweight for possible financial gains. Naturally, we would be prompted to ask – WHY us? Here are two possible reasons:

1) Some may be unaware that, based on recent studies conducted by Hunter Miller Group, research analysis, Blacks have powerful spending power, especially for certain things like “what we eat”. A lot of what we eat is unhealthy and ultimately makes us SICK and FAT. Various industries and entities know this and capitalize off of our spending habits; at great expense to our health and well being. Continue reading

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Do WE really want Obama to WIN?

Eugene Robinson’s piece in today’s Washington post, “Oprah the Believer” made me ask that question…WE being the black community as a whole. Are we really behind the idea…here and now…for 2008? Do we just like the idea…but think it should happen soon, but not this soon? What do you think that MOST black people really think about Obama winning the 2008 presidential race??

Is it foolish to think that a nation stained by centuries of slavery and racism is prepared to elect a black president? Rarely phrased so bluntly, that’s the central question posed by Barack Obama’s candidacy — especially for many African American voters, whose doubts are informed by having seen many an oasis turn out to be a mirage.

Oprah Winfrey, as is her wont, cut to the heart of the matter. Campaigning on Obama’s behalf this weekend, she echoed the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in offering permission to believe.

“Dr. King dreamed the dream,” Winfrey told a predominantly black crowd of 29,000 in Columbia, S.C. “But we don’t have to just dream the dream anymore. We get to vote that dream into reality.”

There are many in the African American establishment who consider Winfrey’s exhortation a bit of starry-eyed nonsense. There are senior black Democrats who can barely hide their exasperation at Obama’s success, which they see as a mortal threat to a Democratic victory in November. Andrew Young is the latest to go public with his pique, saying in remarks reported over the weekend that he wants Obama to be president, but not until 2016. If Obama somehow managed to win this time, Young said, he couldn’t possibly be effective: “To put a brother in there by himself is to set him up for crucifixion.”

Others of comparable stature have griped privately to me that this whole Obama thing is madness, that he can’t possibly win and that with a known quantity such as Hillary Clinton in the race, this is no time to go chasing rainbows. They point out that in the nation’s history we’ve elected only two black governors — Douglas Wilder in Virginia and Deval Patrick in Massachusetts. If Americans, in all these years, have only elected two black men to run a state, are they really going to elect a black man to run the whole country?

2 governors…dag and Patrick is kinda recent.  Makes you think.

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World Aids Day: Black People are letting HIV/Aids happen to them

As we prepare to remember the legacy of HIV/Aids tomorrow on World Aids Day 2007, DEC 1, I just can’t believe that we’ve let Aids ravish the Black Community like this. Who in the Hell left the gate open?? Here are some statistics.

• Although African-Americans represent only 12.7 percent of the U.S. population, they were half of all AIDS cases detected in 2005;

• The rate of Blacks contracting AIDS is 10 times that of Whites and Black women have contracted AIDS at a rate 23 times higher than that of White women;

• Although African-Americans constitute only 16 percent of U.S. teenagers, they represent 69 percent of all new AIDS cases reported among teens;

• Black women account for 66 percent of all new AIDS cases among women and

• HIV- and AIDS-related death rates are highest among African-Americans, with Blacks accounting for 55 percent of such deaths.
There are some interesting facts among the numbers.

Both Black and White women were most likely to be infected through heterosexual activities. White women were more likely than Black women to have been infected as a result of drug use. And among men having sex with men, one study conducted in five cities found that 46 percent of such Black men were HIV infected compared to 21 percent of White men in that category.

There were some geographical variances as well. AIDS cases were highest in the eastern section of the country, with the District of Columbia leading the way with the highest rate.

However, 51 percent of Blacks living with AIDS and 56 percent of all newly-reported cases among Blacks were in the South, where African-Americans make up only 19 percent of the region’s population. Continue reading

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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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