With the ever changing healthcare debate in this country and so many people unable to afford decent healthcare, I believe it is time for us to take more responsibility of our own health. My mission is to promote preventative practices to minimize disease and offer support to those who wish to make the necessary changes to better their health.
While the above is the main purpose for this blog, I am also very passionate about healing the black community of past traumas and exposing the white supremacist mentality that plagues too many of us.
Follow me on Twitter twitter.com/YouBetterLearn
BTW, all photos and articles are the property of their respective owners.
Twelve Years a Slave VS. The Known World by Edward P. Jones
Hollywood, can we talk about slave movies? They seem to be your “thing” now and movie goers seem to flock to them too. My theory for why slave movies are so popular lately: it makes us feel good about ourselves, especially in an era when we aren’t quite sure if we should be happy or sad about the state of race relations in America. We’ve had the highs of the election of Barack Obama to show us how far we’ve come, and lows of Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, and Michael Brown shootings to show us how far we still have to go.
Looking back at the injustices of the past feels safe—at least, the way the past is shown on the silver screen. The Antebellum South is a place and time with clearly stated racial rules and institutions that are now widely accepted as evil. We know who the good guys and the bad guys are. You have slaves like Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Northup in 12 Years a Slave and Jamie Foxx’s Django in Django Unchained that are smart, strong, and even noble. Then you have the slave owners like Michael Fassbender’s Master Epps or Leonardo DiCaprio’s Master Candie who are so crazy, so over the top in how evil they are that they might as well wear T-shirts that say “I’m a raging sociopath if you haven’t noticed!”
But the truth is, even slavery isn’t safe place to hide when you’re looking for a narrative with no ambiguities. A good example of this, dear Hollywood, is the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Known World by Edward P. Jones. Jones aptly shows that Antebellum South wasn’t any more of a simple place than 21st century America. Slavery was a warped system that didn’t just involve white owners and a black people treated like chattel. Some black people owned other black people. It was a system where some folks — both black, white, and everything in between — relished the day they would one day own plantations because they saw it as a sign of wealth and prestige. It was also a system where a rare few owned slaves reluctantly because they didn’t want freed friends or relatives captured by slave catchers and sold “Down river,” much like Northup in 12 Years a Slave. In The Known World, which is much closer to the real world than what Hollywood has shown, the myriad motivations for being a slave owner were as complex as the people involved.
Introducing this less didactic and straightforward view of slavery than what you find in most movies or books, is what Jones wanted, according to the interviews I’ve read about him. We know that slavery is evil, he insists. We don’t need to be beaten over the head with it.
“You tell the story and you don’t have to raise your voice,” he told NPR back in 2003.
The result is a novel that “never preaches, never lapses in to simplistic caricature.” Even though the temptation is there to judge the slave owners, Jones doesn’t. Instead he shows their humanity and we get the true glimpse of how insidious slavery really was. It involved so many very simple, normal, and seemingly decent people (no flailing Master Epps or screaming Master Candie) who could have been anyone nowadays. These regular people participated, benefited, and accepted a system that enslaved, tortured, and killed millions of human beings–in some cases, even human beings that looked a lot like themselves. As NPR put it, “The Known World is a meditation on entrenched evil.”
Is Hollywood ready to tell a story like that?
Belle VS. Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond
I get it, Hollywood. The story of Dido Elizabeth Belle is intriguing. From the first time you glimpse the pretty, brown skinned girl in the background of the famous 1779 painting, you wonder “Who is she and what on earth is she doing there?”
Dido Elizabeth Belle was the daughter of slave woman named Maria Belle and Captain John Lindsay, a British naval officer, who was stationed with the West Indies. Dido’s father brought her back to England with him where she was raised by his relatives in their household. By all accounts, Dido was treated as a lady or at least, a poor relative rather than a slave.
Unfortunately, because so little is known about Dido beyond basic biographical details and snippets from people who met her, the 2013 film had to infer a lot about her life. It even added a storyline about Belle’s crush on a lawyer fighting a slavery case (the Zong massacre where several slaves were thrown overboard a ship and the ship owner tried to collect insurance on them). It also added a storyline about Dido’s fiancé’s smarmy racist brother (played by Tom Felton, who perfected all thing smarmy as Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter series) who secretly has a thing for her. Did any of this stuff happen? Historians say, probably not. The film is therefore light on history and heavy on fiction and romance. Watching it, I’m torn between the feeling that I’m viewing a film about the complex life of a real historic figure or whether I’m watching a well written Lifetime movie or a BBC melodrama. It tries so hard to relate Belle’s life tangentially to historic events and the abolitionist movement in England that you feel kind of let down when you realize none of that happened.
Dear Hollywood, a story that I wish you would make that is equally compelling but requires less embellishment is the autobiography of Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the daughter of Strom Thurmond.
Strom Thurmond was a senator, a long-time Dixiecrat, and one of the loudest voices in favor of segregation during the Civil Rights Era. What few knew until after Thurmond’s death is that in his teenage years he had fathered a child with one of the black servants in his household. While Thurmond decried the “mongrelization” of the South publicly, he secretly embraced his daughter/“mongrel.” He sent checks to Essie Mae, funded her and her children’s college educations, met her in private in his Senate office, and seemed wounded when she called him on his duplicitous life. To make things even more complicated, Essie Mae’s husband was a lawyer/advocate for the NAACP. Her relationship with her father added a lot of tension to her marriage. Essie Mae keeps her father’s paternity a secret for many years until his death. After he dies, she is not only accepted by his family but accepts the complex legacy her father left behind.
So there you have it: a story about the dual nature of the public versus private life, racial dynamics in post-World War II America, the Civil Rights Movement, and a woman searching for her true identity. But you also have melodrama that’s grounded in facts not fiction and salacious subject matter worthy of any soap opera that is bound to be a box-office draw. The only thing it doesn’t have is all the pretty costumes.