Hey girl.

Ever wondered what a feminist Ryan Gosling would look like? Wonder no more. There’s more where that came from here. Do not miss this. It is amazing. Thanks, breakfrontleft! Two of my favorites here. I’m a fan of any man who uses the word discursive…

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An Open Statement to the Fans of The Help

I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was unsettling about The Help. I read the the book about a year ago, and it was a good read. There’s just something about a white woman telling the story of black women that doesn’t sit right. It felt trite or simplistic or something. Similar to The Blind Side, it seemed white people were the ones doing the saving, and black people had no part, no agency in their own story. Is that overstated? I’d love to hear thoughts from others…

ABC sent me this article tonight with a thoughtful perspective from The Association of Black Women Historians. You can find the entire article HERE. But here’s a snapshot…

On behalf of the Association of Black Women Historians (ABWH), this statement provides historical context to address widespread stereotyping presented in both the film and novel versionofTheHelp. The book has sold over three million copies,and heavy promotion of the movie will ensure its success at the box office. Despite efforts to market the book and the film as a progressive story of triumph over racial injustice, The Help distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of black domestic workers. We are specifically concerned about the representations of black life and the lack of attention given to sexual harassment and civil rights activism…

We respect the stellar performances of the African American actresses in this film. Indeed, this statement is in no way a criticism of their talent. It is, however, an attempt to provide context for this popular rendition of black life in the Jim Crow South. In the end, The Help is not a story about the millions of hardworking and dignified black women who labored in white homes to support their families and communities. Rather, it is the coming-of-age story of a white protagonist, who uses myths about the lives of black women to make sense of her own. The Association of Black Women Historians finds it unacceptable for either this book or this film to strip black women’s lives of historical accuracy for the sake of entertainment.

We’re going to see the movie this week, and we’ll let you know what we think…

{Poetry in Motion}

After being in a sorority for four years, I swore off large groups comprised entirely of women. These days, I make one exception…The Indigo Girls.

Reader Chili T and I embarked on a journey last Friday night. A journey to the old Roxy, the new Buckhead Theater to see the Indigo Girls, who in many ways, have inspired our existence. (Now, keep in mind, Chili T and I aren’t “together,” we were just together, so take “inspired our existence” with a grain of straight salt) It was an evening of pure purity. I come away from each Indigo Girls concert thinking the same things.“Why can’t I be this passionate about other things in life?” and “This is one of the best moments of my life” also “I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!”

Many people ask me, “why do you like the Indigo Girls so much?”

Is it Amy?

Is it Emily?

Is it the indescribable feeling you get when they play/harmonize/write/jam together?

Or is it the way you go to the concert dreaming about what they might play, and they deliver over and over again?

My answer: YES.

Check out this rockin’ set list. (You might look at “Chickenman” and wonder, who is Adrian? Oh, he’s a sophomore at W whose dad manages the band. nbd.)

And here’s my personal record of the set list. Looks like I missed a few.

side bar: I used to keep these on a piece of paper in my pocket, but yet again, another reason why the iPhone is amazing–it’s great for lists, and boy (girl?) do I love lists.

Fill it up again
Heartache for everyone
It’s alright
Sugar tongue
Love of our lives
Yield
Power of two
Three hits
Get out the map

Land of Canaan
The one that got away (Fleet of Hope)
Second time around
Match–Emily
Devotion
Watershed
Let it ring–Amy
Wood song
Shadowboxers
Shame on you
Galileo
Chicken man into Bitterroot River back to Chickenman

(with Adrian Carter)

Closer to Fine

(with Shadowboxers and Evan McHugh)

There is so much more to say, but I’ll leave you with this image from the concert. As always, the Girls say it best.

(Shout out to Lesley, who is wondering why it’s taken me so long to do an entire post on the Indigo Girls.)

“Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness”

How is identity formed? Who forms it? What are the politics of knowledge? What is blackness?

A colleague and I watched an incredible documentary yesterday on one of the first people to wrestle with this issue.

Check out a preview of   “Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness”

Melville Herskovits, a Jewish-American scholar at Northwestern University, was instrumental in beginning the study of African-American history in the United States in the 20th century. He argued along with a few other anthropologists that race was cultural rather than biological, a truth few deny today. He also claimed that African Americans were strongly linked to Africa,unlike E. Franklin Frazier’s assertion that black culture was similar to white culture. Historians have long debated if black Americans have connections to Africa or their culture was stripped along with their dignity in the Middle Passage. Herskovits showed that African culture was connected to African-American culture. This might sound right on target, after all, how could a culture be extinguished completely on the other side of the Atlantic? But his study is more complicated than it seems at first. The documentary brings up questions of the study itself, not the answer to his original question.

Herskovits was a white guy discussing studying black culture, which angered many black people. One historian in the documentary asks, “Does the right to define and describe and observe a people give you power over those people?” Is this “colonization of the mind?” Do white people have the right to tell black people about their culture? How long will black Americans be the objects not the agents?

The documentary asks, “What is “objective study” and when does it become politicized? What happens when the scholar becomes the powerbroker? What are the consequences when we deny a people the right to define themselves? Who controls the production of knowledge, how and why?”

Needless to say, I highly recommend it. It’s on file here in our Diversity Library.