Friday, July 31, 2009

Random Observations

Now that Tiny and Kandi are trying out reality TV, when will LaTocha and Tamika Scott get their chance?

I watched "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" last night and thought it illustrated how precarious our economic situation is--the so-called difference between being "rich" and being "wealthy." I haven't watched any of the other "Housewives" shows, so I wonder if any of them have Sheree's problem of looming foreclosure or if the kind of rumor that circles NeNe's husband, Gregg (that he's broke/about to be broke), are spread about the other husbands.

mrs. o and my sister don't have Bravo as part of their cable packages and were hatin' on me last night. :-p

I'm having an allergy attack that causes mad itching, then mad scratching, and then hives and redness that make me look like I frolicked through a glade of poison ivy or something.

Summer school's almost over!!!!

My darling Kimberly got sucked in by HGTV's promises that yes, you can DIY!!! and has been painting for about 22 years now. :-) A short excerpt of a recent FB chat:

Kim: Do you watch HGTV?

elle: ummm... no.

Kim: DON'T! It's the debil.

elle: LMAO!! That's how Lowe's and them get you!

Speaking of which, one of my grad students offered a pretty good critique of Lowe's, Home Depot, et. al., advertising which purports to turn stereotypes on their head (by insisting women don't need a "handyman" or portraying women as the real decision makers behind home improvements). She thinks they support those stereotypes by either 1) positioning themselves as the exception or 2) expecting people to find it humorous that the companies have "switched" the gender roles.

I think this is a fine example of splitting hairs: "I didn't call you jungle momkey, the noun; I only used it as an ADJECTIVE to describe your behavior and writing!" For some reason, it reminds me of people I've met who claim "the n-word" can be used to described people of any color who possess certain "immoral" or "less-than-industrious" qualities. How do you say "You're missing the point" to people like that?

And, btw, can someone point Mr. "Yes-I-Used-Jungle Monkey Pejoratively* but I'm not a Racist" to a racism 101 course... or a bingo card... or J. Smooth?

I'm still thinking a lot about Michael Jackson.

As of today, I haven't seen my kid in three weeks. Longest time ever!

I had a phone conversation with Deuce last night. Well... in the sense that he understands a "question voice" and pause means it's his turn to babble.

Okay. Must slather myself with Benadryl Cream and pray no one comes by the office!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How Do They Do It? Pt 3

I also watched lots of news channels and was struck by:

Almost any coverage of the murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings who are primarily known, according to many media sources, "for adopting special needs children."

Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell expressing mock sympathy and yelling, "What's going to happen to the kids now?" and being surprised when the family said the children would be kept together.

The ableist and underlying assumptions that 1) It is remarkable than people adopt special needs children and 2) the remaining family would perceive the children as burdens and not want to keep them.

Suffering for the Common Good

Gathering clips about eugenics for a fall class. Ran across this little tidbit:
Dr. Osborn could not even admit the claims of birth control advocates to a humanitarian consideration for the sufferings of women in childbirth. On this subject he said, in part: "The attempt to relieve womankind of what may be termed the prehistoric and historic burden of the female of the species naturally enlists the sympathy both of the individualists of our time, who are ready to support any measure to give women greater freedom of profession and of action, as well as of the sentimentalists, who do not realize that women's share in the hard struggle for the existence of the race is a very essential element in the advance of womankind."

Science News Letter, August 27, 1932
That Damned Eve Screwed All of Us!!!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How Do They Do It? Pt 2

You might want to watch it for yourself to see if our impressions are similar. Most of the relevant stuff is in Part 3.

Anyway, the first episode of Meet the Browns I saw was "Meet the Ex" in which Will's old friend, a woman named Lynn, makes a pass at his wife, Sasha. Much homophobia/biphobia ensued--Sasha was suddenly scared of Lynn and didn't want to be near her. Lynn describes her feelings as, "I love men... women... everybody!" In other words, she's a slut. She's so low she'll come on to her best friend's wife.

Her bisexuality is explained as experimentation--no real attachment or attraction she just wants to "experience as much as I can," "live life to the fullest," "take a walk on the wild side," etc. Sasha is so repulsed and threatened, she is no longer even willing to go out to dinner with Lynn, and doesn't want Will to go, either. When Will speaks highly of Lynn the next night, Sasha must quickly point out that Lynn is not worthy of praise because she is bisexual--the exact words, "Lynn's not who you think she is." All of Lynn's work as a well-traveled, smart philanthropist was negated by her bisexuality.

Even after they confront Lynn, she still urges them to stop being uptight and "spice things up." She's also revealed to be immature--she says she just wants to have some fun like they did in college, at which point Will reminds her, "We're not in college." "Not everyone," Sasha tells her, "shares your lifestyle." Lynn admits that she doesn't like rules and the couple bid her a very definite goodbye.

So, Lynn as bisexual is promiscuous, mostly experimenting, a potential homewrecker, a rule breaker, trying to lure people into her lifestyle.

Yep, I think he covered all the bases. And this gets national coverage.

Monday, July 20, 2009

How Do They Do It? Pt 1

This post got so long, I'm going to have to put it up in parts!

One of the things I was determined to do during my brain break was engage in a little escapism, via the television. Now, I have a problem watching TV or movies outside the theater--I lose the thread of what's going on, I can't concentrate, I have an overwhelming urge to get up and do something else (I'm the same way about telephone conversations).*

Anyway, back on track--me--escapism--TV. Honestly, there's not a lot on. I found myself simultaneously craving the MJ coverage and being further saddened by it. Anyway, I thought there might be some comic relief in Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns on TBS.

Full disclosure--I didn't come to the series unbiased. I have my issues with Tyler Perry--most recently, I was so profoundly angry about the Sanaa Lathan character in The Family that Preys.

Which brings me to my first "How do they do it (and get away with it)?" question. The absolute aversion to educated, succesful black women in The Family that Preys and in T.D. Jakes's Not Easily Broken was breathtaking. I mean, I wondered who in the world had paged Sapphire!

To show how absolutely revolting Andrea (Sanaa Lathan's character) was, Perry went into overdrive. She was mean, selfish, derisive of her husband, and, the ultimate sin--a white man's whore!!! She cheated on her black husband with a white man and bore the white man's child. I don't think he could've made her any lower.

The real issue seemed to be that she had some sort of perceived power over her husband because she had a better job and more money**--but apparently, that would have been too easy to say. Andrea was totally out of her place as a woman and her world was corrupted by that.

Same thing with Clarice (Taraji Henson's character)in Not Easily Broken. There's actually a Dave (Morris Chestnut's character, Clarice's husband) monologue during which we find out that what's wrong with the world is that men have lost their place as protectors and providers, a position usurped by women who don't realize they need men. Clarice browbeats and scorns her husband; her mother is constantly there to affirm that Dave is not good enough for her daughter and they almost push him into the arms of a white woman, a mother--a role Clarice has resisted (evidence of her selfishness). It is not until Clarice's mom is revealed as a bitter meddler, Clarice meekly asks for her husband to come back, and Clarice changes her mind and becomes pregnant, that all is made right within the Dave and Clarice universe.

There was also the recurring theme in both films of irrevocably damaged black women--the women who are so hurt by one black man they can never again "appreciate" another one. Andrea was traumatized by the abandonment of her father, Clarice's mom had been abandoned by her husband. Because they didn't just get over it, their lives were ruined.

I've seen clips from Madea Goes to Jail, and Perry's insistence that women get over it was evident--one incarcerated woman was beginning to tell how she had been hurt by her stapfather and Madea interrupts to tell her, basically, that it didn't matter. Now, I think they were in a therapy session, the woman was trying to process something she had found traumatic, and she is told to get over it. So, there is this disconnect--being told to "get over it" but having the means by which one might "get over it" (therapy, talking, sharing, processing) dismissed.

I can't speak to anyone's church experience but my own, but this is part of the reason I had to distance myself from my attended-my-whole-life church. The Eve-and-Jezebel sermons, as my sister calls them, got wearying. It began to feel like an attack--pews filled with black women being told all that is wrong with us, with most of it rooted firmly in our efforts to survive and thrive. We transgressed by forgetting what our (subordinate) place should be. I don't know how Perry, Jakes, or my pastor get away with maligning so much of their audiences, ignoring criticism, and forging on in the same way--I guess because it works? I watched two episodes of Meet the Browns, didn't I?

Nothing about this critique is new, I know. I'm just working through these ideas as I try to explain, honestly, how I went into viewing "Meet the Browns" with some bias, while simultaneously admitting I have found the "Brown" character funny. Tomorrow, I really will get to the series, I promise.
*As a side note, at my doctor's office, I had to do this depression checklist and one of the things listed was the inability to pay attention to television, to concentrate, etc. And I burst out crying right then because I felt like, "Oh my God, it's not just me." It's been hard to read a book, write as much as I should, etc, for the longest time! After I explained that my tears were actually ones of relief, my doctor asked me about any past diagnoses of ADD, too, but she and I will have to explore that more.

**At the end of the movie, when that power thing is flipped and Andrea is living in a run-down apartment and having to accept money from her ex-husband, that is acceptable. She deserved it, after all.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

DC Vigil for Lei Tyree Johnson

Via Kismet:
Ignore domestic violence as someone else's issue #youdothis.
Agitate and Conversate on the damage being done in your communities #idothis

Come out, come out, please! And RT/Repost this widely:

Because my writing has had to take precedent over other projects over the summer I haven’t been posting here as much as I would like. However I just received an email that bears posting:

On July 1, 2009, Lei Tyree Johnson with a male friend was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend, who also attempted to suffocate her 12-year old son. A vigil honoring Johnson and the cause of Domestic Violence will be held on Wednesday, July 22, 2009 from 7pm-9pm at UDC-Denard Plaza. The event is co-sponsored by the Beta Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta (Johnson crossed at Beta Iota in 2000) and the UDC Pan Hell. If you are in the DC/MD/VA area PLEASE come out and help take a stand against domestic violence.

Attire: Members of Fraternities and Sororities wear paraphernalia

Bring a white candle & a friend.

For further information please contact

Those on twitter PLEASE tweet this. Those on facebook please share this. Those who are simply blog readers, please share this however you can. In times like these I fear this will become even more common than it (unfortunately) already is.
Kismet linked here.
Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...