We Are Living in a Police State

We have been living in a police state for a long time now. The grip Law Enforcers have on this country (the so-called United States of America) has waxed and waned over the centuries, but Trust and Believe that this has for the most part always been How It Is.

And also for the most part, People Of Color (POC) especially Black People have been the ones bearing the brunt of their attentions. In fact, policies have been drawn up, laws have been made specifically to keep us in line, under thumb and with jackboots on our necks as we lie there helpless to do anything about it.

If you as a white person have felt any little piece of this Police State, it’s only the inevitable overflow, or you put yourself in harm’s way, on their radar, by your own actions. Because, again, Trust and Believe, this status quo is for sure not meant for you, or to affect you, or at least not as you go about your daily lives.

*****

Stop & Frisk interrupts the daily lives of thousands of Black and Brown youths – especially young males – each and every day in cities across this country, and this policy, while finally getting special scrutiny in New York after over a decade of being able to operate with impunity, is being looked at by many cities as a policy they want to implement. Hell, why not? They might get a good 10 year run out of it, before anyone does anything about it.

Racial profiling, especially DWB (Driving While Black) has effected my own life in significant ways, and while Dave Chapelle and other Black comedians may joke about it, we know that sometimes laughter eases the pain, and maybe the message might be a bit more palatable couched in an HBO special, or within the lyrics of a song.

But the truth of the matter is I’ve seen with my own eyes my fears come to life with devastating results. Nobody seemed to blink when the Patriot Act became policy, became the law of the land. Because you were tricked into thinking it would be Them and not You who would be getting the highly accelerated attentions of Law Enforcers. Who now have the blessings of the government to do whatever they want to you and yours.

Not Me, though. I shuddered and worried for my people, because I knew it was such a small step to take from rounding up “suspected terrorists” to enacting those same modes of conduct on my people. I’m way too tired to list the hundreds and thousands of incidents that have been wracked up in the ensuing years that proved my fears to be justified.

****

But I did write a breakdown post about the video of 26 officers coming to help arrest one skinny Black guy who did nothing but allegedly jump a turnstyle. The law enforcer’s response to the Black male “suspect” is to go overkill and subdue at all costs. In my opinion, it was pure luck that man didn’t go the way of Oscar Grant.

I did write about police tackling and nearly killing a 14 year old Black kid because they didn’t like his body language. A child. They nearly murdered a child, because he expressed his anger and upset at being targeted and profiled not with words, or actions, but with a look and a tensing up of his body. They say he clenched his fist – as if that is even a justifiable reason for two grown armed men to tackle an unarmed child – but he was holding his puppy in his arms at the time so… yeah… NO.

And let’s not forget when I wrote about Howard Morgan who gets jumped by FOUR fellow law enforcers, they shoot him up, leave him for dead, but he survives his injuries only to be put on trial (twice) and end up with a 40 year prison sentence for attempted murder. Yes, the attempted murder of the 4 police officers who nearly killed him. Welcome to Amerikkka. Yes Howard Morgan is Black and the four law enforcers who jumped him and shot him 28 times were white.

LeVar Burton Explains How He Avoids Being Shot By Police. Yes, the very same gentleman who recently raised 5.4 million dollars to help further literacy for American children. And a film and television star to boot. But he’s Black and male and his life hangs in the balance every time he has an interaction with the police.

***

I’m writing this post because the murder of Eric Garner by the NYPD this past July 17th, is just about the last straw. Not only was he murdered in cold blood, and on tape for the whole world to see – a video I will not ever be able to watch btw – he was killed using a chokehold which had been outlawed by the NYPD itself in 1993. It was against the law for police to use that particular “technique” as they go about their “duties”. Yet and still, during the intervening decades there have been weekly (on average about 3/week) complaints from citizens about officers using chokeholds. You do the math.

I’m guessing the officer(s) in question are “suspended with pay” yet again, and will in the long run face no criminal charges at all. Why do I think this? Because they were doing their jobs exactly the way they were supposed to. Excessive force being the unspoken code of conduct when it comes to arresting Black people, no matter what window dressing laws are passed to police the behavior of the police.

So many deaths at the hands of police could have been avoided. Remember the recent rash of “suicides” by Black males in Police custody? We are magical negroes indeed when we can shoot ourselves in the head while being unarmed and handcuffed in the back of police vehicles. Or alone in a jail cell. Or handcuffed and being taken into custody. We just magically end up dead. Over and over and over again.

I for one am sick and tired of it. And it isn’t only our Black men being targeted and bearing the brunt of this kind of lawless behavior. Black women and our Black children are increasingly being made victims of this.

**

Law enforcement systems in this country were originally set up to protect wealthy white males, their property, their women and their homes. They teamed up with segments of the Ku Klux Klan to create Paterollers and drew from that pool to populate their Sheriffs, Police Chiefs and to run the so-called Justice Departments.

You’ve heard about the Oakland PD’s Rough Riders? There’s a reason why they chose to call themselves that, and a reason why they were able to operate in such lawless ways for so long, and when finally brought to court in 2002-2003, there was somehow no way to get any of the 100’s of charges of misconduct to stick.

People talk about advocating to Stop Police Brutality and End Police Department Corruption and all that. But what needs to be looked at is the endemic system of racism that exists in this country. These sorts of things don’t happen in a vacuum. They don’t flourish and become unspoken policy by happenstance.

You can put a bandaid on a symptom, but unless the actual problem is addressed, this will continue to happen. I write this post today, because I can’t NOT write about it. Not one of those law enforcers saw Eric Garner as a human being. They snuffed out his life like it was nothing. And they will face little to no reprimand for their murder – caught on tape as it was – because hardly any of these officers ever do.

When you suspend someone and yet still keep paying them, that is not a punishment. You are giving them a paid vacation. They don’t have to show up to work, and yet they will still receive a paycheck. Rarely do we ever see officers in similar circumstances get suspended without pay, or brought up on charges of murder, and if they do get charged and end up in trial, they more often than not: walk away scot-free.

*

More and more, people in countries around the world are coming to the realization that America is a police state. I wonder if Americans are going to wake up to that reality anytime soon. And when I say Americans I mean White America, because everything is always so peachy keen in this country, and they view the police and law enforcers in a whole different way than we do. But we been knowing about this Police State since our ancestors first stepped foot on these shores.

One thing I wanted to mention before I sign off, is something that one of my favorite TWiB (This Week In Blackness) podcasters Aaron Rand Freeman brings up often. There is no actual need for any of this excessive force and overkill response from law enforcers. In nearly all of these situations they are the only ones armed. They are also in radio reach of calling for backup: for more armed personnel to come to their aid. They also have the power and backing of the laws of land in their favor as well as the solidarity of the Blue Line.

Why not simply just put someone in handcuffs and take them down to the station? Why is there a need for the chokeholds, tasing, beatings and shootings? There isn’t any need. Plenty of law enforcers manage to make arrests of unarmed people without resorting to all that madness.

And yet we hear of officers slapping children, punching people, using illegal chokeholds, applying excessive force, tackling kids, shooting unarmed people – over and over and over again. If there is no need for all of that, then why does it happen? When you live in a police state guess who has all the power, and guess who can behave in whatever manner they see fit, without fear of any major repercussions?

The law enforcers that’s who.

The police.

Stop murdering my people.

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I’m so tired. I usually have something to say here in this section of my post, but today, I got nothing. My soul is hurt and scared and I fear for this nation as I fear for my people.
I will say this though. I usually have a picture to go along with my posts, but all of the ones I found pertaining to this subject – even the ones what were just text – I found too triggering, and I try to make this a Safe Space.
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#HistoricalBlackness Opened My Eyes

black-woman-thinking

I talk a LOT about being AWAKE and sending out the call for everyone to WAKE UP and by that I mean all of the levels of awareness. Basic #StayWoke policies and all that.

But the other day on the latest Historical Blackness podcast with Dr. Blair Kelly via TWiB FM, I got a nice refreshing boost up to the next level of waked-uppness.

In case you didn’t click the above link and listen (hey you can do it later) here it is again:

#HistoricalBlackness #6: The Negro Problem.

 ~*~

There was a moment during the podcast (at about 0:50:00) where Dr. Kelly was exploring the legacy of fear and violence that has been poured down upon us – from an historical perspective.

She talked about the laws and policies created based around “I feel threatened”. I’ve written a lot about those things myself. So I thought I had gotten the whole picture. But it was just a small tilting of the lens, a few degrees in one direction and I was able to see things in a different way. It was a small thing and yet so HUGE.

She said that murderers are going free/unpunished for their murders, and Black people and POC in general are put through the wringer –  tougher sentencing rates, longer prison terms, justice being put on the wayside – etc. all due to FEELINGS rather than FACTS.

For example the focus is on how the defendant up on murder charges FELT during the situation in which they committed their crime. They FELT like their life was in danger. They FELT threatened.

Instead of focusing on the FACTS. Were you in FACT actually in danger for your life? Were you in FACT actually threatened? Who in FACT actually escalated the situation? And so on.

When we exist in a society that deems me and people like me to be threatening just as we are – Sitting waiting for a table in a restaurant, waiting for a bus, sitting in a car playing music, walking in the rain – and then to build laws that back up those irrational fears, so much so, that you can simply state your FEELINGS and have that become a legal option for you to not have to pay for the crime you committed – well you tell ME what chance in hell do we have for justice?

There is no level playing field here at all. The inequalities are glaring.

I hadn’t thought about it in those specific terms. FEELINGS vs. FACTS. That is what it boils down to.

Just recently a man who was convicted of raping his three year old daughter got no jailtime whatsoever because the prosecuting judge FELT that he “wouldn’t fare well” in prison. The convicted rapist in question is a white male and hair to the Dupont fortune. Never mind the FACT that he raped his child and was convicted.

But a poor Black woman who was trying to change her circumstances in the best way she could, and get a job to be able to feed her children gets thrown in jail. Where are all the FEELINGS for her and her situation?

“You commit a crime, you do the time”. Well only for SOME people.

Please let someone walk based on FACTS not FEELINGS. Please serve sentences and prosecute with EQUITY ACROSS THE BOARD.

I’m not asking for much. We never are.

My existence is indescribable when I draw breath in a world that operates like this.

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This is a set up. This is done on purpose. This is historical. This has been in place for CENTURIES. These “new” laws are the resurrection of Southern Strategy and Jim and Jane Crow. Irrational fears being backed by power and law.
Are you  more AWAKE than ever? I sure am.
Posted in Hellz YES, WELP, WTF | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Day The Earth Stood Still

It happened one day. From one moment to the next. Things were carrying on as usual and then in the next moment everything was different. This was the day over two-thirds of Earth’s population disappeared. At first some thought it was The Rapture, but as early reports from around the globe quickly began to trickle in, it became clear there was nothing “in the twinkling of an eye” about the disappearances. Not to mention when it became confirmed just who all was being disappeared, and what little we could ascertain as to the method, there was clearly nothing heavenly about their journey or destination.

All across the world, husbands disappeared. Boyfriends melted shrieking for mercy into nothingness. Pastors, priests, monks, imams, reverends and rabbis melted like wet witches in agony in front of their followers. The US military took a huge hit, and really, most military forces throughout the world were decimated. Athletes and coaches and nearly whole teams in some cases from the little leagues to the pros in nearly every sport, but football seemed the hardest hit, were whittled down to next to nothing in minutes.

College campuses, schools, after school programs, community centers, offices where everyday business is conducted, homeless shelters, political party headquarters, the local bakery, the bodega down the street, all of your neighbors suffered losses in equal measure. Prisons were hit particularly hard as were fraternities across the board. The music and other entertainment industries like television and film were gutted. The medical and other service professions weren’t spared either, which was a shame as you can imagine the collateral damage that ensued when bus drivers, people driving cars, trains and planes and so forth up and disappeared.

It was mostly males who disappeared. Very many females as well, but most obviously the majority of those targeted were men and boys. People wondered about that until it also became obvious the one thing that those who were now gone had in common. For some, and this was mostly how it began to be pieced together, it was a matter of record. Of criminal record. For others it was witnesses who for the first time felt it was safe to come forward, as their perpetrators had never been accused, caught and/or convicted.

That was the day all the rapists on planet Earth disappeared.

~*~

One of the last things I read last night before falling asleep was a couple two three of the people I follow on twitter were half jokingly batting about the scenario of what might happen “if the #FeministaMafia shot and killed every man that raped all of the women sharing their stories yesterday….” I woke up this morning and began to write, to flesh out that What If scenario. Take a few minutes to think about it… re-read what I just wrote…

and know that I barely scratched the surface.

THIS LINK tells about the phenomenon that was the outpouring of stories to which they were referring. I won’t mention that buzzfeed ganked a huge chunk of those tweets and printed them without permission from those people, much less the OP who had asked the original question, and got the whole discussion started. That is for another day.

But what is for today and every day is just how commonplace rape is. And also to be noted, is how rare it is for someone to be raped by a stranger or strangers. It happens, to be sure, but the bulk of rapists are people that the person knows. From family members, neighbors, “friends” to those in relationships – boyfriends, fiancees and husbands.

Growing up the stats were 1 in 5 females sexually assaulted. It became 1 in 4. Now it is 1 in 3. Will it have to get to be half the women and girls in your life will have been sexually assaulted before we put an end to it?

Does the Earth have to stand still before men and boys step up and shut it down?

This is not a women’s issue. When rape is so obviously common place. When sexual assault is so everyday a part of the human lives of so many of us. When street/sexual harassment is the fabric of our daily existence.

When will it end?

Women and girls have been fighting on the front lines for decades – to keep it 100, for centuries actually – and it is still happening. Why? Because men and boys are not part of the solution in any significant ways yet. Yes there are many who have stepped up and are helping to teach other men and boys how to step up. But it is way too little and might even be too late – but it isn’t.

~*~

Hey male person reading this:

Do something today to become active in putting an end to the sexism, misogyny, misogynoir, the harassment, the assaults, the rape. Speak Up. Stand Up. Shut It Down.

Because the world you are allowing your daughters and sons to live in is disgusting, horrifying and dangerous. The world you allow your sisters, aunts, girlfriends and wives to exist in is unacceptable. The world in which YOU live in should be sending you screaming to the streets, offices, religious centers and pretty much anywhere – including your own homes – in an attempt to start making changes for the better.

Lord Buddha please give me the strength to continue. To write down for the thousandth time how men and boys can start to be a part of the solution and not the problem.

Here Is How:

1. Start at the beginning. If you are the parent of a male child, be aware of what you are teaching him about women and girls. Be aware of what he is absorbing from his pals, the media he is exposed to, society at large about women and girls. Talk to him about it, every day if you have to. Combat what you know is forming his opinions. As appropriate – age-wise and this is earlier and earlier – speak to him about consent. Start today.

Note: Become hyper-aware. Society and everything that is a part of it is male dominated (the patriarchy), comes from the male point of view (the male gaze), and learn how that affects how women and girls are portrayed, treated and shown. Your male child is absorbing all of that through his skin. Be there to counter-act those effects, and put something healthy and true in it’s place.

2. Work on yourself. I wrote about that man who saw the bumper sticker that said “Men Can Stop Rape” and how he was stunned. Because it had never occurred to him. Because rape was a women’s issue, and him being a nice regular dude who wasn’t a rapist, he didn’t think he had anything to do with it. Wrong. Get involved. Start HERE or find local places that are similar. Or start one in your community. Speak Up. Take Action.

Note: Be aware that as you go on your journey, you may find that you have/had been in a situation that you did not consider to be rape, but indeed was. I have seen this happen time and time again – the male ignorance around consent and the actual realization that female beings are fellow humans is astounding. Like I said, rape, assault, harassment is common place. So common that you may have been perpetrating it because everything in society is backing you up and telling you that your behavior is normal. (it isn’t).

3. Listen to the women and girls in your life. If someone tells you they have been raped, assaulted, harassed: Support them. Believe them. If you are confused or don’t know exactly what to do – help them get to a professional that can help them. Err on the side of the person telling you that they have been hurt. This male dominated society might have you believing that false accusations are as common as the assaults. Don’t you believe it.

Note: A guy insisting that what clothing women wear can be faulted for them getting raped, assaulted and harassed is what sparked this whole thing off in the first place. Don’t. Be. That. Guy. Don’t blame the victim and don’t gaslight.

Remember: For each and every one of those hundreds of tweets there is a rapist – in so many cases multiple rapists – still running around out there raping, abusing and harming other women and girls with impunity. And those were only the people brave enough to come forward and say anything at all. They spoke out for those hundreds and thousands more who could not. Now what are you going to do about it?

4. Check ya boys. And by that I mean when you see/hear your guy pals making a rape joke, pinching or slapping the butt of a waitress, putting their hands on a woman, talking about “willing to do the jailtime” for “hitting that” underage girl etc etc etc: Stand Up. Speak Up. Stop It. Shut. It. Down. Tell them to stop it, put a stop to it – intervene. Tell them their behavior is unacceptable.

Note: When it becomes a loss of social status and standing instead of a badge of honor to demean, harass and objectify women and girls, we finally will be taking a step forward on this issue. When it becomes absolutely unacceptable for men and boys to behave in these ways. This starts with you making sure your social circle understands that you will not tolerate that kind of behavior. Clean house.

5. Get Active. There are people in positions of power from police officers to judges that keep this system rolling like a well oiled machine. Make some noise locally. Find out what’s going on. Begin to understand just why it is that the majority of rapes and assaults are not reported. They system that is supposed to protect the victim and punish the perpetrator does in fact do the exact opposite. Figure out how to come together in your community and make it a safe haven for the women and girls who live there.

Note: Men and boys being able to act however they please with women and girls devastates society. We are hurting ourselves, our collective selves. We are allowing for the ruination of ourselves as human beings. We are revoking our rights to hold up our heads as enlightened beings striving to be our best.

Take part in the solution. If you do nothing. If you continue on as a regular nice dude who (hopefully) has never raped anyone without stepping up and taking action: You are part of the problem.

This will not be easy. We’ve just finished an award season, that like nearly every season, every damn year, manages to uplift, praise and award known child predators and rapists. Out in public. On national television. Right in front of God and everybody. But responsibility for How Things Are has to be taken and this system that allows for such things to happen must be dismantled.

~*~

Don’t stand by while this is happening. Have some goddam empathy. Maybe it is not your daughter, your child, your sister, or mother or wife. Maybe it is. It should not matter. You should be absolutely disgusted that this is how our world is. You should be burning with utter and complete shame to be representing the men and boys who do this to women and girls everywhere. You should be clawing out of your skin trying to put an end to this. The insult to your basic humanity should galvanize you into action.

~*~

I have never been raped. I have been harassed and assaulted sexually and otherwise many times though. However, until the day I die I will live under the threat of rape. I can become a statistic at any moment. 1 in 3. From the cradle to the grave. Infants have been raped. Toddlers have been raped. Girls, young adults, woman have been raped. Elderly women, senior citizens have been raped. From the moment a female child is born until the day she dies the threat of bodily harm is there for her. Men and boys are the bulk of the perpetrators, so men and boys need to be the ones to put and end to it.

You tell me if that is how you want the women and girls in your life – and all over the planet – to continue to live.

Recommended:

A Call To Men.

Violence Against Women: It Is a Male Issue.

Men Can Stop Rape.

Protect Our Defenders.

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Stand Up. Speak Out. Shut. It. Down.
The Earth should stand still because finally there is equity and balance and the safety of our women and girls is paramount. The Earth should stand still because women and girls are finally protected. The Earth should stand still because finally men and boys have risen up and put an end to those men and boys wreaking a global swath of terror, harm, rape and abuse on half the population.
If I had the power to wave a wand and make my above end-game scenario come true would I do it?  I very well might despite the collateral damage to the innocent. Because right now, at this moment, I truly believe that How Things Are will never change. Good men will stand by and do nothing. Bad men will be allowed to continue on as per usual.
Prove me wrong.
Posted in General, Hellz YES, WELP | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Before Lupita There Was Whoopi

Whoopi Goldberg

I, like a whole lot of people have gone loopy for Lupita Nyong’o. If you don’t know why or who she is just Google her name and let her talent, beauty and images of perfection be your guide.

Nutshell: She is a Yale trained actor who starred in the movie 12 Years A Slave that resonated around the world and particularly here in America and she just won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in that movie which won Best Picture as well.

A lot of statistics were flowing around on twitter after her win, and yes, after twitter BROKE DOWN because of the heavy load of YAY LUPITA TWEETS, statistics I am very familiar with.

In 2012, I wrote about the history the Academy Awards has when it comes to doling it out its golden Oscar statues to Black actors. I chose to highlight the two highest award categories – Best Actor/Actress and Best Supporting Actor/Actress.

READ THE POST RIGHT HERE while the link lasts. I’m am never sure what is going on over there at the last place my blog was hosted on, but suffice it to say it should be an eye-opener for some and in other news water is wet to others.

Note: I use the word actor to mean both male and female people who act. I do not as a rule use the word actress, as the word actor is not actually a male defaulted word. If you are confused, read my No Ess, No Ette, No Trix blog post and get schooled. I can’t help it if the Oscars are divvied up between “actor” and “actress” however, when in Rome…

~*~

The Oscars have been around for 85 years. 75 years ago Hattie McDaniel won the first Oscar given to a Black actor EVER. It was for the category Best Supporting Actress.

I emphasize category because why? Because the other stat that was floating around twitter went something like this: “Only 7 Black people have ever won an Oscar in the 75 years since they one the first one”.

Yes, that is true, but what needs to be further broken down is that ONLY ONE BLACK WOMAN HAS EVER WON THE OSCAR FOR BEST ACTRESS.

Only one in the 85 year history of the Oscars and that was Halle Berry in 2001. IT has been EIGHTY-FIVE YEARS since the Academy began these awards in 1929. 85 years. And only 1 win for Black females in the Best Actress category.

The discussion for why that is so, is for another day, although I did highlight several telling aspects in the aforementioned and linked to Black Oscar Winners blog post which I KNOW you read.

But I will say this. You have to be in it to win it, as the saying goes. You have to be cast in Oscar-worthy films, you have to be cast in Oscar-worthy roles. Black women by and large are not cast hardly anywhere, much less at the top echelon. It’s not because there aren’t any Oscar-worthy Black female actors, Doe.

~*~

Now back to Whoopi. Because without her barrier breaking wins and stats there might never have been a Lupita. Shall we begin?

Remember that movie The Color Purple? Of course you do. Whoopi got nominated for Best Actress in the 1986 Oscars along with 10 other nods, including Best Picture, for that film. The win went to Geraldine Page for The Trip Bountiful. Note who else was up for Best Actress that year: Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange and Anne Bancroft. (I won’t mention that Best Picture went to Out Of Africa. Won’t mention that at all).

Some of you are of age to remember that the 80’s were all about Whoopi Goldberg. She was in movie’s all over the damn place. From Jumpin’ Jack Flash to Cara’s Heart.

She played a psychic in the 1990 film Ghost, and became the first Black female to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in nearly 50 years.

I’ll let that sink in.

She went on to play Guinan in the Star Trek: Next Generation series, and let us not forget the smash hit movies Sister Act and Sister Act 2. Or her iconic performance in Sarafina!. Oh you didn’t know Whoopi could sing?

She is one of the few entertainers who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award. (There’s only 12 people on that list btw).  Winning all four awards has been referred to as winning the Grand Slam of Show Business. She haz that.

Goldberg became the first African-American female to host the Academy Awards show in 1994, and the first woman solo host. She hosted the awards show again in 1996, 1999 and 2002.

I heard Ellen was great up there last weekend, and I’m sure she was, but Whoopi did it first, and yes paved the way for other women, like Ellen to be asked to host. Recognize.

Whoopi has been writing, producing and performing in film, television and the stage for decades now. She is a powerhouse. Many of you only know her from her current stint on The View.

She has won All The Awards all over the place, but I’ll just hit the highlights here as a sort of recap on why I’m talking about Whoopi today:

She has won an Oscar, two Daytime Emmys, two Golden Globes, a Tony, and let me tell you about the Grammy she won:

Whoopi Goldberg won a Grammy Award in 1985 for “Whoopi Goldberg: Direct from Broadway,” becoming only the second woman at the time to receive the award, and the first African-American woman. Goldberg is one of only three women to receive that award.

~*~

To say that she has been smashing the glass ceiling for women in general and in particular for Black women in show business is an understatement. She is not “conventionally pretty”. She isn’t “Hollywood Actress Thin”. She wears her hair naturally in dread locks. Her skin is chocolate brown. Her features, like many of us, are, as I like to say “Unmistakably African”.

She has built a highly successful career and at least during the 90’s was the highest paid female actress across the board at the time. (She was paid somewhere around $12 million for Sister Act 2).

Whoopi Goldberg paved the way for Best Supporting Actress winners Jennifer Hudson (2006), Mo’Nique (2009), Octavia Spencer (2011). And for Best Actress winners Halle Berry (2001) and yes, for last weekend’s win for Lupita Nyong’o.

It is interesting to note the distinctions made in the wiki listing about Lupita’s win:

“First black African (Kenyan) actress to be nominated.
First black African actor to win in any category.
Second black actor to win for a debut performance.”

If you want to get technical African-American women still only have those 6 other wins in that category. But I hate getting technical in that area, because what it boils down to is that a woman who according to her highly publicized genetic test is 92% “sub-saharan” African has been pushing the envelope, and breaking barriers for decades, and is the Fore Mother of all the joy and celebration of Lupita’s fabulous win.

Lupita’s win is for all of us.

I am glad that it happened. And Miss Nyongo’o is a powerhouse in her own right, with her own acting chops, intelligence, beauty and gravitas. Thank goodness for her! Thank goodness for Whoopi!

~*~

There is so much to touch upon, but I will just put it out there bold as you please:

Some discussion has been bandied about concerning the racism of Academy voters. That they are very white, very old and very male. All of those things are true. The Academy exists in a country where racism is endemic, and indeed part and parcel of how this country was built.

That members of a voting bloc in any area are racist comes as no surprise to me. They are part of an industry that has been well documented as being racist. I pointed out very specifically in my Black Oscar Winners post the roles that we are usually – and repeatedly – awarded for playing. Within the types of movies that are comfortable for those old, white, male, racist Academy voters to watch.

Which makes 12 Years A Slave and Lupita’s win so very interesting to me. However, I also know that this movie was created outside of American Hollywood. This was a British made film, and really for the quality and non-effing-up of the subject matter, I believe it could only have been made outside of the USA/Hollywood machine.

Goodness knows, Hollywood has tried and failed miserably countless of times.

Highly Recommended:

For a very interesting and in-depth discussion of these and other themes surrounding the film 12 Years A Slave please check out the TWiB.FM #HistoricalBlackness podcast HERE or HERE or HERE.

_______________________________________________________________

Thank You Whoopi Goldberg for you, your life, your energy, your talent and for allowing Hollywood to “get used to” seeing women who look like me – and Lupita! – in prominent roles and Winning All The Awards.
Posted in General, Hellz YES, WELP | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Average Age is 7 to 17

Just for once I’d like to see an article about how a middle aged white man shot an actual gang member. Or to read about how a white “homeowner” defended his castle against actual criminals hell bent on invading and stealing.

Or whatever.

Because I know you’ve noticed that when these grown men are “standing their ground” or “defending their homes” or “policing the neighborhood” their targets are invariably children or young teens. Unarmed. Not criminals. Just everyday young Americans.

And you can bet that they knew good and well their targets were weaker than they were as well as being unarmed. That they posed no threat to them, or caused them any fear despite what they go on to say or have their lawyers say in court.

People do not hunt down, pursue, confront, approach, open their doors to people or persons that they are afraid of or feel threatened by.

People usually avoid confrontation, turn the other way, run from or keep their doors firmly shut against such things that bring on fear and the threat of life.

Yet time and time again you see grown white males shooting and killing that which supposedly scared them so much they feared for their lives, after not avoiding, but confronting; Not walking or driving away but going towards; not keeping the door firmly shut but opening it wide.

You never read about how these men were chased down by their victims and as a last resort felt they had no other recourse but to shoot and kill. You never read about how these men were under siege in their homes, and called the police for help.

No, you get to hear about how frightened they were. How they were protecting their property and their white women, how righteous they were in killing Black children.

I, for one, am sick and tired of it.

~*~

A grown man shooting an 8 year old child in the face.

A grown man shooting a 19 year old young woman in the face.

A grown man opening fire in a public place aiming at young teens in a car.

The list goes on and on and just for once I’d like to read about some white guy confronting a real thug. An actual gang member. An actual criminal. Hell just even an actual adult of any ilk for a damn change.

There is a reason why their targets are so young. And always unarmed.

Base and craven cowardice.

They might have fear, hatred and who knows what all else for the monolithic “Black People” and be gun owners just itching to “kill a nigger”. Well why don’t you roll on over to gangland territory and start shootin shit up?

Well why on earth should they? They might actually be killed. They might face actual bodily harm. The odds are not in their favor. Or maybe they would be equalized. Armed adults facing armed adults.

But when you target children and teens, girls and boys who you know good and damn well pose you no threat whatsoever – well you have a 100% chance of coming out of your encounter alive and well.

And should you even get arrested for ending a human life you have a legal system that was created just for you, and works in your favor, with laws created for just the situation you put yourself in. Laws and a system of “justice” that is made for you to get away with murder, to be able to trumpet your justifiable reasons for killing to the world, created for you to kill and kill and never have to be responsible for your crime, or do any time for murder.

Some have said it is now open season on Black bodies. Well I say it has always been. There might have been a lull where the laws on the books weren’t so blatant – you know that progress thing we always talk about – but as I said in a recent post – these Stand Your Ground laws are brand spanking new.

So open season as per usual, but now with the additional bonus that there are actual laws provided for you to get off scott-free should you take it upon yourself to commit murder.

~*~

I am absolutely thrilled to be living in a world where if someone should murder my son he would be painted in the press as being a thug. No matter, like Trayvon Martin, or Jordan Davis, that he might just be a regular kid. Not a gun-toting criminal. Have no criminal record. Be a good student. Just be chilling out being a human being going about his life.

Until he’s shot to death and mealy mouth lawyers drag his name in the dirt. Never mind he’s brilliant, smart, funny, educated, plays guitar, excels in both math and sports and is beautiful, vibrant and my very own. But he is a threat, a thing to be feared, a ravening beast to protect white women and white-owned property against.

Fuck You World That We Live In I Hate You So Much!

To be sure my child is an adult now, but that just puts him in the path of other dangers. Sure cowardly white males won’t be gunning for him, but I’m sure being stopped and frisked is always a present thing, or “fitting the description“. Or heaven help him if he gets hurt and goes knocking on a door for help.

This stuff is historical. This is not anything new. The stuff that gets spouted on those witness stands in courts has been said over and over again for hundreds and hundreds of years. Sweet Buddha could you not hear the tone of voice Dunn took on the stand? He was severely affronted, put out, insulted, highly MIFFED that he was even arrested, much less put on trial for doing something so uneventful as doing away with a Black life.

He was one step up from the “I only shot a nigger” guy. In fact he is that guy. Just with a skosh bit more education, articulation and basic smarts.

Used to be you could just shoot a Black person and go about your day without being hassled. That’s what was between the lines of everything he spoke about on that stand.

How he described being finally arrested. The insult of being treated like a criminal! Making him take off his shirt and kneel down! It’s not like he murdered anyone or anything like that!

Because at the end of the day, Black people, POCs in general are not human.

You can say “oh he was a thug” and half the planet believes it. Because he’s Black so…..

You can say you were afraid for your life and you will be believed because those Black animals, those criminal THUGS are terrifying beasts and well you had to shoot and kill.

You were after all protecting your precious white life, your pure white woman, your home and property…

So Of Course.

And don’t get me started on those white people who do awful crimes – murdering children etc – and blame “A Black Man” for it. And why shouldn’t they? They have a very good chance of being believed. Last week I read an article about a guy who was ALONE and shot himself and – you guessed it – blamed “A Black Man” for shooting him. O.o

~*~

Just for once I’d like to read an article about one of these guys mixing it up with someone from the MS-13, the Crips, Bloods or a stone cold hermano from The 18th Street Gang. Effing cowards. Stop killing our children!

Of interest and recommended: These Two Podcasts from Historical Blackness brought to you by the amazing folks over at TWiB FM, This Week In Blackness. In particular podcast #2 which puts the Dunn trial into historical context.

________________________________________________________________

Enough is Enough.
If you as a white person  reading this, are tired of this ish too, it is time to stand up and start being active. It is my heartfelt belief that racism and the dangerous and unfair practices that spawn from it WILL NOT BE STOPPED UNLESS THOSE THAT CREATED IT ARE THE ONES TO DISMANTLE IT.
If we could do it on our own, it would have been done already. You are the majority demographic in this country and can move mountains, repeal laws, vote people out of office etc etc.
Join The Fight.
Posted in General, WELP, WTF | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

The Sun Is Shining Down

When you sing along to that certain song and the words make you lie as they tumble from your lips

But then you realize that’s exactly how they should be sung because they were written to echo the pain

So when the tears fall and you curve your voice around the harshness of life

When you lament

The world should be different. Should be better. The sunshine should warm your frozen terrified heart when it shines down

That is difference between Truth and the Song that is always there not really separate but in tandem with your heartbeat.

Sing with me

~*~

“How many more days can you hold out,
How much longer can you wait?” she asked.
There was a time I thought I, I could answer
But my tongue gets tied as my thoughts drift away.

Glory, Glory – Hallelujah
The sun is shining, shining down
Glory, Glory – Hallelujah
I’m alive and I’m feeling, feeling fine

All those simple thoughts all those peaceful dreams,
Share the space with a hard worked, hard worked day
But it’s the little things, the little things not expectation
That make life worth living, worth living.

Glory, Glory – Hallelujah
The sun is shining, shining down mmmmm
Glory, Glory – Hallelujah
I’m alive, and the world Lord, world is fine

Glory, Glory – Hallelujah
The sun is shining, shining down
Glory, Glory – Hallelujah
I’m alive and I’m feeling Lord, feeling, feeling, feeling fine.

_____

_____
The Sun Is Shining Down
by JJ Grey & Mofro

_______________________________________________________________

I’m Alive And Feelin Fine
One outta two ain’t bad
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Simple Truths

If Jordan Davis had been alone in his car Michael Dunn would be facing no jail time right now.

That is what this verdict says. I guess he’d be sitting around waiting a new trial or waiting to see if his lawyers could make the whole thing just disappear. Those 60 years he might be facing right now are based on the other people (who are still alive) in that car.

Not a damn thing for the kid he actually killed. Not one damn thing. Not a minute, not a year, nothing at all.

It sends the message that killing another human being could let you walk.

White or Black – but especially Black, remember Marissa Alexander – you will do more time if you do not kill.

As some on my twitter feed have been saying: Looks like Dunn is being punished for NOT KILLING THOSE OTHER BLACK BOYS.

For those that still do not understand: When you are armed and the other person is not, there is nothing self defense about your situation. 

Open Season On Black Bodies? Yes. Nothing you can say will make me feel anything different. I have known this reality for decades. Brought into sharp focus in these past several years, completely crystal clear today right now.

~*~

Hear This:

On my twitter feed this guy was asking anyone if they’d ever thought to tell someone to turn down their music while in a parking lot.

Most said that it would  never occur to them. Some said they had, in different situations – ie children were near with profanity lyrics blasting and another stated they asked politely as it was late and right next to a retirement home.

I replied absolutely not. And especially out her in AZ where the “gun laws” are based on the shootout at the OK corral. And I’m not kidding. Google them for yourself and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

One of my Twitter Pals replied that since it was a temporary situation ie you or the loud music people could and would be driving away in the immediate future, there was simply no need to start drama in a public place.

That response made me start to cry.

Because if Dunn had simply grumbled to himself about “rap crap” or whatever, gone inside with his fiancee to get their purchases, came out, got in his car and driven away, Jordan Davis would still have his life.

It reminded me of a tweet I saw during the GZ trial and I’ll paraphrase: Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world where George Zimmmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home out of the rain?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world where Michael Dunn just shrugged and went on his merry way?

He, like GZ is a bully and a thug and felt the need – the privilege – to police his immediate environment, and when he didn’t like the response he got from starting unneeded drama, pulled out his gun and committed murder.

Simple Truth.

~*~

Of Interest: The skinny on the Stand Your Ground Laws.

They are NEW. Not even a decade in existence, the earliest laws were enacted in 2005-2007 during the Bush era. Most others 2010-2011 at height of Tea Party and that crucial Mid-Term election. Says a lot, doesn’t it?

This is not a “Florida Problem” as over half the states (26) have SYG laws. Does yours? Mine does.

It is hard enough to get fair treatment and justice under the laws of this country as a POC in general on any given day – worse still, and damn near impossible with SYG. This is done On Purpose.

They are nothing but Code Words, Jim Crow, Dog Whistles, Southern Strategy turned into the law of the land. Yet another facet of what is called: Legal Slavery.

I am sick unto DEATH of these WP putting themselves into unnecessary situations then crying “I feel threatened” and then kill my people and then run and hide behind Stand Your Ground laws. Sick of it. SICKENED by it. Tired of it.

iCan’t.

I simply Can. NOT.

______________________________________________

#NotTheAmericaIWantToLiveIn
That is all.
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The Valentine’s Day Hoax

I’m writing this because of a lot of tweets I’ve been seeing flowing down my Twitter TL have me pretty pissed off. They relate to Of Course the so-called holiday looming on the near horizon called Valentine’s Day.

This is one of those manufactured “holidays” that I absolutely detest. Because I’ve seen that it can do a lot of harm. More harm than good? I don’t know, but if you want my honest answer: YES. I believe it does.

I’m already witnessing emotional harm being caused if what I’ve been reading on twitter is any indication. It makes me angry and it makes me sad. Sad and angry to see the brainwashing that has occurred. Angry and sad to see people being emotionally affected over some absolute and complete bullshit that is nothing more than a figment, a fabrication, an illusion and a lie.

~*~

The positive things that can happen are that people get to celebrate their love and do smooshy romantic things with and for their significant others, life partners etc.

But what in the world is stopping you from doing that very same thing at any moment and/or on any other day of the year? See that’s where I start to call shenanigans. If you aren’t already nurturing a climate of celebration, romance, expressing your love in your current relationship, why then all this outpouring on this one particular day?

Outpour on me every day. Stick a goofy love note in my briefcase. Call me at work and say something sessy in my ear. Surprise me with a fully cooked dinner when I get home. Rub my feet and draw me a hot bath. Send a bouquet of flowers. Take me out to dinner at that restaurant I’ve always wanted to check out. Whisk me off on a whirlwind weekend getaway. Do something personal, romantic and fun that doesn’t have to cost a penny. Be thoughtful, loving and kind.

Why do you have to wait to do any or all of those things on only one dang day of the year and maybe on my birthday or our anniversary? The best relationships I’ve been in have been when it has been a wonderful give and take of romance and fun often and just whenever the mood strikes.

When I get into a serious relationship, you can bet my significant other knows exactly how I feel about VD. And I use those initials On Purpose because when I was coming up, VD was short for Venereal Disease – you know STDs – Sexually Transmitted Diseases – I have no idea what they are calling them knowadays. But to me VD is a Diseased Day and puts a lot of Unnecessary Pressure on people, both boo’d up and single.

Pressure that can lead to all sorts of wonderful things. These are all examples that I have seen happen to friends, family members, coworkers all because of stuff that went down, or didn’t go down, expectations, and pressures from this “romantic” “holiday” Valentine’s Day:

1. Break up. Sometimes leading to divorce I kid you not and don’t act like you haven’t seen events surrounding VD becoming a huge factor in relationship stress.

2. Domestic violence and abuse. Just another trigger holiday to add to your list of things to be hyper-aware about if you are trapped in the misery of an abusive relationship.

3. Speaking of triggers: Depression, anger, anxiety, cycling between emotional highs and lows and yes I’ll say it: suicide. Don’t act like you don’t know.

~*~

People act like “Being Single On Valentine’s Day” is some sort of horrible thing THAT MUST NOT HAPPEN AT ALL COSTS.

I’ve been single on Valentine’s Day lotsa times. I’m still here. I will be single on VD this Friday. I’ll still be here on Saturday.

Have I reaped the benefits of the good things that can happen on VD? Oh you betcha! Bouquets of roses, jewelry, romantic dinners, gifts and gifties, cards and romance and mind blowing sex that sets fire to the universe, curls my afro and tingles my toes. Lotsa fun times. 

But I’ve also experienced those things on any of the other 364 days of the year.

If you are unhappy because you are not in a relationship, let it be that way in general. But not because you aren’t with someone on VD. Don’t succumb to all the brainwashy pressure that is everywhere.

I love being single. I’ve loved it when I was younger and I’m still ok with it now. I also love it when I’ve been boo’d up with someone who’s funny, fun, romantic and awesome. I love my life and I love living it. The parts I don’t like, I work on to make them better.

But I don’t hinge my happiness or unhappiness on some made up holiday that seeks to stigmatize people who don’t play along, and causes harm. Nope. Not going out that way.

Single on February 14th. So the fuck what.

~*~

I know it’s hard to not feel some kind of something as mid-February comes closer and closer. Little while ago I went grocery shopping and I thought St. Valentine had barfed up all over the store. It really was too much. Still 4-5 days out and there was all sorts of crap from balloons, candy, chocolates, stuffed animals, cupcakes, whole cakes, cards, booze and I don’t know what all else strewn all over store.

Sista was just trynta get some dinner fixings and the assault on the senses was overwhelming. And this was just a grocery store. Retailers all over the place are trying to cash in by playing on your emotions and ratcheting up the pressure.

Don’t let them win.

I’m sure our economy could use the boost but not at the cost of stressing out it’s citizenry.

That’s the other part of why this “holiday” rubs me the wrong way. Like Christmas, it has been packaged up and promoted to within an inch of it’s life.

The message is clear:

If you love her/him you will buy this, this and this for them.

S/he will think you don’t love her/him if you don’t spend all this money.

You must not really love her/him that much if you forget/ignore/don’t celebrate/do anything on Valentine’s Day.

Since when does love come with a price tag? Since VD became one be giant commercial, retail and profit opportunity.

~*~

Lastly, be safe out there. Protect yourself. Ignore the pressures as best you can. Enjoy the “holiday” if you want to celebrate it, but don’t let it dictate your relationship, your love.

And please please please stop tweeting all that “lonely hearts” stuff. PLEASE JUST STOP.

Why are you holding yourself emotionally hostage to an illusion? Let go. Free yourself.

To me, February 14th is just any other day. But if you need help with counteracting the brainwashing effects here’s some stuff you can do:

Pamper yourself. Take some “Me Time”. Curl up with your favorite book(s). Stock up on some kick ass movies and marathon em with your favorite snacks. Revel in a delicious bubble bath with candles and your favorite music playing. Form a posse with a bunch of your other single friends and go out to the movies, a club, an event. Have Some Fun.

Single does not equal alone or lonely.

VD is just a day on the calendar.

Recommended: Romeow and Juliet.

_____________________________________________________________

I Love You
You are important to me, and I’m so glad that I know you.
You are amazing!
The world is a better place because you are in it. I am a better person because you are in my life.
I Love You
Spread real, authentic, sincere Love every single day. Say the words out loud to yourself. Say them out loud to those you love. 
My life motto: All Day Every Day.
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Mountain Dreamer

feng-shui-buddha-painting sm

The following are words taken from the book The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. I have not read it. I get these words from the 2014 datebook I purchased at the awesome Brush Dance. You should go there to get yours. (Yes, they’re having a huge sale right now. Wall calendars and journals and more are also offered).

I first clicked with them, because they offered a beautifully done (well, they are all beautifully done!) datebook for 2010 I think it was that featured words from Thich Nhat Hanh founder of Plum Village and the ever amazing Jewel of the Lotus theme.

I chose this datebook very carefully out of the selection offered, as I try to do each year. This is the year of my Journey. My Grand Escape. I go seeking mountains first and then rivers, lakes and eventually the sea. Enjoy these words. It is my Hope that they will take me far and help me find my Place in this world.

~*~

It doesn’t interest me what you

do for a living. I want to know

what you ache for and if you dare

to dream of meeting your

heart’s longing.

*

It doesn’t interest me

how old you are.

I want to know

if you will risk

looking like a fool

for love

for your dream

for the adventure of being alive.

*

It doesn’t interest me

what planets are

squaring your moon…

I want to know

if you have touched

the centre of your own sorrow

if you have been opened

by life’s betrayals

or have become shrivelled and closed

from fear of further pain.

*

I want to know

if you can sit with pain

mine or your own

without moving to hide it

or fade it

or fix it.

*

I want to know

if you can be with joy

mine or your own

if you can dance with wildness

and let the ecstasy fill you

to the tips of your fingers and toes

without cautioning us

to be careful

to be realistic

to remember the limitations

of being human.

*

It doesn’t interest me

if the story you are telling

is true.

I want to know if you can

disappoint another

to be true to yourself.

If you can bear

the accusation of betrayal

and not betray your own soul.

If you can be faithless

and therefore trustworthy.

*

I want to know if you can see Beauty

even when it is not pretty

every day.

And if you can source your own life

from its presence.

*

I want to know

if you can live with failure

yours and mine

and still stand at the edge of the lake

and shout to the silver of the full moon,

“Yes.”

*

It doesn’t interest me

to know where you live

or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up

after a night of grief and despair

weary and bruised to the bone

and do what needs to be done

to feed the children.

*

It doesn’t interest me

who you know

or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand

in the centre of the fire

with me

and not shrink back.

*

It doesn’t interest me

where or what or with whom

you have studied.

It want to know

what sustains you

from the inside

when all else falls away.

*

I want to know

if you can be alone

with yourself

and if you truly like

the company you keep

in the empty moments.

_____________________________________________

Happy New Year!
Blessings that 2014 will be Better than the year before
Because truth be told 2013 was pretty awful for me. The only Brightness was the means to my Grande Escape finally falling within my grasp.
I mean to not squander the opportunity for Change, for Life for Love for Freedom.
I bid you do the same with the Gifts that are yours.
~ABW

Of Interest: Blacks In American Buddhism – Article in The Buddhist Channel from 2005. Perhaps I’ll write a response post as it touches on so many of things I’ve experienced as a Black Buddhist in America. It also mentions how Buddhism is commodified in the US – something rarely spoken about, I know from experience.

And interestingly enough mentions the Soka Gakkai International (my particular brand of Buddhism) as not only very diverse, but being one of the most accessible sanghas in the world. It doesn’t cost a penny to learn how to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

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Netflix Racism Roulette

For those that don’t know. Netflix is a paid service that gives you television shows and movies directly to your computer or mobile devices via Instant Watch (streaming), or directly to your television set or via direct to your snail mailbox with DVDs.

I use it to avoid watching actual television since I cut the cord many years ago. There are other places where you can get your movies and TV on in similar fashion as well.

I’m choosing Netflix not to point out how racist they are or anything, because they aren’t. They are a service that gives people access to fare from the entertainment industry that is.

But Racism Roulette is such a fun game! I played it the other day and I’m sharing with you today so you can play it too. You can use anything that lists current or past television shows and movies if you don’t have Netflix. Including basic internet searches, entertainment data bases etc what have you.

Netflix users, start your engines! The rest of y’all can modify these directions accordingly to whatever other applications you are using. I’m using the internet based version of Netflix for this round.

1. Pull up your Netflix account and mouse over the top toolbar on either Watch Instantly or DVDs (I have both). I used Watch Instantly.

1. Click on Dramas when the drop down list appears. Dramas are the middle ground genre. Something for everyone, the genre that is geared to reach the most audience numbers. The opposite of niche. You can use the drop down on the right to sort them from A-Z.

2. What should appear next is a list of offerings using the movie poster or DVD cover art format. We will be using these pictures as our guide to whether or not these movies and/or television shows have any Black people in them.

3. Scroll down the list and when you find a picture that has a Black person featured, mouse over to get the mini-blurb that tells you what that particular movie is about.

You are going to be making a list of movies or shows that have Black people in them that do NOT also feature the following:

Denzel Washington, Danny Glover, Morgan Freeman.

The true life story (fictionalized or documentary form) of a Black person or people.

Prison, jail, juvenile detention and anything surrounding lockup including prison employee, ex-con, executions, etc.

Inner city (sometimes written as inner-city), urban, ghetto, Harlem, The Bronx, South Central, disenfranchised, disadvantaged, poor.

Gangs, Crews, criminals, violence, guns, drugs.

Military as in soldier, ex-soldier, marines, boot camp, drill instructor.

Anything to do with sports.

Anything to do with music.

Spiritual, meaning strong Christian message, preachers, deacons, moral story featuring staunch religious themes.

Single parent, especially single mother.

Slavery, slaves, civil war. Also, servants, caretakers, nannies, maids, butlers, drivers etc.

Magical Negro/Negress.

Africa, African movies, movies about Africa and/or Africans.

Good Luck! Have fun playing!

~*~

Here are some of the movies I found featuring Black people or a Black person that could NOT go on my list. Just so you know what you’re  up against. And if you think the above list of restrictions is unfair, then you’re getting it! Or at least you are on your way.

Savannah (2013); In post-Civil War America, aristocrat Ward Allen becomes a self-styled renaissance man, taking up life as a hunter and befriending a freed slave. Jim Caviezel, Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Flight (2012) Denzel Washington.

Street Dance (2010); In this hip-hop drama, a street crew and an uptight ballet academy wage a blistering turf battle when the squads must share the same practice space.

The Sapphires (2012); The spirit and vitality of 1960s soul music are at the core of this film about a real-life Australian aborigine singing group and their bumpy career.

The Magic of Belle Isle (2012); Morgan Freeman.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (2009); Cuba Gooding Jr. stars as a pediatric neurosurgeon who overcomes enormous obstacles to study medicine and save lives at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds (2012); A wealthy businessman is torn between his high-maintenance fiancée and a hard-working single mother who needs his help to get her life back on track.

Winnie Mandela (2011); South Africa’s Winnie Mandela, one of the most galvanizing public figures in modern history, comes to life in this absorbing biopic. Terrence Howard, Jennifer Hudson.

The Intouchables (2011); Based on a true story, a quadriplegic aristocrat’s world is turned upside down when he hires a young, good-humored ex-con as his caretaker.

Master Harold and the Boys (2010); Young white South African Hally finds himself trapped between the views of his bigoted father and of Sam, the black man who takes care of him. Ving Rhames.

I Am Slave (2010); This drama inspired by true events follows a Sudanese girl who learns to fight her oppressors after being kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Unconditional (2012); This Christian-oriented drama based on real events describes a woman’s search for her husband’s killer, and her slow return to faith afterwards. Michael Ealy.

American Violet (2008); This drama inspired by true events centers on a 24-year-old mother who takes on a corrupt district attorney when she’s prosecuted in a drug case. Nichole Beharie.

Proud (2004); This rousing drama recounts the true story of the U.S.S. Mason, the only World War II battleship manned by a largely black crew. Ossie Davis.

Scott Joplin (1977); African American composer Scott Joplin fights to break into the music business, achieving success with a ragtime tune called “The Maple Leaf Rag.” Billy Dee Williams.

Snow on tha Bluff (2011); Set in urban Atlanta, this hyperreal gangster drama centers on kinetic dope dealer Curtis Snow, who records his daily adventures.

Hoodlum (1997); In this gangland epic based on real-life events, black gangs in 1930s New York City battle the Italian mob for control of the Harlem numbers racket. Laurence Fishburne, Tim Roth.

Down In The Delta (1998); An unemployed single mother returns with her kids to their Mississippi Delta hometown, where a kindly uncle teaches them about their rich heritage. Alfre Woodard.

American Son (2008); While at home for Thanksgiving, a 19-year-old Marine begins a romance, clashes with family and confronts his fears about his deployment to Iraq. Nick Cannon.

~*~

Actually, I lied. Racism Roulette isn’t fun! What I’m trying to point out here with this exercise is what roles, themes and so on are the “acceptable” ones for Black people in mainstream entertainment. So much so, that even Black movie writers, directors, creators find it hard to shake those bonds. Especially Black males *coughtylerperrycough* when they depict Black women and girls especially. But that is for another post.

Nine times out of ten when a Black person shows up they are a musician, or a sports player, or a soldier, a preacher, or in prison or an ex-con, a servant/slave, or pop up just in time to rescue/help/save/create moment of catharsis for the white protagonist. The Magical Negro.

Or they are a token thrown in to colorize up the place and earn diversity brownie points.

Worse I think that under representation, and being boxed into the “accepted” roles is the misrepresentation and stereotyping. I’d rather not see myself at all on the screen than show up as neck weaving, gum popping single mother from the “inner city”. See what I mean? Or then the only other recourse is the morality play where we herded back into the straight and narrow by the Grace O Gawd. Black women (and WOC in general) get stuck in the Virgin/Whore syndrome thing so much more than their white counterparts.

My List Of Movies Without That Other Stuff:

Snowmen (2011); In this family-friendly drama, three small-town boys hatch a plan to be remembered forever by setting a world record for building snowmen. (One of the three boys is Black, according to the movie poster).

I’m not interested in watching this movie, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts that Black boy is tokened out completely.

The Red Violin (1998); When the long-lost “red violin,” a rare instrument crafted during the Italian Renaissance, shows up at a modern auction, it reveals its mysterious history — and the lives of its previous owners — in a series of flashbacks spanning three centuries.

I only mention this movie because I watched it, and I know Samuel L. Jackson plays a character in it that “normal” ie based on Non-Traditional Casting (Google it!) methods his race is not germane to his character. He’s just a guy doing a job – investigating the authenticity of violins – and rounds out the movie nicely, no muss no fuss. The movie poster is a picture of a violin so you wouldn’t know a Black person was cast just going by the “rules” of my little made up game.

All About You (2001); Heartbroken from a failed relationship, Nicole makes a fresh start in San Francisco but must overcome personal obstacles on her way to happiness.

This looks on the surface to be refreshingly “normal”. I do note that it is a “Black movie” meaning a pretty much all-Black cast. As are more offerings of “normal” that I could post up here. Interesting, that, isn’t it?

I’m happy to see that when we yank the reigns out of mainstream Hollywood’s hands and do our own stories, we can, more often than not, shake the bonds that tie us down and just do movies about us going about our lives. Normal lives like the hundreds of movies I scrolled through that did not feature any Black people in them.

Also, note what “true life” stories are chosen. Sure there was that one about the heart surgeon. That one. More often than not it is the music star, the sports hero, the real life slave or servant, the infamous gangster and so on. And everything is under constant white washing. Or shown from the point of view of a white person.

You may have thought I was skewing my results somehow. I wasn’t. Like there were tons more mainstream movies out there featuring Black people that were outside my criteria. There are more, to be sure, but not tons more. Maybe I could have found a couple more that weren’t “Black movies”, but truth be told, I stopped before scrolling down the whole list. I’d already gotten through 100’s of movies, and the “fun of it all” started to wear thin.

You can of course, go ahead and play your own version of Racism Roulette and see for yourself. You can also do it with any other race and broaden or thin down the criteria. Above all, I want you to have learned something. A fellow blogger breaks it down quite succinctly and says it best:

WET: White Entertainment Television by Abagond. He tackles television specifically, while I have dealt with mostly movies. Same difference, really. The results are nearly identical. Go ahead, click that link and read that blog post. You’ll be glad you did.

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This post is a bit disjointed, and did not turn out exactly as I wanted it to. But I’m going to post it instead of trashing it, because I’m just now coming back from a severe writer’s block:
So you get the good, the bad and the ugly while I find my breath, my voice, my stride again.
And also to give hope to fellow writers out there. That you can get through a block, and when you do just write write write!
(And inflict the early results on your Constant Readers because they will Luff Yew anyways) Right? ;)
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