Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pearl Cleage Visits Claflin University

On Tuesday march 19th the esteemed playwright and novelist Pearl Cleage delivered a lecture to students and faculty of Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC. The Theme of the lecture was that of the writer’s responsibility to tell the truth accurately and the reader’s job is to interpret it thusly. The central theme of the lecture was the use of the term “nigger” in recent works of art, in the theater and cinema. Mrs. Cleage argued the point that to take out certain words from a piece is to censor an artist's work which in turn changes the meaning and impact of that work's relevance. When words become more discussed than the actual context of a piece of art the impact of what the work is and was is then loss. Mrs. Cleage noted that if a word can be banned then a book could be burned, but books don't go to jail. Her final point was that artists and writers have to be brave enough to tell the truth, to write that novel or play and perform a poem out loud. Censorship is about fear and control yet any work of art is a fight for some sort of freedom. In quoting Amir Baraka, she stated that artists should “write something so bad they have to ban it.”
In a lecture later that evening, Mrs. Cleage delivered a lecture on the state of citizenship of African Americans in this “New America”. The Black freedom struggle still continues and for  artists and activists writing in a “new America” means that we remake the nation as a place to feed the hungry, educate the nation and continue living in a newfound peace of Black nationalism.
 The words of Pearl Cleage gave me life, from the first page of “What Looks Like Crazy on An Ordinary Day” to her first lecture I heard aloud. She gives meaning and confirmation to the struggle and burden that every writer carries.  The words of the national anthem to “Lift every voice and sing”, never rang clearer to my ears till I hear Pearl Cleage, recite them in a speech.  Words carry a Power, they are the active involvement of informed citizens, that is us To make real the promise of democracy. As writers we do more than tell history or tell what happened, we tell how the people felt about what happened. Mrs. Cleage’s advise to budding writers was to “write every day, be involved in the issues and to ask why certain things are happening and why people are reacting his way. It is my plan to do just that as a writer who is trying to change this nation, One word at a time.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Attacking The Black Woman (Part. 1) Name Calling

Breaking News! The black woman has been attacked! Suspects include major media outlets, morning news shows, talk shows, Twitter and Facebook. Her so called friends have become enemies. The result has been internal conflict. Who can she turn to now?

In a recent turn of events 9 year old Quvenzhan√© Wallis, is called a cunt by The Onion. The Onion is a farcical newspaper featuring world, national and community news. While The Onion is revered and loved for its use of satire and word play, it’s taken it too far in calling out the young actress. The actress with the exotic name is “the youngest-ever Academy Award nominee for Best Actress”, but all that was ignored when The Onion found it funny to call her this sexually degrading title. While grown women have become quite experienced in rebounding degrading names or harmful slurs, a 9 year old has no such defense about this type of attack. This is where the insults need to stop; this is the point at which all black women need to take a stance in defending our own honor and glory. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Melissa Harris-Perry visits Spelman College

On February 21, 2013, Melissa Harris-Perry visited the campus of Spelman College. During this time, she gave a lecture on the theme of Black women's citizenship. She discussed the concept of how the Interior lives of black women become intercept with the notion of our citizenship  In her lecture, she included the quote "How does it feel to be a problem"  by W.E.B Du Bois. She then elaborated on the idea that Black women have been considered to be a problem in America. 

One of the few times the black woman's citizenship has been on display was during Hurricane Katrina, where survivors wrapped themselves in American flags as a true testament to being American. But as Perry points out in her book Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America, these women were referred to as refugees. Even at the point of being wrapped in Veteran flags during a disaster, Black women are still not considered American citizens. 

The Black woman is still one who is exotic, mysterious and almost inhuman. The hair of African American women has often been considered a problem and a mystery. The interactions of the black woman as a citizen intersects with concepts of gender, politics and race. Perry mentions the notion that Feminism is then an intellectual project to educate the masses. The question then is "What defines citizenship?"

The recent presidential elections have resulted America with A president with hair like "us". The thought of a Black President seemed almost inconceivable 10 years ago and yet President Obama is now serving his second term as President of these United States. The sky truly is the limit to the things that African Americans can contribute to society yet, there has been an increased Lack of imagination among African American children. Perry pointed out that "It is our gift to America that we don't need a role model to believe we can achieve anything,... To believe that we are human".

In a further examining of Sister Citizen, Perry describes the Fictive kinship that blacks share, that we are always tied to one another be it good or bad. The light that is often shed on black women is that of Racial shaming due to Misleading images that force women to live in a world much like a crooked room. The "Crooked Room" is a metaphor used throughout the book that describes the Black Woman attempting to be herself in a world that has already placed harmful labels on who she is and will be. To be a black woman in America and not an angry black woman is to be "The strong black woman"which is essentially the over compensation of a woman trying to live up to more than she should due to negative images of her fellow sisters in the media. Those negative images then lead to a Chronic collective shaming. Black women then feel Shame or guilt for their identity  and black womanhood itself. 

In Closing her lecture, Melissa Harris- Perry states that "There is a politics to how we feel and Citizenship is then an emotional reaction". "The Struggle Continues"...