The week started off with suck, and the part that sucks still does, but as that is largely out of my hands, the best I can do is let it be while it works itself out. Happily, the rest of the week picked up in fine form!
Last night at Fanatic Salon, the fantabulous Victoria produced a night of deep geek storytelling. We performers were all geeks, the audience was mundane, and it slayed! I did my prom story; Lora talked about her relationship with Conan the Barbarian; Kurt talked about being Christopher Pike; Amanda's story involved Frank Welker, June Foray and Spider-Man; Scott shared how he got involved with the 501st; Steve told what happened when he lied to his friend and dragged her to Bionicon; and George talked about his failed attempts to gain superpowers.
It was a super fun night in a great space. At the end, I got a ride home in a convertiible, which let me tell you beats the bus every time. When I got home from the show there was even more fabulousness waiting!
1: An awesome classic Optimus Prime fitted t-shirt was on the stoop, mailed from a friend. It fits perfectly, and it's gonna look phenomenal paired with my pencil skirt for my date this weekend!
2: Joy upon joy, in the inbox sat detailed crits from two beta readers who were handed the 18,364 words of the story for my Kickstarter backers! Which means next week I can start the rewrite and hopefully finish it up before the month is out.
I think I need to start a mailing list. Hmm.
Update! Friday brought another bit of unexpected kindness gifted by a friend:
Because all of life's questions can be answered in pop culture ... even as pop culture lies to you with every single breath. Which means it's up to the individual to make the call.
Right now, with several things going on in life that are not within my ability to control despite all attempts to do so, Let It Be is all I can do.
In a way, this song ties into Del Close's philosophy, maybe? Yes. It does. This is all so complicated.
I don't know if loving this song (in all its iterations) makes me a bad atheist or not. I just know that in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom. Let It Be.
Maybe it's all due to being the atheist child of an Evangelical Baptist and a Vatican I excommunicated Catholic? Or not. I don't know.
I just know I have leaned to this song in times of strife since childhood, and it works for me. It gets me through the roil and to the other side, where rational sanity waits.
The text below is from the Association of Black Women Historians, who released it either today or yesterday. They released it as a pdf, which, in my opinion, is not the best format to easily disseminate information that needs to be shared Widely and Right Now.
So! I have converted their statement into this linkable format. What I love? A resource list at the end! I have been threatening to put together a similar list as Reality Based Counter-narrative to that regressive, abysmal movie, and now I don't have to!
(I'll come back and do the line-item formatting later.)
Once (and if) the ABWH makes the document available in linkable form, I will edit this post with excerpt and direct link over to the full item on their site.
- End Me -
- Start the Association of Black Women Historians -
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 version of The Help. 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.
During the 1960s, the era covered in The Help, legal segregation and economic inequalities limited black women's employment opportunities. Up to 90 per cent of working black women in the South labored as domestic servants in white homes. The Help’s representation of these women is a disappointing resurrection of Mammy—a mythical stereotype of black women who were compelled, either by slavery or segregation, to serve white families. Portrayed as asexual, loyal, and contented caretakers of whites, the caricature of Mammy allowed mainstream America to ignore the systemic racism that bound black women to back-breaking, low paying jobs where employers routinely exploited them. The popularity of this most recent iteration is troubling because it reveals a contemporary nostalgia for the days when a black woman could only hope to clean the White House rather than reside in it.
Both versions of The Help also misrepresent African American speech and culture. Set in the South, the appropriate regional accent gives way to a child-like, over-exaggerated “black” dialect. In the film, for example, the primary character, Aibileen, reassures a young white child that, “You is smat, you is kind, you is important.” In the book, black women refer to the Lord as the “Law,” an irreverent depiction of black vernacular. For centuries, black women and men have drawn strength from their community institutions. The black family, in particular provided support and the validation of personhood necessary to stand against adversity. We do not recognize the black community described in The Help where most of the black male characters are depicted as drunkards, abusive, or absent. Such distorted images are misleading and do not represent the historical realities of black masculinity and manhood.
Furthermore, African American domestic workers often suffered sexual harassment as well as physical and verbal abuse in the homes of white employers. For example, a recently discovered letter written by Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks indicates that she, like many black domestic workers, lived under the threat and sometimes reality of sexual assault. The film, on the other hand, makes light of black women’s fears and vulnerabilities turning them into moments of comic relief.
Similarly, the film is woefully silent on the rich and vibrant history of black Civil Rights activists in Mississippi. Granted, the assassination of Medgar Evers, the first Mississippi based field secretary of the NAACP, gets some attention. However, Evers’ assassination sends Jackson’s black community frantically scurrying into the streets in utter chaos and disorganized confusion—a far cry from the courage demonstrated by the black men and women who continued his fight. Portraying the most dangerous racists in 1960s Mississippi as a group of attractive, well dressed, society women, while ignoring the reign of terror perpetuated by the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens Council, limits racial injustice to individual acts of meanness.
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.
Ida E. Jones is National Director of ABWH and Assistant Curator at Howard University. Daina Ramey Berry, Tiffany M. Gill, and Kali Nicole Gross are Lifetime Members of ABWH and Associate Professors at the University of Texas at Austin. Janice Sumler-Edmond is a Lifetime Member of ABWH and is a Professor at Huston-Tillotson University.
Suggested Reading: Fiction: Like one of the Family: Conversations from A Domestic’s Life, Alice Childress The Book of the Night Women by Marlon James Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neeley The Street by Ann Petry A Million Nightingales by Susan Straight
Non-Fiction: Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household by Thavolia Glymph To Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors by Tera Hunter Labor of Love Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family, from Slavery to the Present by Jacqueline Jones Living In, Living Out: African American Domestics and the Great Migration by Elizabeth Clark-Lewis Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody
Any questions, comments, or interview requests can be sent to: ABWHTheHelp@gmail.com
Continuing with the using of videos as filler thing as I work behind the scenes on getting real content in shape for posting. Sweet Honey in the Rock is one of my fave vocal groups on the planet.*** I've only seen them perform once in person, and will always remember it.
*** A selection from my other fave ever group/band/whatevs here, and another especially here ... the latter of which apparently was written without any knowledge of Me or James ... which is weird only if you deny the general Indifference of the universe and the concept of Sounding ... because 'fair' is not a concept the Universe pays any mind to, what with being busy elsewhere ... and Sounding is one of the many Invented Things created to help Deal with that Truth.