October 17, 2014

October 7, 2014

In Defense of Raven Symoné

Typically, I avoid keeping abreast of what wealthy, famous people are doing and going though. ‘Call me unfeeling, but I just don't care much about their problems because most of them can be fixed with the resources they have. The rest of us are not so fortunate.

But the social media uproar about Raven Symoné's comments underscores an important cultural race practice in America--naming. So I took the bait and watched Raven's interview with Oprah because I wanted to know what she said that has led to the large amount of push-back.
Oh my gawd, from the posts I've read you'd have thought that ol' gurl said that she ain't black and doesn't want to be associated with those people or some such talk like that. Dang, she didn't say anything even close to that!

Maybe people would be less up-in-arms if Raven had not said "I am not African American, I am American," but instead had said "I am not African American, I am human," which is what I believe she is actually trying to communicate. But who knows, maybe people would not get that either.

Something that a friend posted on Facebook this morning is poignant and succinctly sums up the peculiar practice of racial badge wearing required of non-Europeans in America: ""I've been traveling a bit lately to other countries. When people hear me and/or my family speak, they say "You are AMERICAN!" ...not "African-American." That label is used ONLY IN AMERICA. *ijs*"" ~Bert Durant (emphasis his)

Raven is clear about rejecting other language that also labels her as alternative to a default or norm. She doesn't want to be labeled "gay" either.

In her interview with Oprah, Raven is saying that America fails at being the colorblind society that it should be and that in her personal life she is resisting the system of unequal treatment designed to oppress people of color—labeling being a key factor in perpetuating such oppression.

Shouldn't resistance to "othering" language that sets us apart by our skin, culture, or sexual preference be considered revolutionary?

May 20, 2014

'Let the Fire Burn'--Out of Sight, Out of Mind.

Watch The Philosophy of MOVE on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

"Let the Fire Burn" had one of the shortest runs of any of the Independent Lens documentaries that I have watched on Kansas City's local PBS station, KCPT. 

The film sheds light on the May 13, 1985 destruction of 61 homes (let me say that again--61 homes) that resulted in the tragic deaths of 11 people, including five children! It was discovered that authorities decided to “…let the fire burn” after Philadelphia police dropped military-grade explosives onto the MOVE-occupied rowhouse in that neighborhood.   

Coverage of the hearings following the massacre are equally tragic and telling of the pure, unadulterated racial hatred that fostered the killings--bone chilling, even for those for whom this film is a mirror up to their own, though perhaps private, animosities.  

I called the station to find out why the film was aired only a couple of times in its first month of showing, and why the film could not be accessed on KCPT's website even though the link to the film says "view full episode."  

Well, that was yesterday. Today, the link has been removed altogether. 

Yesterday, the head of KCPT's online content (I don't recall her exact title) told me that the film did not load because "they probably didn't have rights to either the film or parts of the film."   


Who is "they" and how could KCPT possibly air the film in the first place if the proper rights had not been secured by "those people" before airing it?   

If you were unable to catch "Let the Fire Burn" while it was on *public television*, it is now accessible behind the gate of Netflix. SMDH   

But, never fear, you can still watch the Jayson Blair story on KCPT. In that film, racial stereotypes (both white and black) are maintained and perpetuated.   

Repeating specific stories influences public perception in a specific direction. Limiting access limits knowledge and understanding.   

Though I enjoy much of the programing on public television, and KCPT in particular, I will not bite my tongue regarding their participation in the perpetuation of racial stereotypes and pubic ignorance to appease particular audiences.  

There, I said it. 

May 1, 2014

Works of Art

Works of Art
Z. Hall

Amalgams of disparate fragments
drawn together
at times
gentle as Spring's rain on a daisy petal
violently like lava spewed from St. Helen
often, randomly
fusing with entities
expressions fleeting and concrete
memories forgotten.

We are
of art.

Self-Portrait as Orpheus and Eurydice

Linda Rodriguez
Linda Rodriguez is the author of three novels and two books of poetry. Her first novel, "Every Last Secret," won the Malice Domestic Competition. Her second novel, "Every Broken Trust," was a Las Comadres National Latino Book Club selection. Linda's latest novel, "Every Hidden Fear," will be published by St. Martin's/Thomas Dunne Books on May 5, 2014. Linda is president of the Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, the genre of her novels.

Heart's Migration (2010 Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence) and Skin Hunger are Linda's books of poetry. She is a recipient of the Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award and the Midwest Voices and Visions Award. 

Self-Portrait as Orpheus and Eurydice
Linda Rodriguez

Image provided by Linda Rodriguez

Knowing his music was empty without her,
he had to dive into those dark waters
from which none returned except as flotsam,
crustacean-nibbled and bloated with the gases of decay.
How long he hesitated, songless but safe,
on the bank. She watched him decide
through the eternal minutes of her dreading
that he could decide
to abandon the notes shimmering in the air
around his head, ignore that nimbus of power
from beauty, and walk mute
through an ordinary life. She waited in fear
until he threw himself into the waves and sank
without struggle.

Almost out, he could feel her behind him
like an insistent melody pushing through his fingers
to reach the strings. He was so full of the moment,
his greatest song, bringing her back.
Such power—who knew what he could do?
He wanted to see the wonder in her eyes,
needed the perfect last note,
pure and silvery and light as bone,
the end of sound.

Published in Heart’s Migration (Tia Chucha Press, 2009)

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