Monday, January 23, 2012

#RedTailsAStoryofRacisimForChildren

This weekend I had the privilege of watching Red Tails.  George Lucas stirred a lot of controversy when he mentioned in interviews that Hollywood would not fund this movie because executives believed that a movie with an all black cast would not make any money (this made me raise an eyebrow.  Remember Dreamgirls).  Black people (and possibly other races also) determined to prove Hollywood wrong came out and made this movie number 2 at the box office for its opening weekend.  Side note: one of the original Tuskegee Airmen was at the Red Tail showing right before mine. 

Even though the movie critics have bashed this movie for its “full of clich├ęs” script, bland cast, and one-dimensional characters, I still loved it.  Matter of fact, I loved the movie for all the reasons the movie critics hated the movie.  Beside the corny one-liners and horrible southern accents, I enjoyed the script from a family stand point.  Honestly, it is so hard to take children to the movies these days.  Even the movies that are made for children have adult content in it and full of sexual innuendos.  This was a way for the kids to get a history lesson without all the bad language and the over usage of the n-word.  I love the fact this movie did not smack you in the face with racism.  When I left The Help I was mad at all white women everywhere. 

This movie left a door open for parents to discuss the issue of racism with their children on their terms.  It also showed the realities of war without being so gruesome which was something else I loved about the movie.  Even though we did see soldiers being killed, we did not have to see guts spilling out all over the screen.  Another reason I wanted to support the movie because Lucas said that if this movie did well, he would make two more movies about the Red Tails.  Now I am not a fan of prequels and sequels but the idea of doing a movie of the Tuskegee Airmen when they were in training and another of their lives when they came back home after the war seems interesting to me.

As much as I loved this movie, I know there are no Golden Globe or Oscar nominations in its future.  I have to admit that this was not Cuba Gooding, Jr’s or Terrance Howard’s best performances.  And every time Neyo open his mouth with that ratchet southern accent I wanted to scream.  But I did like this film and look forward to the other two installments. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

#BlackHistoryMonthIsApproaching

Karibu!! Or Welcome in Swahili!  Yep, it is that time again when every college in the U.S. will have at least one black speaker.  Black choirs will be working overtime singing old Negro spirituals that you probably never knew the words to in the first place.  And little children will be in programs at local churches and recreational centers portraying past civil rights leaders.  Even BET will have quality programming for the next month.  If you have not guessed by now, I am speaking of Black History Month.

Black History Month was originally Negro History Week celebrated the second week of February founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, NAACP leader and historian, in 1926.  His purpose of this week was not to celebrate  “Negro history but the Negro in history.”  Dr. Woodson picked February because of the two birthdays of people that fought for slaves’ freedom: Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas.  In 1976, it was expanded to the whole month of February.  Since then this month has been used to reflect back upon the achievements of black people. 

To be honest, I cannot watch too many clips of the marches or demonstrations of the freedom fighters.  When I see them being attacked by the dogs or water hoses being sprayed at them, my chest starts to tighten.  It brings up a lot of anger because they were not asking for much, just to be treated with dignity.  But what I do like about this month is all the speakers.  I could be showing a little favoritism but the University of Central Arkansas (my alma mater) has the best Black History Month speakers.  They have had Soledad O’Brien, Malcom Jamal Warner, Martin Luther King, III, and Spike Lee to name a few.  This year they will have Afeni Shakur-Davis, former Black Panther and mother of legendary and controversial rapper Tupac Shakur (I will be in attendance).  It is always cool to hear the stories behind the speakers even if I do not necessarily agree with their message.  It is always cause of good conversations with my girls. 

I advise you to find some speakers this month that tickle your fancy and hear what they have to say.  Or go to a museum or program and learn a little something.  I pretty sure there will be more than enough activities to participate in the next month.    

Monday, January 9, 2012

#MLKDayAreYouTakingOff?

Next Monday, January 16, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  This day is supposed to be used to reflect on the work that Martin Luther King, Jr. did for the human race.  Some may do this by attending or participating in parades or having programs about Mr. King.  Others may see this day as a paid holiday and will be able to sleep in or be with children since they are out of school as well.  Still, some offices and schools will be open.  While having a conversation, I learned that some places of business values could be judged if they are not closed on MLK Day.

Before this conversation I have to admit that I never thought about it.  Since kindergarten I have always had the day off from school.  As an adult, I have also had the day off from work.  This is something that I have come to expect and that is as much thought goes into that day.  When I got this day off, I did not feel like I must be attending the most respectful school or working at the most honorable place of business.  It was just that, a day off.   But should schools and places of business be judged for not closing for MLK Day?  When asking this question, there are some things to consider. 

As brought out earlier, some people recognize this day by participating in parades or memorial programs.  But let’s keep it real, everyone who has this day off is not taking part in these activities.  I have used plenty of past MLK Days to catch up on sleep.  And it is safe to say that other people use this day to rest as well.  A huge part of King’s dream was that all people have equal rights and have access to opportunities to succeed in education and employment.  To me it is ironic that on his day we take off work or school to remember Mr. King.  You would think that going to work, being there on time, and doing the best in whatever we were hired to do is the best way to honor his memory.  You would think going to school, making good grades, and getting your high school diploma is the best way to keep his dream alive.  You would think going to college, getting good grades, and graduating in a reasonable amount of time would be the best way to show appreciation for his hard work.  So I feel if you are just going to use the day to sleep in, the business or school might as well stay open. 

This post is not to advocate for schools or businesses to stay open on MLK Day, but to say that no one should be judged on how they choose to recognize this day or if they recognize the day at all.  Every day you wake up and put an effort in to whatever it is that you do, you are making Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work worth it.  What are your thoughts?