THOUGHTS, EXPERIENCES AND OBSERVATIONS
I feel like I/we owe this generation an apology. This generation should not be fighting the same battles we were fighting 40 - 50 - 60 years ago and in some cases fighting to gain back some of the things it seemed were won; but here we are.
My generation let the Voting Rights Act die while Obama was President. I was enraged when it happened but I need to admit that I didn't do anything to stop it. I didn't protest. I didn't call my congressperson, I didn't contact Black Lives Matter and say we need to be proactive and make sure this thing does not die. This thing that our ancestors fought and died for is a cornerstone of - Black, Brown, Marginalized Lives and Votes Making a Difference/Mattering. But it died a death as quiet as the Russians working behind the scenes to subvert our democracy and election process. It is disheartening to know I voted into a void of deception. And the current generation? This is the voting system you have inherited, one that is neglected, violated, and manipulated by algorithms and entertainment.
Fake news? Not fake news, but a mesh of entertainment and news because 24 hours of nonstop news needs to be concerned with ratings. So, in between serious news stories we have pundits and experts and tv personalities hired to yell at each other and provide spectacle tv. Elections are advertised with the same drama as a wrestling match. Then there are those who might pride themselves on the fact that they don't get news from tv. Most of this current generation doesn't watch news on tv. Many people get news from social media that fine tunes stories based on algorithms. Then we vote according to the narrowed news stories that algorithms have fed us. Manipulation of the voting process was only a matter of time.
We owe this generation an apology. As the report comes back that Russian operatives interfered with the most recent presidential election. We have no precedent for dealing with this, so beside trying to charge the operatives and get justice, we are doing nothing. No call for a new election, with promises of tightened security.
This is the system my ancestors fought to be allowed to participate in and died for that right. This is the system women protested and pleaded to be included in and here we are. My generation took this for granted, didn't safeguard it, didn't use it consistently and are still lackadaisical about this horrific violation. Granted, some of us became disillusioned with the political process because of a myriad of disappointments, but we did very little to change it and make it better. We took it for granted and disengaged even though we are supposed to want better for you/our children. Instead, we bequeath an even more vulnerable, deceptive, broken system.
Yes - we owe you - our ancestors an apology. We owe you - this generation - an apology.
The Business of Black Hair can make you rich. One of the first African-american female millionaires in the United States was Sarah Breedlove aka Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1917). She was mentored by Annie Malone (1877-1957) .
From having all of my hair fall out from a perm when I was a little girl, to a student asking me if my hair was like steel wool, to a co-worker "clandestinely" yanking on my hair, to co-workers sneaking feels of curls I sported, to random strangers offering hair care product advise, I have stories to tell and I am not the only one. I remember when Chris Rock went on the Oprah Show to promote his documentary, "Good Hair". In the process, an audience member asked to touch Oprah's hair.
As an African-American woman it doesn't take long to become aware of the different ways people compliment and discriminate based on hair. So, changing one's hairstyle from Eurocentric to Afrocentric or visa versa is to invite a variety of comments, biased judgments and reactions.
Just the other day I was listening to a podcast on racism and protest (I don't remember which NPR podcast) and somehow the way an African-American woman wore her hair became part of the debate. The person on the defensive said the woman's complaints had no credence because she wore her hair straight, "white" as though her hairstyle was relevant to the topic and would somehow render comments moot. The young man's mother told him to apologize, but after the ad hominem the protestor wasn't open to the apology nor any sort of discussion.
It was Bill O'Reilly's disparaging comments on Congresswoman Maxine Waters' hair that brought great media attention and moved her presence into mainstream America. Most recently, there are Roseanne Barr's disparaging comments on former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett ... is equal to the “Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes”. In several variations of apologies she has declared, "I never would have wittingly called any black person a monkey.... I thought the B---- was white.... I'm sorry that you feel harm and hurt... but she does need a haircut." To be a woman of color is to risk the most denigrating comments on beauty and appearance despite or because of achievements (which is also a topic for a different post).
Some women, enjoy playing with hairstyles for hours. I am not one of those people; I am not a "hair person" except that to be black in our society, makes you a hair person by default. I used to wear my hair almost completely shaved off, but I got tired of the gender questions. To be a black woman, deciding to wear one's hair in almost any style, is to risk a myriad of reactions from being judged as unprofessional in appearance, to gender identity questions, to being compared to an animal.
So, the Marvel's Black Panther movie was a fresh break and commentary on the beauty of natural black hair. Camille Friend, lead hairstylists made the decisions on the many beautiful hairstyles of the characters in the film. She has been interviewed numerous times by mainstream media on her choices. The tone of the interviews has been one of curiosity and the commentary, whether spoken or unspoken, has been that women of color wearing natural hair is still an exotic novelty. For many women of color seeing an entire cast with natural hair is refreshing and affirming.
In the last few years my younger son has been growing dreadlocks and quite a few friends have ventured into wearing Sisterlocks. This month I have decided to embrace this style and am loving it. Dr. JoAnne Cornwall (San Diego, CA) is a brilliant woman of color who has woven a fortune in celebrating natural African-American hair with Sisterlocs. This speaks to changing times from the early 1900's where Madam C.J. Walker sold the idea of assimilation via straight hair, to the late 1900's of Dr. Cornwall's Sisterlocks. In our society, being a person of color is oftentimes to be judged or mocked by a foreign standard of beauty, whether it's facial features or hair. Despite disparaging remarks, the most beautiful women are those who embrace their own sense of style and beauty. My Sisterlocks is one more step on the road of self-discovery and celebration.
So - it is a new era for movie experiences. Most cinemas, where I live, have plush leather recliners, the usual sugar-laden foods and beverages, popcorn as well as the option to buy an alcoholic beverage. So, basically a patron is paying to have a comfortable communal "at home, living room" experience.
When I went to the movies with my friends, to watch The Post, the first thing we did after finding our assigned seats was to adjust them to "nap position." This was great for me since I recently had surgery on my foot and need to elevate it as much as possible. We had our sugar treats and popcorn and were ready to be passively entertained.
I can only imagine that being a teenager and going on a date to the movies is a completely different experience now than it was when I was a teenager. Really - I don't want to imagine it.
Although the pacing was even, but a bit slow, and the movie was poignant - I fell asleep for about 15 minutes. Mortified with my lack of analytical engagement and the audacity to sleep in a public place, I adjusted my mindset and focused. Ten minutes later, my friend next to me was snoring and I didn't feel so bad.
My friends and I were the last ones in the theater because we like to read the credits. The ushers usually come in before the credits are done so they can clean up for the next show. As we talked with one another about falling asleep in the comfortable chairs, the usher said, "Yes, it's the best $12 nap anyone could have. You'd be surprised how many people I have had to wake up after a movie is over."
This was an eyeopener for me. Going to the show now has all of the plush plusses of being at home except the pause and replay. I don't know about you, but I can stay at home and nap for free. Viewers beware - come well-rested, and/or caffeinated, use the recline position strategically, and be determined to get your $12 worth.
The Post is not heavy-handed with social commentary on feminism or demonizing any of the presidents complicit in the deceptive decisions of the Vietnam War and it doesn't bury the audience in details. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep perform their roles with the right amount of emotion and director, Steven Spielberg doesn't employ the usual political intrigue tropes of black vans, cat and mouse danger in an underground parking lot with a car skidding off into a menacing night.
The Post is an allegory, for such a time as this, when the integrity of news reporters and outlets is being attacked for taking a critical view of political leadership. There is a clear wiki-leaks conversation embedded in the film as well as the very real concern over the financial solvency of news outlets and the sometimes dubious position reporters and outlets find themselves in when they confuse authentic friendship with staged acquaintances for news stories.
Yet, for all of that delicate balance - it lacked the necessary tension for it to be riveting and emotionally engaging. To be honest, I fell asleep off and on - I was bored. The pacing was soooooo slow and the music a bit too melodramatic, although there were a few nice camera angles.
The Post is a didactic pledge of allegiance to journalism in its purist form and as a call to action it succeeds. This is what made me post a must-see on Facebook. However, my friends and I took a picture in front of the drab poster for The Post and the black, white and grey captures the tone of the movie.
Despite my less that enthusiastic response to the movie, it does remind me that during the time period the movie was made neither FB, nor blogs existed, but the attempt to quell or manipulate the truth is older than Machiavelli.