It ain’t about Django …

I and apparently thousands of other Americans went to watch Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchanged over the Christmas holiday.  This post is not about that film … really.  It is about why the film, like it or not, is an important move forward in the discussion of who tells the stories of blacks in America and at what cost.  Hollywood (film and television) for better or worse is how many people globally are exposed to African Americans and/or African American culture.  If one keeps in mind the images of African Americans that are put out through these vehicles it is no surprise that we are highly misunderstood by the much of  world at large. The fact is the “African American Experience” is as broad and diverse as the people who live it. This is a fact that is often over looked or blatantly disregarded to the detriment of Blacks in America.

Our story is this country’s dirty laundry, shoved aside, hid under humor, rage, and stock characters but never fully exposed or wholly understood.  Whose responsibility is it to tell the story of blacks in America?  The most logical answer would seem to be the people that have walked through it.  The next questions could then be:  “which” people?  Black people, white people, hell the entire country for that matter has some level of interest/perspective in African American history.  There are as many “truths” as there are people, but what I feel cannot and should not be discounted or disrespected in the telling of any  story of Blacks in America is the ugliness of the past and it’s legacy that bleeds into the Black American existence to this day.

Even then the question of what counts as “disrespect” lingers.  It’s all too sordid and was the main reason I left Django Unchained mildly enraged and only vaguely entertained. For me it just leaves the flood gates open for random violation of a history that has already been looted and pillaged beyond recognition. (See shit like this:

DjangoGame… *sigh*)

I wanted lay into their asses something awful, but what would be the point? There is no united front of black folks that are prepared to shut down the Hollywood machine on the strength of disrespect of our culture. (see: Jews vs. Mel Gibson‘s career)

What is there to do if anything about protecting, preserving, and presenting a diverse view of what it is to be Black in America?  Well from where I sit there are a few options:

1.  Tell my own Black story as open and honestly as I can and do my best to ensure  it reaches somebody then somebody else then somebody else …

2.  Stop depending on/expecting Hollywood to tell your, my, our “truth” (see: Awkward Black Girl)  They don’t give a shit bout nothing but a dollar, period.  If they think it’ll put asses in seats … it’ll get made.

3.  Stop feeling like it is our responsibility to make people out side our race and culture understand us. Fuck that.  We have no control over how people are going think or feel about us. If they really want to understand “the black community”* then they better damn well get off their asses and do the research.

Okay, I think I got it all out. At least for now … until the next bit of unintentional bigotry surfaces … which is probably goin’ down right now at some hipster drinking establishment in Williamsburg. (ugggh!)

Rosie.

* this term should be outlawed and those insisting on using it systematically tortured … but that’s another post all together.
 
http://youtu.be/aAthMi5Kz5g
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Intentionally Speaking.

I’m delayed in posting this as my New Year began with me a little under the weather in body and spirit, but I’m back (for the most part) and ready to take on 2013.  Here goes … A wise man, and quite a few yoga instructors hipped me to the concept of setting an intention.  Setting an intention in  yoga practice has more to do with giving me a “focus” for my practice.  That goal may be  something that I’d like to see fulfilled in my life … say … “happiness” … “financial stability” … or “getting laid”.  Ok, so I never really set getting laid as the intention of a yoga practice, but BOY have I been tempted.

Anyway … In life intention, at least for me, is similar but magnified to the level of day-to-day living.  I set a tangible goal(s) and practice my life in that direction.  The trick is,  the goal is not the goal, make sense? No?  Maybe? Well here’s an example from my life:

Last year applying to and attending grad school was on my “Goals for 2012” list.  If you’ve been following me at all over the year you know that I meant business about that shit.  I threw all my energy into applying, getting denied,  continuing to apply, continuing to get denied until I was ultimately accepted (to a school I technically didn’t even apply to I might add) and ultimately ending up at the school I wanted to attend in the first place.

The gift of that experience, while it was quite unexpected and TOTALLY awesome, was not getting what I wanted but all the hard  earned insight and personal growth. The real rewards were:

  • Understanding that I need to pay my damn bills because bad credit isn’t going to simply go away.
  • Growing a thicker skin when it comes to my writing/understanding that I’m not the best, but certainly not the worse writer there ever was.
  • Patience is a virtue … and will mature the hell out of you if you let it.

… and really a whole host of other things if I sat and thought about it.

With all this in mind, I sat down and created my goals/intention list for next year.  It was a very forgiving process as there was definitely room for things I did not accomplish last year.  It was a joyous process as there were quite a few new things that were added to replaced things I did accomplish in 2012.  There is balance, and that is always the goal for me, miss it though I may.

I’ll end with a  prayer of confirmation.  Yes, I said prayer.  Heathens pray too.

G.O.D.*,

I first want to give gratitude to whatever universal forces, ancestors, or beings that guided and protected me into a new year of life. The other night at work while I rushed through unfocused, eager to get off and go about my evening, a patient said something that stopped me in my tracks.

“I count my blessings before I pray for my wants.”

I am abundantly blessed in my life.  I am relatively healthy, as are my son, and family.  I have an amazing network of friends that love me unconditionally as I do them.  I am gainfully employed at a job that I genuinely enjoy. I’m a thriving theatre artist about to embark on an amazing opportunity of a life time at NYU. Now the real miracle:  Despite any circumstances that came down the pipes I did not use drugs or alcohol as a means of getting me through the problem.  I celebrated 3 years clean in 2012!

There are so many other things I could have listed, but this post needs to end at some point (and besides … G.O.D. knows my heart right? 😉  ) Now,  my “wants”.  In 2013 I want to be:  A better mother, a better friend, a better daughter, a better sister, a better lover (of self), a better love (of others).  I want to create healing in the day-to-day practice of my life through art, healthier relationships, and open honest communication.

I want to continue to be able to grow through recovery, face my fears, hell maybe even embrace them.  I want to continue keeping the faith when it feels like nothing is going right.  I want to continue keeping the faith when everything is going right (because for me these are the hardest times to be faithful.) Most of all, if it is in a higher will, I’d like to be here this time next year writing about how I got through it. If not, I will like my life to be a testimony on how it is quite possible for a poor girl from the mean streets of Elizabeth, NJ to get over.

All this I pray in Sweet black baby Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, The Ancestors, and whoever else will listen’s name …

Selah!

Happiest and most prosperous New Year to you and your folk!

Rosie.

*in recovery we sometimes call GOD, Good Orderly Direction.
 

http://youtu.be/l49N8U3d0Bw

 
No one will ever stir my soul quite like Mahalia