Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Where My Girls At? Images of Black Girls and Girls of Color in Media

So, I shared before how I’d had the distinct honor to attend the Oprah Winfrey Network Doc Club screening of MissRepresentationand its subsequent taped discussion on the Rosie Show. The reviews have been phenomenal and garnered lots of calls for action. I absolutely loved the doc. It served the purpose media, especially documentaries, have to not only call attention to an issue, but empower as well.

MissRepresentation’s overall premise is familiar to most, yet the critical component is the campaign to strategically use information as teachable moments. This will definitively build a movement to change the portrayal of women by/in the media. What’s more amazing is that the film is a catalyst for funding organizations such as the Women’s Media Center to continue the discourse, advocacy, media literacy and research. Simply powerful.

While watching, I was hard pressed to keep track of all the fascinating and inspiring quotes.

Pat Mitchell, President and CEO for Media Former President & CEO of PBS shared this insight, “The media is the message and the messenger, and increasingly a powerful one.”

“You can’t be what you can’t see,”  was a quote from Marie Wilson, founding President White House Project

And though I sought us out, I must say the lack of diversity and representation of Black women and girls beyond the narrow lens of reality TV, albeit the mainstream go –tos like Miss Winfrey and Soledad O’Brien, was obvious.

It was only when I heard the reference to symbolic annihilation that the documentary fully resonated with me and connected to what is my life’s work; empowering girls like me in urban America to use critical analysis to navigate beyond media and cultural messages. Girls Like me who are portrayed as “bad girls”, violent, angry, poor, uneducated, low-class and “ghetto.” Black women who are “successful” or who meet the standards of beauty are held up as seemingly novelties, with no connection to urban America.

So as soon as Rosie invited questions from the audience, I jumped to speak to that point. In the midst of a studio full of white women, I could feel the discomfort in the room as soon as the words came from my mouth. But it is a necessary conversation, and if we are to truly tackle media’s exploitation and misrepresentation of women, there must be intentional inclusion of perspective from all women, pointedly those who have the least voice in shaping their own stories in the mainstream.

Carol Jenkins, journalist, producer, and founding President of the Women’s Media Center gave such a poignant response that penetrates to the very essence of why this matters so much. Watch our exchange in this video:

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Still, a few days prior to the MissRepresentation screening one of the oldest and most prominent girl-focused organizations hosted a Twitter chat on media images and girls. I noticed there and in  other arenas exploring the topic, somehow race and culture are skirted around. This troubles me.

What about you… do you agree race and culture belong in this conversation? What are the media images that you most connect/resist? Are they tied to you as a woman or to your experience as a fill in the blank woman

It apparently troubled others like Bessie Akuba Winn-Afeku, founder of She is Me Program. Now we have both linked arms to collaborate and host a Twitter chat dedicated to examining the images of girls of color in media and to offer best practices that resist stereotypes, empowering girls to create their own messages.

That is the goal of #girlsmediachat which will take place on Twitter Thursdays, 8p CST, beginning Nov. 3.  We hope you will join us, share your perspective, recommend guests/topics, and invite others.

Follow us on Twitter

Girls Like Me

She is Me Program   

Please share and follow the hashtag #Girlsmediachat

Also, MissRepresentation is now a movement. Take a moment to take the pledge to join the fight!

Jumping the Broom: Landing on Mar(s)-riage

Hubby and I finally got a chance to go see Jumping the Broom. So much things to say, I hardly know where to begin. So, I’ll have to go into this piece like a multi-tiered wedding cake. And I warn you, there will be spoilers. (Although spoilers never stopped me from seeing for myself what happens). But you’ve been warned.

I must say, the first act had me a little perturbed and almost overshadowed my entire interest in the film. Let me note, I completely understand, that just like all genres of creative storytelling, many self-proclaimed and financed storytellers are not necessarily gifted in their chosen profession.  They do ‘aight. But literary or cinematic geniuses you obviously don’t have to be in order to have a box office hit. (Tyler Perry)

I mean, for crying out loud, is the working-class, Black family really synonymous with ignorance, cultural confinement, ebonic-laced tongues and malicious motives? And the safe assumption is that upper-crust Black families simply must have homes in the Hamptons, speak fluid French, have great appreciation for opera, detach themselves from Black cultural traditions and are righteous people, with the exception of financial indiscretions, who save the wayward.

And is it a stretch to believe there are healthy Black marriages where love is evident and sincere honor dominates?

This premise is what kept poking at me as I sat watching the plot thicken on screen. I couldn’t shake the irritation with the contrived and trite characters, so flat and one-dimensional, I kept hoping for more depth. Credits were rolling when I accepted that it was not to be.

Still, the movie was entertaining, though I wish they had allowed Mike Epps his comedic freedom. Everybody knows Angela Bassett’s acting can give a mop life and Loretta Devine’s passion is contagious. Notwithstanding the abundance of eye candy that kept me focused on the screen.

Needless to say, I got over my irritation and enjoyed the film after all.

As I mentioned, my husband and I saw the movie for our date night, something we’ve learned during these last ten years makes all the difference in our married life. Yep, we jumped the broom ten years ago, June 16, 2001. And while we will celebrate this milestone and all its infinite blessings, watching the characters grapple with many of the issues most couples deal with (finances, sex, family, professional advancement) I couldn’t help but be transported back in time.

Mr. and Mrs. Sewell jumping the broom June 16, 2001 (I had hops...lol)


Come to think of it, the intense focus on weddings this year has prompted me to go back to our beginnings (the inevitable wedding following the 8 year courtship and two babies, but I digress). Weddings have definitely been the major focus this year, what with the Brit family across the pond commandeering everyone’s attention with their opulent ceremony. Then too, I was a bridesmaid to one of my closest sister friends just a few months back. And I might add, her ceremony was just as royal as Kate and Willie’s soiree.

So this film, and everyday life, highlighted some very fundamental values and considerations people need to hold when building the foundation to a healthy marriage.

Here are a few truths that I have come to claim:

Cool kids…

Marriage is an institution, a serious partnership not to be entered in because your friends are all married, you are lonely, you want children, or you get drunk in Vegas. You are establishing a life that requires structure and emotional accountability; linking finances and visions. You have to be intentional about your love. Those vows are the bylaws that ensure the institution remains sound, viable AND profitable…in ways a checking account can never compare.

Power of love…

Love is the least of the things you’ll need to have a healthy marriage. Love is merely 40-50%. Now, let’s be clear. You should love your mate 100% all f the time. But that’s a mere fraction of the WORK!  Communication. Honor. Respect. Trust. Attraction. Sex. Patience. Encouragement. Humor. And Sex (I already said that right? Well, satisfying sex).

Grown Folks…

I love the scripture in the Bible, Genesis 2 and Ephesians 5: 25.

Marriage is for grown folks. If momma and daddy are still paying your bills and calling the shots in your life, you might need a little more time to develop in the real world, then give it a go.

Family Affair…

At the same time, be very clear, people are who they are in large part because of their family. Whether a huge clan or an only child, when someone detaches themselves fully from their family, it causes some hurt on all ends. Marry someone and make demands, trying to manipulate them so that they have limited interaction with their family, I guarantee a storm is brewing.

Beware of the person who has absolute disdain for their families. That is not healthy,

and you could be dealing with someone with serious, unresolved issues.

Happy ending…

Sometimes, when you’ve given it your all and then some more of your best, plus all of the prayer you have, you’ve got to deal realistically. In the film, the bride’s parents stayed in a lifeless and unfulfilling marriage. When you find vows flagrantly broken or you have dismissed your values, remember divorce is an option. I think it is more damaging to children to live in a household with false love than to live with divorced parents. Provide healthy examples, otherwise they believe dysfunction is normal.

And remember, the law requires court papers to make it official. You’ll need court papers to end it. It cannot be absolved by mere words or packing of bags. Ask Frankie Lymon’s widows.

Finally, there’s no way to put it better:

I Corinthian 13: 4-8

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

Lighting Unity Candle (another tradition) June 16, 2001