Brave x Beasts of the Southern Wild


I saw both Brave and Beasts of the Southern Wild this weekend, and I hadn’t thought about the connection between the two movies until this morning.

I don’t read film reviews (ironic no?) so I am often in for a surprise when I see a movie.

With regard to “Brave” it is interesting that the relationship between the main character, Merida, and her mother, Elinor, is central to the film.

I think that this is ironic given how many blog posts I’ve seen throughout the interwebs about whether the main protagonist was a lesbian just because she didn’t want to follow the princess tradition and get married because the stability of the kingdom depended on it. The sexual binary makes my ass itch. So, most of the film focuses on and pivots on Merida and Elinor’s relationship which was a pleasant surprise.

When was the last time you saw a Hollywood film focused on the relationship between a mother and a daughter that chronicled their struggles, pain and reconciliation? Don’t worry, I’ll sit here and wait.

This brings me to “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. I had to go see it because for the last two weeks every quirky Black girl I know has been like Allcity have you seen it, and I been like, um, no. So I went.

I don’t even know where to begin with the film except to say that it is interesting to see a little Black girl as a protagonist in a film. I think that it is interesting that the protagonist in “Beasts”, Hush Puppy, is also working with and searching for her relationship to her mother.

I think that looking at these two films together as a pair says something about some depictions of little girls in popular culture in 2012. I am not quite sure what. On second thought, I am certain of something. These girls don’t look like the typical representations of little girls in feature films. Neither are blonde and neither appear to be invested in mainstream stereotypical gendered ideas of what a “little girl” is suppose to be. Both of the characters also experience a transformation by the end of the film.

Did you see either film?

What did you think?

Thinking About the Importance of Hood Lit/ Urban Fiction

Nearly 4 years ago I wrote “From Gossip Girl to Ghetto Girls: What are We Teaching our Daughters” and  I think that my  thinking has changed or crystallized in terms of my thinking around Hood Lit/Hood Fiction/Urban Fiction.

Given the fact that there are different kinds of Black people, shouldn’t different kinds of stories be told? In 2006 I wrote “How Zora Neal Hurston Had a Fight with Urban Fiction and Lost“. To be honest the post is awful, it hurts my eyes, there are too many colors, and during one of the transition periods I lost many commas so the text looks wonky.

But I like the post because it represents my thinking at a particular time period.

Lately I have been thinking that hood lit has a right to exist as an end in of it self.

Why? Well, to say that it isn’t good or positive fails to consider that writing like art, is subjective.

I think these stories deserve to be told, or perhaps I am thinking that it isn’t my place to say that they shouldn’t. That may be better.

Now this does not mean that I don’t have a critique of the market and the ways in which major publishers pick and choose which books have a larger platform, attractive placing in Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Or with the rise of hood lit

But, I think that the bottom line is that if I think that there are different Black communities then I must also accept that those different communities have a variety of stories to tell.

So what do you think?

Did “hood lit” change the game for the negative?

Who has a right to say which “Black stories” should or shouldn’t be told?


Love and Hip Hop Atlanta and Carol’s Daughter Transitioning Kits: Some Preliminary Feminist Thoughts


I have watched the last four episodes of Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, while taking notes, fractured wrist and all, because I knew that culturally this show represented a kind of shift in Black women on reality television.

Furthermore, I knew that I needed to commit to watching the show. I was at a dinner party and a friend who works in television told me that the wages that women earn in reality television are stratified by race, meaning White women tend to earn more than Black women. My jaw dropped. This is particularly relevant to Love and Hip Hop Atlanta because of the popularity of the show with a crowd that has historically been tech savvy, consumption hungry yet lacking broad representation in mainstream media; middle class and affluent Black women.

According to an article in Newsday VH1 has recently realized  ow much of an untapped audience African Americans are,

“All of a sudden, the network is starting to look like how the world looks,” said VH1 president Tom Calderone, who views the network’s airing of “Hip Hop Honors” in 2004 as the “watershed” moment in realizing there was an untapped audience. Series such as “Love & Hip Hop” are a reflection, he added, of what networks need to do to remain relevant: “We’re creating new celebrities. ‘Mob Wives’ are new celebrities. ‘Basketball Wives’ are new celebrities. I think our role is to put a mirror on pop culture and influence pop culture — that’s important.”

So this post will be about three things. First, why is the show popular and what does it’s popularity mean. Second, what are the differences between what Black women and White women earn in reality television spaces. Third, I will connect the Carol’s Daughter “transition kits” to my ideas around LHHA.

Several other folks have written about Love and Hip Hop Atlanta. Bianca Laureno wrote, “Abortion, Reality TV and Women of Color”, Jamilah Aisha Brown wrote “Love and Hip Hop and Transphobia” and Akiba Solmon has written “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta Shouldn’t Embarrass Brown and Black Women”. #readthem.

As I watched the shows over the last few weeks, I saw image after image of Black women in pain, which is legitimate because many of us are in pain. However, what became clear to me after seeing two weeks straight of grown women confronting each other (Joseline and Mimi; K.Michelle and Karlie Redd) I thought, why are public displays of Black women in pain so attractive and lucrative?

Given how lucrative Black women’s pain is in this context, how does this show impact how people interact with us on a day to day basis? Black girl pain is real and legitimate.

We also have to consider that Atlanta and it’s geographical context. DMV and Atlanta contain the two largest concentrations of high income earning African Americans in this country.

Which brings me to the money. According to a post on Radar Online, for White women working on the Real Housewives of Orange County,

Vicki Gunvalson is the top earner, bringing in a cool $450,000 a season. Hot on her heels is Tamra Barney who commands $350,000, followed by Gretchen Rossi with $300,000, Alexis Bellino is paid $200,000 and at bottom of the list is newcomer, Heather Dubrow at a paltry $30,000.

Now keep in mind I know that this is a small selection of earnings from one show, however it is important to note what some White women earn for a hugely popular show. Here is a list of the highest earning reality tv stars, with the highest being Kim Kardashian at an estimated $6M. However this number includes not only her show earnings but her earnings from endorsements as well.

Furthermore, according to the Radar Online article, Nene Leakes earned $750,000 per season on Real Housewives of Atlanta. At nearly a million dollars a season, the racial, cultural and financial significance of these shows must be considered.

I am not certain how much the women on Love and Hip Hop Atlanta earn, however a blog titled Love and Hip Hop Atlanta which doesn’t have  any supportive links, states that Stevie J earns $30,000 per episode and it is set to rise to $95,000 per episode. This is interesting. I wonder how much Mimi and Joseline earn. I wonder also how much the advertisers pay Viacom to advertise on the show.

Nearly two weeks ago when I started thinking about writing this post I had just learned that Carol’s Daughter started selling $40 transitioning kits. Like reality television, Black women’s hair care is a lucrative industry, as it was valued in 2008 at 1.8B.

I guess what is bizarre to me is that the kit represents how Black women’s natural hair has been commodified on a whole other level. By commodified, I mean something that we see everyday that is now packaged and sold for a profit. I am of two minds about this transitioning kit. On one hand, if you don’t know how to do your natural hair, then having a kit may be useful. Reading the product review comments is a testament to this fact. On the other hand it speaks to me as a lack of imagination and creativity and a willingness to explore.

Think about it, part of me believes that a huge part of going and being nappy is about a path of self discovery and a willingness to experiment, mixing and matching, making concoctions at home, trying out styles that you have seen in a magazine or a blog. What makes a corporation the authority on what grows out of our heads?

Both the existence of these transition kits and the popularity of Love and Hip Hop Atlanta reminds me that Black women can make corporations a lot of money (I also understand that there are Black women earning substantial wages from reality tv and from the hair cure industry.)

However, given the fact that Black women have been rendered property, I find the show and the kit illuminating and peculiar.

So, I have three questions:

What do we have to believe about Black women in order for this show to make sense to us?

And if it doesn’t make sense to you, what do you think that other people have to believe about Black women in order for it to make sense to them?

Is the transition kit weird to you too? Did you use one? What did you think?

8 Things Having a Broken Arm and a Fractured Wrist Has Taught Me

My hand in the cast after the cast has been cut open the day after surgery for observation. Yes, the surgeons wrote “Yes” on my left thumb to ensure that they operated on the correct hand. Holy shit Gina.

The day after I wrote the most recent post I got into a car accident where I broke both of the bones in my left arm at the wrist.

A fucking doozy, no?

I am still working on the projects that I outlined, in fact some have grown others have shrunk, but perhaps most importantly I want to share what I have learned.

First it is incredibly difficult to get dressed with one hand. All of your clothes have to be stretchy. Getting dressed takes incredibly long.

Second, doctors do not like to prescribe narcotic pain killers, I assume largely because they are regulated by the DEA.

Third the people who showed up to the hospital meant a lot to me. I ended up having to have surgery on my wrist, that shit was the devil. So I stayed in the hospital for a few days for observation purposes. They wanted to make sure the swelling went down and that there wasn’t any nerve damage. I didn’t want to eat. I just wanted iced coffee, smoothies and news papers. Thank you to everyone who showed up and brought those items. In some ways the world bifurcated into the people who showed up and those who didn’t. I resisted thinking along those lines, largely because of the lost that it represents. Honestly I am grateful for the fact that anyone showed up. Some people go to the hospital and they don’t have anyone who gives a flying fuck about them. #boom.

Which brings me to the pain of having my bones reset by hand by Dr. Akimbo. Fourth, the most painful part of this ordeal, other than experiencing the break was having my hand reset. He was obligated to try and reset it before actually operating on me. I was conscious, he stuck a four inch needle filled with lidocaine in my arm, hung my hand up by my thumb and proceeded to squeeze my arm to move bones around. The. Most. Painful. Full stop.

Fifth, when you only have one hand, you have to be very creative about how you solve problems. You want to crack pepper? Figure it out. You want to open a lemonade jar, figure it out. Your one hand is full and you need to open the front door, figure it out.

Six, fucked up things happen when people don’t yield. Fundamentally, I believe and I have had a lot of time to sit and think about this, I believe that being unwilling to yield is rooted in a persons ego. Why else wouldn’t a person stop if it is not their turn to go? They have to have in their head that it is not someone elses turn but their own turn. This flies in the face of one of the fundamental kindergarten lessons that we learn; sharing.

Seven, I didn’t realize until two weeks ago that I am (temporarily) disabled.

Eight, sometimes God sits you down. I had all these summer plans gina, and they just had to be put on hold. There is some shit that you cannot do with one arm. o.O

With that being said, I Love all of y’all and thank you for reading. I am glad to be alive.

All City Real Talk for @JessSolomon, @Mqueez, @Afrolicious

I have been reflecting on why I have been scared of taking these next steps.

The thing about it is, is that it is fear.

Fear that I won’t have the people in my life now that I have had because I am not only working way more, but moving in new and other circles.

Fear that being of service will take me away from the people that I Love.

I have my shine now, and the space is comfortable. But having ran into my homie two weeks ago who runs a prep school for boys in Bed-Stuy I was reminded that I have work to do. That I was put here to do work for others on another scale. That is some scary shit.


To do more means getting used to being liked or not being liked on a whole other level, and I don’t often know whether I am up to it. Because as a doctoral student and someone who is being trained to be a professor and as a Black woman, I know about the toll that emotional work takes on Black girls. I also know that if I don’t have a strict self care regime and a sort of emotional work plan I am going to be fucked off in the game. One of my projects entails engaging women of color nationally in local electoral politics. #gamechanger.

Latoya has told me that the way to deal with this is to select two or three people whose opinions I respect, and check in with them when I am tripping or there appears to be a rupture or disturbance in the force. What I interpret her to say is don’t let just any raggedy negro online affect how your moral compass about your work shifts. She has a point. I do that now in some ways, but I think she is recommending something a bit different in terms of being a bit more deliberate.

I mean, to spend hella time and writing working and researching something only to have someone tell you “nah B, you are hating” is a huge slap in the face. That’s the kind of shit that will have me telling someone that they are politically under developed and that they need to sit down and read a book before they come at me. #ego.

I also fear that I have said something in the past that has alienated people. But, as a writer I was more underdeveloped then, and I did not see, at the time, how the things that I said would be read. I also know, that challenging peoples thinking isn’t a popularity contest. People can get rich affirming what folks already know, but they rarely become popular or rich challenging them. And that my dear is the rub.

So now that I have said it outloud, it no longer has as much of a hold on me.