On How “The Secret Life of Bee’s” Used 4 Black Women to tell a White Girl’s Story

I saw The Secret Life of Bee’s (TSLB) yesterday and I couldn’t helped but be struck by two things. First, the tone of TSLB was extremely similar to the tone of The Help. From the color palate of the sets, to the language and how folks moved and the music.

TSLB was directed by a Black woman, and The Help was directed by a White man.

This morning when I got up I KNEW that I had to write about TSLB. I am good for watching a movie and telling the screen “I don’t believe you Gina”. Meaning I don’t believe the characters, the story is underdeveloped, the character is underdeveloped, that the editor was being lazy, the director was being lazy or the actor was being lazy. That someone didn’t push it to a space to take it there.

The moment that I didn’t believe in the film was in Dakota Fanning and Jennifer Hudson showed up at Queen Latifah’s door, and Fanning had done all the talking. Now Hudson had just gotten beat publicly beat a White man for pouring sun flower seed hulls on his feet in public and threw her to the ground and demanded that said apologized. She refused and was taken to jail. This scene is a direct nod to the scene in The Color Purple where Oprah’s character hits the White woman who asks her if SHE will be her maid…let’s just say that it was traumatic to watch.

So when they show up to Latifah’s door, and Hudson just kinda stands there letting Fanning talk, I was like what the fuck is this Gina. This woman has just gotten her ass beat, and head cracked open by White men, and given the time period she was probably raped, consequently she is lucky to be alive, and she can’t speak for herself. I was not interested in what Fanning had to say to Latifah, I wanted to hear what Hudson had to say for herself and to Latifah. It rendered Hudson a child in that moment.

This morning, I knew what fucked me up about The Secret Life of Bee’s. In this movie four Black women serve as a midwife for the spiritual transformation of a young White girl who has been abandoned by her mother and verbally and physically abused by her father.

Why in the hell is an all star cast of four awesome and talented Black women serving as fodder for the spiritual transformation of a little White girl. When was the last time we saw four Black women serve as fodder for their own spiritual transformation? Cough, Waiting to Exhale? Cough.

Movies matter because they tell us what is important. Movies also matter because they tell us how some people see history.

Honestly, those women were reduced to four mid-wive mammies, to the extent that the White Hollywood imagination see’s Black women’s bodies in film. You all KNOW I Love watching Queen Latifah. I sat in a hotel room in North Carolina on Christmas and had the time of my life watching Latifah. THAT FILM WAS ABOUT A BLACK WOMAN’S PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION. HER JOURNEY, not someone else’s.

This is not to say that Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okendo (check out Skin if you haven’t) did make it twerk, because they did. In fact Latifah is able to work in some #blackgirlfromthefuture juju with the story behind her honey business and Okendo story was probably the most developed and most emotionally textured.

In someways The Secret Life of Bee’s objectified Black women in some of the similar ways that rap music video’s do, because it treats them as objects that are merely there to move the story along and not as subjects with their OWN STORY TO TELL.

You see the movie?

Why do we move other people’s story along but not our own?

Don’t we do the same shit in real life too? Putting our children, our husbands, our girlfriends, our wives, our boyfriends, our work, our mommas ahead of us, and never us first? When will this stop?

On Black Girls and Pleasure

Waaaaay back in 2008 I wrote a blog post in the summer time, right after we learned that Erykah Badu was pregnant with her little bear about the fact that Black women’s bodies do not belong to themselves.

Looking back I realize that I was inspired by the fact that that in public people feel entitled to touch our hair and our bodies, and in private our families and loved ones feel that they have say so about our hair texture (nappy vs. straight, or re: going natural).

So. This brings me to this morning when I finally figured out WHY I am writing about Black women’s sexuality.

Saturday, I got no work done. Nonya. This was the first time this year where my schedule got completely upended.

Last semester was on #Aquemini Saturday. My boo’s do be my muses. o.0

Rather than go to read and write on Saturday morning, we drove to Balitmore for brunch and that shit was luxurious.

Then I slept. Then we went to the movies.

Granted, I was behind as shit on Sunday, because so many chores didn’t get done.

So this morning, I was saying that I wanted to GO BACK to Saturday; It was impromtu and fun; it felt like a vacation.

Then Goldy turned around and called me greedy. I was like, “I am greedy because I want to hang out the you and not be running 5011 errands for two or three hours straight?” “I don’t think it’s greedy, I think I am being a human being.” She got my point.

It was in THAT moment that I realized why I have been writing about and invested in Black womens sexuality and the social and economic forces that shape how Black women make sexual choices at home and in public.

Many of us are told by our mothers that all we need to do is “work” because “you can do bad all by yourself.”

When many of us were little, language is used with Aunt’s, Uncles, and grandparents to discourage them from giving us stuff or being nice to us otherwise we may get “spoiled.” Spoiled food is rotten and inedible.

All of this leaves me with a few questions.

Out of a desire for our mothers to protect us, and make sure that we have tools to deal with a fucked up world, did they make Black girls and pleasure two mutually exclusive categories?

Did our mothers socialize us to run away from pleasure?

Does enjoying pleasure mean being “ruined”? Ruined for who?

Why are the boys in our family not talked about in the same way?

Are the boys in our family ever described as being “spoiled?”

Does it have the same meaning when it is used to describe girls?

I Am Still Here.

New things are on the way. NMM 2.0.  Link pages and thangs.

The brown girl policy blog is in the pipeline. Shout out to everyone who as gotten at me around participating.

The New Model Minority book is in the pipeline as well.

The school year has begun. And I am tired. Gone to sleep before 9pm for the last two days.

Comps are over.

I am alive.

I miss ya’ll.

#allcity will be back soon.

In the mean time, what do you want me to write about?

On Dealing With Your Exes in Social Media Spaces? o.O

Beyonce’s Baby: On Our Investment in Black Women’s Babies

Black Maids: On “The Help” and the DSK Rape Case

White Groceries

Dance Floor Politics: When Your Old Boo Meets Your New Boo? (Yas…this happened post comps last week).

Roundtable on Black Male Relationship blogs (I asked Britini @ Clutch if she was interested….I may just do it here on this blog if she chooses not to. Or perhaps we can do it @ racialicious or crunkfeminists. I dunno).

Is there anything else that comes to mind?

Comp Exam

Things will be lite around here for the next few weeks as I am prepping for a 72 hour comp exam for the weekend of August 19th.

Pray for me.

We were given a 10 page bibliography that we are expected to write two 20-30 page exam answers over that weekend in August.

We have a reading group that has been meeting for the last few weeks.

On my end, I have organized the readings thematically into: Genealogy’s, Transnational Feminisms, Intersectionality, Transdisciplinary Knowledge Practices and a (build your own) Syllabus question.

I have started with the methodology readings and the techno feminist science readings, as they are what I am least familiar with.

My goal is to write a sample exam  answer (15 pages) by July 25th and give it to my adviser or someone on the committee to read. I tend to do better when my work is reviewed before the deadline.

I am also putting the pieces together for NMM 2.0 and the Women of Color policy blog. I have a layout, and some writers lined up, but still no name. #workingonit.

I am going to try and write one post a week, but I will see how that goes.

In the mean time, do you all want me to post a selected archive of posts maybe 20 or so of my favorite NMM posts?

Starting a Women of Color Policy and News Blog

I am in the process of laying out the foundation for starting a women of color policy and news blog.

I get sick and tired of the janky way that rape, sexual harassment, the debate around food stamps
and “domestic” violence are framed, discussed, archived and shaped.

I personally think we can do better.

Ann and I are down to do it. One post a day, five days a week. @Latoyapeterson you in? I know you are busy, and you
know I mentioned this to a couple of months ago. It’s time. I have the content and layout in my head. BUT no name.

@arieswym also said she was down.

Please share, rt and reblog if you know of folks who may be interested in contributing.

#blackgirlsarefromthefuture. We own stories.