Archive | September 2007

Why are black women just the best friends and mammies on Prime Time Television?

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The new television season has seen a surge of TV shows that are female centered programs. The Bionic woman on NBC lead by Michelle Ryan and on ABC Kate Walsh the former star of Grey’s Anatomy has her own show “Private Practice.” Ryan and Walsh are both young, attractive, white women. Asian American actress Lucy Liu will appear on the ABC show “Cashmere Mafia” and Liu is the lead. However, besides Liu why are the three other female leads on that program white females? Where are the other females of colour in leading roles on network television?

The ABC program “Ugly Betty” has been praised by critics since the show is about a young hispanic woman played by Latina actress America Ferrera. The ABC show “Ugly Betty” is based on a hispanic woman and caters to the concerns of the hispanic community. The question remains why are black women never TV stars and always in the shadows?

The golden age for black television was from the mid 1970s to the late 1990s. Marla Gibbs got her own spin off after “The Jeffersons” was canceled in the early 1980s. Gibbs had her own hit show 227 on NBC in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Another popular black sitcom that was female driven was “A Different World” on NBC. Jasmine Guy was amazing in the lead role Whitley Gilbert. In the mid 1990s Living Single had two black female stars Queen Latifah and Kim Fields on the FOX network. Queen Latifah and Kim Fields proved black women can be successful on a major television network and draw in audiences.

In the past black female characters on TV were complex, had love lives, dealt with tragedy, pain, happiness, yet now are basically forgotten. The ideology of Hollywood and society is that white females must be the center of true womanhood. By contrast, black women are still considered not only inferior but also non existent as well due to racism and sexism.

On the mainstream network television the programming for people of colour in the year 2007 is basically non existent there has been a total complete whiteout. Chris Rock’s TV show has received more acclaim then Girlfriends but then again his program is about the nuclear black heterosexual family. Once again, black women are marginalized due to race and gender in Hollywood. Although black heterosexual men complain about racism black women encounter more oppression due to racism and sexism.

Girlfriends the black female sitcom is back for the eighth season yet the show is segregated on the smaller CW network on the fringes. “Girlfriends” also isn’t winning any SAG, Emmys, or even People’s Choice awards.Do you even have to question the reasons why? The mainstream media act as though “Girlfriends” doesn’t exist. “Girlfriends” wouldn’t be on television if people didn’t tune in to watch the program the show clearly has an audience.

“Sex and the City” was on cable and “Girlfriends” is on the CW network. The CW network is a mainstream television channel in the United States. So why the obvious snub against Girlfriends? You can figure it out it is not exactly hard to decipher. “Sex And The City” was hyped to the maximum because the cast is white women and Girlfriends was scorned because the cast is black women. Girlfriends is marginalized due to a mixture of racism and sexism. Girlfriends is branded “urban programming” despite the fact the show dealt with polemical issues such as sexism, homophobia, lesbianism, internal and external racism, financial issues, bad friends, love, romance, in a witty funny way.

People will go on and on about how groundbreaking “Sex and The City” was but “Sex And The City” always avoided the issue of race and reality. “Sex And The City” is pure fantasy to be able to party all night, buying designer clothes, and living in upscale apartments in New York City is not realistic. “Sex And The City” is basically a whiteout.

However, I think the original “Sex and the City” was the Golden Girls on NBC in the 1980s. The Golden Girls was a superior television program because the show dealt with a wide range of social issues mixed with humor. “Sex and the City” is a decent show it is funny but that program always ignored people of colour. Whenever people of colour were on Sex And The City they were always in marginalized racist roles as either servants or sexual stereotypes. For instance, Blair Underwood was on the program for a hot minute and the Samantha character had an interracial sex scene with a black guy big deal. It is obvious interracial romance was taboo for the program.

Let’s be honest here “Girlfriends” is just as good as “Sex And The City” but “Girlfriends” had an all black cast. I just find it interesting that Girlfriends is treated like it is an inferior program. At least on Girlfriends the women had financial issues they certainly were middle class and not rich. I believe “Girlfriends” hasn’t gotten the respect it deserves. The writing on “Girlfriends” has gotten stronger and stronger over the years.

At least on Girlfriends black women were the stars of the show. On mainstream television the two roles designated for black women they are either the asexual mammy or the black female best friend. On the ABC program Private Practice the talented and very attractive black actress Merrin Dungey was fired after the pilot and replaced with another black woman the theatre star Audra McDonald.

McDonald’s character of course is the stereotypical role for a black woman on mainstream TV she’s the white girl Kate Walsh’s “best friend.” Kimberly Elise has been removed from the CBS program “Close to home” she was the “best friend” of the white actress Jennifer Finnigan. Tangi Miller a few years back on the WB network show “Felicity” was also the “best friend” to the white star Keri Russell. Lisa Nicole Carson was also the “best friend” to white actress Calista Flockhart on “Ally McBeal.”

Yes folks, the best thing a black actress can hope for on mainstream network television is to be the “best friend” of the white actress. Although being the “best friend” to the white woman is a lot better then being the resident “black mammy”. The black female best friend is allowed to be sexy, attractive, intelligent, but she must never ever upstage the white female star. Because after all black women on network TV have to know their place they have to be “behind” the white woman and in the background.

The prime time television shows rarely focus on the love lives of the black female best friend. The purpose of the black female best friend is to fulfill the race quota of the network and be the servant to the white woman. The black female best friend character is a stereotype because she is just a plot device a catalyst to help and serve the white woman. Whenever the white actress can’t find a man, breaks up with a man, or is emotional about a man, the black female best friend is always there to comfort her. Yes, that’s all black women on television are for to serve white women.

The ideology of TV executives, scriptwriters, advertisers, and the viewing public is that in order to appease black TV viewers we should just accept this racist and sexist treatment. We should just be grateful that black women are on TV and go with the flow. Television script writers always place black women as just the black mammies or the best friends to the white women.

It is also shocking that Dungey was “replaced” from the ABC show “Private Practice” by an actress that is far less experienced, attractive, and less sexy then her Audra McDonald. Could it be that ABC fired the gorgeous and talented Dungey because the best friend of the white girl has to be less attractive? Let’s be honest and real here, Audra McDonald is a nice looking woman she looks like the girl next door she’s “safe”. I just don’t think McDonald has the fire and the sex appeal that Merrin Dungey has. McDonald does have a very “conservative look” she is pleasant to look and non threatening.

Merrin Dungey is a more talented television actress there is just something special about her you just cannot take your eyes off of her. Merrin is so beautiful. And lets face it the real reason Shonda Rhimes removed Merrin is because she’s too “pretty” perhaps Rhimes is self conscious? I mean have you seen Shonda Rhimes she’s not exactly attractive like Merrin Dungey either. Perhaps Rhimes is jealous and envious?

The status quo from ABC is that there wasn’t enough “chemistry” between Merrin and Kate Walsh. I’m not buying it. Kate Walsh is an attractive woman but Merrin is also very beautiful as well. The bottom line is Walsh is supposed to be the object of desire for television fans not the black woman. The black female is not supposed to challenge the white female as being the most beautiful woman on television. Of course hypocritical Shonda Rhimes and ABC would never admit the truth for firing Dungey now would they?

McDonald definitely fits that role of the less attractive female friend. McDonald is okay looking she’s alright but she’s not hot like Merrin Dungey that’s for sure. McDonald also is not as experienced on the small screen as Dungey. Dungey is a very talented actress best known for her character Allison Doren on the former ABC hit show “Alias” a few years back. She also proved she was a versatile actress and she moved to comedy on the “King Of Queens Show” and she also was on the drama the WB network program “Summerland.”

A few years back on the ABC hit program “Desperate Housewives” there was an uproar when ABC hired African American actress Alfre Woodard. Woodard’s although a very talented actress was much older then the five main leads on the program. Woodard’s character Betty Applewhite was once again another black asexual mammy. Woodard’s character had no plot and clearly no reason to be on the program other then to fulfill the race quota of ABC.

Many people on various internet boards questioned why couldn’t ABC hire a sexy and talented black actress such as Robin Givens, or Vivica A Fox or Gabrielle Union? Why hire Alfre Woodard? Woodard was too old to be on Desperate Housewives to be a main character. The truth is if ABC hired Givens, Fox, or Union, on Desperate Housewives they would have to explore black female sexuality and that’s something network television refuses to do. Black female sexuality is off limits on mainstream TV.

Being the “best friend” to the white actress is indeed a higher level then being the new black mammies. The new black mammies aren’t maids, they aren’t making breakfast, cleaning floors, washing dishes, and pouring maple syrup on pancakes like Aunt Jemima. The new black mammies give “advice” though and are a shoulder to “cry” on for the white male and female costars on the hit TV programs. The TV formula has been set the collective thinking is why fix something that works?

The black female best friend character is a tough role to decipher she is a mixture of both the mammy and the magic negro syndrome. Unfortunately scriptwriters believe the black female best friend fulfills their “black quota”. Are black women and white women friends anyway in real life?

The most famous and rich mammy on television is Oprah. Oprah is the most successful mammy of all time because although she is rich she is subservient to whites. Mammy Oprah’s formula is never to rock the boat. Notice on Oprah you will never see an episode about the racial divide between white women and women of colour. Yes mammy Oprah’s television show is a gimmick that women are all “sisters”.

However, black feminist Audre Lorde wrote about this pernicious lie in her groundbreaking book “Sister Outsider”. Mammy Oprah avoids the issue of dealing with racism because she wants white women money. Mammy Oprah is still subservient to whites because she knows if she discusses the racial tension in feminism she will lose money.

After all, mammy Oprah has product placements and books to sell. Mammy Oprah also is “nurturing” she is a shoulder to cry on and give advice to the distressed upper class desperate housewives in the audience. Mammy Oprah may be wealthy but she is a stereotype of black female sexuality because she ignores the issue of the racial issues between women of colour and white women.

The underlining issues of resentment, racism, reality, and anger are left unexplored. Should we just accept this facade? However, on television just about all the female friends to the white actress are women of colour. Sandra Oh’s character Christina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy she’s the “best friend” of the white female star and Oh is an Asian Canadian woman.

Hollywood refuses to allow black women to headline television shows on the major networks. The question has to be asked again, why are white women always the stars and black women always in the background?The racism is less obvious to the discerning eye but it is indeed there. The black mammies however still are reserved for black women on network TV. The black mammies don’t have complex storylines they aren’t central to the plot of the shows, and they don’t have love lives.

Where are the complex black female characters on TV? Why do black actresses on TV always have to be in the background as the white girl’s best friend? Or even better yet invisible like Dr. Bailey? The most disconcerting part is that another argument to consider is that blacks need to be in the power broking decisions to get shows “green lighted.” Shonda Rhimes is the executive producer of Grey’s Anatomy. Rhimes has the “power” to make Dr. Bailey a complex young woman. Yet Rhimes a young black woman reduces the Dr. Bailey character to be a pernicious and racist stereotype of black womanhood. Rhimes is following the status quo and that is there is an intense fear of exploring black female sexuality.

Is Shonda Rhimes and ABC saying Dr. Bailey is too black or too fat for love? Would the audience be disgusted by seeing a real black woman kiss her black husband on TV? Is this too much for white America or ABC to handle? You got to wonder? Grey’s Anatomy the hit ABC program has been serenaded by critics as a show where “race” isn’t the story but the interconnection of human relationships.

Grey’s Anatomy boasts a consistent 20 million plus viewers every week. Grey’s Anatomy is basically ABC’s version of a hospital show that less serious then ER on NBC but mixed with some comedy. However, the main attraction the public has to Grey’s Anatomy is the white heterosexual relationships between the various doctors and interns on the program. Since Isaiah Washington was fired from Grey’s Anatomy the most complex, interesting, and exciting romance storyline between Washington and Sandra Oh has been eliminated. Grey’s Anatomy is basically a white out. Although, the latina actress Sara Ramirez had an interracial storyline with the white actor TR Knight that romance was simply not believable. Ramirez is a striking woman very attractive yet TR Knight is simply unattractive, effeminate, and not masculine enough to pull off a convincing performance and be Ramirez love interest.

One character that stands out and the only black female on Grey’s Anatomy Dr. Miranda Bailey also known as “The Nazi” is asexual and is the resident big fat black mammy.

The interesting aspect of Grey’s Anatomy is that the executive producer of Grey’s Anatomy is a young black woman Shonda Rhimes. According to Rhimes the character of Dr. Bailey was originally supposed to be for a white actress. The status quo is that Chandra Wilson gave the best audition so the part went to her. However, Rhimes is not being honest. Rhimes created Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice to reach a white female demographic. Would white women watch either programs if white women weren’t in the lead?

Another point to consider is why would a black woman in a position of authority and power such as Shonda Rhimes not advance the race? Why would Rhimes just follow the status quo? Could it be Shonda Rhimes is shallow and just cares about getting rich? Sure seems like it. Why didn’t she allow a black actress to be the star of either Grey’s Anatomy or Private Practice? It is a fair question. Black women are never the female leads on TV shows. Although Rhimes has been praised she’s just following the status quo. Its disconcerting that money is more important to Rhimes then helping out other black women.

The bottom line is the Dr. Bailey character is indeed a modern reincarnation of the “black mammy” of Grey’s Anatomy. Dr. Bailey is seen barking orders at her interns, she also is the “nurturing” mammy that “listens” to the romantic problems of her white, hispanic, Asian, and black characters on Grey’s Anatomy. Yet why does Dr. Bailey not have a love life of her own? Is Shonda Rhimes and ABC trying to say Dr. Bailey doesn’t deserve romance because she’s a black woman? Why is Dr. Bailey so perfect anyway?

However, it is not surprising though that the Dr. Bailey character although married and does have a child is never shown as a sexual human being as her white, Asian, or black co workers on Grey’s Anatomy. In the second and third seasons of Grey’s Anatomy the writers have attempted to humanize Dr. Bailey by making her more vulnerable, questioning herself. Yet Dr. Bailey is still the asexual black mammy. People say Dr. Bailey has a loving husband. So why don’t we see Dr. Bailey in love with her so called loving husband more often? Why doesn’t Shonda Rhimes and ABC just be honest? The real reason Dr. Bailey doesn’t have a love life on Grey’s Anatomy is the fear ABC executives have with exploring black female sexuality.

Meanwhile, on the CBS show “Without A Trace” Marianne Jean Baptiste a very talented black British actress is also the resident black mammy on that program. “Without A Trace” also has a very large following consistently is in the top 20 of the TV ratings. Baptiste’s character Vivian Johnson never had a love life unlike her white co stars on the program. Vivian is the wise older black woman that is a mixture of the magic negro, black mammy, and the best friend. Of course, just like Dr. Bailey you will notice Vivian Johnson is happily married with a husband and child you hardly ever see. The happily married scenario is a convenient yet deleterious plot device to erase black female sexuality. I guess if television audiences saw Vivian Johnson kissing her husband the mainstream audience would cringe. The fear of black love is very powerful and the networks have a record of bigotry against blacks.

The biggest drama for the character Vivian was her “heart condition” that required surgery. Last season there was complaints on various internet message boards because the producers behind the CBS show “Without A Trace” hired the young Latina Roslyn Sanchez to add “sex appeal” to the program. Sanchez character of course had a previous relationship with one of the main male characters on the program. Why couldn’t an attractive black woman be hired? And will black women and other women of colour ever be able to be real TV stars? Or is the best thing a black or Asian actress can hope for on network TV is to be a step behind the white actress as her “best friend”? Or be the “nurturing” black mammy, the best friend or magic negro to console her?

Liberals are in the lead Tory’s faith based voting scheme failed

mcguinty1.jpg      I just listened to 680 news and it looks like the Liberal Party lead by the current Premier Dalton McGuinty may be heading towards another majority government. The Progressive Conservative leader John Tory’s faith base vote scheme has backfired. According to the polls the Liberals are now in a solid lead with 43% and the Progressive Conservatives have lost some ground they are at 33% of decided voters. The NDP and the green party are in third place with 17%. I am actually surprised at the leap the green party has made. Its surprising since the media tends to ignore this party looks like they have made some solid strides. Here is the link  http://www.canada.com/topics/news/politics/story.html?id=f920ead0-e993-45a7-9658-7a20b14727fd&k=33388

          Its so obvious that the Progressive Conservative party’s faith based scheme to get “ethnic votes” even backfired with this group as well. People are intelligent enough to discern that Tory has refused to talk about  “the real issues”.   It simply would be too expensive for taxpayers to pay for these special interest groups schools. As I have stated before I believe Catholic schools should be abolished as well I think the only school system that should exist is the public school system one system for all people.

         Dalton McGuinty the Liberal Leader and his party have ads on TV linking John Tory to Mike Harris and that’s an effective ad strategy. The destruction Mike Harris the former Progressive Conservative leader caused in the province of Ontario in the late 1990s and the early part of this decade is fresh in the minds of Ontario voters. 

Book Review: The Big Sea Langston Hughes first memoir.

I just finished reading Langston Hughes first memoir “The Big Sea”. I love Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston so much they are my favourite writers. I really can’t choose between Langston and Zora both are incredible writers and they mean so much to me. I love them both.

If you want to gain a real appreciation for Langston Hughes as a writer do yourself a favor read the book at the public library or just buy the book. The Big Sea was published in the year 1940 it is an account about the early part of Langston’s life from birth to his early 30s. Langston discusses how he got “discovered” by the white American poet Vachel Lindsay. Langston writes eloquently about visiting Africa and Europe for the first time during the 1920s and the trials and tribulations of being a sailor.

I was most impressed with Langston’s description of the Harlem Renaissance. I felt like I was there with all of the energy, excitement, and electricity of the moment. Langston met other famous black writers such as Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen, Wallace Thurman, Richard Bruce Nugent, the sculptor Aaron Douglas, and the white gay writer Carl Van Vechten. I think Langston was brave to travel to Africa and Europe as a young man. I guess he was seeking adventure and wanted to see the world.

Carl Van Vechten is a very interesting figure in the history of the Harlem Renaissance because he was the only white person that was a part of the “inner circle”. Later on in his life Van Vechten also got involved in photography. Van Vechten met Langston and Zora Neale Hurston in the 1920s and he was friends with both writers for the rest of their lives.

Van Vechten became famous in the 1920s because he was part of a controversy over a book he had written called “Nigger Heaven”. Now the title of the novel of course is controversial. However, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and other black writers actually defended Van Vechten when some black critics during this era slammed Van Vechten and called him racist. The term Nigger Heaven actually refers to the balcony section in the movie theaters where blacks were forced to sit during the 1920s.

I think Van Vechten had another meaning for “Nigger Heaven” that “Harlem” was like a gallery where whites were able to “watch” blacks but at a “distance”. I also believe Van Vechen was “referring” to whites viewing blacks as science experiments something to be “gawked” at and not taken seriously. Van Vechten was clearly writing about the racial and social apartheid in America he was criticizing white Americans for their hypocrisy. If blacks are so fun to be around why the need for the American laws to treat blacks as second class citizens? I won’t call “Nigger Heaven” a protest novel but clearly the book is important.

Van Vechten was ahead of his time he was cognizant of the hypocrisy and racism of white America. In Harlem blacks were barred from certain clubs such as the Cotton Club that was reserved for whites only. The only blacks allowed inside this exclusive venue were the entertainers such as the singers, musicians, and dancers that performed for whites.

Van Vechten also was very instrumental in connecting Langston Hughes with Alfred Knopf to publish his work he also helped other black writers reach a larger audience. Van Vechten, although gay, he was married to a woman; he drank heavily too, but he was a very charismatic kind of a person and threw great parties. Van Vechten is really one of the few whites during the Harlem Renaissance that wasn’t “exploiting” blacks but really had a genuine interest in black art and black culture.

During the numerous parties on the weekends regular folks mingled with celebrities like Ethel Barrymore, Salvador Dali, and even royalty in Harlem. White people flocked to Harlem to “watch” blacks. Josephine Baker was a hit on Broadway in the play “Shuffle Along.” Langston also discusses his cynical view of the Renaissance about how white Americans viewed black people as “primitive” and as a form of a social experiment or entertainment.

Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston also had a patronage with a mysterious wealthy white woman named Charlotte Osgood Mason also known as “godmother.” Ms. Mason paid Zora and Langston a salary to find the black “primitive art” she was so interested in. Hughes became disillusioned with Ms. Mason and stopped working for her around the year 1930 because he didn’t feel that she really “respected” African American culture. Langston felt Ms. Mason had a myopic view of blackness and black people.

Langston also discusses a legendary feud with Zora Neale Hurston about a play they wrote together called “Mule Bone.” Its kind of sad that this great literary friendship ended over a play. The story goes like this Zora wrote the play and wanted Langston to help her fix it up and he did. Langston helped write the final draft of the play. Now a typist Louise Thompson was hired but Zora didn’t want the other “woman” to claim credit to the play. Zora visited Langston’s mother’s house in Cleveland and she was furious screaming and yelling at Langston. Ms. Hughes had to calm Zora down. Zora continued to insist that Langston was trying to give credit to “another girl”. Ms Hughes was not pleased but eventually Zora and Langston had a discussion about the play but the friendship was over at this point.

In Zora’s memoir, “Dust Tracks On A Road”, she ignores Langston and the entire Mule Bone incident. In Carla Kaplan’s wonderful biography “Zora A Life In Letters” she connects the dots. Now I know Langston was a homosexual but I get this sense that maybe Zora had feelings for him? Were Langston and Zora lovers? I wonder? Maybe I am imagining things but I sense Langston and Zora may of had a romantic relationship? Did Zora know she had feelings for a homosexual? Now I am not suggesting Langston and Zora were lovers but why was Zora so upset about Louise Thompson? Its interesting in Langston’s memoir he doesn’t mention the typist Louise Thompson by name yet Carla Kaplan’s book does. Its kind of sad that this play destroyed their friendship. Langston and Zora only briefly communicated after the “Mule Bone” incident a few times in the 1930s and that was it.

Langston discussions about the incredible racial discrimination blacks experienced even in Harlem is very powerful. Blacks were viewed as just the “entertainment” often blacks were not allowed to enter certain clubs such as the “Cotton Club.”

I just love this book so much! Its so inspiring to read about his writing career and his life and the difficulty he had with maintaining a relationship with his father. Langston did not enjoy visiting his father in Mexico he even says he “hated” his father.

It was depressing at times to read about the incredible struggles Langston endured just because he was a young black man. I just cannot imagine the incredible amount of racial discrimination Langston endured during his life. I am not just talking about just the physical also the psychological effects this racist treatment must of had on older generations of black people. I think younger black people we forget the horrible treatment our elders experienced. I cannot imagine what he went through. Langston was forced to sit in the black section of a train or bus due to race. Langston also was not allowed to get accommodations at certain hotels due to being black. Blacks also were barred from using washrooms in public places as well. Even going to the park was an a big issue for African Americans during this era.

The racial apartheid of America was in full force. The Harlem Renaissance was an important time for black writers because it was the first time blacks believed there was “hope” through art. Angelina Weld Grimke the black lesbian poet had written her play about lynching “Rachel” in the year 1920. Nobody knows exactly when the Harlem Renaissance started but historians do say it ended around the 1929 or perhaps 1930.

The one area of “The Big Sea” I noticed Langston was reticent about is his love life. I was so curious I craved to know more. I believe this is the most frustrating part about the memoir I still didn’t feel like I knew everything about the real Langston Hughes? I find it very hard to believe that a man so attractive, so handsome, so charismatic, so beautiful, so intelligent such as Langston Hughes was unable to find a male lover?

Langston must of had some male or female lovers during his early life? Langston’s love life is basically non existent in “The Big Sea”. The question remains why?I find this part of the memoir most perplexing. I want to peak into Langston’s mind. I want to peel beneath the surface and shatter the canyon of silence. There isn’t even a section about his so called “heterosexual” romances much less about his gay love affairs. There appears to be a dissemblance by Langston around the issue of his homosexuality. Later on in Langston’s life he does write about homoerotic themes such as the poem cafe 3 am.

I understand during this period it was hard for African American gays and lesbians to be “respected” by the heterosexual black community. It was basically impossible to be out of the closet Langston didn’t have a choice he had to conceal his homosexuality. I think the constant need to “hide” his sexuality affected Langston emotionally and psychologically. I cannot imagine the intense fear and pressure he endured wondering if the black race would respect him if they knew he was gay.

Although the famous butch piano player Gladys Bentley was “out” about her lesbianism during the 1920s society was less fearful of lesbianism then male homosexuality. Gladys moved from Harlem to Hollywood and later on in her life shifted back to heterosexuality. Bessie Smith the Blues singer she “out” as a bisexual she had numerous affairs with female singers and dancers during the 1920s. Ma Rainey was also bisexual as well. However, Langston was a black man and the fallout would of been much greater if he did come out as gay.

It makes “sense” for Langston to conceal his homosexuality during his lifetime. How could Langston possibly come out in an era where black people still didn’t have equal rights? What good would that do? People have to remember that black gays in Langston’s era encounted multiple layers of oppression.

If Langston came out during his era it would destroy his career and maybe even his life. Langston also didn’t write much about homosexuality during his lifetime because I believe he always had a “fear” of being outed for a variety of reasons. The USA government even had witch hunts against gays in the 1940s and 1950s. Langston most likely did the “right” thing to remain in the closet he had no choice. Sure, one can argue the African American James Baldwin was brave and he was.

James Baldwin was also born in 1924 he was over twenty years “younger” then Langston Hughes. Baldwin I believe really was brave to write “Giovanni’s Room” in 1956. Notice though in “Giovanni’s Room” the protagonist is a white boy and not black. Some people say Baldwin made the characters in that book “white” to reach a larger mainstream audience there was a higher potential to make more money. And of course its true its just shrewd business. Baldiwn knew if he wrote the main gay characters David and Giovanni as “white” both white and black America would just see the book as pure “fiction”.

After all, an argument is why can’t a black writer write a book with white characters? However, think about the time period that Baldwin lived in. Would “Giovanni’s Room” really be as celebrated by the white heterosexual or homosexual communities if the characters in that book were African Americans? Wouldn’t this give racist organizations in America ammunition to pathologize blacks more?

Often a lot of gay historians and scholars always exclude this important point. Baldwin wouldn’t be “celebrated” at the beginning of his career by the black or white press if “Giovanni’s Room” was about black gay men. The civil rights movement just started in 1955 one year before “Giovanni’s Room” was published. Baldwin would be crucified by the NAACP and other black heterosexual leaders if “Giovanni’s Room” was about black gay men they would brand him as a traitor and a sell out. Baldwin would lose his “place” within the private sphere of black society. I also believe the white mainstream media would be hypocritical. Racist organizations such as the KKK would just say blacks had “no morals”. During the 1950s homosexuality was thought of as a disease of the mind an affliction that could be “cured”. James Baldwin would be thought of as a “race traitor” and as a disgrace.

Also, the black media didn’t mind “Giovanni’s Room” because the book had “nothing” to do with the black community. If Baldwin had written “Giovanni’s Room” with black gay male characters during the 1950s I think it would really tarnish his reputation with the heterosexual black community during that era. There would be a storm of controversy and anger by straight blacks it could of been a major uproar against Baldwin.

Its easy for people in the 21st century to say Langston Hughes could of or should of come out but we have to remember the time and space Hughes lived in. Homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder during Langston Hughes lifetime. The black and white heterosexual communities still looked down on homosexuals for both religious and personal reasons.Homosexuality was also considered to be something “white people” engaged in but not civilized black folks. If Hughes did come out he never would be respected by the heterosexual black community. Hughes would never be considered the “hero” of black literature that he is viewed as today. Its not right the kind of thinking that existed during Langston Hughes lifetime but that was the reality. The gay and lesbian movement didn’t really start until the late 1960s and early 1970 far beyond Hughes lifetime.

I sense some internalized homophobia from Langston in the memoir when he describes other gay black men. Langston is projecting the image in the memoir that he is heterosexual and this is false. In fact, according to Faith Berry’s 1992 biography on Langston Hughes she says Hughes had an intense romantic relationship with a Jamaican man.

However, in “The Big Sea” Hughes does write about drag balls from a homophobic perspective. Langston calls the black drag queens “pathetic”. The whole aspect of drag in black queer history is important because it proves black gay men existed despite living in separate spheres. Black gay men won awards and prizes for wearing the most sensational outfits and performances at the drag balls. during the 1920s.

One black man that had an intense infatuation with Langston was the openly gay black professor Alain Locke. In fact, I believe Alain Locke and Langston could of had a secret relationship perhaps? Locke has written many letters to Langston that are quite passionate and if you read between the lines you can tell Alain was in “in love” with Langston. Although I think it was an unrequited love. Langston doesn’t discuss Alain Locke’s obvious attempts to “gain” his attention and his infatuation with him. I think its a tragedy that Langston Hughes wasn’t able to be more free and live without judgement as a black gay man during his lifetime.

Domestic Violence And Violence Against Women Should Be An Election Issue. Why Are We Ignoring The Violence of Heterosexual Men?

           I just woke up this afternoon around 2:20pm and a woman is on the line   from the Progressive Conservative party. The lady  says “hello this is the PC Party would you consider voting for John Tory?” And I just said “absolutely not.” And that was the end of the phone conversation. There is no way in hell I would vote for the Progressive Conservative party. John Tory right now is all smokes and mirrors he’s done a very good job of being basically a ghost. Tory vanishes when he is asked the real serious tough questions.

              Its obvious to me that certain TV, news and broadcast media outlets in the Toronto area obviously have their own self interests about the outcome of the election. Where is the professionalism though? I don’t see Global Television asking John Tory the tough questions? All I see on Global is their commentators complaining about Dalton McGuinty. And I think its fair that yes the news should discuss the Liberal leader’s mistakes and faults. However, how about some balance in the reporting? Why hasn’t the print media picked up on this? I mean lets be honest here CTV is a very conservative TV station everybody knows that and the same thing for Global television. On the radio CFRB 1010 is basically PC country its hard listening to the rhetoric on that radio station. The Toronto Sun newspaper is clearly conservative even though its just a tabloid newspaper and not about serious news. The Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and National Post aren’t asking John Tory the tough questions. And I wonder why?

            Its election time in the province of Ontario and the PC party like all the other parties know a lot of the votes are in the suburbs.  The Liberals and the NDP aren’t exactly the greatest political parties out there but the Progressive Conservative party is indeed the worst out of the three.

    I think the biggest dilemma for John Tory is that he’s really the “unknown” out of the three. I don’t think Tory has done a good job on selling to the public not only his “image” but also the issues  he “stands” for. Tory has been very cryptic about what he intends to do if he became the Premier of the province of Ontario. And I think that’s a dilemma for voters. I mean why vote for somebody when you don’t know the specific issues this person “really” believes in? Tory’s “faith based schools” voting scheme got him some press but even conservative voters in the latest polls aren’t too interested in that issue.

          The real issues of course are jobs,  education, health care, minimum wage and social housing. There is a serious crisis in the city of Toronto in relation to social housing there simply needs to be more space available for the disadvantaged.

         Domestic violence is an issue the three political parties have ignored. Why isn’t this an election issue? We simply cannot ignore the violence of  heterosexual  men. Heterosexual men are raping,  beating, murdering, and exploiting their wives and girlfriends. The news media only reports stories about random sexual assaults against women like the recent York University case. However, the truth of the matter is violence  against women in the home  is a very serious issue.   Its also an issue the Toronto media ignores.

            We need more funding to open up more shelters. However, opening up more shelters for victims of domestic violence is not the final answer. There needs to be more done.  Violent heterosexual  Men need to be brought to justice. The judicial and political system is the real problem there is not a solid framework to help these women.  Where are the programs to assist women of colour that are victims of domestic violence? The media doesn’t focus on the concerns of women of colour. A lot of these women’s shelters and programs for victims of domestic violence are white female centered. What about black women, South Asian women, East Asian women, Aboriginal women that are victims of domestic violence? Why are women of colour consistently ignored? Why is the focus always on white females?  What about women whose first language is not English or French? How can these women be reached? Where is the money to help these women?

  I just read an article in the New Zealand Herald about a young Chinese woman that was brutally murdered by her ex husband Nai Yin Xue. The ex husband abandoned their only child Qian Xun Xue at a Melbourne train station and then he  fled to the United States Its a tragedy.  The  link: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/feature/story.cfm?c_id=1501364&objectid=10465329&pnum=0   

        In the New Zealand Herald the Annie Liu  story is a tragedy she was a young woman with big dreams she moved to New Zealand  hoping  to further her education and start a new life. Annie married a man twice her age they had a child and he killed her last week.

        We read these stories over and over again and nothing is done. So when is domestic violence ever going to be an election issue? New Zealand just  like Canada is a first world nation so where are the resources to help women of colour so that they can find out where to find support? Where is the money? Why is this not an election issue? 

            Domestic violence is a top five election issue its an issue society likes to ignore and not discuss but its serious and its about damn time something be done about this. 

               Tory has been silent about these kinds of issues such as domestic violence. Its also not surprising that the mainstream Toronto media once again is not taking Tory to task about what issues he really “believes in.” And I think that’s dangerous and sinister. Its the unknown that worries me about John Tory. If John Tory became the Premier of Ontario would he be as draconian as the last Progressive Conservative leader the  pernicious Mike Harris?

             Mike Harris dragged the province of Ontario into the ground. What is John Tory really all about? What makes him tick? The press in Toronto haven’t done a very good job on writing articles or conducting news broadcasts about the “specific” issues Tory is really interested in. Now this week Tory did say he was interested in changing up the health care system and the fear is Tory is going to introduce a two tier health care programs and that’s sinister. Once again poor people, single mothers, the elderly, the university students, and disadvantaged could be left out of the loop.  Tory may not come across as “unlikeable” and “abhorrent” as Mike Harris but there is something false about Tory. Tory seems transparent I just don’t believe that this is the “real” John Tory that is presented in the media.

        Mike Harris was just a disgusting man I can’t be more honest then that. Harris was a very unpleasant man he was haughty,  obnoxious, and pretentious. However, despite Harris not having the best “personality” in politics Harris was pretty straight forward in his election platform that he was going to destroy the province of Ontario and he did. John  Tory by contrast, he’s basically is a  snake in the grass that’s for sure. Tory’s public relations team has been attempting to “soften” his image and make him appear more “human” more “likeable” but I am not buying it. Tory’s real personality remains hidden behind his small eyes.  Tory is definitely a wolf in the darkness he will strike if he wins the election you can bet on it. Its shocking that the mainstream Toronto media have not pealed beneath the layers of skin to uncover the “real” John Tory. The public needs to know what this man intends to do to this province and the truth. Who is the real John Tory? Why hasn’t Howard Hampton the NDP leader gone after Tory and his bogus faith based school scheme? Why doesn’t Hampton and the Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty let the public know more about what Tory’s real intentions are for the province of Ontario? John Tory is being left off the hook Tory’s election campaign has zero substance.

The TTC Not the Better Way at 4:00 am

I just need to vent. I was on the TTC for those of you that don’t know the TTC stands for the Toronto Transit Commission. The TTC is the bus service people in the Greater Toronto Area use. Anyway its 4:ooam and for the past month whenever I go out downtown to Toronto I usually take a cab home because I just want to avoid taking the damn 4:00am bus. Tonight I said screw it, I need to save money so I decided to take the 4:00am bus because I needed to save some cash. For over a month I avoided the late night TTC bus  because I just don’t want to hear the drama on the late night bus. I swear people are so fucked up early in the morning LOL!

The reason I try to avoid the TTC at 4:00 am is because there are always these young heterosexual males and yes they tend to be young black men that have to be so loud and obnoxious on the the bus. I know some people will say I am “stereotyping” and all. My Goodness every single time I’m on the late night bus its always these young black guys trying to act “macho” and “tough” at 4:00am. Now if they are so “cool” as they blast their rap music at 4:00am wouldn’t they have their own ride? Why are they on public transit? Don’t they know people are tired? Why talk so loud on the bus at 4:00am? Don’t they know some of us are a bit drunk a bit tired and just want to go home and to bed? And why talk so loud on the cell phone at 4:00am? Do they think everyone wants to hear their conversation?And why do they have to be rude to fellow citizens on the TTC at 4:oo am? I ask why? Why make a scene on the TTC at 4:oo am? Okay, see, look at me I am even using scatalogical language. Excuse me for swearing.

Anyhow, early this morning an elderly man was trying to “chat” with these guys I don’t know why but they were pretty rude and disrespectful to the older man. Now I don’t care how they dress and talk but these guys had to be in their 2os they were not teenagers they were grown men. I mind my own business and I was glad that they weren’t on the bus for long. After they left the bus the ride home was smooth but people were definitely pissed.

bell hooks talks about media racism and OJ. Why is the public and media Ignoring The Megan Williams Case?

Even though, this bell hooks documentary is over a decade old it still is very important.    TV viewers have to   remember the images and the stereotypes that the mainstream media wants to enforce on to public.

The obvious stereotype here  is, that “all” black men are “violent”. Does anyone honestly believe that if OJ Simpson had killed his black wife the mainstream white American media would still be fixated on this case over a decade later? bell hooks reminds us why didn’t the media just focus on the real issue which was the domestic violence of men. Domestic violence is not segregated to any particular race or community it is a very serious social issue and should be taken seriously.

It appears people have already forgotten about the  Megan Williams case? Megan Williams is a young black woman that was brutally raped, beaten,  humiliated, and mutilated by six white people in America. Are all “white” people now violent? Will the USA media stereotype “all” “white men” too? Megan Williams was forced to eat rat feces, she was  discriminated in the worst way possible she was denied dignity.  The Megan Williams case is a real human tragedy.  Will the mainstream now “stereotype” and make the “racial link” between the “white abusers” of young “black women”? The hate crime law was not used in the  Megan Williams case.

Here is the link http://www.nationalledger.com/artman/publish/article_272616031.shtml

However, you have to question why the OJ case hasn’t gone away? OJ is going to go away for good there is no way he’s getting out of jail this time.  Now OJ committed robbery in Las Vegas he’s clearly lost his mind. I am not excusing nor am I defending OJ’s behavior and neither is bell hooks. However, think about the racist and sexist messages the mainstream is really trying to send to the rest of society and the black community? Ask yourself, why is this OJ case so important now? I mean people commit robbery every single day. So why is OJ so important its breaking news on CNN, FOX NEWS, NBC, ABC, CBS, and various other mainstream American TV networks? What is the skin colour of the “editors” and the “producers” that “frame” and put these kinds of stories together? What is their agenda? Do you really think any  black people have the power to greenlight this kind garbage?  Why does the mainstream media attempt to make the actions of one individual have an affect on the entire race? OJ Simpson is one person he is one black man that has done a lot of horrible things. However, ask yourself this question, when a white person commits a serious crime is the entire white community condemned? Or is the person just viewed as an individual?

Will the mainstream American media push the Megan Williams case right under the rug in a week or two? Will the issue of sexism, rape, misogyny against black women be explored? Or will this case vanish very quickly?

Which party is is the lesser of two evils the Liberals or the NDP?

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I watched Global news last night and the topic of discussion was the Ontario Provincial election. We are living in a dystopian era right now in the province of Ontario. My analysis was correct that most Ontario voters don’t care about the Progressive Conservative party leader John Tory’s early election smoke screen about “faith based schools.” I can say this right now I’m not voting for the Progressive Conservative party because they don’t give a damn about the disadvantaged. The track record and history of the PC party is well known since the days of Mike Harris and the “Common Sense Revolution.” The problem is though that the PC Party is very close to the Liberals in the polls and the NDP is in a distant third place. The NDP is not going to win this election they simply are so forgotten by the people of Ontario. I wish there was a strong fourth political party? Unfortunately Ontario voters are stuck with just three.

There are three bottles of poison on the table and the question is one may kill me but the other two poisonous bottles can cause a lot of damage. Which political party is the least evil? It is a hard question to answer? Which one will cause the less amount of destruction to the province of Ontario?

The quandary I am having is which party should I vote for the Liberals or the NDP party? Which party is the lesser of two evils? One school of thought is that of course I should vote for the Liberal party because its safety in numbers. The ideology is that a vote for the NDP is a wasted vote and that ’s splitting the vote between the two more “left” leaning parties. And this is exactly what happened back in 1995 when Mike Harris came into power the left was split and the PC party was able to come right through and win the election.

The NDP party barely has “legitimate party status” I mean that’s how pathetic the NDP party are these days. Its really disconcerting that once again the NDP has not done enough to gain more respect from Ontario voters. The real issue for me is how can the NDP party differentiate itself from the Liberal party and the PC party? The NDP has failed to attract enough new voters. And I think that’s the key for the NDP party right now. The NDP party I believe has some voting power within the city of Toronto and perhaps Hamilton, Ottawa, Windsor. However, the problem for NDP party is that they are losing votes outside of the cities.

The real votes for this provincial election are in the suburbs and in the suburbs are where a lot of very conservative with money people live. The standard of living in the suburbs are increasing and more and more families are leaving Toronto because the house prices are lower, there is less crime, and more work opportunities. The PC party and their “faith base” school smoke screen should be a perfect example to people about where the focus of the PC Party is. The PC Party is willing to waste taxpayers money on just acquiring more “ethnic votes” and not worrying about improving the province. And isn’t that the real election issue? How can the province of Ontario improve and get better?

Social housing should be an election issue so many people are suffering across the province of Ontario and require more housing. And if Tory wastes taxpayers money on “faith based” schools more people will be homeless and there will be increased poverty in the province of Ontario. I believe Catholic schools should be abolished. I really don’t think any religious schools should exist at all. Can you imagine the amount of money saved if Catholic schools were eradicated?

The minimum wage issue is another very important and its one that must not be dismissed. People need to work to keep the economy growing and improving. Now of course the minimum wage issue should be an election issue because lets face it the way to move people up the social ladder would be an incentive for more people to work. If the minimum wage was increased to at least $10 dollars an hour I bet a lot more young people would be working right now. Of course $10 dollars minimum wage isn’t going to save the province of Ontario but it is a step in the right direction. Notice also that the PC party isn’t talking about this issue at all? And why hasn’t the media put the PC party’s feet to the fire on this very important topic? The PC party doesn’t care about young people and the lack of unemployment rate. The PC party is also apathetic to the concerns of the poor.

The NDP party needs to do a lot of grass roots work in the suburbs of Hamilton, Windsor, Ottawa, GTA and then the rural areas in the province of Ontario that’s where they can acquire more votes. The real voting power is outside the GTA.

However, I have some problems with the Liberal party at the moment. There are a couple of issues that I think black voters should think about in relation to next month’s provincial election.

The first issue was the racist incident back in May 2007 when the African American speaker Malik Zulu Shabazz was barred a few months back in May from entering Canada and speaking to black youth. Does anyone remember that racist incident? Don’t forget about it black voters. Well here is the link to an article about this issue: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=cdfd2ebc-0bf9-45e8-bde8-de2b185cf08d&k=9162

I will refresh your memory for you. The Jewish organization B’nai Brith claimed that Mr. Shabazz is an Anti Semite and he should be barred from the province. And the Jewish community isn’t Anti black? Give me a break. The Jewish community in the city of Toronto have demonstrated over and over their anti black prejudices and racism. The Ontario government which is lead by the Liberal party at the moment swiftly went in and barred Mr. Shabazz from talking to the black youth. Are the Jews perfect? Sure seems like it doesn’t it. I believe the incident with Mr. Shabazz underscores the racism of the Jewish community. The Jewish community didn’t care what Mr. Shabazz had to say they just wanted the black speaker removed because he had some previous comments they didn’t agree with. Is this a democracy? Why the censorship?

Now the issues Mr. Shabazz was going to talk about was black focused schools, gun violence, and post secondary education. Mr. Shabazz was not even going to talk about the Jews. However, since the Jews have a lot political and social power in the province of Ontario Mr. Shabazz was quickly barred from entering the country. And no one questioned the racism of the Jewish community at all of course? Now this is what I find very interesting is the “silence” about the obvious bigotry and prejudice of Toronto’s Jewish community. Does anybody even have to question why their racism is ignored?

I mean people have to remember the Jews in the city of Toronto have a lot of political, economic, and social power. Mel Lastman is a Jew and he’s also the former mayor of the city of Toronto. Lastman was known for making racist statements against black people and of course the mainstream Toronto media just pretended to act as though Lastman’s comments had no meaning and no social power. The subliminal message was sent that white people can say whatever the hell they want about blacks but when black people speak up about the racism of the Jewish community suddenly the Toronto media is deaf and mute.

Turn on City TV who do you think owns that network? Moses Znamier is a Jew. Oops, I can’t say that. I’m not supposed to say that now am I? Now if you turn on Global Television the Asper family owns that network as well. And guess what? The Aspers are Jews too. Oops I’m not supposed to say that either? So if you have one community that owns two of the most watched television networks in the country do you actually believe that this “community” will have objective reporting about race related issues that speak the truth about the racism of that specific community? Of course not.

For the people that discern through the blizzard of murkiness its obvious the GTA media cannot be objective when it comes to reporting about the racism of the Jewish community. We are not going to get the complete full story. Now over at the Toronto sun there is a racist that worked there as well his name is Lorrie Goldstein and he’s a Jew as well. Have people forgotten about Arnold Minors? Goldstein has a lot of power at the Toronto Sun when you are an editor at a major newspaper and you have the “ability” over what is printed in that specific newspaper then you have the power to “control” people’s minds. Critical media literacy is crucial to understanding the “images” and “messages” the media is presenting to the public and people have to discern and be cognizant of their biases. I have mentioned already two TV networks in the Toronto area and one major Toronto newspaper and you will still have the Jewish community whine and complain that they are some how oppressed in the city of Toronto? Please give me a break. No the Jewish community in Toronto has a lot of power and they have exploited their power to discriminate against black people.

The racist incident to me was a perfect example of the lack of political and social power black people have in the province of Ontario and the incredible amount of power the Jews have. The Jews will complain and say they encounter discrimination. I never knew being white made the Jews a minority in the province of Ontario? The vast majority of the Jews living here in Ontario are white people they are a part of the white majority. The Jews have white skin privilege and in Canada that’s a form of social power right there. And since the Jews have an incredible amount of economic and political power in addition to their social power the Ontario government quickly answered to their complaints. However, what did the Jews think they have accomplished? I think the incident with Mr. Shabazz underscores the real issue is that whenever young black people are organizing white people become “afraid” and have a problem with that. Notice, none of the mainstream Toronto newspapers “dared” to talk about the real issue. No one was plotting to do anything to the Jews. The issue here was specifically about problems within the private sphere of the black community and how we as a race can work together to improve ourselves.

The Jewish organization B’nai Brith demonstrated their true racist colours by exploiting the situation and trying to say that Mr. Shabazz was trying to promote hated against that community. Where were the white people when Reverend Phelps was allowed to cross the border and promote homophobia? Isn’t that an important issue? Oops I forgot Mr. Phelps is white and not black so there is no “anger” from white people when an obviously bigoted white male individual such as Mr. Phelps can preach homophobia. Why didn’t the Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty say anything about that? Oops I forgot Mr. Phelps was the wrong colour.

The real reason the white community had a problem with Mr. Shabazz is whenever black people are organizing white people have a issue with it. White people will find a way to eliminate and destroy our attempts to help ourselves. What power do black students have? Mr. Shabazz was going to talk to a bunch of university students. No one was walking with weapons or pitchforks or whatever. Knowledge is power the mind is a very powerful thing and I just hope young black voters do not forget the actions of Dalton McGuinty and the Liberal party on this very important issue. The Shabazz incident was an example of white skin privilege, and white power over black people. The mainstream media of course was silent about the “real” issues they focused on Mr. Shabazz previous comments about the Jewish community. Of course, the mainstream media ignores the hypocrisy and racism of the Jewish community. I forgot this is the province of Ontario the Jewish community is “perfect” and can never be “racist” and free from criticism.

The second issue young black voters need to think about is the racist incident that took place just two months ago in July 2007 against the young black man Evon Reid. Here is the link to the Toronto Star article: http://www.thestar.com/article/238572

Now has Aileen Siu been fired? Of course not she “resigned”. The issue here is bigger then Aileen Siu, the issue here is about the accountability of the Ontario government to deal with employment discrimination and the systematic racism against black youth. Dalton McGuinty the Premier of the province of Ontario said all of the politically correct public relations speech and the issue was swept under the rug. The mainstream media once again did not really care about the issue because it wasn’t considered economically viable to them. I mean who cares if a government employee is a racist? Where is the sensationalism there? How will that sell papers? Everyone wrote into the newspapers there were a few editorials and the issue suddenly vanished. Remember young black voters when black youth are humiliated in this racist and deleterious manner as far as the Ontario government is concerned our concerns don’t matter.

Oops I forgot again Aileen Siu is not black she’s not even white she’s an Asian Canadian woman. And in the province of Ontario the social hierarchy is that blacks are treated as inferior to other racial and cultural groups. Siu called Evon Reid a honours student at the University of Toronto “this ghetto dude.” You see if Siu was a black person she would of been fired on the spot. Since Siu isn’t black the issue was swept right under the rug. Why should black voters take the Liberal party seriously when they obviously have a track record of not only ignoring racism in the province of Ontario but pretending the issue doesn’t exist? Employment discrimination is a very serious issue.

To be honest the Liberals and the NDP will of course turn against each other and the PC party can come through the middle and win the election again. The NDP hasn’t done enough to get on the radar and the Liberal party every single day looks more and more conservative. Will this provincial election next month be Deja Vu just like 1995? It could happen. And if it does happen everybody better watch out. None of the three parties can really be trusted that’s for sure.

I Miss In Living Color: Men on Film

          I remember when I was a kid in the early 1990s  I used to watch “In Living Color” every Sunday night on FOX.  The show is way better then SNL that’s for sure. “In Living Color” was controversial but also very entertaining as well. The best skit of the series has definitely got to be the “men on films” segments with David Alan Grier and Damon Wayans. Now some gays will say the skit is kind of homophobic and stereotypical. I also found that the skits presented the hypocrisy of gay culture and the importance on youth and beauty. I found the humor to be very funny as well. I mean there is some truth to the jokes they are making. TV just isn’t the same as it was in the early 1990s anymore. MAD TV is the new comedy program on FOX and its alright but nothing tops “In Living Color.”

       

bell hooks Talks About Racism And Sexism In Film and pop culture.

Whenever Hollywood wants to make a movie about violent male characters you just know that men of colour are going to be depicted as evil. Jodie Foster’s new film, “The Brave One”, has been receiving a lot of positive press. However, after I watched black feminist bell hooks talk about the representations of racism and sexism in films it got me thinking about the images of black men in film.

bell hooks is a genius because she understands the importance of popular culture and how images in movies are manifestations of not only our beliefs but also of our prejudices. Since the beginning of Hollywood there has been an impetus to depict black people in a negative light.

Jodie Foster’s new film “The Brave One”, is being presented as a feminist film yet the movie is very misandrist and racist. Foster has been typecast as the pretty white female victim, in her films for the past two decades now. Foster has received a lot of positive press for her new film even though its a rip off of the film “The Death Wish”. According to the mainstream media, it is “empowering” for Foster’s character a pretty white woman to kill men especially black and hispanic men.

Would “The Brave One” be praised by the media if say Roseanne Barr or Rosie O Donnell was the lead instead of Jodie Foster? Its no surprise society likes seeing pretty, thin, women in movies being vulnerable and in danger but somehow overcomes this by murdering men.

bell hooks reminds us from her outstanding book “Outlaw Culture”, that we must be “enlightened witnesses” to these racist images. The reason actors of colour were chosen for the movie “The Brave One” is because men of colour are traditionally viewed as the ”bad guys”. Also these racist representations of black manhood are palatable to people. Racism sells and Hollywood has been doing this for decades. People believe young black men and other men of colour are “violent” and “evil”. The filmmakers are “conscious” of this obvious racism so they place the Terrance Howard character as the “noble” good black man in the film. Howard’s character does not conceal the deleterious racist and misandrist messages this movie is sending.

In “The Brave One”, the violent men are men of colour there are the hispanic thugs that attack Foster’s character and her partner in Central Park. Also, Foster is the potential ”victim” of a rape and attack on the subway by two young black men. The trailer for the “The Brave One” has the latino and black men as the violent sadistic aggressors. After watching the bell hooks clip it makes perfect sense that the mainstream not only want to view men of colour as violent but racism sells.

Now some people may say “well its just a movie ” but bell hooks reminds us that no racism in films are socially constructed. Movies like “The Brave One” are not just movies they are powerful tools that are created to elicit a response in the public. “The Brave One” is a perfect example of the phrase hooks created called “White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy.”

People just watch movies unconsciously and they don’t “think” about what they are seeing and the collective thinking that emerges. There is a cultural production of this obvious supremacy and people should be cognizant of it. I think critical media literacy is necessary and its not surprising that the media has glossed over the blatant racist messages this movie is sending.

Book Review: The Well of Loneliness

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I am reviewing the “Well of Loneliness” for a second time because I just felt the urge to revisit this wonderful book. The first time I read the “Well of Loneliness”,  was in the late 1990s. I decided to purchase a copy of the book for myself. When I went to the bookstore the clerk bluntly said ” you do know this book is a dyke classic right?” I answered “of course.” I was insulted. So because I am a man it means I am not supposed to know about this excellent book? Give me a break! I knew about “The Well of Loneliness” since I was in high school.

I think this novel has some autobiographical context in relation to Hall’s own life. In Hall’s real life,she also dressed very butch and masculine often seen wearing suits and ties just like Stephen Gordon. Hall also had a very masculine appearance.

The first time I remember learning about ”The Well of Loneliness” ,was when I read Maya Angelou’s first autobiography “I know why the Caged Bird Sings”. Maya talked about this book and that got me curious about learning more about the “The Well of Loneliness.”

”The Well of Loneliness” is often called the “lesbian bible” because it was the first novel that was published in the 20th century to deal honestly with lesbian love and lesbian passion. The “Well of Loneliness” is about a girl named Stephen Gordon her parents Sir Phillip and Anna wanted a son. Sir Phillip insists on naming the girl Stephen. Stephen looks just like her father and he adores her. Yet Stephen has a tense relationship with her mother Anna, her mother hates Stephen she has a strong disgust and a quiet hatred for her daughter.

Stephen first discovers she has same sex feelings for the servant Collins when she is a young girl around the age of seven. Stephen grows up to become a famous writer she falls in love with an American actress Angela Crossby but she actress betrays Stephen. The actress husband finds out about the affair and writes a letter to Stephen’s mother Anna. Anna of course is disgusted and Stephen and her no longer have contact. Stephen then meets a woman named Mary. Mary and Stephen fall in love but Stephen feels like she is unworthy of her love. Stephen sets Mary up with a male friend of her’s Martin Hallam. In the end Stephen kills herself. I know the book is kind of depressing but its so well written.

The novel is very tame by 21st century standards, there are no scenes of lesbian sex in the book. However, when “The Well of Loneliness” was first published in 1928 the book was banned in England and there was a famous trial. British writers such as EM Forester and Virginia Woolf defended Hall. Hall wrote several over books such as “The Unlit Lamp” but she’s best known for the Well of Loneliness.

Now some lesbian critics bash the novel because the main character Stephen Gordon is a negative stereotype of lesbianism. However, some lesbian critics are forgetting the time and place the book was written in 1929 England.  I can kind of see what they are saying because even I was sort of confused about the Stephen character. Was Stephen a butch lesbian or was she a transsexual? It seemed to me the character Stephen was trying so hard to deny her femininity. Now just because a lesbian wears suits and is butch doesn’t mean she wants to be a man. But even now I do wonder why do some lesbians wear suits or dress in a more masculine style kind of clothing? Is it because some lesbians think by dressing in a more masculine manner they are more comfortable?

I do think modern critics have to remember the time period Hall wrote the book. The world was a very different place in 1928 and although Hall refers to the character Stephen Gordon’s sexuality as an affliction we have to remember the social and cultural period of 1928 in England.

PS.

Does anyone know any other good novels about black lesbians or other lesbians of colour? Please let me know? I’ve been looking around various book stores and its hard to find good black lesbian fiction. The black lesbian writers I had recently are Dionne Brand and Makeda Silvera. If you know any new novels about black lesbians or lesbians of colour let me know?

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