RIZE

Rize – The Stripper Dance

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Strong women in movies

I’m a scifi addict and I’m sure I spend way too much time watching science fiction movies. But one thing I’ve noticed recently is the tendency of strong female characters to be killed or left without a man in scifi movies. Cases in point: Catwoman (starring Halley Berry) discovers her awesome abilities and has to leave the man she loves; Jean/The X-Men becomes the phoenix and she’s killed (not what happened in the comic book by the way); and Rogue/The X-Men who has to live a life without human physical contact. This brings to mind 1980s movies, scifi and otherwise, which killed off strong women in movies — or left them without men. Passion has often been portrayed in American media as something dangerous; men and women in film can have neutral, lukewarm sexless relationships (for example, in Batman Begins); but no more. And women’s right to be sexual; their right to chose, their ability to be good single parents ect is demonized in movies; especially during conservative political perids. Like the one we just came out of. I’m not making this up: Susan Faludi in Backlash said the same during in 1992; that the media had since the late 1980s waged war against the feminist gains of women. Media reflects the political spirit of our times. And come to think of it has has become more conservative over the last eight years. I feel like motherhood, marriage, and the “dangers” of being raised without a father are being shoved down our throats in film and movies. But peep this: President Obama grew up in single parent home. Ok, with a lot of support from his grandparents — this is still a break from the traditional two parent home. How, I wonder, will Obama impact the media portrayal of family values? Of women? And single parent homes?

Media and the hood…A new beginning?

I just had a very intense discussion with a young man about “the street”
— “the hood” and its importance to African American media. And I feel compelled to share my response just to get it off my chest.
Black folks read by lamplight as slaves with the threat of death hanging over their heads. At the turn of the century there were 100s of Black doctors, lawyers, teachers (over a 1000). I shared the “beef” as it were between Booker T. Washington and WEB Dubois. Washington’s advice to Black folks was to “cast down your buckets where you are:” take whatever White folks give you and make it work. WEB Dubois in contrast advocated the “talented tenth”: the most gifted of our race would lead the others to economic and intellectual prosperity. Rather than contasting these two historic giants as right or wrong, I pointed out that each was speaking from his own worldview. Booker T. Washingston, was no Uncle Tom. He was trying to map out a strategy for our survival: in the South African Americans were being lynched weekly. I finished with a discussion of the Civil Rights movement — emphasizing the waterhoses and dogs used to subdue the activists. And I speculated that these brothers and sisters must be rolling over in their graves. “I gave my life for this s–t?! So Black folks could shoot each other down in the street likes dogs?!”. Is any of this celebrated in mainstream media. Nope. What we get is thugs, bling and b—-es. I concluded my rant with a sumary of all we’re doing today — the countless blue and white collar workers; their sucess and struggle. This never seems to make it to the TV screen either.
Except that President Obama made history. They couldn’t keep that quiet — couldn’t keep it off the news. Now perhaps the media will begin to celebrate the beauty that is Black America instead of “the hood.” And to my brothers and Sisters let’s do the same. As we enter a new year let’s celebrate ourselves: all we’ve been through; all we’ve accomplished; and look with hope to the coming era. And in 2009 let’s ask
— let’s demand that the media celebrate the positive things about the Black community. Or at least give us some variety.

A Movie about Biggie Smalls? Hollywood Cut it Out!

A movie about Biggie Smalls? Please stop! I’m a Black woman — and as a Black woman I’m bone tired of watching movies about my folks going to jail, rapping or playing sports. We do other things: we are doctors we are lawyers, we are teachers — damn we just elected a black president! My youngest son pointed out that if they made a movie about any rapper it should’ve been Tupac. But I guess to present a media portrait of an intellectual whose mother was a panther and is still an activist would’ve been too much like common sense — like fair. Don’t get me wrong: I actually liked Biggie and I think what he was able to accomplish from such humble beginnings was outtasite. But I don’t like what rap became during the late 1980s — how it was transformed from protest music into a commercialized product which celebrates the worst aspects of African American culture; and which in recent studies has been actually linked to violence, promiscuity and poor academic performance in children. Do I sound like I have a chip on my shoulder? Sorry but too many of us are asleep and movies like these don’t help the cause. This is some more mainstream media garbage to convince Black children to limit their aspirations. I feel like I’ve been warped back in time and I’m watching a pop eyed Black butler on the silver screen. He’s wearing white gloves and trailing behind a handsome White actor:”… Lawdy, lawdy I jus knows she loves you suh’…” Fast forward to Jackie Robinson… Nat King Cole…Lena Horne. Our firsts and their tokens. A whole lotta folks sacrificed and some of them died so African Americans could aspire to something more so that we could move past these historic firsts;so we wouldn’t be confined to stereotypes and to show America — through the media — Black folks could do something besides chase balls, go to jail and entertain.

IMMORTAL II: The Time of Legend by valjeanne jeffers is here at www.amazon.com


Cover art & design by Kristopher Mosby Copyright 2008 all rights reserved
It was 12:00 and the illuminae was shinning down upon Fisherman’s Alley, in the distance Topaz Bay glimmered beneath its rays. Citizens had to walk to the ocean’s edge to see the islets of slimy pollution floating atop its waves, and the twisted artillery resting at its bottom.
Bars and rest houses dotted the street but out of the seventeen buildings that lined Fisherman’s Alley, ten were boarded up.
In the year of our One 2875 Topaz was at war.
Five years ago Guinsula, Topaz’s eastern neighbor, was fighting with Ageis, a small western city. Guinsula and her twelve commonwealths already had a lucrative shipping trade. But Guinula’s pirates had been eyeing Ageis’s sea for decades.
Aegis’s answer was to join with Xnobia. Together they became the body Electra: a mighty leviathan with fifteen tributaries. Topaz seized upon Guinsula’s weakness and attacked. At the same time Topaz’s Council offered to protect Electra’s borders.
But Electra refused, for its Council knew that, just two years earlier, Topaz had lured Sorre into a treaty. Once Topaz had Sorre’s trust — and their weapons — Topaz butchered Sorre’s Copper citizens and condemned the survivors to a living hell in the Desert of Exile.
Topaz answered Electra with a full scale invasion — Guinsula’s warriors attacked Topaz…
And so began Tundra’s world wars.
Topaz’s wealthy citizens fled to the safety of Losia, Hiosz and Dexioz island resorts. Those who couldn’t afford to leave the city, ran instead to the cluster of resthouses around Topaz bay — running from the ever growing gangs and their civil wars. Then too, neighborhoods at the edge of the city were less likely to be bombed.
The poor and middle class were trapped. With luck, they earned a living clearing bomb sites, working in factories or at the detention center.
Luckiest by far, were those who could find jobs at Topaz General, the only hospice left standing in the city — as healers, orderlies and janitors. The currency was better here than anywhere else in the province.
But the hours were long and hard. Healers were so few, many had been shipped abroad to war. And orderlies and janitors often found themselves working as doctors and nurses.
Those that couldn’t find work joined the homeless — hiding out in the deserted buildings that filled the city. Living by their wits.
Now, in Fisherman’s Alley at the Salty Dog, Citizens sat in booths lining the walls or perched on bar stools. Among the laughing crowd were Mark and Layla, sharing
a drink at the bar.

Mark was thin with short, unruly blond hair and green eyes. His companion Layla had skin the color of cocoa beans, with full lips. Her kinky, brown hair was twisted into two braids.
He smiled into her eyes. “How’s your Mum doing?”
“Alright…tired of working double shifts.”
“What time’s she going in tonight?”
“Midnight.“
“Want me to come over?”
Layla grinned over her beer. “Yeah.”
“I’ll be there about 12:30.”
Layla was a skin popper — a placid addict. She shot up between her thighs, so that she didn’t have to wear long sleeve shirts. She thought Mark didn’t know.
Beside them sat Joan, a woman with burnt sienna skin and slanted, brown eyes, staring morosely into her glass of juice.
Across the room her lover Toki grinned up at Keith, another activist, then cut her eyes over at Joan to see if her flirting was making Joan angry. It wasn’t.
Sitting in a booth behind them was José, slender and tan, with hazel colored eyes. Beside him was his mate Consuela, a buxom, sepia colored woman, with a heart shaped face and curly, shoulder length hair. Petite Estella and her heavily muscled lover, Parco, shared their booth.

Two enforcers walked into the bar and the crowd tensed. Both were Fuchsia. The older officer had a reddish complexion, his ample stomach hanging over the waistband of his trousers. But his companion had the scrubbed, fresh face look of a rookie.
“Take the back,” the beefy officer said to his partner, “I’ll start up here.”
“Ok, searg.” The rookie approached Toki and Keith’s table. “Papers!” he ordered.
Keith and Toki reached into their pockets and handed him two black booklets.
These identity papers listed their personal history, including their legal right to live and work in Topaz. Yet Keith’s ID had something that Toki’s didn’t. His draft status.
Every male citizen, sixteen and older, was required to carry a copy of their military record. This record always listed a citizen as ready for service, ready but declined, because of mental or physical handicap or discharged.
If a man’s ID didn’t list one of these categories, he was, in the eyes of planet law: “a draft dodger.” A man hiding from his required duties as a soldier.
The peacekeeper glanced through the booklets and handed them back, moving to the female Citizen at the next table over.
His partner had already inspected The Salty Dog’s first booth, and was now standing before José and Consuela’s table. “Papers!” the enforcer barked. They hastily complied. “Papers!” he said again to Estella and Parco…

Copyright Valjeanne Jeffers-Thompson 2008

all rights reserved