It took Alex Haley 12 years to finish Roots: The Saga of an American Family, known widely as simply, Roots. The book shot straight to the top of the bestseller charts, and the twelve-hour mini-series (Jan. 1977) was watched by 130 million people. They translated the book into 37 languages; it won a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, and sales soared to over 5.5 million.
This was not without controversy. No success story is. Haley had to settle a plagiarism suit out of court—that part of his story was copied from a 1967 novel, The African (The Guardian). It was also said there was no documented evidence that the alleged elder he spoke to in the Gambia had been accurate in his account of Kinte. Critics said that if Haley had written Roots as a fiction novel, there would not have been a cause for alarm. “Most of us feel it’s highly unlikely that Alex actually found the village whence his ancestors sprang”, Henry Louis Gates Jr said in 1998, calling Roots “a work of the imagination.” (But if you listen to Haley here, his story is very detailed. It is also consistent with many of his other interviews and speeches about the story of how Roots came about. This is hard to do if you are lying).
Roots is now part of history and the original 1977 TV series awakened a new generation of young Blacks to the horrors of enslavement when movies and television shows about slavery were few and far in-between (both in books and film). While it may seem an over-saturated topic now, in 1977 this was groundbreaking.
Enslaved persons had little knowledge of what Haley referred to as “family continuity.” They were sold so much that as adults they came to know little about their family lineage, where they came from and who they were. Roots was therefore something special because Blacks had come out of the Black Power movement of the 60s, had just seen the deaths of Medgar Evers, Martin King, and Malcolm X. Roots was not just the story of one man’s family but the family of all Black people who had been taken captive and robbed of their family tree and any connection to it. It would become a history lesson, a recommended educational film that Black parents will watch with their children with just as much seriousness as their parents forced them to watch The Ten Commandments. Some would even name their children Kunta Kinte.
After Roots, Octavia Butler used time travel to explore slavery in Kindred (1979), Alice Walker used an African subplot (Nettie’s life in Africa) in The Color Purple (1982) which also went on to win a Pulitzer and National Book Award, and Toni Morrison made a fugitive slave her protagonist in Beloved (1987). Beloved was voted the most influential African-American novel of the 20th century in a poll of PBS viewers. But as Frances Smith Foster has pointed out, “in terms of actual audience and effect on politics and policies, Roots has been the most influential such story in the modern era.”
As I listened to the entire 2hours of the clip linked above, I wondered why I was doing this when I had (seemingly) much more important stuff to do. That is until I came to the final hour and fifty something minutes. Here, Haley speaks about how the father’s name the babies at eight days old. In the villages, the people would not see much of the father for seven days because he was spending time with the baby to come up with a good meaningful and significant name. On the eighth day the people would gather at the family’s home. The mother would come out once hearing the signal and sit on the stool and hold the eight-day-old baby. The father would walk over, lift the infant, and whisper the name into the infant’s ear three times.
He would do this so that the infant would be the first one to know who he/she was. This resembles, to me, the ancient practice of circumcision of the male child, and naming of the child, in ancient Israelite culture (Gen 17:12) which I believe is also Black culture. For example, the Ashanti Empire was a powerful Akan empire and kingdom in what is now modern-day Ghana. Ashan was the name of a city in southern Israel. The word Ashan in Hebrew means “smoke” “smoke city” or “burning city” so that Ashanti means “the people of Ashan or the people of the smoke city”. This was a reference to the city of Ashan after the Israelites took it over during the conquest of Canaan (1 Ch 4:32, 1 Ch 6:59). The Ashanti people had many Hebrew customs and traditions as part of their way of life. For eight days after the birth of a child, it is only on the eighth day that the child receives his/her personal name.
It was here that I had discovered the purpose of my listening to this piece in its entirety. I believe this to be such a powerfully subtle telling of who we, so-called Blacks in America, truly are. For the customs of the Hebrews is something that can still be found among many African cultures such as the Ashan.
Roots is a powerful example of why we shouldn’t give up on whatever we are striving toward. It inspires me as a writer and as a person of the fruits of patience and of perseverance. While Roots has had (and continues to have) much success, remember that it took Haley 12 years to complete (one whole year from Kunta’s birth to capture… which could be a book by itself).
Think about that the next time you worry about that book taking too long to finish.
Native Son is a movie based on one of my favorite books out of High School, back when I first started college and began my journey of literally devouring Black Literature. So, the first thing I noticed about this trailer is that it’s a modern adaptation. If you’ve read the book, you know the story was written in 1940 and takes place in the 1930s. Bigger Thomas is a young black man of only 20-years-old and is living in extreme poverty on Chicago’s South Side. The movie appears to have a modern spin and Thomas doesn’t appear to be as poor as he was in the book.
I won‘t lie. In the first three seconds of seeing the trailer, I was surprised to see the military look of the jacket and beret bigger wears because that is not the persona of the Bigger in the book. Bigger in the book is more so laid back (at least that’s how I pictured him). Like all book adapted films, I am expecting everything not to be exactly the same while hoping the plot resembles the book and that things aren’t too modern even with the modern adaptation. I admit I kinda hoped it did take place in the 1930s. I’m a Historical Fiction writer after all so of course I think they could have left the timeline alone. I guess I fear the whole “black revolutionary” thing is becoming too much of a trend. Like he’s gotta be militant because being “black” is cool now and everybody’s “woke” or whatever.
Anywho, excited to see this though!
Apparently, it has already aired so I’ll be looking for it. I might just reread the book before I do and of course, I’ll be sure to blog my thoughts.
In the meantime, have you seen this? Looks like it premiered two days ago (4/6). How was it?
I have a lot to say so this is only part one as there were multiple dynamics to this film.
WARNING: THIS POST HAS SPOILERS. IF YOU DIDN’T SEE THE MOVIE YET, GO SEE IT AND THEN COME BACK TO THIS POST 🙂
What is Blackkklansman about? First, we should know that the story is based off a true story and a memoir. From Rotten Tomatoes:
“From visionary filmmaker Spike Lee comes the incredible true story of an American hero. It’s the early 1970s, and Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. The young detective soon recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), into the undercover investigation of a lifetime. Together, they team up to take down the extremist hate group as the organization aims to sanitize its violent rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream. Produced by the team behind the Academy-Award (R) winning Get Out.”
“Why do you talk like that?”
I was in the backseat of my cousin’s friend’s car. He was dropping me off at a family members house when his question came.
“Talk like what?” I asked, confused.
“Like that. Proper. You say everything right.”
I frowned, “What?”
I start with this experience because stereotypes concerning language is the foundation of this movie. It is the stereotype concerning Blacks and the English language or the “King’s English,” that makes the plot possible. In social psychology, a stereotype is an over-generalized belief. Stereotypes are generalized because one assumes that the stereotype is true with no real basis or evidence of the belief. There’s no such thing as talking black or talking white. How a person communicates is determined by his upbringing, education or environment, not by his or her race or nationality. But some black people who articulate words well have been teased for years for “trying to talk white.” They have been deemed Uncle Tom’s, sell-outs or simply made fun of and mocked.
In Blackkklansman, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) uses this language barrier or stereotype to his advantage. Ron speaks proper, to the extent that (according to general thought), he sounds just like a typical European. Ron pretends to be a white guy on the phone who is interested in joining the Klu Klux Klan and mistakenly uses his real name. The person on the other end of the phone invites him down for a meeting except Ron can’t go, obviously. Ron is not white.
Stallworth can’t show up in person as a Black guy so in comes Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), a Jewish man who pretends to be Ron in person. Because of the stereotype surrounding language, Ron can infiltrate a white racist organization with nothing more than a proper English accent.
Language stereotypes have their roots in Scientific Racism. Scientific Racism is the belief there is scientific proof to justify racism. Examples of such thought is Blacks are related to monkeys, their brains are smaller than other races, and they are less intelligent than other races. In the event someone Black is intelligent, surely it is not of his own doing. He is almost always certainly trying to be like someone else.
Nineteenth-Century scientists were convinced the white race was superior to other races and this superiority can be found in Darwinian Theory. Coined by the cousin of Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, Eugenics comes from the Greek word eugenes, meaning “well-born.” It is a racist scientific process set out to prove, through alleged psychological and medical evidence, the inferiority of Blacks. Eugenics was put into practice by eliminating those born without “well born genes” from the population. From 1924 to 1936, thirteen states in the U.S. utilized eugenics programs that ranged from isolating those deemed “feeble-minded” from the general population to forced sterilization.
Because of Scientific Racism even among blacks, there is a common misconception that if you are a black person who speaks intelligently, proper, enunciate words correctly, or have an extensive vocabulary, you are “talking white.” This belief exists because of the stereotype in many circles that only “white” people can speak intelligently.
Does speaking a certain language and the enunciation of words define a person’s allegiance to a certain group of people? Am I a sellout, coon, or Uncle Tom because I like to read and speak a certain way? Because of Scientific Racism and stereotypes concerning language and intelligence, Ron Stallworth joined the Klan without even showing his face.
The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews
The headline I am using, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews is inspired by a book released in 1991 by the Nation of Islam by the same name that asserts Jews dominated the Atlantic slave trade and has been widely criticized for being antisemitic. (Another book to read is The Thirteenth Tribe by Arthur Koestler as well as Jews Selling Blacks also by The Nation of Islam detailing slave sale advertising by American Jews.) But, Jews involvement in the Slave Trade is not the secret relationship to which I am referring.
In Blackkklansman, Ron is a Black guy, but he cannot show up at KKK meetings as a Black guy. So, he recruits the help of Flip Zimmerman who would pretend to be him in person. As it stands today, 2018, Jews are known and recognized as the chosen people of “God.” Their heritage and identity are said to go back to that of the ancient Israelites and the land of Israel /Jerusalem is known and recognized as their land. But there are several historical occurrences that makes this inaccurate.
According to the biblical table of Nations (Gen. 10), the earth was repopulated after the flood by Noah’s three sons and their wives. Shem (Shemites), Ham (Hamites) Japheth (Japhites). According to the bible, the Israelites lineage goes back to Shem but Ashkenaz is the descendant of Noah’s son Japheth.
Ashkenaz is the first-born son of Gomer, again, descendant of Japheth. History traces the descendants of Japheth back to the European nations.
Ashkenaz in Hebrew means German. This means that Asheknazi Jew literally translates, “German Jew.”
Gomer, the first born of Japheth, has been traced back to the Celtics, Goths, Hungarians, Sloths, the Gaels of Ireland and Scotland.
Javan, fourth son of Japheth, has been traced back to the Greeks and Magog has been traced back to the Russians.
According to the bible, the Israelites will be returned to their land by the messiah. This is not how the Jews entered the land of Israel. The British Empire conquered Jerusalem and had a mandate of the land from the Turkish Empire. They gave it to the Jews after the 2nd World War when the Jews said they needed their own land because of the Holocaust. This was done by way of The Balfour Declaration of 1948.
The parts of the earth inhabited by Shem were the territory of Assyria and Persia east of the Tigris River, the eastern part of Syria and parts of the Arabian Peninsula. All the children of Shem were black.
Abraham, father of the Hebrew-Israelite and Arab nation was black.
The Arab nation is made up of black Hamite / Egyptian mothers and black Shemite fathers. Hagar, the black Egyptian is mother of Abraham’s son Ishmael. Ishmael married black Egyptian women and gave birth to 12 sons who became 12 tribes. They inhabited the region from the Euphrates to the Red Sea in the Arabian Peninsula and they were black.
Joseph was second in command in Egypt when the famine drove the eleven sons of Jacob to Canaan to buy food. Joseph’s brothers did not recognize him. First, he had grown into a man since they last seen him and secondly, they could not distinguish him from the black Egyptians because he was black also.
After Pharaoh commanded that all the Hebrew babies be killed by way of his “Birth Control” mandate, Moses passed as the pharaoh’s black grandson for 40 years. This could not happen if Moses, the Israelite “Jew” was not also black.
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the 12 tribes were all black.
Due to the mountain of evidence concerning the identity of the ancient Shemites and Japhethites, it is my belief that the so-called African American, Negro, Black, Colored person, are the original “Jews” and true children of Israel and that the Jews we know today are instead the European nations.
With this understanding, the fact that Zimmerman, a Jew, is pretending to be Ron, a black man, in this movie is revealing and I wonder if Spike Lee and Jordan Peele did this on purpose. After all, it wouldn’t be Spike Lee’s first time doing this.
In his movie Bamboozled, a satire of network television’s pitfalls and prejudices and a humorous look at how race, ratings and the pursuit of power lead to a television writer’s rise and tragic downfall, Pierre Delacroix (played by Damon Wayans) is in a room with the writers for his sitcom and a Jewish man is wearing an Afro. Pierre jokes about blacks always being late or on “CP Time” (“Colored People Time”). He then pauses and looks at the Jew with the Afro and his words are: “And no. That Afro does not qualify you my young Jewish friend.” He meant, that Afro does not make you black. (Lee also uses the language stereotype in this movie. More on this in part 2 when we explore the caricature of the Uncle Tom.) This happens all the time in Hollywood where blacks and Jews are jokingly intertwined with one another.
In Blackkklansman, Zimmerman is not really Ron, a black man, just as the Jews are not really the children of Israel, who are black. The secret relationship between Blacks and Jews is that Blacks are the original “Jews,” and everyone knows it but black people. (That’s why it’s a secret).
The Klan and Police Force Connection
In Blackkklansman, Ron is a Black police officer who sincerely believes that justice can take place from within the system. He befriends a young lady named Patrice, an Angela Davis character, working for the Black Panthers as part of Stokely Carmichael’s team. While their relationship attempts to take a romantic turn, her problem with him is his connection to the force (she eventually discovers he’s an undercover cop). At the end of the movie he confirms that while he has turned in his Klan membership, he is not ready to turn in his allegiance to the police force. Her response: “I can’t sleep with the enemy.”
Why did she consider him an enemy for being a police officer?
During the institution of chattel slavery, controlling the actions and whereabouts of slaves was of vital importance. As nothing more than a commodity, slaves were worth hundreds and thousands of dollars. Big feet, for example, may indicate to a slave owner that his slave may be strong and a stout one day while his “skin and bones” appearance may bring down a hopeful price. “Through care and discipline, slaves’ bodies were physically incorporated with their owners’ standards of measure.” (Walter Johnson, Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market)
If a slave approached the auction block with two fingers cut off, for example, both of which were done in the slave’s desperate attempt to escape chains–choosing rather to go about with eight fingers than to become a slave–the true manner of his disablement would be concealed for the time being. Basically, the fact that this slave cut his own fingers off would be a secret for now. The owner would instead lie about the enslaved man’s attempted escape. Maybe a doctor cut off one of his fingers due to illness and the slave, to comply with the doctor’s orders, cut off the other one.
In such case the slave is seen as so stupid and imitative that he would mutilate himself because it’s what the doctor did. For the auctioneer, this increased his chances of selling this slave. Showing stupidity for obedience was better than showing rebellion, which would decrease the auctioneer’s chances of selling the slave.
These kinds of situations, and the constant running away of slaves, caused for serious security over the slave’s whereabouts and required a policing of them known as Slave Patrols.
Slave patrols were organized groups of white men who monitored and enforced discipline upon black slaves during chattel slavery in the U.S. The slave patrols’ function was to police slaves, especially runaways and defiant slaves. These patrols were formed by county courts and state militias and were the closest enforcers of codes governing slaves throughout the South.
Overseers – On large plantations, the person who directed the daily work of the slaves was the overseer, a white man OR an enslaved black man (driver) promoted to the position by his master. Some plantations had both a white overseer and a black driver, especially in the deep South or on plantations where the master was often absent. The overseer had special privileges. He may get to ride around on a horse instead of pick cotton in the fields. He may live in a brick house instead of a slave cabin, and he may get to sit at the masters’ table on special occasions and eat with him.
Many people assert the word “officer” is a direct relation to “overseer,” which is taken to mean that the overseer of slave plantations have become police officers. I don’t know about the name correlation, but I do know that black cops are often teased and accused of being “overseers” by other blacks who have come to distrust the system of American policing overall. For many, police cars have replaced horses and badges have replaced hoods.
This may be because modern-day police enforce the laws of the land and are the most brutal force toward African Americans and black related crimes in this day as well as back in the day. Patrice considered Ron an enemy because Slave Patrols, Night Watches, and Overseers were designed for managing slaves in the same way that modern day Police Departments manage black related crimes. As David Giacopassi and Margaret Vandiver state in Ignoring the Past: Coverage of Slavery and Slave Patrols in Criminal Justice (2006:186) remark:
“the literature clearly establishes that a legally sanctioned law enforcement system existed in America before the Civil War for the express purpose of controlling the slave population and protecting the interests of slave owners. The similarities between the slave patrols and modern American policing are too salient to dismiss or ignore. Hence, the slave patrol should be considered a forerunner of modern American law enforcement.”
And the National Humanity Center, Slave Drivers, Overseer, Enslavement:
“How did black drivers relate to their masters, and to their fellow slaves over whom they held authority? How did they adapt to the vulnerable position between master and slave.”
These are questions many blacks have for black police officers. How does a black police officer, aware of the racist practices of his job, relate to the people of his race who are being mistreated and over whom he has authority? How does he balance this allegiance? For women like Patrice and many in the African American community, there is no balance.
I thought the movie was decent. It didn’t wow me. It was just okay. I loved all the connections and messages of the movie and the history. I just thought the movie would do more with those connections. I loved listening to the powerful speech of Kwame Ture or Stokely Carmichael as played by Corey Hawkins, who did an AMAZING job!
Obviously, I did not read the book before seeing this movie so I did not know how it would end. While I don’t believe every officer is evil (just like I don’t believe all blacks are illiterate and ghetto, not all Mexicans are criminals who got to the U.S. illegally, and not all white people are racists), I thought Ron would get more involved with the politics of the Black Panthers and less involved with the police force with all the information he now had. I thought with all the connections, subtle or otherwise, this would lead Ron to leave the force and the movie was going to take a turn similar to Sam Green’s The Spook Who Sat By the Door. This book (so controversial it was removed from shelves) is a fictional account turned movie in the 60s about the first black CIA agent who, after quitting, takes all he has learned from the agency and trains his brothers in the inner-city how to fight. A movie was made of the book in 1973. (There was also a movie released in 1966 called Black Klansman where a light-skinned black man (Richard Gilden) infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan to avenge his daughters murder after she is killed in a church bombing.)
American Gangster is based on the true story of real-life drug kingpin Frank Lucas, who by the 1960s constructed an international drug ring that spanned from New York to South East Asia. The film features Denzel Washington as Lucas and a New York City cop (Russell Crowe) who busted a big-time heroin ring. I have a love-hate relationship with this movie. In no way do I condone selling drugs and yet I will still watch this movie. There’s a little angel on my shoulder, shaking her head in disgust and a little devil smirking at me as we both smile while watching Denzel’s swag.
So anyway, I was watching American Gangster last week, and I started typing away at the notepad on my phone. Somehow, I had managed to think about writing. These days, I watch movies to see if they are written well, educational, and entertaining. Eventually, I had come up with a list of things I learned, and I thought I’d share it with you.
Lesson #1: Influence
“I want what you got Uncle Frank. I wanna be you.”
One of the most powerful aspects of this movie is the message on Influence. Social influence occurs when someone’s emotions, opinions, or behaviors are affected by others. In the film, Frank’s nephew Stevie Lucas is an excellent baseball player and had been playing since he was a child. Now at the prominent financial level to do so, Frank schedules a meeting for his nephew Stevie (T.I.) with the Dodgers. Stevie does not show up. Now that he was part of his Uncle’s drug enterprise, he no longer had a desire to play ball. Instead, Stevie wants to be a drug kingpin like Frank. This scene is one of the saddest parts of the movie for me when Stevie Lucas says he doesn’t want to play baseball anymore, although that was his passion since childhood. Instead, he wanted to be a drug dealer.
This scene is a reminder that you are not just living for yourself. The decisions you make and the opinions you give do not only belong to you but can influence the people around you. We don’t have to be celebrities or someone great to have influence. Somewhere, in our little corner of the world, someone is listening to us and silently taking our advice. People are watching you whether you know it or not and whether they speak up about it or not. The danger in this is that people will follow your example. Sadly, even when you’re wrong if they admire you enough.
Lesson #2: Follow Your Own Advice
“The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room.”
Frank said this to Huey Lucas, his brother, after seeing him hanging out with Nicky Barnes, “one of the biggest heroin dealers in the country,” a 1977 New York Times Magazine article titled “Mister Untouchable” stated. Nicky is known as being arrogant and living an extravagant lifestyle. In the movie, Huey had taken on Nicky’s colorful way of dress and his arrogant demeanor.
There is so much to learn from this quote alone. It goes hand in hand with the phrase, “the more you talk, the less you know.” Usually, it’s the people who are the weakest who makes the most noise.
Frank then turned around and wore an expensive fur, bought by his wife, to the Ali/Fraizer fight–the same “clown suit” he warned his brother not to wear–and stuck out like a sore thumb. This fur is what made the police take notice of him and pay attention to him. From this one mistake, they learned of Franks every move.
The message here is for one to remember to take their own advice, which is not always easy to do if a person is not paying attention. I am sure we all have an instance to which we forgot to take our own advice.
Lesson #3: The Love of Money
“Success has enemies…quitting while you are ahead is not the same as quitting.”
All any black man wants to do is take care of his family, but Frank had a significant role in the direction of his brother’s life. He didn’t have to travel to North Carolina and recruit them in his drug empire. His brothers and cousins were country boys, and while each is entitled to one’s own choices and decisions (his brothers could have decided not to participate after discovering what the business was about), Frank is responsible for his part in taking advantage of his brother’s innocence. Frank was the oldest (if the movie is correct in this portrayal) and they looked up to him. He could have used his influence more positively. Even his mother in the film said: “If you were a preacher they would have all been preachers.” This example goes back to lesson number one. We all have people who watch us and look up to us even if we don’t know it. Frank could have used his money to invest in legit companies for his brothers, leaving them out of the drug business.
Lesson #4: The Business Mind
“Nobody owns me though. That’s ’cause I own my own company and my company sells a product that’s better than the competition, at a price that’s lower than the competition.”
There’s a lot to learn about business in this movie. Even though the market here is, unfortunately, selling drugs, I believe you can get a lesson from anything if you’re paying enough attention to it. One of Frank’s many experiences had to do with launching a new product that was cheap but still held quality. Frank stepped outside of the established heroin supply chain by cutting out the middleman and not diluting the heroine. In the 1970s, the heroine was often diluted with sugars, chalk, flour, or powdered milk to stretch it, so ddicts understood that the drug would have a lower potency. To create his one-of-a-kind “product,” Frank went directly to the source, a heroin producer in Saigon, Vietnam. In the movie, Frank didn’t dilute his heroin, which made it more potent. He also sold the undiluted, more potent drug at a lower price.
The lesson here is that sometimes you have to step outside of your comfort circles to reach new levels. If broke people surround you, then you will more than likely be broke too. If people with no vision surround you, then all you will ever do is have a dream. If you want to reach new levels, you have to surround yourself with people who are where you want to be. Want to publish a book? Want to understand how it’s done? Then surround yourself with people who are doing it right and take advice from people who have made it to where you want to be. This same thing applies to any business.
Lesson #5: Not Everything is as it Seems
The final and most important lesson is not to believe everything that you see. Much of this movie is made up by Hollywood. Denzel Washington is a more smooth and exaggerated version of the real Frank Lucas (and in some ways, we all kinda wish the real Frank was a lot more like Denzel). The real Frank Lucas was not Bumpy Johnson’s driver for 15 years, and he was not with Bumpy when he died. The real Frank Lucas did dilute his heroin, though not as much as the other dealers. The real Frank Lucas did collect numerous mink and chinchillas aside from the one his wife bought him, and the real Frank Lucas is mentioned as being just as “flashy” as Nicky Barnes. The real Frank Lucas is also rumored to have been illiterate.
The persona of the copy, Richie Roberts, was also exaggerated in the movie. He did not have a child and was not in a custody battle with his ex-wife. He also had a much smaller role in the capturing of Frank Lucas.
The lesson here is to remember to do your research. Don’t just believe the movies you watch, the articles/books you read, or the things that you see on social media. Even salt looks like sugar, and spoiled milk is still white. Always double-check your facts.
90% of the cast members are Black. This isn’t a racial thing. It’s just that people are tired of seeing movies where the heroes are white. Even biblical movies refuse to reflect the real identity of the people who lived in that time. The Samson movie is also about to come out but Samson was not white. It’s not about skin complexion it’s just a fact, the people of the Bible were Black.
Warriors, Not Slaves
The Black people in the movie are not slaves, maids, housekeepers, and farmers (though there’s nothing wrong with farming, just saying). The Black people in this movie are warriors, Kings, and Queens.
The Panther women go just as hard as the men without losing their femininity. They are supportive of their men, smart, fierce and they are fighters. Not to mention a showcase of the women’s natural beauty. I love how (far as the trailers go since the movie is not out yet) the movie shows them being beautiful while swinging those swords.
The Panther’s first appearance happened during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and I am sure the newscasts that showed Black Americans getting brutalized by police was a motivator for Marvel. This movie Black Panther comes at a sensitive time politically which further makes it reminiscent of revolutionary movements in Black History such as Huey Newton’s Black Panther Party For Self-Defense and Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, both of which promoted the freedom of the so-called Black people.
Speaking of history, Black Panther is educational for today’s youth, many of whom know nothing of the Black Panthers of the 60s, Marcus Garvey of the 20s or anyone of or before the era. The release of this movie at this time, therefore, makes it easier to start conversations about Black History (especially being it releases February) and inspires liberation among Black people in general. The men and women even have accents reflective of their “African” heritage. When you’ve spent nearly 400 years being afflicted and not seeing positive representations of yourself in textbooks, on television, in schools etc., it makes it difficult to have a positive image of yourself as an individual. My hope is that Black Panther delivers and helps to spark a resurgence of consciousness among Black youth.
Wakanda is empowering and reminiscent of the Israelite nation (not a race of Blacks but a nation of people) and their position as rulers. It represents everything we could be if we embrace who we truly are. This movie, if done right, is not just a movie, it is a biblically powerful representation of Israel on the top and not the bottom for once. The birth of a nation and the rise of a people. It is our time.
About Black Panther
After the death of his father, T’Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king — and as Black Panther — gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.
Yecheilyah is an author, blogger and poet. Be sure to pick up your copy of I am Soul, her latest collection of poetry on Amazon.
Welcome back to Introduce Yourself, a new and exciting blog segment of The PBS Blog dedicated to introducing to you new and established authors and their books.
Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Dolapo Akitoye, our first screenwriter. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Dolapo Akitoye. A lot of people call me Dolly. I have no worries with anyone trying to call me either. I will answer to both. I am from Nigeria. Born and raised. Specifically, I am from Lagos which makes me Yoruba. Don’t ask me to speak the language though. Lol. I’m not that good at it but I can understand it…mostly. 😃
Yoruba huh? We’re gonna have to chat some more for sure. How many siblings do you have?
I have 3 siblings. Two sisters – an older half-sister and a younger sister- and a younger brother. I grew up being the first born in my household and only learned about my older sister about seven years ago. So, I still have a big-sister mentality. It’s just in me. I love my siblings. They are all so amazing and so smart. My older sister is a tailor and designer who makes the most amazing clothes. My younger sister studies Mathematics and Computer science and my younger brother is studying Law. They are all very wonderful.
Awwue. You sound like a big sister too. What’s your favorite drink?
If you like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain. Lol. I love Pina Coladas. I just think that the combination of pineapple and coconut is like heaven in your mouth. I drink Pina Coladas and I know that everything will be okay.
Who is your favorite writer?
I was only going to go with one but that’s not me being honest. This one is a tie for me. There are two writers that just makes me so happy. First is the talented and beautiful Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. When I was in secondary school, her book, Purple Hibiscus was one of the books we had to read for Literature. Typically, even though I love reading, I find it difficult when an authority tells me to read a book. It makes me nervous and under pressure and I never know if I will really enjoy it. This book though was phenomenal and there is something so elegant about the way she writes. There is a subtlety that is so beautiful and I love it. The thing I love the most is that her style of writing almost reminds me of Raymond Carver in that, sometimes you read and you know that something has happened; something has changed; you have changed but you can’t quite figure it out. You have to go back and read it again and understand what is between the lines. She is a wonderful storyteller.
The second person is Dan Brown. I find Dan Brown’s writing really wonderful. His writing opens me up to new thoughts and ideas. I might not always agree with everything but his writing is so good that I don’t even care about that. I have read all his books except one. I have it. I just haven’t had time to read it. His writing makes me feel elevated like I’m in some kind of club that only a few people know about and I really enjoy it.
Nice. I enjoyed Chimamanda’s Ted talk, though I haven’t read any of her books yet. Speaking of writing, can you tell us a little bit about this script you’re writing and how you got into screenwriting?
My movie script is about a Nigerian woman who is going through postpartum depression and the way it changes the lives of her and those around her. The reason why I am writing this story is because in my country, Nigeria (which I love), people do not take depression seriously. People do not understand it and so a lot of times, it is ignored. Now, here we have a woman who does the most natural thing in the world – give birth- and she is going through this depression that she finds hard to understand because she does not feel like she has a right to feel that way and she is oblivious to it. Anyway, that is the basis of it.
I have always wanted to write a book but I never really gathered the confidence to do so and I always felt like I wanted to write something original but no ideas ever came to me. Recently, I started having all these stories in my head and I felt I had to write it. Even if, it never gets anywhere, I feel it in my heart to write it and the more I write it, the more confident I feel as a woman and as a writer.
Nice. If you could shadow your favorite artist, who would it be?
Bruno Mars for sure. No doubt about that. Bruno Mars is so spectacular. His music, the way he moves, the happiness you feel when you hear him, it is out of this world. He works really hard and he has been doing that since he was impersonating Elvis Presley at the age of four. He has such a creative mind and his songs are poetry. If I could shadow him, I feel like I will learn so much in terms of work ethic and writing and letting the words and the music take you.
So, is Dolly taken?
I am single and I will definitely like to be married. I am one of those people who enjoy companionship. I believe that there is someone for everyone and I will enjoy being with someone for the rest of my life. Life can be hard sometimes and it will be nice to have someone go through it with you and I can’t wait for that someone to find me.
Awuee. Would you like to have children?
I would like to have children. I have always known since I was little that I wanted kids. I believe it is one of life’s beautiful miracles and I want to experience that. I have a lot of love to give and I will love to give that to my children.
A miracle indeed. What’s your favorite movie?
My favorite movie is Forrest Gump. I cry every time I watch that movie. It’s just a story of hope. It gives me the feeling that I can do anything. Even thinking about it right now is making me cry. Lol. I just really love that movie and I try to watch it at least once a year.
You know what’s funny? We had an author here last week who also happens to love Forrest Gump. Are you religious Dolly?
I am trying to be more religious. Growing up, we went to church and Bible club and I was even the Christian Worship perfect in my secondary school and so I always saw myself as religious…until about three years ago when I went through this really bad depression period and I just questioned God a lot. I didn’t understand why I was on earth and going through pain. However, God has just shown me so much compassion and love and when I had an accident last year, I won’t say that I had epiphany but I definitely felt God’s love for me in that moment. So, it’s still baby steps and I am trying to pray and read my Bible every day and get to know God in a way that I haven’t known him before. God is Love and I see that every day of my life.
What do you love about yourself?
I think I’m weird. Lol. But I love it. My mind is such a world of its own. The things I think about, read about, listen to, watch and even the little things that makes me happy in most cases, makes me seem weird to a lot of people but it is what makes me happy. Who wants to be normal anyway?
Thank you Dolly for spending this time with us! We enjoyed you for sure.
My name is Dolapo Akitoye. I am mostly referred to as Dolly. I am 21 years old and I am a blogger and an aspiring screenwriter. I have a Bachelors degree in Journalism and English Literature and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). I have been blogging for over four years and it has been an outlet for me. To be honest, I feel as though it has saved my life so many times. I am currently working on my first movie script and I plan to work on much more in the future.
This isn’t my favorite movie (It’s actually been a long time since I’ve seen it) but it is one of those coming of age movies I liked growing up. While I don’t like everything about it, like all the movies I enjoy, it does combine elements from some of my favorite things. Before we get into some of what I love about it, let’s get a quick glance at what this movie is about.
In this sequel, Las Vegas performer Deloris Van Cartier (Whoopi Goldberg) is surprised by a visit from her nun friends, including Sister Mary Patrick (Kathy Najimy) and Sister Mary Lazarus (Mary Wickes). It appears Deloris is needed in her nun guise as Sister Mary Clarence to help teach music to teens at a troubled school in hopes of keeping the facility from closing at the hands of Mr. Crisp (James Coburn), a callous administrator. Can Deloris shape the rowdy kids into a real choir?
As you can see this is a sequel but I am not a fan of the first one. I’m not a Christian/Catholic and I just wasn’t moved. I think what made me enjoy this one though is the element of the youth being involved. To me they literally made the movie.
Letters to a Young Poet – The first time I heard of Maria Rainer Rilke was watching this movie. It’s funny because in the example Deloris used to encourage one of her more rebellious students (Rita played by Lauryn Hill), she used an example in which she talked about writing. saying:
“Don’t ask me about being a writer. If when you wake up in the morning you couldn’t think of nothing but writing, then you’re a writer.”
She was comparing this to the young woman’s desire to sing and that if she wakes up wanting to sing, then she’s supposed to be a singer. Not only did I believe what Deloris said (that if I woke up and all I could think about was writing then I’m a writer) but I also went out and bought the book when I grew up. (You gotta understand I was only six when this movie came out and didn’t see it until I was a little older). Sometimes I would watch the movie just to see this one part. Since I thought about writing, I knew she was talking about me.
Comedy – Of course, I love Whoopi’s comedy in the movie as well as the other women playing the nuns. I love to laugh and will rarely pass up a movie that gives a few chuckles.
Music – One of my favorite things about the movie is obviously the music. I loved hearing the kids voices and watching them transition as the choir began to take shape. And of course ya’ll know they jammed at the end.
Investing in our Youth – Just the fact that the movie is about someone taking the time to invest something positive into the lives of children is a huge plus for me. Now, it’s no Lean on Me but its still cool. The students were, as the description calls them “rowdy” when Deloris first met them. Talking back and playing cruel tricks on their teacher. Largely Black and Hispanic, the children live in the community and are barely being taught as the school does not have enough money for books. In fact, the school is in danger of closing down due to a lack of funding and of course, this will displace the children to schools in other districts. I liked seeing the different personalities of the children and seeing how they grew throughout the movie. With a passion for singing it is possible that they could be the first in their families to graduate and do something with their lives they never thought possible.
Some of my favorite quotes:
“If you wanna go somewhere, if you wanna be somebody, then you better wake up and pay attention. Cause the world out there don’t care how cool you think you are or who you kick it with. It don’t matter. If you don’t have an education, you don’t have anything and that’s the truth honey.”
“So because you think they sang it better, ya’ll are ready to leave cause you got scared…Let me remind you of something OK? If you wanna go somewhere and you wanna be somebody you better wake up and pay attention because if every time something scary comes up you wanna run, ya’ll are gonna be running for the rest of your lives.”
Sister Act 2 Trailer (even though to me they didn’t really show the good parts lol)