I read a lot for book reviews and features, but also for fun and for comfort. These were some of my most enjoyable reads this year.
Generally, the phrase “white supremacy” evokes other ones like hate crime, Nazis and the like. In Writing Beyond Race, hooks discusses white supremacist notions and the popular culture products like movies and books that support those notions, as the spine of patriarchy.
She writes that women’s personal stories like The Color Purple, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and The Secret Life of Bees have meant that, “women bonding was no longer leading to political solidarity in the interest of challenging and changing patriarchy,” she writes. “It was all reduced to personal intimacy.”
Her insights into films like Push and Crash, published as dialogue with filmmaker Gilda Sheppard, are fascinating. Their descriptions and critiques of these films — the latter as one rife with pornographic racial violence and the former as full of plantation aesthetics — explain why each was problematic despite widespread critical acclaim.
Ward on her heartbreaking book and this summer’s Martin verdict:
"The Trayvon Martin verdict broke my heart again. I say again because, as you know, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. I was actually living in the Bay Area when Oscar Grant was killed, and that verdict was equally as frustrating and infuriating. And of course, the verdict in Trayvon’s case made me think about the man who killed my brother, and made me angry all over again about the crime he was actually charged with, the time he served, and the fact that he’s out in the world living and breathing now, none the worse for what he did. It’s horrible to think that he’s not even convicted of the crime of killing my brother, that he was only charged with leaving the scene of an accident.
And then, of course, the verdict makes me think about the disparities between Blacks and Whites concerning health care, education, and weirdly enough, cases of kidnapping. Over and over the justice system and the facts of life tell Black people that their bodies and lives are worth less. It makes me very angry and even more committed to writing about the community that I write about in the hope that if I make some White person say, in New Zealand, empathize with the people that I write about, then I’ve done something. My characters may change the perception that someone like that might have about Black people, and make us more human to them.
I know I’m not going to reach everyone. I know that someone like Rush Limbaugh might read my book and get nothing from it. But I hope that I reach a few. And I honestly feel that putting the pen to paper, that Black people transmuting their experience through art, whether by writing or painting or creating music or film, is revolutionary. It’s a powerful statement. It says: we exist. We are here. We are human. It’s a way of counteracting that message that society sends us all over and over again that posits that we are less. I understood that explicitly for the first time the night of the NBA awards when Nikki Finney won and gave that outstanding speech, and I’m truly grateful to her for that lesson.”
Starting out [as an actor], the primary objective is to get a job, to get a role, to get some sort of employment, to be heard. Then as you get the face and the name recognition, all the things you were fighting for, then a funny thing happens, you get more selective. More people know you, more people want you for different jobs. They want you not for your dreams but to have their dreams come through. If those two things do not meet then it is not a job that I am going to accept because I still have dreams and aspirations. I still want to meet challenges and be fulfilled. That means I will have to say ‘no’ to some jobs because I just don’t want to be paid, I want to be fulfilled. I want to give of myself. I want something that requires a little of my soul and my spirit, that is how I’ve always been. If I take a job, I don’t like to feel like I’m lying to the public. I want to work and I want to be drawn to projects and for more reasons than just the money. I’m not down to beans and water yet, so I’m cool. - Angela Bassett
I adore her.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy."
My favorite part of my favorite poem, Desiderata (via luciwithani)
Always be happy.
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others,” he once said."
Nelson Mandela dies at 95
Former South African President Nelson Mandela has died, President Jacob Zuma announced Thursday.
See more at Breaking News.
Photo: Mandela takes the oath on May 10, 1994, during his inauguration in Pretoria as the country’s first black president. “The time for the healing of the wounds has come,” Mandela said. “The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us.” (Walter Dhladhla / AFP - Getty Images)
May he rest.
The best writing is revision.
I learned this by being a newspaper reporter and having daily, then hourly deadlines while juggling writing for print with blogging and updating stories online. When I was young, I disliked the editing process. It felt like unnecessary interrogation. I had been writing for myself and I was paid to write before I graduated college.
Maybe my grammar wasn’t always perfect, but I put my heart on the page. For a long time, I let my ego and arrogance interfere with my ability to let stories, essays and poems get better because I felt like when I wrote them they were just automatically awesome.
I’m in this great music video to raise money for Bitch Media. Just a warning, the song is catchy.
"6. Say aloud and often you are better off friends, not just because it’s true, but because there should be walls, low and easy to clear, but resolutely erected: piled, pebbled markers on an otherwise boundless affection; a redistricting of wide-open spaces you once claimed as your territory: Time, Enthusiasm, Mouth, Conversation. Accept that it is all shared domain. Accept that there are moments when he is not open to the public. Understand that you are now the public. Mercifully, this cuts both ways: you are also your own again. These days, you are greeting yourself in mirrors as you would a long-lost friend."
Write in your own voice.
Being published brings a quiet joy, but it doesn’t transform your life, and eventually you have to write again.
'Devotion and commitment will be their own reward.'"
"Almost. It’s a big word for me. I feel it everywhere. Almost home. Almost happy. Almost changed. Almost, but not quite. Not yet. Soon, maybe."
—Joan Bauer, Almost Home (via larmoyante)
"Whenever I’m asked what advice I have for young writers, I always say that the first thing is to read, and to read a lot. The second thing is to write. And the third thing, which I think is absolutely vital, is to tell stories and listen closely to the stories you’re being told.” ― John Green"