Reads and Reels: Feast of All Saints, Part I

Reads and Reels: Feast of All Saints, Part I

This weekend, I had a lovely spring-reminiscent time with my mom.  We ate dinner with my cousins, went to the Battle of the Bands, went to Sunday brunch at Pecan (who wouldn’t take my groupon without it being printed), went to the Georgia Aquarium, and spent more time with my cousin Kesha, who grilled for us.  While eating last night, we talked about our family and some of the little hush hush things about which our family never talks.  One of those issues is color.  Because of my family’s lineage (maybe one day I will expound), there exist(ed?) some superstitions and prejudices about darker hued skin and resulted in differences in how kids and grandkids were treated.

It’s always been fascinating to me.  Maybe because I am brown.  Just a pretty, smack dab in the middle, smooth, lovely brown. I’m not light. I’m not dark. I’m brown. A shade my ma said was “light enough” to escape the punishment issued to those who were “too dark.” Even when I was a kid, I wondered what I would have looked like if I had come to the world looking like any of my cousins (on my mom’s and dad’s sides–on my mom’s side, I’m one of the darkest).  We pretty much are the three shades of the Kenya dolls back in the day.  Light, medium, and dark, lol.  I can remember walking into the kitchen hearing my parents arguing about who had the most color in their history–bragging on how dark my granddaddy was or how dark my ma’s granddaddy.  Kinda weird since outside our home, I would hear other groups of blacks vying for who had the least color.  I never really understood the psychology of color.

This may be one reason that New Orleans has always been one of my favorite, mostinteresting places.  I remember the first time I read Anne Rice’s Feast of All Saints, really imagining this world of quadroons and people basing status on how far removed they were from slavery or how “whitened” they had gotten their blood. So I was very very happy to see how engaged the Atlanta group was while watching Part 1 of the DVD based on the book.  Our conversation was very lively.

We spent a good bit of time talking about the purpose and benefits of marriage. One reason, which really made me go hmmm melikey, was that marriage is an institution that assists us in moving forward and building our culture.  We talked about how marriage is used strategically, but the real question is what is the strategy?  Where are we headed? One thing I said was that if everyone did what they were put here to do, collectively we would all prosper at a faster pace than each of us individually–thus, our goal should be to marry someone that helps us in our purpose, that supports and uplifts us, that complements us.  Some people are all about marrying for love–well I would say that’s all good and fine, but it’s not.  Why? Because we may not have any control over our emotions per se, but we totally can control who we spend substantial time and energy with/on. In the movie, the strategy was a combination of their perspective of bettering their lives by “marrying” into money and into lighter skinned children who would be able to keep the cycle going. What’s your strategy?

In that same discussion, we talked at length about whether or not we have to “play by the rules” in society. Well whose rules are they?  My personal opinion is that we need to know the rules–not necessarily play by them unless that’s just what you choose to do.  If you know them, though, you can use them and play around them.

Another thing we ended up discussing (because we live in Atlanta and that’s what we discuss) was how as we get older, our pool of romantic possibilities gets smaller and smaller, not only because we’re second and third rounders (more on that in a minute), but also because our circles just overlap and overlap until the point where it’s rare that you meet someone completely new.  The answer? Some say we should start going to the gym or somewhere completely new. We’ll see.

So I’m a “second-rounder” (well, I guess I should hope that I am??).  One of our group members says that the first round of marriages occurred around 25. The second round will occur around 30; the third round, 35; and so on. And some of those first-rounders have come back around to be second-rounders because of divorces (you know, because some of those first-rounders were in starter marriages).  This was an interesting concept (and hilarious since one friend said she’s a sixth-rounder even though she’s my age).  I guess it applies to motherhood as well since a large crop of folks had babies last year, evidently drinking the same water.

Something else we discussed was how important knowing our history is.  In the movie, the main character Marcelle finds out that the Haitian Revolution wasn’t just some great, fun story to hear about–it actually directly affected his life.  He starts to make really crazy decisions because he finds out that he never knew that he didn’t know important parts of his history.  He doesn’t know who to trust–he doesn’t know what is really important–he really doesn’t even know what to do with his life.  Be who his mom and aunts want him to be? Or follow his passions?  That applies to our lives as well. We have to know where we came from, understand where certain gifts come from and how they can be used, and take advantage.  We may not have the generational monetary wealth and connections that some are born with, but we are born with certain generational gifts and lessons that we only have to seek out.

There was plenty more discussed (including how the issues in the movie have contributed to the modern-day “independent black woman”and we touched on classism a little bit–I’m sure it’ll come up more next time), and they enjoyed the movie so much that we’re moving the discussion of Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America by Eugene Robinson to March (you have more time to get it and read!) so that we can watch Part II of Feast of All Saints in February (Sunday, 2/27 at 4).  Join us! The movie is full of twists and turns! 🙂

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Racism in America, not just MS

Racism in America, not just MS

The inspiration for this post started with this article.  A few days ago, a friend of mine from Greenwood texted me to tell me there had been a lynching in her hometown.  A couple of days later, the article came out suggesting it was a suicide.

In the words of Ed Lover, C’MON SON, get the eff outta here with that bs.  Do you seriously want me to believe that?

The other issue I have with this article is that there are NO comments.  Now, I am a dedicated comment reader because comments can really paint the picture of who is living in this country and how they see the world.  I’ve winced a many day at comments that I’ve read on an array of topics, so I was prepared to read some on this one, but… Crickets.  What’s up with that?

Let’s call a spade a spade.  This is yet another example of hatred and racism in this country.  In 2010, the fact that someone could be lynched is a travesty.  And the fact that it hasn’t hit all the major news outlets yet is another.  But, I must admit, a small part of me is glad it hasn’t.  Wanna know why?

I get tired of the perpetuation of the negative stereotype of my home state.  I started this group on Facebook and am very happy to see that there are over 13,000 members in it.  Why?  Because so many people, outside of the state and even in the state, think that MS is the hub of all evil in the country and that nothing good comes from it.  Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, but still.  I’ve heard people from all across the Bible Belt give MS grief as if their states don’t come with their own transgressions.  If you don’t know much about Mississippi and all of its contributions, you should browse this site for a few minutes.

Now, let’s be clear.  I do not for one second believe that Mississippi doesn’t have its problems or that it’s a perfect place.  And I don’t need another lesson on Mississippi history.  I got it along with southern history, American history, and Black history.  I just want to intimate that racism and the brutal killings of our black men is a NATIONAL problem.  Oscar Grant being shot in the back while unarmed is just as horrible as this poor man who was walking through the wrong neighborhood and somehow (since it could be self-inflicted <heavy sarcasm>) ended up hanging from a rope in a tree.  However, no one says that California is a hotbed for racism.  Sean Bell being gunned down by the police before his wedding?  Yep, not cool.  But no one blames it on the fact that he was in New York.

How about the man who was shot in the head and dragged by a car in South Carolina?  Are you getting my drift?

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way.  I want to know who out there cares.  What’s going to happen?  What is the answer?  How can we stop all this violence and hatred?  Will people be marching to the Mississippi Delta?  Or will this slide under the radar like many other issues?  We as Americans really need to address this and while we’re at it address the disproportionate number of black men in prison and what’s wrong with our system.  We can’t just sit around and wonder when the next brutal “accidental” murder will occur.  It’s time out for thinking that if we cover our eyes, not only will we not see it, but it’ll stop happening.  We need to wake up and see that it doesn’t just affect the families of the victims–it affects us all.  So let’s get to work.