Category Archives: Little Black girls

Aiyana Stanley-Jones and Our Confused, Grieving Hearts

Ak wrote this for Colorlines.com.

Aiyana Stanley-Jones and Our Confused, Grieving Hearts.

Save the babies.

RIP Aiyana Stanley-Jones and Je’Rean Blake.  Justice and peace for these children’s families.

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Filed under Little Black girls, Protect and respect us, Uncategorized

Precious

I saw Precious on Saturday. Two days later, I’m still traumatized and overwhelmed by the sheer degradation of the thing.

This film is marketed–by Oprah and Tyler Perry–as a story of individual triumph over savage abuse. Thanks to newcomer Gabourey Sidibe’s excellent performance, I somehow believed that Claireece Precious Jones—a morbidly obese, illiterate, often greasy incest victim with skin the color of soil–reflected some form of reality. And to me that’s what’s so dangerous and seductive about this fucking thing.

Precious heaps so much context-free, visually engaging emotional and physical abuse on its 16-year-old protagonist that I couldn’t think straight. When her nasty, faceless, AIDS-infected daddy rapes her, when she gives birth to her second child by said daddy, when her sexually abusive, sadistic, welfare cheat of a mama beats the shit out of her, I was so fucked up, so fucking sad, so at a loss for any word or thought besides fuck! that I forgot that this fucking film was an overwrought throwback to Reagan-era tall tales of urban savagery and Black maternal neglect.

Sure, Mo’nique’s fat, evil, proudly unemployed Mary hunkered down in front of an antiquated TV all day wearing a Unitard, smoking cigarettes and sucking down the pig’s feet she forced her daughter to cook. Sure, Mary later reveals that Precious’s father suckled milk from her breasts and began fondling their baby who slept in their bed as they had sex. Sure, Precious masturbates her mama for food money. Sure, she boosts a 10-piece bucket of fried chicken from the neighborhood greasy spoon in an act of fun and mischief. Sure, 9 out of 10 of the heroic characters are white, biracial or very light-skinned professionals while the overwhelming majority of villans and victims are fat, dark and poor. Somehow, amid all of this pornographic pathology, I was trying to find something new or clever that would justify why Oprah, Tyler Perry and so many critics were salivating over this freak show.

Only when I left the theater, got some sleep and relayed this flick to my sister, was I able to grasp how cartoonish and exploitative the whole thing is. I can’t prove that there aren’t Black girls in Harlem who have daughters by their own daddies whom they name “Mongo” because they’re born with “Down Sinder.” Maybe their mamas do throw their 3-day-old grandsons born of incestuous rape to the ground in a fit of jealousy then go on to throw a TV down several flights of stairs almost killing their fleeing daughters who are holding their grandbabies. Perhaps these daughters run to a storefront church that just so happens to be next door to an animal shelter with the words “spay” and “neuter” emblazoned on it. If all of this does happen, and this movie was made to honor and humanize them, why does it fail to reveal the roots of their mamas’ psychosis? The only motivation Mary seems to have for allowing her man to rape and impregnate her daughter is her fear of being alone, without someone to squeeze or love her at night. The impoverished backdrop ostensibly fills in the blanks. That’s a problem.

One could argue that Precious should be evaluated as an individual work of art, a faithful adaptation of Sapphire’s problematic Push. But the same way I won’t laud the technical accomplishments of Birth of a Nation or blissfully ignore how Breakfast at Tiffany’s features Mickey Rooney as a bumbling Chinese neighbor who enters each scene with a gong, I won’t allow the transcendent performances in Precious to distract me from what it says and repeats about my folks. I insist on asking questions like, “Why the fuck does this film show Precious’s mother railing at ‘White bitches’ and tricking the welfare lady when it doesn’t bother to tell us what it is about the system and White authority that has her so pissed in the first place?” “Why does director Lee Daniels do so many closeups of revolting, unhealthy food in Precious’s household?” “Why does Lee Daniels make a slimy simmering pot of fatty eggs and meat the visual prelude to Precious’s father’s fat stomach gyrating over his daughter as he rapes her from behind?” “Why does he have the fine, trim male nurse played by Lenny Kravitz eating organic fruit when the movie is supposed to take place in 1987?” “Why are all of the abusive people fat?” “Why are both of Precious’ kids light skinned when she, her mama and her daddy are all the color of Ham?

I kinda think I know why. Because somewhere in the pockets of the filmmaker’s mind, being dark, fat, poor and Black places you at greater risk of acting like a fucking animal. And it’s his job and the job of middle class do-gooders and ticket-buying gawkers to humanize said animals with our pity.

That my sisters and brothers is BULLSHIT. Even if fashion houses sell neon leggings this season, they’re not new. They’re more 80s than a motherfucker. So is Precious, and that’s not a compliment.

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Filed under Choosing love, colorism, crazy+racism=cracism, Little Black girls, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, Uncategorized

“Good Hair,” Yani and Tyra B.

From Ak:

Yesterday Yani and her Hair Story co-author Lori L. Tharps rocked an episode of the Tyra Banks Show.

Given that Yani and Lori wrote a unique, widely bitten respected social history on African American hair, Ms. Tyra invited them to weigh in on that ooooolllllldddd, Antebellum, white supremacist, seemingly intransigent and overall pesky phenomenon we know as “good hair.”

Although I didn’t see my homies on TV–shademeister Yani didn’t deign to tell anyone the ep was airing and Lori even forgot that it was coming on–I’m thankful that they were on deck to provide some context and analysis. After all, without context, seeing little Black girls choose a dusty-ass Hannah Montana wig over their African coils, curls and kinks doesn’t do anything but break your heart and make you ‘shamed.

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Filed under Choosing love, crazy+racism=cracism, Little Black girls, Uncategorized

And we’re back…

Due to job stuff, perfectionism and more job stuff, we haven’t tended to our blog in a minute. But several things have slapped us back into the world of Small.Medium.Large. First, the positive:

Amazing

Amazing

Michelle Obama! Our First Lady is a brown-skinned woman with hips who is decidedly not a size two. She’s brilliant and funny. She has some sense, she gives a fuck, and, oh yeah, she’s beautiful. And everybody knows it. Including her.

On the sad side: Oprah. In the January issue of O, she confesses that she’s been so embarrassed by her thyroid-related weight-gain that she’s wanted to disappear.

We’re going to state the obvious here. Oprah is Oprah. She’s changed countless lives. She has more money and influence than everyone reading this blog combined. Love or hate it, Oprah Gail Winfrey runs shit. And yet she’s feeling ashamed and “fat cow”-ish because her 55-year-old body isn’t what it was a couple of years ago? Damn.

In the psychotically petty category: Jessica Simpson and the high-waisted jeans controversy. If you believe what you read on the Internet, folks left and right are grossly offended by the newly thick pop star’s body, which she unveiled while singing a country ditty at a recent chili cook-off. Personally, we’re more disturbed by the idea of her performing at something as small-time as a chili cook-off, but whatever.

high-waisted jeans=the devil's work

high-waisted jeans=the devil's work

What did honestly disturb us: The little Black girls (like, three- and four-year old little) who Ayana heard talking about how white people have “better hair” and how nappy hair makes you look lower class. Ayana, who wrote a book about Black hair, just didn’t know what to say. She cried.

But then, like the love that overpowered hate (shout out to Radio Raheem), Akiba and Ayana got an email from a Naked reader and took it as a sign. Our favorite line: “On days when I can’t seem to find my blackgirlbeautifulness, I head straight to Naked. Keep writing.”

So with Small.Medium.Large we’re doing just that: Writing. We’re writing to challenge the sickness that says that who a woman is equals what she looks like. That skinny and white-ish is the only game in town. That even blue-eyed Barbie lookalikes aren’t good enough because, really, no one is good enough in this perverse universe of anti-woman fuckery. We’re gonna cite examples, bitch, get random at times, try to have fun. Please join us.

We choose love

We choose love

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Filed under Choosing love, Little Black girls, Michelle Obama, Oprah, weight