This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

April 30, 2009

Forgetting the Water

Filed under: NOLA Post-Katrina Levee Break — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 2:33 pm

A conversation I had with one woman captured the realities that are settling into these families as they face the future.

She told me “We had nothing before the hurricane. Now we got less than nothing.”

September 6, 2005
Statement of Senator Barack Obama
Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

I have been working on a follow-up to my previous DVR alert about the documentary Trouble the Water after finally viewing it. I have been finding my attempts thwarted by the sadness and anger I still feel. On my previous blog I wrote about my reactions while the story was unfolding. Perhaps I will save some of those posts and re-post them here before shutting that old spot down later next month.

In the meantime, I once again encourage everyone who is able to support this film project.

It is impossible to watch it without being struck emotionally. Who can listen to the audio montage of of 911 calls for help—as the water rose around them with no where for them to go, each caller being told time and time again by stunned operators with no adequate call-script to guide them that no help would be forthcoming—without feeling pain?

"front porch of the lower 9th." eschipul,

"front porch of the lower 9th." eschipul,


Everybody Plays the Fool: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 10:01 am

JLB is in love.

But then, we already knew that. What we may not have known before this past Sunday’s episode is the lengths he is willing to go to win the (at least for now) unwinable heart of Precious Ramotswe. Everyone has advice to give. Most of that advice involves JLB presenting himself as someone other than JLB. Surely he knows the lady detective better than that.

She will not be swayed by the inauthentic.

But perhaps she will be swayed by JLB’s loving care of something (her white “van”) that she loves and cares for so much—and that is a material symbol of a someone (her late father) who she loved and cared for and who loved and cared for her so much in return. Perhaps she will also hear and see how she is making JLB feel—as if he is being used, his time and his willingness to assist being taken for granted….

Everybody plays the fool, Mr. JLB Matekoni. Sometimes. There are no exceptions to this rule.

JLB’s own housekeeper is playing the fool—for him.

Mr. Patel—the first non Black African resident we have seen—is apparently being played by his young daughter, who has ideas of her own about how she spends her time (and with whom).

The butcher, Rra Badule, is being played by his wife. This, he already suspected even before appearing at Mma Ramotswe’s door. But he will accept it, apparently, for the sake of the boy he loves so much and the hope (likely misguided) of a better future with his wife.

Everybody plays the fool. Sometimes.

***Previous No. 1 Ladies’ posts here.***

April 29, 2009

I Am a Woman: Ready for Truth

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 10:24 am

Several of my blogrolled bloggers have been talking about the historic unveiling of the Sojourner Truth statue at the Capitol. (For example: here, here, here, here, here, and here.) Said Michelle Obama at the Capitol Visitor Center ceremony:

I hope that Sojourner Truth would be proud to see me, a descendant of slaves, serving as the first lady of the United States of America….Now many young boys and girls, like my own daughters, will come to Emancipation Hall and see the face of a woman who looks like them.

Leave it to Melissa Harris-Lacewell to put this truly historic moment in even greater historical context. You see, if it were up to one group of proud Americans, we would have had a national tribute to Black women long before this. Their plans, however, were thwarted. And by other Black women. Unbelievable, I know.

What would this statue have been? I’ll let Professor Harris-Lacewell explain:

In 1923, Mississippi senator, John Williams proposed a bill seeking a site for a national Mammy monument. The Richmond, Virginia chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was prepared to pay for the statue, which would stand on federal land “as a gift to the people of the United States . . . a monument in memory of the faithful colored mammies of the South.” The statue would have been in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, which had just been dedicated a few months. The “mammy bill” passed the Senate in February 1923 just weeks after the Senate defeated the Dyer anti-lynching bill. In other words, even while refusing to protect African American citizens from the domestic terrorism of the lynch mob, the Senate referred the mammy monument bill to the House of Representatives.

A National Mammy Monument. Lawdamercy.

At first I thought that I would, in honor of Mother Truth, do a whole piece on the flexibility of Black female racist/sexist stereotypes…how they have bent and changed to serve the needs of those who would seek to oppress us…how those who seek such further salt our wounds by then celebrating our lowered status. Instead, when searching the internets for inspiration, I came upon this personal memorial to mammies:

We heard that precious Ralph, our father, had had a “Mammy” when he was a baby.  And of course, anyone who’s seen Gone with the Wind knows what a mammy is.  Mammies were black servants who specialized in helping new mothers with babies; today, they’re called nannies. We have an old photo of baby Ralph in an elaborate lace christening dress held proudly by a large black woman, but no one ever told us her name. (Emphasis added. Source)

Here is the photograph that accompanied this text:


If you saw my previous post, “My People and Other People’s Children,” you know that I have somewhat of an obsession an interest in Black and other people of color and their—largely silent—lives as domestics taking care of the children of Whites. Isn’t it interesting here how status and privilege colors interpretation of an image? I, for example, would not have characterized this nameless woman’s expression as “pride.”

This is pride:

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman? (Source)

A Stake in Science

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 12:41 am

At such a difficult moment, there are those who say we cannot afford to invest in science, that support for research is somehow a luxury at moments defined by necessities.  I fundamentally disagree.  Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment, and our quality of life than it has ever been before.

~President Barack Obama, National Academy of Sciences

April 28, 2009

We Don’t Need Another Doppelganger: Random Thoughts on the Heroes Finale

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — pprscribe @ 2:43 pm

Where was “Rebel” last night? Is he really on his own now? How old is he? No mother, no father—but no more grandma and cousin, either?

What has happened to the Haitian?

"yet a delicate balance." circulating,

"yet a delicate balance." circulating,

Well, we knew Niki/Tracy/Jessica/Barbara/? would be back next chapter. Guess she was still mad at Idris Elba considering the first person we see her kill is a Black guy.

Ando has dubbed himself the Crimson Arc— which “totally seems like a euphemism for menstrual cycles.” Yes, yes. Actually I can see that. And given how Hiro bleeds now every time he tries to use his powers….

Why didn’t Peter take Nathan’s place? They could have, maybe, chopped Sylar’s body up into little pieces then scattered them around the globe.

Why does everyone love Claire so much? Even Sylar had to get his grown-man-creepy on with her?

What has happened to the Haitian?

Sylar’s line as he pulls the blade out of the back of his head—“That hurt“—is one of the better lines of the entire series. Danko’s reaction was good, but they should have tried a few more takes to get more of an “Ohoh-I’m-screwed-now” aspect to it.

How long next chapter before “Nathan” figures out that his new-found abilities with fine timepieces means something’s up?

In every morph scene in every movie/TV show I am always distracted by why/how clothes morph as well as bodies and voices and hair. If it is a matter of DNA (as it seems to be with Heroes) why wouldn’t a Sylar-into-Claire, for example, still be wearing trousers and boxer shorts?

What has happened to the Haitian?

Sylar better not kill Mr. Muggles.

“We are all connected. Joined together by an invisible thread—infinite in its potential and fragile in its design…” Okay.

How long until the “True Blood” season premier?

Down to Earth (draft 2)

Filed under: Riddle, Poem, Tale, or Joke — Tags: , — pprscribe @ 10:26 am

The movie gave her nightmares for four nights running—nightmares like she had not had since her husband had convinced her to watch a gruesome film in which an unknown madman arranged for person after person to kill themselves in inventive and horrible ways. Which was strange because unlike that other movie, this movie was intended for small children. It was animated. It was rated G.

But it was absolutely terrifying, at least once her subconscious took hold of it after her conscious mind turned in for the evening.

"Trash People @ Rome." robie06,

"Trash People @ Rome." robie06,

Each dream was more or less the same. First she was running through debris-strewn and dirty streets devoid of any other humans. Shop windows jailed blank-faced mannequins observing her as she passed, their wigs askew or gone altogether…some with arms or hands amputated. Newspaper vending machines held breaking news frozen in time from decades ago. The sun shone brightly on hundreds of dusty, cracked windshields of haphazardly parked, driverless cars.

As she ran one thought propelled her ever forward:

Where are the People?

Signs of the People were discarded everywhere: here, a soda bottle, its label announcing better taste and fewer calories…there, a neon yellow personal music player with its postage stamp-sized display cracked down the center. Here and there some of the machines that the People had built were still working. One was forever broadcasting a vacation spot to an island locale, telling of its stress-reducing and partner-reconnecting powers and urging interested parties to book soon to take advantage of low holiday rates. Another was a two-child Ferris wheel outside of what once was a store that sold organically-grown apples and 12-count collections of toilet paper rolls and sweet-smelling multicolored cosmetics and shiny dvds enclosed in thin hard plastic packaging. The two riderless horses chased each other in a circle—nuzzle to tail, nuzzle to tail—to the warbled tune of a long-forgotten nursery song.

But no matter how far she ran, or how fast, she could not see the People themselves anywhere.

There were other things that moved, however, that were not the People or their machines. These were dark brown, hard shelled, long-antennaed things that had grown huge in an atmosphere of chemical non-interference. These things did not skitter from her approaching footsteps as their ancestors would have, or seek shelter in the dark caves of mounded debris. They sunned themselves openly, and congregated in threes and fours and fives to explore the empty containers in her path. She was the one who skittered from them, avoiding stepping on them lest they injure her bare dusty feet.

Then at some point in the dream during the running and searching in the dusty sunlight the point of view shifted, as points of view in dreams often inexplicably do. She was now stalking and hiding, fearful of being seen. Everywhere here was gleaming white—a white hard and sharp and cold like a photograph that had been mistakenly overexposed. Here was high above the earth. Here there was a constant hum, like background music, and the machines that were collectively responsible for the sound whisked around inches above the gleaming white floors doing things that they had been programmed to do with calm routine and indifferent efficiency.

Here there were People. These People had grown huge in an atmosphere of physical non-interference. They floated like the machines, but inclined as if ready to sleep. They drank from soda bottles with labels announcing better taste with fewer calories. But these were not the People. As many as there were here—huge and floating and sipping—there were not enough of them to account for how many there should have been back down on earth. These were only few, comparatively.

Where were all the Others? What happened to the People?

She stalked and hid, here behind a towering bin containing discarded debris from these huge People, there inside of a walk-in freezer containing colorful treats for the People’s future consumption. She was afraid of being seen, but not sure of by whom. She was aware, as she stalked and hid, that she was leaving dirty dusty bits of herself everywhere she went. She was a blight on this cool, clean, calm, gleaming white world. She in her brownness knew that she did not belong here in this place. Nor was she stalking and hiding in an attempt to somehow fit or stay in this place. Her mission here was the same as it had been on earth: Find the People.

(Now this is the point of the dream that for four nights running caused her to awaken with her heart pounding and sweat pooling in the crevices of her neck.)

She was emerging from behind a rolling cart of folded white bath towels that she knew would be soft and fluffy to the touch if she dared to soil them with her fingers. The coast seemed to be clear. No machines or huge People were there to see her. She had only to head to a door a few feet away. But as her foot was landing on her second step a machine that only came up to her waist emerged from nowhere. It was, like all the other machines here, gleaming white. Only a small area where its face might have been was gleaming black, like a dark visor. It was legless, and its arms were like fishes’ fins. Something on its front where its belly might have been revved up and a green light began blinking wildly. At this the machine raised one of its fin-arms, from which had sprouted a weapon as long as the machine was tall. It pointed the weapon right at her.

The revving noise was the last thing she heard those four nights before consciousness rescued her.

She never knew why the nightmares stopped, but was greatly relieved when they did. She never told anyone of the dreams. She knew people would laugh at her. What adult suffers nightmares from a G-rated, animated, children’s film? Watched on pay-per-view from the comfort of one’s own family room, no less?

So she never told a soul. But some days long after the nightmares had stopped, she would taste dust in her mouth, or a strange tangy metalic flavor, and she would be reminded of her frantic search and frenzied hiding and implied violent demise. Usually this sense memory would come while she was surrounded by people–people tossing footballs and frisbees in a park, or people jostled together in a line waiting for entrance to the zoo, or people in their cars while she was in her car sipping four dollars’ worth of vanilla flavored coffee from a paper cup during morning rush hour. Surrounded by the People and all their machines and all their things.

April 27, 2009

Not One But Many

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 11:34 am
"Branches in Bloom." PPR_Scribe

"Branches in Bloom." PPR_Scribe

When there is mud
on the ground

you will
want boots.

When the weeds
have thorns,

you will
want gloves.

There is

that is


All of it

What you love,
you will rise to.

What you hate,
you will sink to.

But this is the truth
of the fool, or the logician.

Something true
that has no value.

The gods are easier
to please

than the people,
but their anger

the same.

Remember: We
are not one.

Remember: We
are never each other.

When you want to see,
use a prism, not a lens.

When you want to hear,
there are many voices.

A nation is never
at one with itself.


~Jason Schneiderman, “Oracular

***For more see Starting Today: Poems for the First 100 Days***

April 24, 2009

TURN IT OFF!! Old School Friday

Filed under: Old School Friday, Uncategorized — Tags: , — pprscribe @ 9:59 am

**UPDATE: I’ve changed the streaming music player. The link should work now**

This week’s Old School Friday theme was difficult for me. Who wants to remind themselves of Songs That Should Have Never Been Made? I mean, at the time when these songs came out—and were played 24-7 on every daggon radio station—I tried hard to put them out of my head. Now I must dredge them up again?

Also, I have a feeling this week’s theme might cause some controversy. On-line friendships may break up over this. You see, one woman’s most annoying song ever is another woman’s most inspirational song ever. One man’s makes-me-want-to-gauge-my-ears-out song is another man’s that-was-my-jam.

Oh well, might as well get to it.

First up on my play list is probably going to put me on someone’s isht list. First, the artist is, in my opinion, one of the most over-rated in all history. Second, the song itself is now forever sung (and sung poorly) by every friend’s little kid performing in front of the adults, every talent show contestant, every Auntie Mamie who you were forced to allow to sing at your wedding. It is hard to criticize these, um, singers. After all, the sentiments of the song are admirable. But by golly—must folks get so dramatic singing this song? They were probably just emulating Ms. Houston.

So there is my confession. I had a friend once tell me that my utter hatred of this song made me ineligible to claim a status as a Black woman. Well, it is a risk I must take. First up, my number one song that should never ever have been pressed to vinyl is Whitney Houston, “The Greatest Love.”

Okay, okay. In case anyone is still reading, my next pick I think a lot of people may agree on. I generally dislike any song about folks’ love for their pets. Or any song in which animals talk and behave like humans. Or any songs where animals themselves are the “singers.” Save that for children’s records. Then again, the Captain did kind of look like Cap’n Crunch (of cereal fame) and Tenille did look like she could have been the host of a Romper Room type program, so maybe I am the one in error for ever assuming “Muskrat Love” by The Captain and Tenille was meant for adults.

Next up: another one of those songs that everyone thinks they should be able to sing. There is no excuse for singing this song. There are no circumstances so dire that anyone should twist up their face in a dramatic scowl, hold the mic with both hands close to their lips, close their eyes tightly, shake their head slowly, and belt out these words. The only feelings I get when I hear Morris Albert (or anyone else) sing “Feelings” are depression, revulsion, and deep deep anxiety.

It is really, really unfortunate when an artist you like—an artist who also happens to be one of the greatest of all time—puts out a record that is so banal. I know that anyone can have an off day or an off album. But surely you have around you people who will say to you, “Uhhh, Stevie, maybe we should think a bit more about releasing this song.” For an artist known for complexity—complex lyrics, complex chord changes, complex rhythms, complex themes—this is one of the most gawd-awful simple songs ever written. It was used for a commercial (AT&T maybe?) and it sounds as if he wrote it with its ad-jingle potential in mind. I can only hope that today Stevie Wonder regrets that he ever released “I Just Called to Say I Love You” and that it became so widely infectious. (Somewhat like the plague.)

Please, y’all. (And Stevie.) Forgive me. I am trying to be honest here.

My last pick was a toss-up between two Paul McCartney collaborations, “Ebony and Ivory” (with Stevie Wonder) and “The Girl Is Mine” (with Michael Jackson). But since I already trashed one national treasure, I’ll go with the latter. Actually, I will admit that I did not despise this song when it came out. These two did look awkward together in the video. Was anyone convinced that there exists a universe where Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson would be focused on the same love interest? But that is not the reason I think that today this song never should have been released.

That reason is how bizarre this song is in light of everything we have learned about Mr. Jackson since this song’s release. This song…songs like “P.Y.T.”…his bizarre odes to his then “wife” (as well as that whole marriage sham and the infamous awkward kiss)… They’re just odd and troubling and make me sad for what Michael could have been were he not so scarred from his childhood and young adult experiences.

Well, now I will be singing these awful songs all day long. And I have forced them on you, too. Maybe I will make up for it by posting some wonderful songs over the weekend. If not there’s always “Stanky Leg” on your radio. (LOL)

play-ville-de-lumiere-by-goldListen—if you dare!

***As always, a big thank you to OSF hostesses, Marvalus at Opinionated Black Woman and MrsGrapevine.***

April 23, 2009

DVR Alert: Trouble the Water

Filed under: NOLA Post-Katrina Levee Break — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 5:14 pm

The day before Hurricane Katrina hit, 24-year-old Kimberly Rivers Roberts, a resident of New Orleans’ 9th Ward, turned her new video camera on herself, declaring, “It’s going to be a day to remember.” With hardly any supplies and no way of leaving her hometown, Roberts taped her harrowing ordeal as Katrina raged and the levees failed. Directed and produced by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, TROUBLE THE WATER opens with this unforgettable home video footage, then follows Kimberly and her husband Scott on a two-year odyssey – from the devastation of the storm to their escape from the city, to resettlement in Memphis, to an eventual return to a decimated New Orleans – telling a story of transformation, heroism and love. A 2008 Academy Award® nominee for Best Documentary Feature. (Source)

Begins airing tonight on HBO. Check your listings.

April 22, 2009

African Hearts: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 1:14 pm

Sunday’s episode was my favorite yet. And if you haven’t seen it yet, let me warn you: watch with a box of tissues close by.

In this episode we are treated to a guest appearance by the incredible CCH Pounder. She plays a grieving mother from the US who, though she officially loses her son, ends up gaining more than she ever could imagine. The interaction between her character and the Botswanans reveals what we Americans do “best” when traveling the world: being American. She is (at first) dressed inappropriately, naive about hospitality despite poverty, awkward in acknowledging her connection to the Africans, and—most relevant to my previous discussion—hell-bent on vengeance. But through exploring her son’s “African heart” she discovers African hearts of her own.

The other huge payoff with this episode is the further development of the relationship between Precious and Grace. Again, I try to write these without giving away too much of the plot so I will not say too much here. Suffice it to say that another sisterhood is here forged. And that Anika Noni Rose has got to be one of the most undervalued actors in the business. In this post from That Black Girl Site Corynne says:

Rose, however, layers in much more complex attributes giving her vulnerability, a big heart, and a strong head for business. In most of the episodes that have aired thus far, Rose is the source of comic relief. She doesn’t need to say it word it is imbued in the way she moves as well as when stares thoughtfully and blinks her eyes. But Rose gave us even more this week when she also showed that she can turn in both a comedic and a heartbreaking performance in the same show. Her confession to Precious Ramotswe had me (and I suspect a bunch of you) in tears.

Hopefully this episode will quiet somewhat the concerns of some observers who wanted from this series more of a focus on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the continent. This issue is dealt with here in a manner that is serious without being heavy-handed. Over in “real life,” Botswana’s response to the AIDS crisis is seen as one of the more successful models on the continent:

Botswana’s national treatment programme is now seen as a successful model for other African countries to follow. Though progress was initially slower than expected, the programme made rapid progress in 2004 and 2005, and patient responses have been comparable to those seen in Europe and the USA.

MASA [the national antiretroviral therapy program; the Setswana world for “dawn”] has demonstrated that antiretroviral treatment can be provided on a national scale through the public health system of a sub-Saharan African country – not just through localised projects run by foreign aid workers or researchers. In Botswana’s case, almost all of the actual cost of treatment has been paid by the Government, while other partners have given support by providing laboratory equipment, staff training or patient monitoring services.

…But the struggle to provide universal treatment in Botswana is far from over. All of those already enrolled must continue to receive drugs and monitoring services for the rest of their lives, and people who develop resistance to their current medications must have access to alternatives, which can be more expensive and complex than first-line therapy.

It is much easier to provide treatment in towns than in rural areas, and MASA will need to be further decentralised to ensure that all areas are covered. The shortage of skilled staff will continue to be a great challenge to MASA, and the programme will continue to be very expensive. The need for help from the rest of the world is as urgent as ever.

Botswana’s long-term vision is to have no new HIV infections by 2016, when the nation will celebrate 50 years of independence. (Emphasis added; Source)

***Read my previous posts about The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency here***

“Botswana, condom dispenser.”

April 21, 2009

My People and Other People’s Children

Filed under: Photography and Photo Essays — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 10:24 am

I have always been fascinated by images such as these of Black and other people of color with White children. For a time I worked as an in-home child care provider. It was a strange position in which to find myself and I felt that I had come full circle. And not in a good way. My grandmother and several of her female relatives did work in White people’s homes. So that their descendants would not have to. Even as they were part of the “Black middle class” and had their family accomplishments printed in the local Black newspaper, they did laundry and cleaned silverware and changed diapers on the other side of town. I wish I could somehow make the Black people in these images speak to me, so that I might know what they were thinking. I wonder if these adults had children of their own, and if the Black boy in the one photograph lived with his parents. I don’t know “whose people” these people are. But just in case they have none (or none that they know about or who know about them) I will claim them as my own ancestors.

"White-capped nurse holding infant."

"White-capped nurse holding infant."


"Negro domestic servant, Atlanta, GA, May 1939."

"Negro domestic servant, Atlanta, GA, May 1939."

**More images taken from Flickr’s “The Commons” project that highlights “hidden treasures in the world’s public photography archives.”

Stand and Fight

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 9:18 am

You’re taking that stand against the power structure. You are standing there small, in your bare feet in the dirt, and you say, ‘No.’ Those are the people that we all must take a stand with, so that nobody ever stands it alone.

~Alfre Woodard, on the film American Violet

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