A Critique of an Alarmist View of College Campuses

In School Daze by Spike Lee,  the main character Dap leads a campaign against the South African Apartheid regime. Continue reading “A Critique of an Alarmist View of College Campuses”

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Why Did Kyle Get to Stay on the Bus?

 

wendellIn Lee’s Get on the Bus, there is a scene where we learn that both Wendell and Kyle support the Republican Party. Wendell goes on a tirade about “niggas like Jackson” to make the point that Black leaders seem to be always asking for some form of patronage, leading him to say, “They all say the same thing, ‘Hire us. Feed us. Affirmative Action’. Like we need America to keep a nipple in our mouth” (1:05:58). Kyle reiterates this point in his defense. He says, “Democrats wanna keep us powerless, docile, begging for handouts. Running around having babies without even a minute plan for their future” (1:06:17). So why did Wendell get thrown off the bus, but Kyle didn’t? Continue reading “Why Did Kyle Get to Stay on the Bus?”

Crooklyn and #blackgirlmagic

I saw myself in, Troy. Crooklyn at times was hard to watch because she reminded me so much of myself when I was growing up with a rowdy brother and in a neighborhood full of rowdy boys. She was the outlier and she did a pretty good job of navigating that mostly male space, but still stood out.  Growing up I used to wear my hair like hers, in tight bzelda-harris1raids (with no hair extensions), and this made me look a little more androgynous then I would have liked. It was hard being the small, not yet developed into a woman’s body, girl with short hair in braids. You do not exactly fit into societal standards of beauty– and you’re often told that by your peers (mostly the annoying boys you live with.) Troy compensated for this by being good at sports and quick to combat insults with even wittier comebacks. I know this act and it is a tiring one to perform sometimes.

Prior to this film I used to not like to think about my appearance during the ages of 9-12. It was a rough time for me, in my opinion. But actually watching Crooklyn changed that for me. Watching someone on screen that reminded me so much of myself, and seeing the beauty in a girl like Troy, made me see the beauty in my childhood self. I know this sounds incredibly cheesy and kind of annoying, but it is true. Crooklyn helped me actually become more accepting of my Blackness, and find beauty in myself. Growing up I always wished my hair wasn’t in tight, short braids, or that I had bigger breasts, or I wasn’t so dark. Watching Troy on screen, however, made me realize that there is beauty in being that little Black girl. The one that is pretty but does not fit into the mold of being “pretty” by American television standards (light skinned, long straight-ish hair, physically bigger.) I think it is awesome that Spike Lee chose an actress that is not your typical American TV star, because those girls exist too and they’re magical in their own way.

 

Troy as a Carefree Black Girl

Troy is the first female character in a Spike Lee film that isn’t one dimensional, or stereotypical. For me Troy offered something different. And as a little girl Troy possessed a quality of rebellion and unapologeticness that many of his older women characters were lacking. I think it is interesting to take a look at how troy impacts the other women/girl characters in Crooklyn. In my opinion the most visibly and notably impacted woman she impacted upon her encounter with them was her cousin Viola. Although troy had to make some changes to her physical (her hair) in order to please her aunt she changed the women around her much more. From the very beginning of the time she stays with her family down south she is herself and doesn’t compromise that. I remember her aunt leaving the two girls in the room after she sends them to bed after prayer and as she shuts the door Troy begins jumping on the bed. This may seem like a minor and typical action to many but it was powerful because she got her cousin Viola to laugh and engage in it, although that typically wasn’t in Viola’s interest and personality for her to do. Viola’s mother was obsessed with making Viola always seem so poised, elegant and mature, that it is as if she was losing out on her childhood, Troy being there with her that summer and being unwittingly herself gave Viola back that. We see that in the scene where the two are riding on a bike through the neighborhood and playing with the neighbors dog on the lawn. Troy reached Viola the art of being a carefree black girl.

Man Camps: The Real Issue with Increasing Oil Production

Violence against Native women was the main subject of the event. Many of the speakers either made sure to acknowledge the victims of sexual violence, or told personal stories proving that this issue must be addressed. Indigenous women who are sexually assaulted are sometimes ‘disappeared’, and even when they are not, justice seems to be hard to come by as a result of their brown skin. Continue reading “Man Camps: The Real Issue with Increasing Oil Production”

Sororities and Fraternities In School Daze

schooldazeI think sororities and fraternities play a very interesting role in the film School Daze. Historically becoming involved with sororities and fraternities is a way to gain power and social status over others.In School Daze in particular, sororities and fraternities are used as an instrument by black people against other black people to explore and express superiority. Although Mission College is clearly an all black college, frat life is a manifestation of whiteness on this campus. We see this in the film  many times,  but I specifically want to focus on the scene in the hair salon with the Js and the Ws, although Rachel crew isn’t necessarily  sorority it still shares the same qualities of Sisterhood and strength in numbers. In this musical scene,   the two groups go back and forth calling each other slurs and insults, slurs/insults that you would normally hear from someone of a different race. A particular quote that I took a liking to, to prove my point regarding power dynamic, is when Jane Says “You’re a wannabe, want to be better than me” to Rachel. This to me perfectly illustrates the fight for power between the two groups because each of them want to represent the next elite uprising of the black race.

About Time for Prison Reform?

After watching Malcolm X this most recent time, I found myself most interested in the positive transformation of Malcolm X. We see Mr. X go from a child who was forced to endure the experience of watching his family become decimated by both racism and the state. Then we view his time as a young man enticed to join a criminal crew, before becoming a petty burglar, which then leads to his incarceration.

During his incarceration, Mr. X is lucky enough to meet Baines, a man acting with full devotion towards spreading the Nation of Islam and the teachings of Elijah Muhammad to all the prisoners truly willing to listen and learn. Mr. X, hesitant at first, eventually seizes this opportunity and transforms himself into one of the greatest thinkers, who utilizes his newfound mental and oratory prowess to join the fight for fixing the race problem in America. A problem that affected him from his birth.

For me, the most notable aspect of his transformation, was that it was catalyzed by his time in prison. Prison, at the time in the film and even true today, is not seen as a rehabilitative institution; its purpose has been to carry out punitive measures. But if Mr. X could transform from petty gangster to the ultimate charismatic intellectual, what about the other prisoners?

Mr. X found his opportunity for growth through Baines. Many prisons in America have side programs that provide a certain level of education, depending on the type of prison and location. But what if we reoriented the absolute purpose of prisons? What if we turned the institution into one that not only takes in criminally guilty people, but is also meant specifically to provide those people with the opportunity to better themselves? There are many prisoners who do not have a Baines, and as a result, they do not have an opportunity to transform the way Malcolm X did.