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What You Missed about the Color Purple

I saw a Twitter thread a awhile back about black people laughing at things that shouldn’t be funny. Someone in the thread mentioned one of my all time favorite  movies; The Color Purple. I could probably quote this movie word for word, ad-lib for ad-lib & I swear I notice something new every time. But seeing it mentioned in that thread made me think not only about the comedians and music artists who’ve referenced it over time, but also all the inside jokes between me and my family that derived from the movie.

I watched a show called American Masters on PBS that featured Alice Walker, the author of the book the movie brought to life. She talked about how much pushback she received when the book was released. How it was called perverted and how black southerners and church leaders found fault with it, but Alice saw truth. She sought to tell the story of the black experience from the voiceless. If you think about it, much of the movie we hear Celie’s THOUGHTS more than she ever really uses her voice.

Of all the things to protest or laugh at about this Alice Walker book turned Steven Spielberg film, I never found anything funny about Celie’s sexual trauma. From the time she was touched until the time of his death, she spent her life thinking her FATHER violated her. Which caused her to have unhealthy and unsatisfying ideas around sex. She described sex with her “husband” Albert to Shug as follows “I just let him get on top of me and do his business.” Sex was an act she had no say in. No RIGHT to the use of her own body. She was conditioned to believe that her body was for the use of men’s pleasure, and labor.

Statistics show that 66% of victims of sexual assault and rape under the age of 18 were between the ages of 12 and 17. Between 2009 and 2013 80% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse were a parent. 4% were an unmarried partner of a parent. That means 84% of the 63,000 children a YEAR that evidence supports were sexually abused between 2009 and 2013 lived a life like Celie. Where they may have kept sexual trauma by a parent a secret from the other parent. Where they bare children for a parental figure, where they don’t understand the autonomy of their bodies, even if they DO know what’s happening to them is wrong.

RAINN Day may have come and gone, but Domestic Violence Awareness Month is right around the corner. The color Purple is the color chosen to call attention to Intimate Partner Violence each October. The US Department of Justice includes victims as young as 12 years old in their reportings on Intimate Partner Violence. As September comes to an end, and Domestic Violence Awareness Month begins, don’t just remember The Color Purple as a classic curated by Steven Spielberg; remember it as the documentary Alice Walker intended it to be, and recognize that sexual assault at the hands of a parent or parental figure is very real. It’s not a scene to be laughed at or ignored, rather a punishable offense, and only 6 in 1,000 perpetrators end up in prison. #DaaamnDaddy

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Survivor’s Remorse

Imagine not knowing who your father is. At All. Not even a name, not even a theory. For 27 years. TWENT-TY SEV-EN YEARS!

Think about what questions you’d ask your mother. Do I look like him? Did he like the same stuff that I like? WHAT IS HIS NAME?

WHAT IS HIS NAME?

Now imagine being the mother of that child. Not only unwilling, but UNABLE to answer those questions. Spending 27 years trying to block out your child’s conception. Being reminded of the worst night of your life with every question.

That’s the story of Mary-Charles and her mother Cassie. Cassie was a girl from Boston in her early teens when she and some friends rode down to a party on Long Island. It was there she was sexually taken advantage of by not one, not two, but THREE fellow party-goers. It was on that night Mary-Charles was conceived. And for TWENTY SEVEN years she managed to bury that incident deep inside. Scolding and chastising Mary-Charles for every expressed desire to know who else’s DNA made her who she was.

Cassie telling Cam her truth

It took for Cassie’s son, whose father had been incarcerated since he was six weeks old, to guilt her into giving Mary-Charles a lead. I couldn’t imagine having to explain to my son at any age that I had been violated by three men and that his sister was a living, breathing, TALKING reminder of possibly the worst night of my life.

This may be the fictional tale of a scripted drama family, but for so many this is real life.

I watched in awe as Mary-Charles addressed the three tombstones as “Rape Father #1”, “Rape Daddy #2” and “Rape Dad #3”

Having the moment to get out all the “In spite of you, I Am” statements that so many of us need to say, some to fathers still living and breathing.

Every 98 seconds an American is Sexually Assaulted. September 21st is Rape, Assault, Incest National Network Day.

I’ve never been a victim of rape, but I could think of no Survivor’s Remorse worse than raising my unknown rapists’ baby. #DaaamnDaddy

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3 lessons I learned from Queen Sugar

If you’re anything like me, you spent at least two days of this past week watching the two-night premier or OWN’s newest series Queen Sugar. Three things stood out to me that I look forward to better understanding throughout the series.

  1. Blue & Ralph-Angel Bordelon. Ralph-Angel is literally down to STEAL to provide for his son. He’s clearly unable to provide for himself & there are some hints at a criminal past. No matter his past, he’s trying to a present and nurturing Daddy as best he can and protect Blue from the stresses of adulthood before his time. He butts heads with his aunt Violet on the thin line between preserving childhood and coddling a child to ruin. Because apparently, Ralph-Angel himself was placed on a pedestal as a child and now he’s “Wrestling with a world that ain’t got no pedestals for him.”blue-ra-kenya
  2. Micah & Davis West: We don’t see much of these two in the opening episode. However; what we do see is interesting enough. Davis appears to be the type of father content with showering his son with money because “This our real life. Ain’t it good?” Micah however seems to be grounded enough to see past the money and face his father’s flaws. He courageously expresses his disappointment when he tells his Dad directly that he doesn’t need him. He seems to have enough of a moral compass to know when another man is no longer worthy of leading him. I’m interested to see if Davis can regain Micah’s trust.i-dont-need-you
  3. Earnest Bordelon & Charley Bordelon-West: In the season opener we learn that Charley has an MBA and although he doesn’t directly ask for it, her father need her help. He reminds me of my own grandfather when he hits her with the “Hey Baby” style “Just Checking on You” call. She seems like a family oriented woman, but knowing her Daddy needed her help, she put her position as her husband’s manager first. She arrived in town too late to make good on her promise to give her Daddy all her time. And is casually referred to as his “California Girl”. It’s unclear if it’s due to her college & marriage life or if she grew up there separately with her mother. Her emotional reaction upon arrival & her apology at the end of the episode brought some to tears. She appears to have a special relationship with her Daddy opposed to her siblings and I’ll be looking to learn how that came to be.

charley-apologizing

BONUS THOUGHT: Every Aunt VI needs a Hollywood in her life.