Sep 21, 2015

What I ❤ Today: Lessons In Sisterhood, Starring Viola Davis

Felt some megawatt sisterhood feelings after watching Viola Davis make history at the 67th Emmy Awards last night, where she won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, the first time an Black actress has won that award.

Yes...the first time. Just... *sucks teeth*

What makes up for that disgraceful gaffe is Davis waltzing up to the podium to accept her award to spill out this gem of a quote:
"In my mind, I see a line. And over that line I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can't seem to get there no how. I can't seem to get over that line. That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something. The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there"
After thinking it over, I'm actually glad Davis was the one to close that gap, because she's one of few Black celebrities that isn't afraid to speak out against Hollywood's notorious need to marginalize and rub out POC's (she's done it before...). Nobody could've quoted Harriet Tubman and brought up Hollywood hypocrisy in one string of word pearls, but Viola Davis, so standing ovation for that. Also great was that Davis shared her winning moment as she exclusively made the speech for and about Black women, recognizing her fellow actresses, and pointing out that Black women can achieve much greatness if we'd only get the opportunities to do so. [Note to self: Begin writing kick ass detective-meets-Southern-Gothic-mystery novel with Viola Davis in mind...] So about that diversity gap, Matt Damon...?

Of course she made some White people uncomfortable with her words --- she got a soap star wading in her feelings --- but she wasn't race baiting, or trying to derail the glitzy glamorous night into a March on Selma moment, no, she was telling the unvarnished truth, utilizing her position as the voice of the voiceless to express universal truth and break that barrier, and still being damn gracious about her win to boot.

Prior to the speech there was also a oh so perfect moment between Davis and Taraji P. Henson: 

The two of them both up for the same award, but hugging it out and showing good sistersportsmanship --- now that's how we win and that's how we grow as a sisterhood.

Take notes, folks. 

Sep 8, 2015

Book Looks: 'Dietland' Throws A Grenade On Diets, Fatness & Feminism

Growing up my mother was sort of the empress of dieting. Every drink, pill, powder, supplement ---what have you --- she either knew about it, had tried it, or was tempted to pop it in, or stir it up. My mother wanted to revive the slimmer image of her younger days, rid herself of the Winnie The Pooh pooch she had, and she believed that if she found the right 'cure', her body was going to 'snap back'. Ultimately I got drawn into this weird world of miracle pills, mixed powdered drinks that resembled bubbling bayou bile and health literature that promised that if you squint and read between the lines you could shed the pounds in 7 days or less!!!!!!!, and while I still had my Funfetti cake and ate it too, my mother was the one who made me aware that even just a thin slice of it would cause my cute little waist to expand. Note this is before I even was influenced by glossy magazines and pop stars; my mother was on the pedestal then.

All of these dieting tricks and gaffes were really code words for starvation. I can attest to this, as one such diet experiment that my mother believed to be the ultimate belly shrinking cure had both of us hallucinating and shaking like addicts trying to kick the habit. We were back to cheeseburgers and chocolate milkshakes after enduring a concoction of blended carrot juice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and not much else) for four days. Looking back, we almost killed ourselves trying to obtain some unattainable size, and that to me was the wake up call out of my mother's dieting madness.

Diet culture makes everyone play the fool...sometime. Behind every line of "be yourself" and "you’re beautiful the way you are" there is a diet plan, cackling and whispering, "…that is if you do this one small neat weight-loss trick" and we fall for it every time, because 'thinness' is key, 'smallness' is desirable. Nowhere did I mention "healthy diet". Nowhere did I mention "whole foods" or "exercise". Dieting and its programs give the impression that your health and their 'good clean' eating is at the core of their agenda, but it usually opposite. Dieting has a glamorous and quick flavor to it, it doesn't regard sweating it out on a treadmill, or shelling out money for oh so pricey whole foods, thus we flock to it.

Still all the dieting my mother did throughout the Snackwells and Jenny Craig culture of the 1980s and 1990s didn’t stop her from contracting diabetes (she has Type 1 --- genetics are a bitch…) or having high blood pressure, but lessons are never learned because even though she keeps on a steady diabetic diet, she still gets hyped when a new "miracle cure" pops up, her finger itching to strike the key or press the button to purchase. It's a cycle, a vicious obsessive one, and one a lot of people, especially women like my mother, tend to never get out of.

In that regard, my mother and Dietland's Plum Kettle have a lot in common. Plum Kettle flocks towards the same thought, the thought that if you take part in diet programs that offer short-cuts and quick solutions that that thin person will leap right out of you in a snap!, in an instant.

In Sarai Walker's debut novel, Plum Kettle’s got 99 problems and a pre-made plate of low calorie puke is just one.