When Jian Feng’s baby daughter was born, he wasn’t just disappointed that the baby didn’t resemble her beautiful mother, he was “horrified” by how “ugly” he found the little girl to be.
Feng was so horrified, he convinced himself there was no way he could be the child’s father–his wife must have had sex with a hideously ugly man to have created such an unattractive offspring.
Feng (a resident of Northern China) took his wife to court to prove that the baby was not his, but was surprised when the DNA test confirmed he was indeed the little girl’s father.
At that point, his wife admitted that she had undergone plastic surgery to beautify her face before she met her husband. The woman’s numerous surgeries cost her over $100,000 and changed her from a person Feng would never have considered marriageable into the beautiful woman he says he fell in love with.
“I married my wife out of love, but as soon as we had our first daughter, we began having marital issues. Our daughter was incredibly ugly, to the point where it horrified me,” he told the judge.
Jian insisted that he had been tricked by his wife and the judge agreed, granting him a divorce, and ordering his ex-wife to pay Feng $120,000 restitution for his troubles.
How would you have ruled in this case?
Although I do agree Feng was “tricked” by his wife into believing she was a so-called natural beauty, for him to be horrified at the sight of his own child (who is actually pretty cute) speaks volumes about him. His ex-wife should file a counter suit for being tricked into believing she married a human being.
If I were the judge in this case, I would have agreed with him in open court about one thing: His wife did have sex with a hideously ugly man–her husband. He’s the only ugly person in this sad story.
There is no surgery available for that.
There are two things the American masses can’t seem to get enough of, revisionist history and vampires, so, hey, why not mash up the two and make a quick box office buck?
Enter film maker Tim Burton (yes, thee Tim Burton) and his just released bright idea, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” a re-imagined version of our 16th President as a hatchet-wielding, freedom fighting abolitionist on a quest for vengeance against the blood-sucking, slave-eating Confederate vampires who murdered his mother.
I’m guessing the film is as over the top as it sounds, which is probably why critics have mostly panned it; but, I can’t actually speak on whether this flick has any redeeming qualities, because, out of respect for Harriet Tubman, I will never see it.
(Yes, thee Harriet Tubman)
If you know even a little bit about Araminta Harriet Ross Tubman, you know that she stands as one of the greatest human beings who has ever inhaled oxygen on this blue marble we all call home.
No, that is not an exaggeration.
Harriet Tubman is a super hero’s super hero.
If you don’t know much about her, we’ll just place the blame for that squarely on the educators who cheated you. If you don’t learn more about her after today, there will be no one to blame but you. Google is, after all, the great equalizer. Or, you could read “Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People,” which is (at the time of this posting) absolutely free on Amazon.com
It is really difficult for me talk or write about Harriet Tubman without being overcome with emotion, because, even though I know many, many details of her life story (a story that is beyond amazing), I am painfully aware that the details I DO know are but a tiny fraction of all that this woman was, all that she saw, and all that she suffered so that others might live in freedom. Gazing at her picture both inspires and shames me; I am reminded of how much I have not done in comparison to this woman’s breathtaking life of service.
Born into slavery c. 1820, Araminta “Minty” Ross was forced to perform hard field labor from the time she was a small child. She witnessed several of her siblings being sold off to other owners (never to be seen again) and she once heard her mother, Harriet Greene Ross, threaten to split open the head of anyone who tried to sell her remaining children. That threat (which worked) was Minty’s first exposure to the idea of “resistance,” but it would not be her last.
Minty was permanently disabled at age 13 when she refused to help an overseer catch an escaping slave. The overseer threw a heavy metal weight at the fleeing slave and it missed and struck Minty in the head. Her owner allowed her two days to recover from the trauma, after which she was forced to work the fields with blood from the wound dripping down her face. She suffered with epileptic and narcoleptic spells for the rest of her life as a result of the injury.
Minty eventually married a free black man named John Tubman and adopted her mother’s name, Harriet, as her own. Never contented to be a slave, Harriet Tubman soon began plotting her solo journey North to freedom. Though her husband threatened to turn her in if she tried to run, Harriet escaped to Philadelphia where she established a base of operations and dared to return to the South twenty times to lead hundreds of souls to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Tubman famously never lost a passenger–a feat she attributed to a pistol at her side and direct communication from God.
Never captured, Tubman eventually served as a spy and nurse during the Civil War, became a suffragette after slavery was abolished, established a home for the aged, lived to be 93 years old, was buried with full military honors and has this inscription on her headstone:
“Servant of God, Well Done.”
So, when filmmakers start messing around with this woman’s legacy, those who love and revere her are definitely going to sit up and take notice.
What we notice about this Burton film is that somebody (Casting agent? Executive Producer? Director?) decided it wasn’t important to portray Harriet Tubman as the dark-skinned daughter of Africa that she most definitely was.
Harriet Tubman (left) & the actress cast to play her
Tubman’s direct ancestors are believed to have been of the Ashanti tribe from what is now Ghana, West Africa. She was not “mulatto” and she received none of the advantages during her life (literacy, freedom, income, protection) that might have come from being mixed with the slave master’s blood.
Harriet Tubman’s dark skin is central to her story as a black American woman, and anyone who knows and respects the history of Africans in America would know that.
Which raises the question…
Why was Jaqueline Fleming even in the running for this part? (I get why she took the role, but it is lost on me how she could be cast here.)
Casting a movie is never haphazard. Casting agents are like character chemists who are responsible for connecting the audience to the actors and the actors to one another. Their expertise is generously compensated, and their track records are what get them gigs. A quite prolific casting agent, Mindy Marin, cast this movie, though she may not have had the final say in how Harriet should be portrayed.
But someone did. And someone decided she shouldn’t be so black. Someone decided Harriet Tubman should look less like herself and more like Jaqueline Fleming, and that someone had a reason which is left open to speculation.
So, let’s speculate:
Perhaps the closer a woman of African descent is to looking like a white woman, the more palatable she becomes to the audience.
And when a woman of African descent is darker-skinned it seems we are more comfortable if she stays in her place.
Removing Harriet Tubman’s pigment for the purpose of making her more “palatable” to an audience is called E R A S U R E. Distorting Harriet’s image so that it can no longer serve as an example of heroism to the successive generations of brown girls who resemble her is called E R A S U R E.
Erasure must be socially sanctioned if it is to be effective.
So, don’t sanction it. In honor of a great black American woman who devoted her life to freeing slaves and being of service to her fellow humankind, please do not support this film.
“I freed a thousand slaves; I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” -Harriet Tubman
And, if it’s not too much trouble…
…contact the film’s producers to let them know why:
@20thcenturyfox @bekmambetov @SimplyBurton
Bekmambetov Projects, Ltd.
11600 Dona Alicia Place
Studio City, CA 91604
20th Century Fox Film Corporation
Attn: Scott Rudin
10201 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Set a timer and lie back on the couch for eighteen minutes and you will realize what an eternity that would be if someone held you down for that long while ripping your face apart with their teeth.
Equally, if not more horrific, is the thought of being that individual who spent eighteen of the last few minutes of his earthly life chewing the lips, nose, cheeks, forehead and eyeball off of another human being’s face.
Bad things happen in this world that are seemingly inexplicable. They happen a lot. But for some reason, this bad thing has really freaked me out.
I’m thinking that if even one of Rudy Eugene’s family, friends, co-workers or acquaintances said something like, “Yeah, we really saw this coming,” or “He was always a nutcase,” it wouldn’t make this story any easier to know about, but it would at least make it fit somewhere in that mental box that holds my ideas about how unfathomable evil comes alive in a person.
I don’t know where to put this.
Police at the scene said they suspected “bath salts” (a hallucinogenic designer drug that can result in erratic and violent behavior) was the cause of Eugene’s sudden cannibalistic rage. But, those closest to him said he only occasionally smoked marijuana and was not known to indulge in any hard drugs of any kind. Friends say Eugene felt guilty about his marijuana use and had been asking God for the strength to quit.
And, speaking of the Lord, the last time Eugene’s girlfriend saw her man, he was on his way out of the house holding a Bible in his hand.
Yovanka Bryant told reporters she was not aware of any mental illnesses her boyfriend may have had and said she only saw him smoke marijuana once. Although his ex-wife Jenny Ductant says she ended their brief marriage in 2007 due to increased violence from Eugene, and police had to intervene when he verbally threatened his mother in 2004, Bryant’s reputation among friends, family and coworkers is that he was a “really nice guy.” His girlfriend says she “felt safe” with him. She insisted he was trying to grow closer to God and said that they watched a Bible ministry television show in the mornings and read the Bible and the Koran together.
He had attended a Bible study with his friend Bobby Cherry less than 48 hours before the incident:
“His last words to me were that he wanted to get his life right and that he wanted to get closer to God. And he wanted to stop smoking pot. That’s it…It had to be some sort of drug that somebody must have slipped on him, because Rudy wouldn’t so much as pop a Tylenol pill.”
Eugene left his girlfriend’s house in the early morning hours on the last day of his life, but not before planting a kiss on her lips and saying, “I love you.”
An hour after he left, he called her cell phone. “He called me and told me his car broke down. He said, ‘I’ll be home, but I’m going to be a little late.’ Then he said, ‘I’m going to call you right back.’”
He never did.
What on earth happened in the next few hours that would cause this man to brutally attack 65-year-old Ronald Poppo, leaving the homeless man clinging to life with 75% of his face missing?
I’m hoping the police were right. I’m hoping they do find evidence of “bath salts” in Eugene’s system. I’m hoping his death and Ronald Poppos’ tragic injuries might serve as a warning to those who think there is anything “recreational” about messing around with synthetic drugs. I’m hoping that there’s a reasonable explanation why someone whom family members describe as “happy,” “kind,” “generous,” “spiritual” and “loving,” would suddenly behave like a vicious, ravenous animal.
I need a box to put this incident in that doesn’t leave me wondering if the human beings in proximity to me and my family–human beings whom I depend on to remain relatively sane, normal and predictable–are capable of this kind of sudden, unforseen and inexplicable evil.
Until then, I’ll be giving a lot of folks that suspicious side eye.
Note: Experts on facial reconstruction say Ronald Poppo faces a lengthy recovery, including months of treatment to rebuild his features. He remains hospitalized. A fund has been set up in his name by the Jackson Memorial Foundation.
“It had occurred to Pecola some time ago that if her eyes, those eyes that held the pictures, and knew the sights — if those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different.” –Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye
An inventor in California says he has developed a new 20-second laser procedure that will safely turn brown eyes blue…for around $5,000.
Gregg Homer, founder of Stroma Medical in Laguna Beach, Calif., says the color switch is possible because all brown-eyed people have blue-looking orbs under the layer of dark pigment that covers the iris.
Homer has conducted preliminary testing of the irreversible procedure on a dozen volunteers in Mexico, and plans to test the full procedure in both eyes of volunteers in about a year.
Stroma will first market the treatment outside the U.S. — probably Mexico, Canada and Europe. Homer said he has “no doubt” he’ll get FDA approval in the U.S. in about three years.
“People like the depth of a light eye,” says Homer. “Eyes are the windows to the soul, and a light eye is like an open window.”
Not so fast, Homer.
This story reminds me of one I posted back in August about a “Pupil of the Eye” conference Bahá’is held in Los Angeles to celebrate the spiritual contributions of people of African descent:
“Bahá’is believe in the oneness of the human family, but discourage the kind of “color blindness” that leads to the glossing over of critical issues those committed to racial unity must be willing to address.
The Baha’i writings metaphorically compare black believers to the “pupil of the eye surrounded by the white,” explaining, “In this black pupil is seen the reflection of that which is before it, and through it the light of the spirit shineth forth.”
Young people today are already bombarded with media messages that tell them they are not perfect and beautiful exactly the way they were created. Breast implants. Butt injections. Skin lightening. Permanent eye color switch?
Have mercy. It seems Pecola Breedlove’s misguided survival strategy may soon become all the rage.
I was driving down Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and had to circle the block for a second look at this bus bench poster. What the hell? This is just wrong on too many levels to believe, but the most glaring offense is the negative message it sends about African women.
At first glance, the guy in the middle seems dressed for a safari, and the immediate assumption is these two men are his tour guides. However, closer inspection shows they are all holding golf clubs, which is a subtle way of lifting the African men into a higher economic class. These two men in loincloths would then represent guides of a different kind — cultural guides, so to speak, who are possibly educated and definitely worldly and sophisticated enough to be golfing with the white dude.
The wording of the ad doesn’t specify women of any race, and it is disrespectful to all women, but the African man on the left is the one dishing out relationship advice and that tells the observer that this man is speaking on what he knows from his own experience and culture, which would imply that he is speaking about the African woman. His message: The only way to deal with her is to recognize she’s basically an animal that must be approached with caution. The white dude finds this amusing.
We already are bombarded with misogynistic and demeaning messages in music, television and film. The last thing we need to see is a bus bench lesson on how black women are not human.
It is said that controversy sells, and drawing more attention to an ad like this might be what the company intends. But I’m thinking a national boycott of this brand might be just the economic smackdown needed to prevent this kind of blatant disrespect from happening in the future.
If you have an opinion you’d like to share with the company, Dos Equis can be reached at 877-522-5001, or email them at email@example.com.
It would be great if the calls and emails came from both women and men.
–by Kathleen Cross for rollingout.com
You may remember the 2003 University of Chicago study by Devah Pager that sent young white and black “testers” with randomly assigned “felony convictions” to apply for low-wage jobs. The study found that whites with felonies were more likely to be called for interviews than black applicants without criminal records.
Eight years later, black male unemployment has hit the highest rate since the government began keeping track in 1972. It is estimated that only 56.9 percent of black men over age 20 are working, and the prospects for them to earn an honest living anytime soon in this crumbling economy are not good.
While Obama battles the GOP over raising the debt ceiling and preserving “sacred cow” tax cuts and entitlement programs, the unemployed poor are becoming increasingly desperate. Of particular concern is the reality that the once-supportive family members who used to serve as safety nets for struggling felons are now losing their jobs and homes in record numbers. The safety net exists no more.
According to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Economic Policy Institute in 2004, the median net worth of white households was $134,280, compared with $13,450 for black households. By 2009, the median net worth for white households had fallen 24 percent to $97,860; the median black net worth had fallen 83 percent to $2,170. And, no, that is not a typo. Algernon Austin, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy describes the wealth gap like this, “In 2009, for every dollar of wealth the average white household had, black households only had two cents.”
Two cents. Really? If anyone has the audacity to suggest to me that having a black president means America is now “post racial,” I will have to hold myself back. And, speaking of remaining nonviolent in the face of violent oppression… If there has ever been a reason to march on Washington, it is right the hell now. –originally published at rollingout.com.