The Black Snob

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Archive for the ‘writers’ Category

Feminism. Abandonment. And Rebecca Walker.

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Rebecca Walker, daughter of “The Color Purple” author Alice Walker, recently divulged her true feelings about her mother’s ardent feminism and their estranged relationship. I first read about it on The Ultraviolet Underground and Okayplayer.

In a column written for Great Britian’s The Mail, Walker talks about being abandoned and neglected by her mother who she labeled as selfish, seeing children as a burden, trapping women into subjugation. She essentially calls her mother a feminist fanatic, pushing the most extreme ends of the women’s rights movement.

Some have criticized Walker for “outing” her mother as a bad parent, accusing her of only doing it for her career, but I think what she did took a degree of courage. If she was truly raised with the ideology that children were a burden and internalized that she was an unwanted inconvenience to her mother that’s a tough load to carry psychologically.

It’s hard to go against your mother, especially when she’s more famous and better liked than you. Alice Walker is an icon in literary, black and feminist circles. Her story in some ways reminded me of Christina Crawford’s tell-all about her famous mother Joan Crawford. She was bashed for writing her book after her mother died and left her out of the will. They said she only wrote it because she was angry, like being cut out of will wasn’t reason enough alone to be furious.

You can debate Walker’s methodology, but the only people who really know what went on in her childhood were her mother, her father and herself, and I believe her sense of abandonment is real. A lot of black children are abandoned either physically or psychologically by their emotionally stunted parents. Abandonment happens every day. Black parents who think a “whoopin'” is the answer to everything. Black parents who look the other way when their latchkey kids engage in risky behavior. Black parents who just aren’t there. Fathers who split. Mothers who leave their kids to be raised by grandmothers.

Familial loyalty can only go so far in a damaged relationship and Rebecca and Alice Walker would have to have a damaged relationship for it come to this. My mother and I have our differences on things, but we have a healthy relationship. She deserves my loyalty because she gave me unconditional love and devotion. I don’t have anything to bitch about.

Rebecca apparently does.

Side note: The article is worth reading for her analysis of the extreme end of feminism alone. While I’m a feminist, I identify more with Rebecca views that the movement was about giving women options, not labeling all things related to “femininity” and “marriage” bad. My mother is an independent minded woman with a college degree who became a full-time stay-at-home mom. I don’t think she ever felt subjugated by my father. Their marriage was both retro and modern. My mother had options. That’s the point. Women can choose their destines, whether it be a career or motherhood.

Also, if all children were burdens no one would have any and that would be the end of all of us, so that logic is a fallacy. This is the real mythology of the movement, that women can “have it all.” We still don’t live in a fully egalitarian society. Having a family does involve concessions, usually on the woman’s behalf. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.


Written by blacksnob

May 28, 2008 at 11:57 am

Last night on "The Colbert Report"

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Normally I don’t watch Stephen Colbert’s show after The Daily Show. Not because it isn’t a good show, but sometimes Stephen’s Bill O’Reilly-meets-a-three-ringed-circus act wears on me. It’s exhausting. Plus the show isn’t so much an infotainment show (like “The Daily Show”), but a character driven show, and the character who drives it is annoying. But since Colbert’s been without his writers I’ve actually enjoyed the show more. It’s hard to be a manufactured nutbag for 22 minutes when you have to come up with everything yourself. So now he’s just a half-ass instead of a whole ass. But, because of the heart in last night’s show, it was especially good.

I’d read about Colbert and his father in, of all things, Parade Magazine. It was nice to know something about the guy who used to be the other funny reporter on “The Daily Show.” It was also nice that he shared that slice of Civil Rights history. There are so many stories out of the Civil Rights movement that it’s impossible to know them all. This medical aid strike in Charleston, SC was one I wasn’t familiar with. My mother remembered it. Hell, she was able to go word-for-word with Abernathy on his “perish as fools” speech (which, BTW, did ring familiar to me, as I think it was a notable quip).

The most amazing thing though was seeing a young (and skinny) Andy Young encouraging the workers and the blacks in Charleston to boycott white businesses to show solidarity. Young may irritate me from time to time, but you have to give the guy credit for his body of work as a Civil Rights Activist. Someone had to risk getting killed for the plight of disenfranchised and oppressed people. I’m glad he did what he did. Young was also on the Colbert Report last night and they had a half joking, half serious conversation about worker’s rights and Colbert’s father.

Then, very strangely, they sang one of my favorite Negro Spirituals in honor of the striking writers in Hollywood.

So while I loved this episode of Colbert (even the earlier half discussing the irrelevance of IQ tests), I couldn’t help but notice and not be surprised that the bulk of the pictures of the striking writers of his show were slightly chubby, hairy, 30-something-year-old white dudes. There was one white women in there. But the rest, white dudes. I wasn’t surprised because for all the legend about “Hollywood Liberals” this and progressive that, Hollywood is a town owned, run by and employed with nothing but white men. Especially in the Writer’s Guild of America which is as white as an Augusta, Georgia golf club.

I don’t know how many stories I’ve read about the frustrations of black writers to get hired on ANY show, let alone a show that’s “perceived” as a white show (see “Friends” and “Seinfield” for most heinous examples). And I love how the producers do the “if we could find qualified blacks we’d hire them” garbage. I didn’t believe that bull crap when my editors told me that as a journalist. I don’t believe that crap either about Hollywood. How can a black writer get any “clout” and rep without getting on a show? It’s like a Chinese finger trap in there. You can’t get hired because you don’t have experience, you can’t get experience because you can’t get hired. And then you end up some where in the Hollywood ghetto of BET and the CW’s of the world and even if you prove yourself (see Mara Brock Akil of “Girlfriends” or Yvette Lee Bowser of “Half & Half” and “Living Single”) they still look askance.

It’s amazing that Shonda Rhimes ever got “Grey’s Anatomy” on the air.