Hunger Games…

 

I have to admit that I never read the hunger games. And it makes me feel some kind of way when people run out to read a book just because there’s a movie coming out about. So despite my curiosity I don’t think I will be reading the hunger games any time soon. I also will be waiting for the movie to show up on cable or Netflix. It’s nothing personal. It’s just if a movie doesn’t have to do with vampires, zombies, greek myths or superheroes, I have a very slim chance of wanting to pay $13 – $17 to see it, no matter how compelling it is.

Yeah so I haven’t read the book but apparently it has black/dark skinned characters that a lot of young people assumed were white, but were cast as black in the movie. I’m not shocked, but definitely disturbed by the responses of some ignorant young people on twitter who apparently took issue with the casting choices. Most of the posts were people expressing surprise that their favorite characters were not only black in the movie but had been explicitly described as dark skinned in the book they had read, and somehow the still managed to imagine the characters as white. One the posts went so far as to say that the death of one of the characters wasn’t as sad now that he knew that the character was black.

Here is the link to one of the articles I’ve come across on this topic. You can find many of the exact twitter posts there: http://ohellnawlblog.com/newohnblog/2012/03/26/racist-hunger-games-fans-pissed-off-that-some-of-their-favourite-characters-were-black-in-the-movie-but-they-were-also-black-in-the-book/

Again I haven’t read the book, but I’m a little sad that a few people’s ignorance  (and poor reading skills) is marring the debut of what is probably a pretty decent movie, and from what I hear , a really awesome series of books.

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About Trayvon…

Editorial Image from NYTimes Article

There has been a lot of images that have been created as a result of the tragic death of teenager Trayvon Martin. I haven’t seen them all but of those I have seen I think the above image may be my favorite. I love that the image is faceless and bodiless. As much as the tragedy is about this particular boys life, Trayvon has come to symbolize something much larger than himself. Trayvon has become a stand in for every young black male who has and continues to shoulder the burden of blackness in this country. The burden of being a target.

I’ve read countless articles about “the talk” many black mothers give their sons about how to avoid being harassed and accused of crime. I know what its like personally to be followed by police as a teenager for walking in a white neighborhood with a group of black friends. Racism is alive and well. And as a general rule, even the most conservative, “stop making excuses and pull yourself up by the bootstrap type” black folks get it. And yet somehow it seems like a large percentage of white folks, even some of the super liberal, “my parents marched with MLK” white folks, don’t. And I think thats what makes discussions about race so uncomfortable. People have trouble openly discussing what they don’t (and often don’t want to) understand.

So, as much as I love the above image I couldn’t help but think about why it was chosen as a stand in for Trayvon in this editorial featured in the NYTimes. I couldn’t help but think that perhaps its facelessness and bodilessness allows the reader to universalize the subject in a way that focuses on the tragedy of a child being killed rather, allowing for distance to be established from the racial implications of the event. The idea that Trayvon could be anyones child is easier to swallow than the idea that blacks, and black men in particular are targeted by police and society as a whole. While I still prefer the original image I see why images like the one below might be necessary. I find it incendiary and overly simplistic, but as I learn about teaching strategies, I’m starting to think that perhaps this is where we need to start, with the crude and stark.  And then maybe.. just maybe… we can get people to recognize the subtlety and complexity inherent to the implications of these events…

A Tale Of Two Hoodies - Michael D’Antuono.

The Lorax

I took my three younger siblings to see the Lorax this weekend and as expected it was terrible. I’m sure my youngest sibling, who is actually age appropriate for the film, (She’s 9) enjoyed the 3D animated feature film immensely. My two teenage siblings thought it was okay, and were mostly just happy to be spending time with me. I was happy to be able to do something with them as a group, but the movie itself just made me upset. Movies in 3-D that weren’t actually made for 3-D always hurt my eyes. So the glasses were a nuisance. And the Lorax character they invented seemed so far from the Dr. Seuss story I would read repeatedly as a child. The Lorax sells cars now? The Lorax sells movie club memberships? No the Lorax wouldn’t. The Lorax speaks for the trees!

Also, one of the more interesting aspects of the film for me was that the Onceler was made into this sympathetic young male character with family members who pressured him into making bad decisions. I didn’t like this choice. I think that the Onceler was faceless for a reason. Long story short. The movie ruined it. RUINED!

To Be Young Gifted & Black.

James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry

I came across this picture on my Facebook newsfeed this evening and I couldn’t help but smile. I didn’t immediately think to write about it but then I saw it come up again and again as it was reposted by various friends in my network. It struck me then that the image had resonated with so many people that I knew.

When I first saw the image I immediately recognized James Baldwin and was excited to see him in a light that I hadn’t ever before. I didn’t recognize Lorraine Hansberry (you can’t see her face) but after some quick googling I was able to find out that it was her. To see two young black intellectuals from a different generation dancing and having fun was surprisingly inspirational. Sometimes it can be hard to imagine that these mythic figures were in fact once young and trying to make their way in the world just like me.

Images like this remind the” young black and gifted ” of this generation that our interests and strivings are not pointless. That even James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry got down and partied sometimes too. I think more importantly it reminds us of the value of our networks. Of our interconnectedness. That even those we consider great minds, did not exist in a vacuum or a box. They had friends. They talked to each other. They valued one another. They made each other better.

In the play To Be Young, Gifted and Black, Lorraine Hansberry says: “My name is Lorraine Hansberry. I am a writer. I suppose I think that the highest gift man has is art, and I am audacious enough to think of myself as an artist.” A recurring theme in African-American literature, whether it be Richard Wright in Black Boy or Malcolm X in his autobiography, is that there are just some things that black children aren’t meant to do, and writing is one of them.

Even in 2012 its hard to convince people of the value of art and literature. And often material needs eclipse the desire to work for something greater than a paycheck. It’s hard to be “young, gifted, & black” and choose not to become a lawyer or a doctor or a business executive, although we need those too. It strikes many as a waste of ability to choose to drop out of college and write plays like Lorraine Hansberry did. But pictures like this remind us that its not all hard times.  And that you can write A Raisin in the Sun, you can write The Fire Next Time, that you can choose to go on the road less traveled, and manage to be happy too.

Intro.

My name is Eloise Green and I’m an artist and aspiring art teacher living in Brooklyn, NY. I’m starting this blog largely because of a journaling assignment I have this semester for the graduate course I’m enrolled in, Diverse Classrooms in a Visual Culture. Although I’m currently a graduate student in the field of education, I completed my undergraduate degree in Black Studies as well as in Art & Art History. I love art and I hope to teach art professionally someday, but a part of my identity is deeply tied to the worldview I developed as a Black Studies major at Amherst College. For this reason, while my blog will focus primarily on issues related to art and visual culture, I will often be discussing the artwork and visual media that I encounter through the lens of critical race theory. I think it exceptionally appropriate to kick things off with this quote from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man:

“I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.”

Welcome to Blackness In Visual Culture.