All Articles Tagged "alice walker"
Like many of you, I’ve spent hours reading Alice Walker’s work. And as much time as I spent consuming and internalizing her pieces of her mind, I hadn’t really looked at her face. If I had, I would have noticed that one of her eyes is different from the other. Not drastically different, but different. And in a recent sit down with The New York Times, I learned why.
With fellow author Colm Toibin, Walker talked about The Color Purple being loosely inspired by her own family history, particularly most of the terrible things she’d heard about her grandfathers. She said, “They’d been so mean when they were young. They were fine by the time I knew them, decades later. It was an enormous puzzle: What happens to people?”
And then later the interviewer, Philip Galanes, mentioned the family story of Walker’s grandfather shooting a rifle at her grandmother. She finished, adding the details.
“And only missing because he was dead drunk. They told that as a funny story. Can you believe it? I’m sure that’s why my brother shot me in the eye when I was 8.”
PG: How old was he?
AW: Ten. Poor thing. But everything that happens to us teaches us, if we are open to it. And eventually life will open you. What I learned from that moment in refusing to tell on him. …
AW: No, no, no. I was loyal. He would have been beaten by my parents if I’d told. So, my other brother and I conferred and came up with another story. And what I learned from that moment has served me so much better than what happened to my brother. I don’t think he ever cared, and his life was like that. He died, later, of cocaine and anger and frustration. He never apologized, so I’ve had to work with it forever. But I try not to cling to the things that are devastating.
Upon further research I learned that Walker was shot with a BB gun. And the appearance of her eye today, is a result of scar tissue forming over the wound.
It’s terrible what ultimately happened to her brother. But what struck me the most from that anecdote was the way she chose to protect him. He had physically injured her, causing permanent damage and yet she didn’t speak up because she knew he’d be beaten. She has to live with the effects of his decision to shoot her forever but she didn’t want him to be held accountable for his actions. And even though she suffered and saved him a beating, he still never managed to apologize.
It’s so interesting because, in my quest to analyze and compartmentalize, I don’t know if this is love or the affects of patriarchy. It’s probably both. But it also reminds me of the very problematic ways in which Black women are conditioned, throughout our lives, to protect Black men at all costs. Alice Walker talked about the violence her grandfathers perpetuated against her grandmothers as an acceptance, a continuation of the behavior that had become normalized during slavery.
Walker’s ancestors, like many of ours, had lived under abusive overseers, had their power stripped. And the one person in their lives the men could control were their wives and children. And not having healthy examples of how to interact with these people, they resorted to what they knew and had been taught for generations.
But what’s so interesting is not the men’s response. But the women’s. In many cases, instead of rebelling against the man, their man who was no better than the master or overseer, the women defended him, made excuses for his heinous behavior, found the humor in it or, in the case of Alice Walker, pretended like it didn’t happen to spare his reputation, feelings or shield him from punishment.
Alice Walker is not alone in her quest to protect. We saw it a few years ago when we watched Janay Rice take a hit to the face, be dragged from an elevator like trash and then marry her abuser, months later, all while making excuses. She told the world that they were both drinking, that it was the first time he’d done that. She shed tears at people calling her husband exactly what he was in that moment, an abuser.
We see it in the way Monique Pressley is being celebrated for defending the penultimate Black father figure, Bill Cosby. Even those who believe Cosby is guilty applaud her for abandoning morality and “doing her job” in the name of protecting the patriarch. It’s something.
It doesn’t just happen in America. Patriarchy is a worldwide epidemic. Last year, our editorial assistant wrote about women who were being condemned for standing up against the “child bride” system in Kenya, where girls as young as nine are betrothed to men in their late seventies. She also detailed a practice called “beading” where a girl is given to a male relative for “sex.” But if she gets pregnant with his child, she must have an abortion. And if she doesn’t, she will be disowned by the community. Again, a man gets to behave immorally. But when there is evidence of his actions, it is the woman’s responsibility to “clean it up,” “make it disappear” so he won’t be held accountable.
This theme came to mind again as I was reading the recent BuzzFeed article that profiled rape and sexual assault survivors from Spelman who had been the victims of Morehouse students. Not only did these women endure the tragedy of being assaulted by men they knew and trusted, their experiences became more traumatic as their stories were dismissed in favor of maintaining the pristine image of what a Morehouse Man is supposed to be.
The article went beyond the women of Spelman and spoke about the ways in which Black women across all college campuses were more likely to report sexual assaults if the perpetrator was a stranger or did not share their same race.
The article mentioned that in environments like HBCUs, whose very existence was founded on the premise of dismantling stereotypes about Black people aka respectability politics, women who find themselves victims of sexual assault at the hands of another HBCU student have to grapple with the burden of turning in or turning on one of their brothers, adding to the trope of Black men as inherent rapists.
I get it. Black men have caught hell. But so have we. And I even get defending and wanting to protect Black men. Many of them deserve just that. But what I can’t cosign is knowing someone, a brother, has done wrong and defending him anyway. I really can’t understand it when Black women don’t have to do anything wrong, illegal or morally reprehensible to be thrown under the bus or by Black men.
There are far too many times when Black men publicly, on social media, at the barbershop, in our families, condemn Black women, women they are supposed to regard as their mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends, for something as simple as the way she dresses, wears her hair, the type of men she dates, the amount of sex she has, or hell, even speaking her mind.
We read in horror at what happened to Janese Talton-Jackson last week when she simply told a man she wasn’t interested in him.
Some might argue that was one woman and one crazy man. But Janese is not the only woman who lost her life because a man’s ego was bruised. In 2014, there was Mary Spears. Last year there was the Black guy who was going around attacking Asian women because they didn’t find him attractive.There’s a whole Tumblr page dedicated to sharing the stories about the violence women endure when they refuse to protect a man’s ego.
There are consequences to not protecting men, and for the purposes of our specific discussion, Black men.
My question is what do Black women get out of the deal? What is the reward for protecting, rationalizing, suppressing and ignoring for our men? People will argue that it keeps the family together or that it prevents the White man from destroying us. But what it really does is ensure that we become complacent in and perpetuators of our own suffering.
J. California Cooper, 82, died peacefully in Seattle, Washington, on September 20th, with daughter Paris Williams by her side, reports Ebony.
Born in Berkley, California, Cooper was best known for her short stories and plays including Strangers. In 1978 she won a Black Playwright Award for that particular play. In all, Cooper authored six short story collections including A Piece of Mine, Homemade Love (winner of the 1989 American Book Award), Some Soul to Keep, The Matter is Life, Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime, and Wild Stars Seeking Midnight Suns. And her short story Funny Valentine was turned into a 1999 TV movie.
Cooper, originally a playwright, started writing short stores at the suggestion of Alice Walker, who told her short stories “were an easier path to a paycheck,” reports ABC News.
Cooper and Walker met after the Pulitzer Prize winner attended one of her plays.
“Her advice to my mother was you should write short stories or novels because it was easier to get paid. She went home and wrote 12 stories,” Williams said.
The relationship between the two writers grew. “When Cooper asked Walker to write an introduction to her first story collection, the writer who had just been honored for The Color Purple asked to publish the book at her own publishing house. Walker also helped Cooper get one of her stories published in Essence magazine and the book took off from there,” Williams told ABC News.
According to her daughter, Cooper worked a variety of jobs from a teamster on the Alaska pipeline to an escrow officer and a manicurist to pay the bills.
“My mother tried a lot of things when I was growing up,” she said. “Writing was something she always did. She just stuck them in a drawer.”
She died following a series of heart attacks over the past few years. Cooper moved from California to Seattle in 2013.
There are actually a number of famous lesbian and bisexual women who were married to men at one point and time. Here are eight.
Once again, it’s Women’s History Month and MadameNoire is celebrating women who aren’t typically recognized for who they truly are… even as celebrities.
So we’re acknowledging these women with a list of bisexual and lesbian black celebrities and famous public figures who have advocated for equal gender and sexuality rights. Many of these women may have struggled with coming out yet found a way to be themselves in a tough heteronormative society.
These 15 famous black women have had to face issues of race, gender and sexuality currently but they are truly trailblazers — being part of a small club of black women in the entertainment industry as lesbians.
Alice Walker, who turns 70 later this month, is thinking about her legacy.
Over the past few years, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author has donated her papers to Emory University, permitted “The Color Purple” to be released as an e-book and reached a deal with Simon & Schuster to publish excerpts from journals she has kept for decades. Walker also participated in the documentary “Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth,” scheduled to air Friday night on PBS stations as part of the “American Masters” series.
“I don’t have this feeling that 70 is really old,” says Walker, who notes one ancestor lived to 125. “But I do feel it’s helpful if you’re thinking about the coming generations to leave your work in a form that people can relate to.”
Interviewed recently by telephone, Walker said one reason she agreed to appear in the film is because the director, Pratibha Parmar, is a friend. Parmar, also interviewed recently, said she was inspired to make the documentary a few years ago after viewing DVDs of other “American Masters” projects.
“It seemed crazy not to have a film on Alice, given the impact she’s had with her life and her writing,” said Parmar, who in the 1990s worked with Walker on the film and book “Warrior Marks,” about female genital mutilation in Africa.
As “masters” go, Walker is hardly an austere, Olympian figure. A longtime feminist and political activist, she has been denounced for not allowing “The Color Purple” to be translated into Hebrew (in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians) and accused of demeaning black men in “The Color Purple,” but celebrated for fighting racism and sexism and writing candidly about abortion, incest and domestic violence.
Read more about Alice Walker at BlackVoices.com
If you adore Alice Walker and her riveting writing then you are in for a treat!
Over the years “The Color Purple” author kept a diary, filling the pages with poems, stories, and essays on everything from the details of childhood poverty to her rise to literary fame. And the Associated Press reports that Walker is gearing up to publish select writings from her journal in 2017, thanks to a deal with Simon & Schuster imprint 37.
The published project will be titled: “Gathering Blossoms Under Fire” and will be edited by Valerie Boyd who also wrote Zora Neale Hurston’s biography. The Huffington Post credits Hurston as one of Walker’s literary idols.
We’re excited to read the wisdom Walker will bless us with from her life’s journey — especially since she’s been writing in her diary for over half a century.
Will you check this book out in 2017?
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker’s criticism of Israel may have led to the University of Michigan disinviting her to speak at the university.
Business Insider reports that Walker, who is best known for her 1982 novel The Color Purple, had been invited to speak at the 50th anniversary of the university’s Center for the Education of Women. And not she isn’t welcomed. “It is unclear why exactly the author’s invitation was rescinded,” according to AnnArbor.com.
Walker, however, thinks it may because of her recent criticism of Israel. Walker supports a boycott of Israel and refused to allow an Israeli edition of The Color Purple to be published, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
In an email Walker posted on her blog, she wrote:
I’m saddened to write this because I’m a proponent of free speech and have been brought up to allow everyone to have their say. But I also realize that there are other considerations that institutions are faced with. This afternoon I was contacted by the University of Michigan instructing me to withdraw their invitation due to the removal of funding from the donors, because of their interpretation of Ms. Walker’s comments regarding Israel. They are not willing to fund this program and the university/Women’s center do not have the resources to finance this on their own.
A statement from the director of UMich’s Center for the Education of Women, however, said that money was that reason:
I want to apologize for how we handled our invitation to author Alice Walker to speak at the Center for the Education of Women.
Upon further research, I decided to withdraw our invitation because I did not think Ms. Walker would be the optimum choice for the celebratory nature of our 50th anniversary event.
Donors had no bearing on this decision. Our 50th anniversary funding is completely assured. All donations, for this and other events, are accepted with no provisos or prohibitions regarding free speech.
Then over the weekend, it was reported that she actually would be invited to speak. The provost of the school, Martha E. Pollack, sent an email to faculty saying that each department can use its own discretion about who they invite to speak and reiterated the apology that had been offered by the Center’s director. “am writing to reiterate the university’s firm commitment to free speech and to the expression of diverse viewpoints. The University of Michigan has a long history of hosting speakers who bring a wide variety of perspectives, and events that focus on challenging topics. Challenging and difficult conversations are the core of our academic mission and spur both individual and community growth. Indeed, we strongly believe that the best response to challenging discourse is more discourse.”
Now we’ll see if this invitation sticks.
Alice Walker Writes An Open Letter Begging Alicia Keys Not To Put Her Soul In Danger By Performing In Israel
If you are unfamiliar with the social politics of Israel, you may not be alone. Author and activist Alice Walker is giving us all a lesson on the struggles going on in the country by way of an open letter she wrote to singer Alicia Keys. Alicia, who is currently on her “Set The World On Fire” Tour is slated to perform in Tel Aviv on the fourth of July, but if Ms. Walker has anything to say about it the show will never happen due to the harsh treatment the people of Palestine have endured at the hands of Israelis. That conflict is the basis for the letter Alice Walker wrote Alicia, imploring her to rethink her scheduled concert. Here’s what it says:
Dear Alicia Keys,
I have learned today that you are due to perform in Israel very soon. We have never met, though I believe we are mutually respectful of each other’s path and work. It would grieve me to know you are putting yourself in danger (soul danger) by performing in an apartheid country that is being boycotted by many global conscious artists. You were not born when we, your elders who love you, boycotted institutions in the US South to end an American apartheid less lethal than Israel’s against the Palestinian people. Google Montgomery Bus Boycott, if you don’t know about this civil rights history already. We changed our country fundamentally, and the various boycotts of Israeli institutions and products will do the same there. It is our only nonviolent option and, as we learned from our own struggle in America, nonviolence is the only path to a peaceful future.
If you go to my website and blog alicewalkersgarden.com you can quickly find many articles I have written over the years that explain why a cultural boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions (not individuals) is the only option left to artists who cannot bear the unconscionable harm Israel inflicts every day on the people of Palestine, whose major “crime” is that they exist in their own land, land that Israel wants to control as its own. Under a campaign named ‘Brand Israel’, Israeli officials have stated specifically their intent to downplay the Palestinian conflict by using culture and arts to showcase Israel as a modern, welcoming place.
This is actually a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about something sorrowful, and amazing: that our government (Obama in particular) supports a system that is cruel, unjust, and unbelievably evil. You can spend months, and years, as I have, pondering this situation. Layer upon layer of lies, misinformation, fear, cowardice and complicity. Greed. It is a vast eye-opener into the causes of much of the affliction in our suffering world.
I have kept you in my awareness as someone of conscience and caring, especially about the children of the world. Please, if you can manage it, go to visit the children in Gaza, and sing to them of our mutual love of all children, and of their right not to be harmed simply because they exist.
With love, younger sister, beloved daughter and friend,
So far Alicia Keys hasn’t issued a response, but it will certainly be interesting to see if the show must go on or she pulls out based on this information.
What do you think about Alice Walker’s letter?
We did the men, now it’s on to the women. We scoured the interwebs and our own treasure trove of celebrity knowledge to bring you 15 women who shocked us just a bit when they stepped out with white men.
Gasp! A television network is dedicating time to show “socially-conscious” movies! That’s what the USA Network says it’s doing.
According to the NBCUniversal-owned network, it is broadening its “Characters Unite” public service initiative by launching a quarterly Saturday film series on Nov. 17 with a special airing of The Color Purple. It is all part of a unique diversity initiative, with Purple’s airing coinciding with the United Nations’ International Day of Tolerance and the 30th anniversary of the publication of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel on which the film is based.
The series is the brainchild of NBCUniversal Cable entertainment chairman Bonnie Hammer, who created the Erase the Hate campaign when she worked with USA nearly 20 years ago. More recently, she pushed through the Characters Unite campaign, which is intended to promote diversity. The idea was tested in April, when the network aired To Kill a Mockingbird on its 50th anniversary.President Obama introduced the 1962 movie about racial inequality, which went on to boost USA’s ratings by 20 percent.
“I’m a big believer that we’re not born knowing how to hate; we’re taught to hate,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter of her motivation. “We may be more sophisticated in how we hide it, but there are still so many phobias in this world, whether it’s Islamophobia, xenophobia or homophobia. I’ve been trying to do things that expose and help teach and draw attention to all of the ‘isms’ and how we do or don’t deal with them in our world. ”
And the project doesn’t stop with just the films. According to Hammer she hopes to organize panels, classroom applications and discussions with talent, producers or directors to accompany the socially-conscious films presented.
Eventually, Hammer told the magazine she would like to also create a contest in which college and graduate students submit films about diversity, which could wind up airing on other NBCUniversal cable outlets such Syfy and E!