God’s Paintbrush: “Dark Girls”



On June 24, 2013, Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry’s documentary, “Dark Girls,” made its debut on OWN Network.  I recently, watched the documentary with ultimate apprehension.  I feel as if I didn’t earn this badge of struggle.  I’m not as black as of coffee or fair as coffee with an entire dollop of cream in it.  My complexion is the color of milk chocolate with caramel smoothly mixed completely in.

In my eyes, the darker the hue the more time God spent on you.  Let me clarify: The various skin tones of people of African descent are to be admired.  But the darkest tones have always made me ponder about the finite ability God has to see beauty; to construct pulchritude.

So, as I watched the documentary unfold, I fought back the crocodile tears as I listened to these sistas’ stories.  I had to keep my anger at bay given the utterance of a post-racial society; to even think that the effects of slavery and racism are, were one dimensional as opposed to being generationally complex.

I had the privilege of being cultivated in a community that acknowledged and adored African greatness and beauty.  Pride is something I preached and practiced on the daily, at a very young age.  By the way, pride in this case is self love.  Thus, today, “no weapons formed against me shall prosper.”

I abhor the notion that self esteem is something one creates solely as an individual.  As an adult, you attempt to maintain your esteem but our respective circles play a part in lifting and leveling our spirits.  Children depend on the adults around them for protection of every kind, period.  The documentary showcased young and older, women of African descent alike.  The participants easily could have been elementary girls; which is to say we are failing.  Learning has become so orthodox that we have forgotten love is a lesson—love must be taught.  Love can be taught.

I hope that the documentary is an ongoing venture that we’ll delve deeper into the psychosis of complexion with all women of African descent.  Conversations regarding the issues that affect women of color across the spectrum, not just their darker tones but their medium and lighter tones must be acknowledged.  Most importantly, the vignette of sistas who were able to be unmoved by demeaning comments and society’s blue-eyed definition of beauty needs to be discussed.  These women’s mantras, affirmations and practices to build and maintain their esteems about their appearances need to be illustrated to provide possible solutions for little girls, yet to discovery how cruel the world can be about the color of their skin. 

We try not to define ourselves by others but often we are bombarded with opinions dressed up as facts.  I want to go back in time and befriend these girls, these women. Simply to tell them they are beautiful and intelligent.  Furthermore, that God made you just the way She wanted you to be.  BE fly, my sistas! Fly high!


A Wonderful World.


The executive producers of “The Great Gatsby,” Jay-Z and Baz Luhrmann were charged with recreating the momentous era of the Jazz Age for the score.  I can hear the snickering and lip smacking in the background at the idea of a rapper creating a score for a flick with so many obviously white characters.  I commend Luhrmann for acknowledging that jazz is a musical genre with origins in the African American community.

It took roughly 80 years before Jazz or blues were considered American music, other than just jungle music.  From the hard streets of New Orleans, an art form was birthed.  On September 23, 1987, introduced by the honorable John Conyers, Jr. a house resolution was passed by the 100th Congress of the United States of America.  The resolution “proclaimed that jazz “is a unifying force, bridging cultural, religious, ethnic and age difference in our diverse society.”  Interesting, right?  Right!

“100$ Bill” by Jay-Z sets the stage.  Yes, we know he’s pushing 50—nonetheless his eloquence perdures.  You start seeing green, purple and gold: envy, hope and wealth.  Mr. Carter’s braggadocio embodies the sumptuousness of the Jazz Age; he utters the women, the lack of morality as well as the obscure upward mobility.

It was ingenious of Jay and Baz to meticulously have contemporary classics that have already graciously captured the spirit of jazz to be covered by other talented artist.  Andre 3000 and Beyoncé’s duet of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” immediately transports you front row at the juke joint.  “Crazy in Love” is already a brickhouse record; Emeli Sandé coupled with The Bryan Ferry Orchestra gives the song certain versatility that easily makes it a signature tune, sort of like “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.”  If you are to infuse Jazz and Hip Hop and make the correlation that these musical genres are twisted sisters; of course, Q the Abstract makes the cut.  Lana Del Rey hypnotizes you with her boisterous pipes on “Young and Beautiful,” which suits her and her forte for bad boys and their short attention spans.  Sia (“Kill and Run”) and Florence’s voices are like the ocean.  Their unique, hold no bars range allows them to depict blue emotions and love succinctly.  “Over the Love” has blasted from my speakers ad infinitum consecutively since the very moment the credits ran down the screen.  AIN’T no party like a will.i.am party!  Other notables are Jack White, Gotye, Coco O. of Quadron, The xx, Nero and Fergie.

Unfortunately for the naysayers, the execution is immaculate.

A Man Scorned: Fitzgerald is the great Gatsby


Photo Courtesy of The Great Gatsby 2013

The green light is significant.  Its location is intelligent.  It begs you to realize, life is not about reaching the green light. As long as you can see the light, life is definitely about the journey—the forks in the road.

Such a phrase is most likely attractive to those who have both ambition and determination, which yields you the opportunity to not only succeed but also garner the lessons from failures.

There are many life lessons you can learn from Fitzgerald, as you read/watch “The Great Gatsby.”  It can be said that these particularly lessons became the motifs to his writing, subsequently, his life, to no avail.

It’s more important to know that the forks may lead you beyond the green light, and mostly likely nowhere near that “destined” destination and to be content with this.

“I felt married to her.”

This retrospection is erotic and intoxicating.  As a reader, as a film aficionado you begin to reflect and connect with Gatsby’s propensity to please Daisy Buchanan and his desire for splendor.  You intrinsically understand that his heart will be broken, simply because he changed himself for someone else.

“My life has got to be like this.  It has to keep going on.”

Love is drug and if taken on an empty stomach, you can end up dead at the bottom of a fancy pool.

What was it about the mind of an author in 1925 that could describe love so quaintly?  Fitzgerald aroused the senses.  You could feel, taste and fantasize about the era’s decadence and destitution; love and lust; hope and despair.

This evening I watched “The Great Gatsby,” I read the actual novel years, maybe a decade ago.  Upon learning that the score would be created by Jay-Z, I was instantly intrigued.  I needed to hear him musically not just in prose per se.  Carey Mulligan is dope.  After watching “An Education,” I just knew she was an actress whose body of work would be something to pay attention to.  I find myself rooting for her incessantly, without thought; no matter the role. No matter the character.

Director, Baz Luhrmann, manages to capture Fitzgerald’s classic novel in 3D.  The thought of Luhrmann using this type of photography instead of sepia or black and white shots, could be compared to someone adding shiny rims to a Rolls-Royce Corniche.  However, it brought to life the roaring twenties, the new lifestyles of flappers and the black market wealth of Gatsby.  Like Kanye says “I rather buy 80 gold chains and go ign’ant,” Gatsby was not born rich; something Tom Buchanan does not allow him to forget.

There are so many layers to “The Great Gatsby” as well as ample space for interpretation.  For whatever reason, the movie conjured the love legend of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.”  I’ve only seen the movie with Winona Ryder.  So this explication may seem shallow and inaccurate.  But apparently, love dies.  The Count dies. Gatsby dies.  A flame can be rekindled yet sometimes the wick is too short to light a flame once more.

Dracula zaps Mina back into recalling his love, their love, the love between Elizabeta and Dracula.  After five years, when Daisy hears just the name of Gatsby her heartbeat quickens.  If you’ve never read the book you wonder does she still love him? Did she ever love Tom?  Although, I’ve read “Gatsby,” I fell in love decades after seeing Stoker’s “Dracula” and then later seeing Fitzgerald’s words come to life in film again; I thought, does Gatsby really know Daisy? A lot can happen in five years, and an affluent first eighteen years of life affords you a certain mentality.

If you’re a purist, the 3D imagery and music (it was the Jazz Age) is without a doubt sacrilegious, but watching this rendition was like reading the book all over again.  This time I felt as if I was Fitzgerald’s friend.  I was no longer engulfed in literature; I became a resident of West Egg and maybe a fly on the wall in Gatsby’s great castle.  It’s as if you wanted something else to happen.  You didn’t want George to shoot Gatsby, especially since Tom was the adulterer.  You hoped that the image of Myrtle dying was some sort of reverse love potion number nine,  Gatsby remains blissful because Carraway is a man of few words.

I am a hopeless romantic.  Daisy Buchannan in panoramic view halted all of my usual hopeful ideals to even begin to whisper.  You hate to see a man or woman fight tooth and nail to win over someone who is not worthy of such persistence.  You love to see the on screen chemistry of Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling in “The Notebook.” The movie allowed Daisy’s childish, gullible nature and lack of morality to shine true.

Nick learns that there’s a particular, if not peculiar heighten level of humanity that can develop in the mist of dearth.  The understanding that opulence corrodes decency; creates class division; and prompts corruption is embedded deep into his psyche. He discovers that the pursuit of the American dream coerces you to run faster and stretch your arms farther” and with orgastic vehemence the ebb and flow pulls you backwards.  “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

It’s like that first sniff (that I know nothing about), you chase it forever in spite of potential death.

“The Words”


Last night, well more like this morning at about 1:49 A.M., I searched the internet for reviews on the flick, “The Words.”  Every last site and critic gave it poor reviews.  The consensus is, is that “The Words,” tries to be smart but it’s just not that intelligent.

The movie has a nice line up: Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid, Jeremy Irons, Olivia Wilde and others.  However, sometimes an all star cast equals too many egos which subsequently produce a terrible movie.  It’s about words. That’s all I’ll say because thefre is nothing worse than a perfect movie being ruined by a blabbering zealous (yes I’m using it as a noun) who can’t take the hint that you’re intrigued and will watch movie.  However, there would be no point if not only the ending is spoiled but also the middle and the beginning.

Critics told me that I would fall asleep.  I managed to stay awake completely and become invested in how the writers as well as the actors would smoothly tie in all layers without creating stark confusion and regret.  I like to think that I’m sharp enough to watch something without it being spoon-fed to me; drizzled with an apparent advertisement for some company and too suspenseful that my nerves are shot.  “The Words” left enough brain space for both introspection and retrospection.  It was clever enough, that disposition was comfortable and null of judgment.  You weren’t left sulking at your demons, present or otherwise.  Cooper was able to shed his comedic familiarity in order to be present in the flesh.  Without the blue, kick ass, and linguistics; Saldana was a lover, a friend and a wife–gentle and accurate in her responses to her mate.  Jeremy Irons tried without victory not to steal the show.

There were no extras, scenes that you could not rationalize.  No over the top emotions, as if the director demanded that the actors be people instead.  It was raw.  Not as refreshingly organic as “Things We Lost in the Fire.” I love Susanne Bier.  My point is sometimes; no most times you have to ignore the critics.  They’re so pumped on green screens, caffeine and themselves that they’re in no position to tell you what is and what’s not.

I’m glad I ignored the low ratings and cozied up on my comfy couch.  Good cinema.


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