Report of our EXpedition

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Perpetual Downtrodden Portrayal

Where do I start. I seem to be like a lost alien, wandering a strange world. A world where all of the stories told, are of the downtrodden and the collective pain that everyone experiences. Far too often when I see a title of a book or a poster for a movie, I see the reiteration of the hardships that African Americans have experienced for over 400 years.

I express this bewilderment because of the upcoming release of "For Colored Girls". This film, which is based on the play " For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf" by Ntozake Shange deals with love, abandonment, rape, and abortion. I personally wonder where the empowerment lies within a piece such as this. What about the sense of simple uplift and pride? I'm sure for some whom have read or even seen the play, there is something that may have responded to or connected with you. But for me, I'm tired of constantly seeing us go through pain and punishment. Why can't we be seen as just OK, without any torment or anguish?

I struggle everyday to understand how we, as African Americans truly view ourselves. To constantly see books, plays, films, and music created by us, that perpetually focuses on poverty, abuse, violence, and low esteem. It seems like we don't want to support, as a collective, works that show us as powerful, genius, insightful, creative, loving, and most of all, happy. We will support "American Gangsta" but not "The Great Debaters". Or buy a book like "Thug Lovin" by Wahida Clark, but not "My Soul To Keep" by Tananarive Due.

What's wrong with being engrossed by our history, mythology, or just stories of contentment. Sadly, as African Americans, we connect all too easily to the collective suffering that we have all experienced within our lives. The racism and the sense of being held back weigh heavily upon us as soon as we get out of bed. But we need to not be afraid to write about the sunshine. Our cryptonite should not be stories that show good, strong relationships between African American men and women. Having a good time among friends, also should not be a prerequisite for a fight scene.

I want to feel good about being African American. I want to feel good about being an African American man. I want African American women to feel good being who they are. So why don't we create and support more stories that make us feel good about being who we are?