Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tools For The Writer's Craft: Television Tropes & Idioms

I found a delightful and helpful website last month called Television Tropes & Idioms. http://tvtropes.org/

While browsing the site, I've found references to helpful books explaining various aspects of writing good fiction, such as 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias.

Reading through the entries has also helped me focus my thoughts about the structure of the novel that I'm working on. My novel's setting is:

(1) "Twenty Minutes Into the Future" http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture

(2) in a "World Half Empty." http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WorldHalfEmpty

(3) I've decided to open with an "Action Prologue," http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ActionPrologue

(4) and have at least one character who's a "Sour Supporter." LOL!http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SourSupporter

Browse, learn, and enjoy!

23 comments:

lormarie said...

First I'd like to say welcome back. Thanks for the links, I need a little boost for my writing as well.

Khadija said...

Lormarie,

Thank you. It was a refreshing break!

I love this site. There are known, standard techniques involved in every field. Most people in any field try to make their particular "craft" sound as mysterious as possible to aspiring outsiders. [I've noticed that the creative arts take this to an extreme---with all the talk about one's "muse," etc.] It's nice to run across materials that pull back the veil!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Beverly said...

Hey Khadija,

I didn't know you were working on a novel. Wow, that is so cool! I'm also doing some fiction writing. I have another blog where I'm publishing a science fiction series. I will definitely check out the links you posted. Thanks and good luck with the novel. We need more good fiction.

Enlightened said...

Welcome back, Khadija!

Might I suggest you forward this site to Tyler Perry? He desperately needs it. LOL!

Khadija said...

Beverly,

Thank you for your kind wishes. I truly appreciate it. I was really upset by Octavia Butler's passing. It brought home to me just how little presence we have in the genres that I enjoy reading (science fiction/speculative fiction), as well as other types of fiction.

Who's writing the sorts of books that I would like to read, WITH AA women/girls as the protagonists?

I'm delighted to hear that you're also writing! That's great!
___________________________

Enlightened,

Thank you for your kind words. I truly appreciate it.

Tyler. Perry. And even worse, an audience composed of people who know nothing else, and certainly nothing better than his...offerings. {shaking my head}

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Aphrodite said...

Hello Khadija!

Thanks for posting this. I wish you much success with your writing! Look forward to seeing you in bookstores or in an ebook store soon! :)

Khadija said...

Aphrodite,

You're welcome. And thank YOU for your kind words and wishes. I truly appreciate it.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Evia said...

Who's writing the sorts of books that I would like to read, WITH AA women/girls as the protagonists?Khadija, I barely read anything by black female authors--from anywhere--that I like. For years, I bought books by black female authors just to be supportive, but never read the books. I also bought a ticket to the movie, "Beloved" but never went in to see the movie. I never even saw the movie: "Waiting to Exhale," because IMO, those types of works indirectly and unintentionally keep AA women paralyzed and raking around in litter.

In general, I think too many AA, Caribbean and African authors focus on "what is" or "what was" versus "what could be."

For ex., too many AA romance authors either glamorize black life in scenarios where the women are all upwardly mobile and gorgeous to the max and the men are all rich and/or irresistible hunks OR they get into the nitty-gritty sour underbelly of AA life and negative dynamics between DBR folks. Not saying all of the authors do this, but way too many, IMO.

Why can't there be romances where the irresistible bm falls head over heels for the very thick sista with strong, so-called "African" features who he can see would be his wonderful friend, soulmate for life, confidante, lover, nurturer, and loving mother to his children? LOL!! I know that would just be too shocking and lots of people would consider a book like that to be listed in the genre of pure fantasy these days.

Now, I think that Sister Souljah wrote a compelling book, "The Coldest Winter Ever" (I think the title was) but it dealt with the cesspool of AA life. Cesspools are always gripping but not uplifting to me. LOL! If I ever talked to her, I'd be genuinely interested in knowing her purpose for writing that? Was it money? Anger? Both?

And I've read many books by continental African female authors that I consider to be almost always "protest" novels--protesting the "what is" of female oppression or 2nd class status in Africa or mistreatment at the hands of bm.

I might write essays about that too, but I'd never dwell on that in fiction because in fiction, you can create a new world. LOL!

IMO, artists are supposed to be creative and light up the path to what "could be." So if I ever wrote a book, it would be a far cry from "what is," or would only touch on it incidentally. I would feed AA women dreams that they could actualize.

I realize that some folks might think "how dare you criticize black female authors when you haven't written anything?" but the responses to my essays over the last 3 years from black women have proven to me beyond any doubt that MANY black women are hungrily looking for a way out of the dungeon. Just as many of them watch soap operas and imitate the behaviors there and what they see in other media or fictional presentations, they would embrace the fiction of what they'd read in "what could be" books directed at them. AA women, for sure, need new images, new dreams.

On a slightly different note, let me share a bit of history--

You had mentioned the Racial Realist's blog a few weeks ago. Well at one point when I first started blogging--3 years ago-- she praised me for what I was doing and suggested that I write a book. LOL! I was looking back at some of those early essays and her comments a few days ago, and it's so interesting how negative she became later on towards my essays. But at that time, she and I actually discussed how we TOGETHER could combat the attacks on the black female image, which greatly distressed her at that time.

At any rate, I strongly feel that AA women should realize that a lot of what ails the women the most has to do with these horrible ***images and caricatures*** presented to AA women of themselves.

So I urge as many AA women as possible to write or otherwise produce new images for young AA girls and women that will unglue their minds from those all-black poisonous constructs where the anti-black female poison constantly seeps in. Let's all keep in mind that: She who changes perceptions changes minds and she who changes minds, changes reality.

Khadija said...

Evia,

You said, "Khadija, I barely read anything by black female authors--from anywhere--that I like. For years, I bought books by black female authors just to be supportive, but never read the books. I also bought a ticket to the movie, "Beloved" but never went in to see the movie. I never even saw the movie: "Waiting to Exhale," because IMO, those types of works indirectly and unintentionally keep AA women paralyzed and raking around in litter."

RESPONSE: You're reading my mind again! Maybe we really are the same person (as some of the lunatics like to allege). LOL! I generally don't read much fiction (except for science fiction/thrillers) but I used to buy books by BW (that I knew I wouldn't read) just to be supportive. But NO MORE of that.

The last straw was when I bought AND read Pearl Cleage's book What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day. Now, don't get me wrong. I like much of Ms. Cleage's work. I've enjoyed seeing a couple of her plays, etc.

But while reading the book, I was appalled to see that she had the heroine hook up with an ex-con convicted murderer! And this was supposed to be a GOOD relationship and a GOOD thing! This ex-hitman was supposed to be a caring, deep, spiritual person. Lord have mercy.

White women can afford to have Lifetime Channel-type fiction and movies. BW can't afford an entertainment diet of that kind of stuff. Be it the overly-glamorized variety, the cesspool type of material, or protest fiction. We need our minds focused on the POSSIBILITIES that are available to us. As you said, "AA women, for sure, need new images, new dreams." And NOBODY except AA women is going to provide these new images and dreams.

This is why I'm challenging all you aspiring writers (fiction, screenplays, whatever) out there to get busy! Right now! We desperately NEED your work!

[This focus on seeking out the possibilities was why I found the movie Gattaca to be so inspiring. That's what good fiction does. Art IS important.]

We need to create a body of work showing all sorts of BF protagonists accomplishing all sorts of things. The heroine of my novel is going to be in her 50s. It irks me that, according to most work out there, people somehow STOP having lives and adventures once they're past 30. LOL!

Oh yes, I remember coming across your comments while looking over the earlier essays at the Ruminations blog. I also noticed the gradual change in the blog host's reactions to your comments.

At first, I thought it was odd. But then it occurred to me that many BW only speak out when they are having a problem. Once their personal situation gets solved, then they become silent and complacent. Black folks do this in general---it's the reason why most of us don't protest any form of injustice UNTIL it happens to us!

I noticed this behavior pattern with a BF Muslim blog host. Once she got married/remarried, all was right in the world with BW. And she starting writing blog posts about trivial, fluffy matters.

As a nonsensical, gossipy exercise, it would be amusing to compare the evolution of the Ruminations blog host's changing reaction to your comments with the progress of her relationship with her now-husband (who was posing as an unrelated audience member). Her now-husband (under the name "Change Agent") was the individual who later on called himself challenging you to a debate; then tried to drag PioneerValleyWoman into that silliness.

I wouldn't be surprised if it's yet another case of "my man doesn't like blah-blah, so I won't like it either." It's interesting that a White power couple (Carville and wife) can consist of a rabid Democratic operative married to a rabid Republican operative. But most BW adopt whatever positions their boyfriends/husbands take. {shaking my head}

Anyhoo, we need BF writers to provide new images and dreams for BW and girls!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Evia said...

RESPONSE: You're reading my mind again! Maybe we really are the same person (as some of the lunatics like to allege). LOL!I think MANY people with common sense these days think similiarly, but common sense is SO uncommon among AAs these days (or so many AAs have been terrorized into silence) until the loonies out there think that ALL AAs who expresses any iota of common sense is the same person. LOL!!!! And in that vein, someone sent me a link the other night where a new loony or maybe the same one thinks that all of us and a blogger named "Field Negro" (?) are the same. SMH

Now, don't get me wrong. I like much of Ms. Cleage's work. I've enjoyed seeing a couple of her plays, etc.

But while reading the book, I was appalled to see that she had the heroine hook up with an ex-con convicted murderer! And this was supposed to be a GOOD relationship and a GOOD thing! This ex-hitman was supposed to be a caring, deep, spiritual person. Lord have mercy.
Yep, I see exactly what you mean. I think I read something by her many years ago but not lately. I've had that same experience though, reading where some AA woman is always vexing about some broke-down or DBR man!! It's as if there's no romantic life for AA women aside from broke-down men. LOL!!! This is simply NOT the case, but this is why it's so hard for AA women to get the shackles off their minds and take advantage of ALL of their options in men. They're constantly fed a diet of poison to weaken them to keep them within reach of all of these inadequate males.

And I most definitely agree with what you said about ww and the Lifetime Channel. I like watching some of those movies, but WW and white girls have a large VARIETY of images of themselves presented to them. There's a balance. So many AA women and girls ONLY have a variety of Sapphires, Jezebels, and Mammies presented to them in the black and/or white media, so these are the images they imitate. For ex. Mo'Nique, IMO, may be funny (to some), but she comes across as a straight up sapphire and mammy who's a wannabe jezebel. I've known many AA women who were amazingly the same as Mo'Nique. I'm not blaming her; she has to make a living, but there's barely any balance. She was introduced on Oprah the other day as one of the "funniest people in America" or some such drivel. So of course, many AA women may want to imitate her. She's getting paid bigtime, but typical AA women aren't getting a cent when they behave like her.

And I'll certainly check out "Gattaca." Art is definitely CRITICALLY important. Without artists, life would be un-liveable for me.

Young bw and actually AA women of ALL ages need to focus almost exclusively on those possibilities ***outside the realm of their immediate environments*** because there's a desert inside their environments for many of them.

What's so ironic about continental African women vs AA women in this vein is that many African women protest their situation because that's virtually ALL they can do. Their culture and economic circumstances have them on lockdown, whereas AA women are FREE to leave at any time, except the shackles are on their brains.

And re the Ruminations blog, I think she was very intelligent but her experiences as a biracial woman rejected by whites (experiences that she frequently spoke about) and her Nigerian father's lack of love or self-hatred re his ethnicity and/or race(that she also frequently mentioned)caused her immense pain. I hope she's finally happy.

I urge as many bw or specifically AA women to jump on this bandwagon of creating and promotingNew images, new dreams as they follow the Sojourners' Path.

Aphrodite said...

Hello All,

Re: Sista Souljah


I googled her and I saw she is trying to get some film off the ground, but it is urban it seems. She also has another book the prequel to Coldest Winter called Midnight: a Gangster's Love Story.


I have never read either one, but after reading the title and skimming her summary of Midnight I wonder how she can't make the connection that she begun the genre of urban lit?



I also looked at some old videos of her TV appearances and was impressed to learn that she attended a college prep and then went to Rutgers - she has some impressive credentials, and I was impressed that she could hold her own when she was debating with C. West... but it seems that she must have been on that post 70's - keeping it real -gone wrong.


She seemed to me the beginning of the de-evolution. It may have begun before then, but in listening to her speak she equated middle class with rejecting where she came from and more importantly she was a race woman.

I kind of cringed when she talked about how she saw AA women and men as equals when it came to struggles.

I kind of think all that brainpower - what a waste.

BklynGirl said...

Hi Khadija, you may also like www.wordplayer.com - a good site / resource for writers. I stumbled upon it while looking for help on my *still unfinished* screenplay

Khadija said...

Evia,

We definitely need a Black Women's Arts Movement. Similar to, but better than, what the Black Nationalists started during the late 1960s with the Black Arts Movement. Art is critical. We can see the effect that poisonous art has had on our people.

It's not enough to complain about and stamp out the trash. We have to provide something better. We have to create liberating entertainment products.

Oooh, I feel a future post about this topic coming on.
________________________

Aphrodite,

I'm deeply angry with Sista Souljah for starting that urban lit garbage. She is responsible for starting a trend that has poisoned the minds of millions of our people. A trend that has crowded real Black literature off the bookshelves. A trend that has helped destroy us.

But what's done is done. She has done her damage to our collective. It's up to the those of us who know better to provide liberating entertainment products.
_________________________

BklynGirl,

Thanks for the info! I'll check it out.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

roslynholcomb said...

I think a lot of people are confused about black romances. It's unfortunate, but because all black books are usually thrown together in one section of the store, it's not surprising that this happens. There is typically very little difference between black romances and white romances. If you're reading a book that has black characters who aren't middle class, or even wealthy, in all likelihood, you're not reading a romance, you're reading urban lit.

I write romances, and all of my characters are middle class, college educated folk, and nobody in my books are hooking up with criminals of any sort. I don't know any romance writers who are doing that. My first book, Rock Star, depicted an AA woman with an MBA who owned a book store and had ambitions to own a chain of book stores and spas. She gets together with, a white rock star.

My second book, Try a Little Tenderness, features a stripper (and some people have beef with that) who is pursuing her Ph.D in virology with aspirations of becoming a virus hunter, and her relationship with a white professor.

I can't recall any romances that have involved a heroine who winds up with a criminal, baller or any of the above, and I've been reading romances for almost 40 years now. A lot of them wind up with millionaires, or are millionaires themselves. Again, these romances are little different from white romances. Interracial romances are huge sellers, I know some authors who say that their interracial stories outsell their monoracial stories by far. My publisher is always looking for interracial/monoracial stories.

A lot of black authors write stories featuring plus-sized heroines. And certainly they run the gamut of features and skin tones.

Khadija said...

Roslyn,

You said, "I think a lot of people are confused about black romances. It's unfortunate, but because all black books are usually thrown together in one section of the store, it's not surprising that this happens. There is typically very little difference between black romances and white romances."

RESPONSE: I think a lot of Black folks are confused about Black anything. Be it literature, music, or anything else.

It reminds me of how many AAs think they can convert cultural artifacts into "Black" stuff simply by throwing some Kente cloth on top of it.

[One mini-horror story about this sort of thinking: The school mascot at the all-Black school where my mother taught was a Viking. Instead of finding a new school symbol that had some cultural connection to the school's population, the principal felt that he could make the Viking culturally relevant by painting him brown! Lord have mercy.]

All of this has me thinking and reading about the Black Arts Movement from the 60s & 70s.

It seems to me that just because something is produced by a Black writer, artist, etc. does NOT mean that it falls within any sort of aesthetic that we might or might not choose for ourselves. The idea of an AA aesthetic, or even the desirability (or not) of having such an aesthetic is a separate conversation unto itself.

Let me note that I'm NOT talking about any "acting Black" parameters for art. I'm talking about the common cultural threads that traditionally ran through the healthier art that we produced.

What I'm talking about is similar to the way that there are noticeable, recognizable, COMMON themes/values in most Japanese architecture and design. Recognizable common themes such as simplicity; the interplay between wood and paper---such as with sliding shoji doors, paper lampshades with wooden bases, etc.; and a preference for designs that work with as opposed to against, nature.

I don't know. Maybe we've grown so disconnected from our cultural inheritance that there are no longer any recognizable, common themes in our art. It's something to think about.

Also, just because something is produced by a Black writer, artist, etc. does NOT mean that the particular entertainment product serves the needs of BW.

I don't believe that art ever truly exists just "for art's sake." Every cultural artifact has some sort of value system and cultural assumptions attached to it. The same way I don't believe that there's any such thing as "objective" news. All information has some degree of interpretation (which involves point of view) attached to it.

Both of these concepts are worthy of a separate conversation. I'm working on a post about Why We Need a Black WOMEN'S Arts Movement. I'm not talking about producing novels, screenplays, etc. that are explicitly "political," etc.

I'm talking about Black artists giving more thought to contributing to a body of work that paints new possibilities for the BW and girls who consume these works.

Peace, blessings, and solidarity.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Oh I'm liking this conversation. As a rather disgruntled and frustrated artist I turned to blogging for an outlet to reorder my mind, see who else was out there but most importantly to tap into my artistic abilities that have taken a backseat to surviving and/or fighting to have my voice heard. But while I've been writing blog posts I've also been doing some artistic projects. You're correct that we have to do them ourselves. I will be ready for the next phase by the end of this year. I've been challenged but encouraged at this forum and am making good use of my unemployment to build a solid future for myself that won't be dependent on whether I'm hired by someone else (that's the plan anyway).

Khadija said...

Faith,

Yes, as we've all been saying, it's ALL connected. The toxic art sustains/promotes toxic thinking. All of which sustains stunted, toxic lives for AA women.

I'm impressed with how you described yourself as an artist. I've only very recently reclaimed that title for myself. That part of me has been gone for almost 20 years.

I've decided to do an ongoing series of posts about AA Women's Arts. There are so many different angles to this that we need to consider as artists. We've been saying "Black" Arts (as our those who came before us did), but we're really discussing some things that are particular to AAs. I mean, are any other type of Black people consuming & promoting "urban/street/ghetto literature"?

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

tasha212 said...

Khadija,

Great post.

You said: The last straw was when I bought AND read Pearl Cleage's book What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day. Now, don't get me wrong. I like much of Ms. Cleage's work. I've enjoyed seeing a couple of her plays, etc.

But while reading the book, I was appalled to see that she had the heroine hook up with an ex-con convicted murderer! And this was supposed to be a GOOD relationship and a GOOD thing! This ex-hitman was supposed to be a caring, deep, spiritual person. Lord have mercy.

RESPONSE: I absolutely love "What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day". To me, it was one of her best books. The name of my blog, The Sowing Circle, was partially inspired by some of the things that happened in that book. The protagonist in the book had HIV. IMO, if the guy was willing to accept that and love her anyway, then she should be able to accept his checkered past. I have read all of Pearl Cleage's books and the recurring theme in them seems to be that of redemption. That you could do bad things when you were young and make a change for the better and become a different person. In one of her other books, "What I Never Thought I'd Do" the protagonist Regina is a former heroin addict who moves to Atlanta from D.C. and reclaimes her life and finds love with the neighborhood vigilante Blu Hamilton. I think in terms of AA contemporary fiction, her books are among the best. And I have read many by other authors.

You said: I'm deeply angry with Sista Souljah for starting that urban lit garbage. She is responsible for starting a trend that has poisoned the minds of millions of our people. A trend that has crowded real Black literature off the bookshelves. A trend that has helped destroy us.

But what's done is done. She has done her damage to our collective. It's up to the those of us who know better to provide liberating entertainment products.

RESPONSE: I believe that when Sister Souljah wrote The Coldest Winter Ever over ten years ago, she had good intentions. In her words she wanted to present a work that would portray to black people living a backwards lifestyle the consequences of that lifestyle. TCWE focuses on the effects of drugs on community, family, and life. None of her books glamorize the "ghetto" lifestyle. She never anticipated that her book would become very popular or start a trend. The fact that the media and publishing industry categorize her books as "urban" doesn't make them any less well- written or compelling. Both of her novels have multilayered themes and plots, well developed characterization, descriptive settings, all of the elements that you'd expect from good or "real" fiction. They also focus on the very real problems that we face in our communities. For those of you who haven't read Sister Souljah's books, don't dismiss them as trashy "urban" lit because they are not.

I think what happened with the urban lit thing was that after TCWE was published and became tremendously popular publishers saw how profitable these kinds of books could be. The publishing industry, like all businesses, is in the business of making money. Period. No one cares how the money is made. The only problem is that TCWE copycats were not nearly as well-written or compelling. Instead of cautioning against the lifestyle like TCWE, they glamorized the lifestyle. Also, this is not the first time that "urban lit" has been popular. Back in the '70s, Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim wrote books that focused on an urban lifestyle. The difference today is, IMO, that there is a general acceptance of ghetto culture as the authentic black culture among a large segment of the AA population, even among those who grew up middle class and upper middle class. I think that it is unfair to blame Sister Souljah for this end result, just as it would be unfair to blame Kurtis Blow for starting hip-hop, which has ended up to be the monstrocity that it is today.

Just my thoughts,

Peace and solidarity,

Tasha

Evia said...

Khadija, I think one very important aspect the "Black Arts" movement might get around to addressing is "aesthetics & AA female beauty" because as you know, many young AA women are being crucified re their beauty or the lack thereof, which as you know, is how a significant percentage of bm view bw's beauty/desirability.

And for those folks who continue to ask why I, Evia, would continue to mention AA men in this vein, it's because we KNOW that most AA women STILL mostly have romantic interest in AA males.

I've been aware of this issue of bw's beauty for years from a social science standpoint, but only since I started blogging did I realize all of its many tentacles, or the ways it is severely impacting younger AA women these days.

I receive notes a lot from AA women who thank me for saying positive things about AA women's beauty and worth but I've had quite a few pictures sent to me over the last few years by AA women asking me whether they're attractive or attractive ***ENOUGH*** for any man to want them. For ex, they believe that since bm don't want them (except for sex), then wm won't either.

I'm a heterosexual woman, so in actuality, I don't know exactly what all is being asked of me when I get those pics. I can't exactly look at a woman's face or other feminine attributes and know for certain how men would view her. I assure all of these women that of course, they are attractive "enough" because that question is really asking a LOT more than the words convey.

However, when I assured one AA woman recently that she was indeed attractive "enough," she said she'd sent her pic to me to ask that because she felt "down" about her looks because some males around her had been particularly distinterested or negative about her looks that day. She went on to say she would prefer it if men agreed with me about her looks. She didn't mention the race or ethnicity of the men, but I'd find it amazing if wm or other non-bm were verbally trashing her looks. Another AA woman this week also kept asking me to give her an idea of her looks.

The other night, I looked at myself squarely in the mirror and asked: "How do I really look?" In general, I've always been told by men who were attracted to me that I'm good-looking or cute or attractive. However, IMO, I have garden-variety looks. I resemble the typical AA woman, so I figure they're attractive and desirable too. Yet, here I am getting pics from very young AA women asking me how they look???

These young bw are obviously receiving blatant in-their-face messages that their looks are not desirable or not-good-enough. These are typical, ordinary AA women who'd like to be seen as desirable by men in their environment. They're not Hollywood hopefuls. I mean, they're not trying to compete with actresses for parts in movies or be the next Beyonce. LOL!

These women are simply struggling to get the nod that they are attractive, and they're failing. It's natural for women to want to be viewed as attractive and desirable. AA women are no different than any other woman.

This was not such an issue when I was their age as we know. At no point in my life did I think that my garden-variety looks prevented me from getting the nod from typical males of various races/ethnicities in my environment that I was attractive or desirable. So I guess I alway assumed I was attractive "enough."

Added to this is the fact that women around the patriarchial world deal with this issue and in general all women are valued according to whether they're viewed as physically desirable/appealing, at least to the men in their group or immediate environment. For ex., with my cultural anthropological glasses on, I notice how the typical Nigerian woman's idea of her beauty is so heavily reinforced by Nigerian men--even in this country. I also see upclose how the typical ww is viewed and embraced by men in her immediate surroundings. The women of both groups don't have to have near-Hollywood looks to get LOTS of attention from males in their groups, for sure.

Outside of Hollywood and Nollywood (Nigerian Hollywood?)their beauty and worth, are generally assessed on a ***sum total*** basis, rather than a dissection and isolated evaluation or devaluation of their noses, lips, hair, skin shade, etc.

So, as a result of these last 2 experiences with these young AA women, here's the really hard and almost unthinkable question: given that some AA women are NOT ever going to take our advise and associate only with men who appreciate them and their beauty, are we at the point where we need to start advising AA women to go and get heavy duty lipo operation or a "nose job" for ex., if that would mean (in that woman's case) that a bm in her environment might ask her out to dinner or give her the nod that she's attractive or of value? If a more euro-nose or other surgical help or enhancement would give her that slight edge, should she seriously consider it?

We certainly know that other groups of women are investing in surgical enhancements bigtime to give themselves a competitive edge. Are AA women to remain purists in this regard?

And here's straight talk: I'm glad that my skin is lighter brown and that I have facial features and a body structure that altogether made me appealing to a cross section of men. This literally gave me more Quality men to choose from. I think it's time for more of us to start doing some real straight talk. There's a lot of obfuscation going on with some aspects of some of these issues we discuss. I do it myself because I don't know exactly what to say sometimes about some of these sad issues. So I become deliberately vague. LOL!

Anyway, the question I asked is more of a rhetorical question, but one that could be pondered by whomever. When you mentioned the "Black Arts" movement, all of these pieces just came together.

Khadija said...

Tasha,

Thank you for your kind words about the post. I truly appreciate it.

You said, "The protagonist in the book had HIV. IMO, if the guy was willing to accept that and love her anyway, then she should be able to accept his checkered past. I have read all of Pearl Cleage's books and the recurring theme in them seems to be that of redemption. That you could do bad things when you were young and make a change for the better and become a different person."

RESPONSE: Jennifer Hudson's dead relatives (who were murdered by a jailbird that her sister married). Jailbirds are bad news. Convicted KILLER jailbirds are extremely bad news. Anybody who (in any manner) is promoting the notion that convicted killer jailbirds are appropriate men to date and marry is dangerous. How many more AA women and children must be slaughtered before we let go of this toxic idea AND those who support this idea?

You said, "I believe that when Sister Souljah wrote The Coldest Winter Ever over ten years ago, she had good intentions. In her words she wanted to present a work that would portray to black people living a backwards lifestyle the consequences of that lifestyle."

RESPONSE: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Considering the precarious situation our people are in, we need to be more responsible about our art.

Furthermore, it's NOT like the consequences of living a backwards lifestyle are unknown to our people. We see the results all around us everyday. Sister Souljah did NOT unveil a mystery. All she did is further normalize dysfunction. Whatever level of skill she uses to normalize dysfunction is part of the problem. We need art that lifts us up, NOT more work that normalizes the status quo of us being down.

You said, "Also, this is not the first time that "urban lit" has been popular. Back in the '70s, Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim wrote books that focused on an urban lifestyle. The difference today is, IMO, that there is a general acceptance of ghetto culture as the authentic black culture among a large segment of the AA population, even among those who grew up middle class and upper middle class. I think that it is unfair to blame Sister Souljah for this end result, just as it would be unfair to blame Kurtis Blow for starting hip-hop, which has ended up to be the monstrocity that it is today."

RESPONSE: This is my point about responsibility. Injecting poison into an already-weakened patient is blame-worthy, to say the least. That is what Sista Souljah and the hip-hop creatures did in relation to an already-weakening AA culture. I believe that they deserve the blame for all of the logical, PREDICTABLE results of their actions. Every last bit of it.

They helped KILL us as a people.
_______________________

Evia,

You said, "Khadija, I think one very important aspect the "Black Arts" movement might get around to addressing is "aesthetics & AA female beauty" because as you know, many young AA women are being crucified re their beauty or the lack thereof, which as you know, is how a significant percentage of bm view bw's beauty/desirability."

RESPONSE: I agree. This is an important component to anything and everything we need to do.

You said, "I've been aware of this issue of bw's beauty for years from a social science standpoint, but only since I started blogging did I realize all of its many tentacles, or the ways it is severely impacting younger AA women these days.

I receive notes a lot from AA women who thank me for saying positive things about AA women's beauty and worth but I've had quite a few pictures sent to me over the last few years by AA women asking me whether they're attractive or attractive ***ENOUGH*** for any man to want them. For ex, they believe that since bm don't want them (except for sex), then wm won't either."

RESPONSE: Lord have mercy. Also, as you noted, "that question is really asking a LOT more than the words convey." We CANNOT supply self-respect for other women. That's a project that those women who are lacking in such will have to do on their own. We can encourage. We can offer suggestions. We can cheerlead from the sidelines. But each "crown-less" woman is going to have to grab her own crown for herself. We can't do it for her. Nobody else can do it for her.

Furthermore, I believe that the opprotunities for "crown-reclamation" will increase once AA women flee all-Black social scenes. I can't stress this enough. As you said in another comment, all-Black constructs are deserts for AA women. In so many ways, and along so many different dimensions.

You've said this over and over before. Let me repeat what you've said so many times: Straight men in general LIKE looking at women in general, being around women in general, and socializing with women in general. For these heterosexual male dynamics to operate any other way, there have to be some extremely powerful taboos and/or dysfunctions in place. Most AA men have extremely powerful dysfunctions in place that prevent them from appreciating most BW's beauty.

What I've noticed over the years in my Northern, urban area is that White men don't share these same "blinders" with AA men. They're looking at, noticing, checking out, etc. women...in...general. Including BW.

With most of the WM that I've observed, once a woman is in the "Black" racial category, they are all equally "Black" to them. WM are NOT measuring lips, noses, hair textures, etc. This means that are NOT grading BW's looks based upon how close to Caucasian they appear. That's a game that BM and some other types of "men of color" (such as many Latinos) do.

You said, "For ex., with my cultural anthropological glasses on, I notice how the typical Nigerian woman's idea of her beauty is so heavily reinforced by Nigerian men--even in this country. I also see upclose how the typical ww is viewed and embraced by men in her immediate surroundings. The women of both groups don't have to have near-Hollywood looks to get LOTS of attention from males in their groups, for sure.

Outside of Hollywood and Nollywood (Nigerian Hollywood?)their beauty and worth, are generally assessed on a ***sum total*** basis, rather than a dissection and isolated evaluation or devaluation of their noses, lips, hair, skin shade, etc."

RESPONSE: HEALTHY men like, and are attracted to, women in general. Healthy men assess women based on a "sum total" of their attributes. Healthy men have a natural (slight to moderate) preference for women who look like TYPICAL members of that man's ethnic group. This is in direct contrast to what most AA Negroes do--which is to measure how close a woman's nose, lips, color, and hair approximate those of a Caucasian woman.

You said, "So, as a result of these last 2 experiences with these young AA women, here's the really hard and almost unthinkable question: given that some AA women are NOT ever going to take our advise and associate only with men who appreciate them and their beauty, are we at the point where we need to start advising AA women to go and get heavy duty lipo operation or a "nose job" for ex., if that would mean (in that woman's case) that a bm in her environment might ask her out to dinner or give her the nod that she's attractive or of value? If a more euro-nose or other surgical help or enhancement would give her that slight edge, should she seriously consider it?"

RESPONSE: I'm advising AA women to flee the all-Black social "hell zones/deserts." I'm NOT trying to give suggestions as to how they can make themselves more comfortable/desirable within these hell zones.

In any event, I don't believe that cosmetic surgery would help such women in their quest for gaining the favor of AA men. Here's some harsh, straight talk about this: The affections of most AA men is simply NOT available to AA women. With or without nose job. Just consider the case of Halle Berry who naturally has closer-to-White features.

AA Negroes want as close to White women as they can get. AA Negroes currently have access to non-Black women. AA Negroes are NOT "coming back" to AA women. With or without cosmetic surgery. THE END. If AA women want to waste their time (and their reproductive years) chasing that mirage, they are free to do so. If so, they're on their own program, and I have nothing to do with that endeavor.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Everybody,

The site that BklynGirl mentioned (www.wordplayer.com) is the bomb! Please take the time to check it out.

Peace, blessings, and solidarity.

Evia said...

Khadija, here's another rich source of info for writers:

http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/2009/06/writing-advice-database.html

Khadija said...

Evia,

Thanks for the info! I just went by there, and it's a great site. The blog author (who is a literary agent) linked to another literary agent blog that looks helpful. It's at http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/

Peace, blessings and solidarity.