Monday, February 11, 2013

Tending My Mothers' Gardens in a Room of My Own: The Muse

Alice Walker celebrated her sixty-ninth birthday on Saturday. Walker's novels, essays, and poems are a receptacle for black women's intellectual traditions, culture, and language. She has been a force behind so much of my creative and intellectual exploits as a scholar and an artist. is Alice Walker's official site.
On this blog I write a series inspired by her famous essay "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens" in which I share my memories of how my grandmother and mother fostered my creative and intellectual potential.  I share their stories so that my daughter will never have to search for her mothers' gardens, but carefully tend them.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Mental Notes: Django Unchained

Quotes from Toni Morrison’s Beloved, New York: Vintage Books, 1987

Django Unchained reminded me that Toni Morrison’s theory of rememory works both ways.  Sethe, a former slave, lived with a great fear that her daughter Denver would return to the plantation from which she escaped, Sweet Home, and experience a tortuous life of slavery.  Consequently, Sethe lived with vivid pictures, rememories, of what Schoolteacher, the overseer, had done to her. 

“It’s when you bump into a rememory that belongs to someone else.  Where I was before I came here, that place was real.  Even if the whole farm – every tree and grass blade dies.  The picture is still there and what’s more, if you go there—you who never was there—if you go there and stand in the place where it was, it will happen again; it will be there waiting for you, waiting for you” (43-44).

However, what Sethe experienced as torture Schoolteacher saw as an experiment on an object of no consequence.  In Schoolteacher’s mind, what would rememory look like?  The very thought makes me shudder, but I think I came close to those rememories in the theater as I watched Django Unchained.  With Candie’s  sadistic, phrenological tirades, he was the shadowy mirror image of Schoolteacher in Toni Morrison’s Beloved (the coincidental Candieland and Sweet Home).   

Mr. Tarantino wanted to make a movie about slavery because Hollywood ignores the subject, which is noble, some might say.  But his efforts were a spectacle on and off the screen, as viewers laughed at the most abject scenes of inhumanity inspired by this country’s most shameful histories of slavery.  I was enthralled by the spectacle—knowing that anything at any moment could happen in this movie.

I bumped into rememories that belonged to someone else…

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mood Board Monday: Tea Time May Be My Nerdiest Obsession

I take my tea very seriously (read here why). On cold rainy days like today (or sunny warm ones) tea time is my perfect ritual to focus and center, because if there is a such thing as a “Christmas person” I am not her. I find this time of year depleting and hectic and I’m ready for it to be over.  My tea is a bit of liquid courage to handle all the Merry Christmases and Happy Holidays.  I’m such a Scrooge, but at least I’m aware of my Scrooginess (laughs to self). Here are my favorite tea making accoutrement (and, no they weren’t Christmas gifts): 

Friday, December 21, 2012

What I Wore: Mix Master, Hearts & Stripes

Jacket: Gap | Dress: Old Navy | Tights: Target | Shoes: Nine West 
I love playing with patterns. A little levity in my wardrobe has gone a long way in lifting my spirits. I found the most whimsical little motor scooters and knew immediately they had to be earrings. They're my new favorites now I just have to find a way to keep them from getting tangled in my hair...

Scooter Earrings: Handmade by Me

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What I Wore Today

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Necessary Nerding: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a dramatic film about a five-year-old girl on a quest. Along the way, she faces and defies the terrors that lurk in the wild. Although the movie is critically-acclaimed, winning prestigious awards from the Sundance and Cannes film festivals, and has the most adorable protagonist named Hushpuppy, I could not connect with the film. I wanted to love it, but I just couldn’t.

Three particular points left an acrid taste in my mouth:
1.  The striking similarities between the movie and a novel by science fiction writer Octavia Butler,
2.  A plotline with an invisible mother who Hushpuppy longs for but the mention of the mother in the movie only conjures the Beasts, and
3.  The constant insistence of Hushpuppy’s father that she be a man.

All of my observations have to do with metanarratives of black motherhood, femininity, and the co-opting of black women’s cultural production. For those of you who haven’t seen Beasts of the Southern Wild, I don’t want to provide too many details and spoil it for you. But those of you who have already seen it, let’s talk about it…

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mood Board Monday

Sewing has become a refuge for me. I love the meditative hum of my machine as I tune out the world and focus on a project. The latest is a dress inspired by Tracey Reese. I love contrasting sections of the bodice and skirt. Instead of the floral pattern on Reese's design, I'm using an Ankara fabric from my stash combined with navy blue with Simplicity Pattern #1803.

And it's December! I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge ROSA PARKS (!) the seamstress who gives me constant inspiration with her revolutionary act of refusing to relinquish her seat on a bus, which sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955.

Portrait of a Woman with a Sewing Machine
by Renowned Malain Photographer Seydou Keïta
I wish I had her sewing machine.

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