I have seen two movies in less than a week, Sorry To Bother You and Equalizer 2. There will be no recaps as this is not a movie review. Suffice it to say, see both. They are really good.
What struck me most about both films, is the presence of a black male character for whom the audience roots for. In the era of #BlackLivesMatter and the death of young black men scattered throughout social media, it is not characteristic of mainstream media to showcase these men in a sympathetic light. Trayvon Martin at 15 was described as a man and portrayed as a thug. Michael Brown was portrayed in the same manner. It is notable to see young black men on screen, imperfect and yet deserving of empathy and protection.
The character Chris Washington in Jordan Peele’s Get Out had audiences cheering for a dark-skinned black male as he fought white oppressors to free himself from a prison they had lured him into. Talk about revolutionary. In, Sorry to Bother You, the main character Cassius Green, fights selling out to “the man” and capitalistic oppression of others. In Equalizer 2, Denzel Washington’s character Robert McCall risks his life to save a young black man entangled with gangs and drugs.
The characterization of these black male characters as human, relatable, and sympathetic is an act of resistance. It is also why representation matters. We need African American creatives of all types making movies, TV shows, books, sculptures, architecture – projecting a vision of ourselves into the future. I am hoping that the works of Ryan Coogler, Antoine Fuqua, Jordan Peele, Boots Riley, are trailblazing and not just trend.
I am finishing up Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I read recently that Ava Duvernay is bringing Butler’s Dawn, to screen. I am looking forward to a similar wave of heroic black female characters for audiences to cheer for being brought to life.
I am about to disclose some embarrassing, slightly TMI, info to you, because I trust you.
I few weeks ago, I started jogging. I joined Black Girls Run Indianapolis, bought my Hoka shoes and officially geared up. My trail excursions began as walk/run intervals. I have graduated into a very slow, Cecil Tortoise kind of stride. Saturday, I was feeling pretty ambitious. I decided to challenge myself. I jogged about 30 minutes nonstop, rested, and did intervals back for 30 minutes. My fellow trail-mates saluted me with a thumbs up as I passed them, one by one. The sun was shining. I am sweating buckets. I have maybe 15 minutes left before I traverse my door’s threshold when I started feeling an uncomfortable pain down yonder.
You see, I had a pair of exercise pants that are a tad too small. I figured I could shimmy them on and make it work. I had not done laundry yet and did not want to wait for a full wash/dry cycle, so I took a shortcut.
I had a admirable goal. To become a runner for health and fitness is what I aspire to do. That is indeed formidable, right. The major problem was that my pants were too tight. During the run, the fabric started to rub my inner thighs. I started chaffing with 15 minutes left in the game.
Those were the 15 most agonizing minutes due to the friction of the fabric incessantly rubbing against my skin. The pants also kept slipping causing skin-to-skin friction as well. I had no choice but to endure it. I could have completed a laundry load and wore my good capris. But no! I was suffering because I took a shortcut.
Reminds me of life. Does not matter how good your intentions are – if your methodology is flawed, your results are going to suffer. It is three days later and I am still suffering. I am thankful for the suggestions made by my runner’s group to prevent and treat the chafing. I am slathered in diaper rash ointment as I type this. I know, TMI.
Lesson of the week: take your time and do it right. Shortcuts catch up, eventually.
Art is subjective. It is the truest representation of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. One man’s art is another man’s trash. I can go on and on with the cliches. The use or misuse of cliches can also be seen as art. Art does not have to be perfect to be present. We all strive to put our best foot forward; however, if you wait until every “i” has been dotted, you could be waiting forever.
When I published my first novel, Ruth’s Awakening: A Love Story, I agonized over the roll-out not being perfect. There were mistakes made. Ironically, the mistakes taught me how to become a better writer, editor, and publisher. I have met many contacts in the literary world and garnered incredible opportunities. These opportunities never would have materialized if I had not published my book waiting on perfection.
Any form of waiting to act can easily morph into procrastination. Fear of failure can halt the creative process. Throw caution to the wind (cliche) and write, act, go to school, workout, learn a language – just freaking do it. The failures that come are a blessing if you learn the lesson.
Do not wait to become perfect. Act and then perfect the process.
I grew up on the notorious west side of Chicago where walking down the street exposes you to random violence and stray bullets. There seems to be a race to death. Between gang pressures, the lure of drug life, and police brutality, a child’s path to success is riddled with societal landmines. I appreciate the “safe places” I had growing up. Church, Vacation Bible School, Upward Bound, and Metro Achievement Center for Girls, were all safe havens where I could focus on learning and developing as a young woman. These educators chose to affect the future of children out of an internal desire to see excellence thrive in the next generation.
Zahn Patin is impacting the lives of students as a successful business woman and founder of the nonprofit Comprehensive Solutions, Inc. Zahn’s program provides a unique approach to addressing the gap in traditional education and the skills needed for personal success in college or the employment field. It is a pleasure to introduce her you.
What is your business and what unique value do you provide to your customers?
My business is Comprehensive Solutions Inc. and we are a non-profit organization founded to develop unique academic and social enrichment programs that serve students, parents, and educators.
We fill a gap for middle-class families who need academic support services normally only accessible to wealthy families or households with low-incomes. Our programs are focused on engaging students to explore their purpose and allow that purpose to guide their academic career as they pursue personal success.
What are you passionate about? How does your passion help you with your current business?
I used to think I was passionate about education, because I love to teach and learn, but now I would say I am passionate about helping people find the light. The light to me is a game-changer. The light means; truth, knowledge, and information–a formal recognition of power over one’s circumstance—emancipation.
My passion motivates me to create an environment where the light it is the priority. I aim to encourage staff and volunteers to be the light to the students who we serve. To be an example of love, patience, and joy so even if the kids don’t experience that in their home lives, they can see it in us. In my direct work with families, I try to empower parents to get involved and explore their child’s interests and further assist him or her along the path to find the light. When I get frustrated, I remind myself that God created out of love but He destroyed out of frustration. I try to let that truth guide me in my decision-making and business activities and operate out of love / light.
2. What are some of the unique challenges you face? What will you need to combat these challenges?
One of our biggest challenges is that we sell something that most American parents don’t think they need–education. Parents assume by virtue of school attendance, their kids are learning. They are unaware of policies designed to mislead them into thinking their child’s school education is adequate. So even with scholarships and financial assistance, getting parents to actually sign up and show up is a hurdle.
In order to combat this challenge, we have to educate parents on the harsh realities of the school system and its effects on their child’s status as a key stakeholder. In addition to advertising about these facts, our podcast, scheduled to launch in August, will address some of these topics and raise awareness so that we can reach more kids in the future.
3. How do define fear? How do you deal with fear?
Fear is a device designed to delay execution of purpose–usually, based on a lie. Also masked as logic, risk aversion, or having too many advisors.
I have learned that sometimes I have to jump up and do things immediately, before I talk myself out of it. I deal with fear by praying and reminding myself of God’s track record in my life. ‘I cast down anything that rises itself up against truth’ (God’s Word). I try to think about why I am afraid, and then address that issue specifically with the Word. It’s a process, but it’s gotten me this far.
4. What would you do/try if you are guaranteed to succeed?
That’s an interesting question. There are a few ideas unrelated to this business that I would love to be successful financially. Oddly, in this particular venture, I believe I am guaranteed to succeed but by unconventional metrics. In this business success is that all men be saved/shown the truth. In 2016, I wanted to launch summer camp but it fell apart for several reasons. I was devastated, embarrassed, and angry with God etc. I prayed and said, I know YOU told me to do this. Why didn’t YOU make it work? He said, you prayed to have no stain on the organization and the rental agreement/insurance would have caused a stain. I accepted that and moved on. Then God allowed me to learn that folks who’d attended the staff training were motivated and excited about their role to be the light in their classrooms and schools. Co-workers who I’d invited to fast and pray with me were like I haven’t prayed that much in years or I’ve never fasted before. I was like, Ahhh I see it. I recognized ‘the light’ at work and realized that it was never about me being ‘successful’ by traditional metrics; this was about His purpose prevailing. If I aim for that, I will be successful every time.
5. What message would you give your 18-year-old self that would prepare you for what you are doing today?
You have a very real enemy, but you have already won as long as you choose to fight. Do not doubt–your purpose is worth fighting for.
6. What new things do you have on the horizon?
As I continue to grow the non-profit organization, I am working on building up my consulting business, as well as some family businesses, and a video game. In the non-profit world I am excited about piloting the Ally program in the fall of 2018. It’s really the brainchild on which the organization was founded, and I think it will prove to be highly effective in its out-of-the box approach to nurturing intrinsic learning behaviors in elementary school students.
7. How can interested parties get in contact with you?
From the Intruder’s, “I’ll Always Love my Momma,” to Tupac’s, “Dear Momma,” African American motherhood is revered. There are many stories of mothers who are self-sacrificing, loving, and darn near perfect. Motherhood is sacrosanct in the African American community. Roxanne Roxanne dares to shed light on the other type of mother. How does a damaged woman mother children when she may be dealing with her own unresolved issues? This movie shows how a toxic mother can adversely affect the development of a young daughter.
It appears that Netflix does not display the customer ratings for movie suggestions anymore.
I have decided to revive the review portion of this blog as a public service. I have begun and stopped so many movies in Netflix. They are either too gun happy, war-happy, murder-happy. I watch Netflix movies so that you do not have to.
Please take a look of my review of First Match, a Netflix original movie .
I am still on a high from Back Panther. Wakanda high, you ask? The kind that makes me wrinkle my nose at A Wrinkle in Time.
I am sorry to be the bearer of this news but A Wrinkle in Time was disappointing. Not that I expected much. I learned after shelling out the $13.25 for 3D tickets that Wrinkle surmounted to little more than beautifully shot, new-age syrup.
The characters are weepy and emotional. They stare at each other and breath deeply in Twilight fashion. But Wrinkle is not a teenage vampire love story. It is supposed to be about triumph of an abused, awkward child (Meg) who takes a journey through time to rescue her scientist father from the forces of darkness. It is a classic-tale in the age of bullying – given time, you will make it through the angst of youth into self-actualized adulthood as you defeat the darkness around you. It is difficult as a viewer to get to that place with Meg because the sap is so heavy to wade through.
The author of Wrinkle Madeleine L’Engle infused themes of Christianity into her work much like C.S. Lewis. The Disney interpretation swapped all of the Christian overtones for muddled new age mysticism. There is a lot of “become one with the universe” and “center yourself”. There is actually a character, “The Happy Medium” who is a medium who centers on swivel stones. I kid you not. The motivation and message is muddled. Likely, because of the generic spirituality that attempts to usurp the original specifically Christian one.
Some media is trying to sell this movie as an ode to diversity, a la Black Panther. Pause people. Black Panther, with its dark-skinned, natural hair (and bald) say-it-loud-I’m-black-and-I’m-proud-ness, cannot be compared to the Disney version of blackness, which is always biracialness. Even today, Disney movies feature a “black character” as biracial, meaning very light-skinned with curly, not kinky, hair. So Beth, the main character in Wrinkle, is the daughter of a biracial mother and a white father. Her hair is the type of curly black folk call “good hair”. (I think this was maybe a wig. It did not look “natural”). So, when she doesn’t believe that her hair is beautiful when her white paramour says it, I am not really buying it. Neither was the 15-year-old, brown-skinned black girl who saw it with me. I am not saying biracial or multi-racial people are not black. I am saying that there is nothing groundbreaking about a Disney movie, once again, choosing to represent diversity in one way – a light-skinned biracial version.
Ava Duverney is Wrinkle‘s saving grace. I saw the movie in 3D. It is visually appealing. There are floating flowers, and bouncy butterflies. Duverney is a master at capturing landscape and atmosphere. I really enjoyed The Middle of Nowhere and 13th. These movies are thoughtful and introspective. The meandering pace that works with the material. This aesthetic does not work in Wrinkle. What is missing is excitement.
I wonder if I would feel different had I not seen Black Panther prior to this film. Too late. The bar has been set. I really wanted to like this one. What do you think?
While standing in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica 3000 feet above sea-level, a Rastafarian looked at me and told me that I was beautiful, like a dream. That is my sentiment toward Jamaica. Yes, I went as a tourist but I have fallen in love. The blue, expansive sky, the brilliant stars at night, the ocean crashing against the shore – I can dig it. I look back on it and think, it was truly a beautiful, wonderful dream.
Below is a recap of my 9 Mile Tour, the home and resting place of reggae legend Bob Marley.