Where do I Stand?
President Obama announced yesterday in a interview that he supports gay marriage. Actually, this is no shock he actually supported it in 1996 and played the political banter in 2008 of "civil union" obviously to get elected. His announcement was amazingly consistent with the work he has done before with Hate Crimes legislation, the repeal of DADT, the appointment of a transgender woman in his administration etc. What is more concerning to me is the myriad of responses especially from my left, liberal and moderate communities. ( I am not a moderate) Thier reactions since he took office in Jan '09 have been intermittent, inconsistent, patronizing and sometimes just hostile. Even with the repeal of DADT, you would have thought it took him a lifetime as opposed to his FIRST TERM! Each piece of legislation that has been introduced to bring relief to the American people has been met with disdain and mistrust. Now with this stated, everything President Obama has done has not been angelic, his partnership with Monstato foods, authorizing the frisk and search without cause(?), reducing the amount of funding to HBCU's( he should be ashamed), and his navigating around racial issues particular African -American have pretty dreadful. As I stated before, when it come to navigating the racial terrain this administration gets an F-. I state this because again my support of my President is not blind but it is consistent. I am looking for a politician who can be reasoned with, who has the concern of the most vulnerable people in our society as a priority, who is intelligent, has strong skills in foreign relations and understands the laws of the land. I am confident that President Obama is that politican. He has proven to be a man of principle, who has tackled each of his campaign promises, he is level-headed in the midst of an hostile atmosphere, he has feminist idealogies and for me he is true Statesman. My concern is after these past four years, I have become really disillusioned in my progressive communities. I have always defined myself by my political beliefs and the communities that adhere or are strongly alligned. Now, I find they are cynical and divisive. You have to question and critique, I believe in that especially in these times when greed seems to be a motiviating factor for the American goverment but when there are pieces of legislation that can help us, put down the weapons temporarily and get on board. The amount of energy spent on dismissing the Health Care reform could have been used to mobilize to get that public option as part of the package. To me that was a moment of failure for the American people where fear overan logic. Instead of critcizing when the President announced his support, start mobilizing to get this moved forward. I wanted to grow extra arms so I could single handly get that public option forward, it one of those moments I will never understand, why? So, now while my progressive agenda has not changed my view of members of the movement has but if I can take my President and his faults I can do the same with the progressive community. Just now the same eye the question him, is the same eye I question them.
Whitney Houston the name conjures up all sorts of images and memories. Classy, diva, anointed singing voice, pain, tragedy, irresponsibility and sadly junkie. Truthfully, no one is one thing or another, we are a combination of our experiences. In the discussion of feminism- looking through the lens of male privilege, the struggle of female/feminine equality, discussion is critical and a prime example witht the pairing of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown.
This was a relationship ripe for the tabloid fodder. The beautiful American princess shacked up with music's bad boy. The sexual tension births illusions of illicit rendezvous and passionate arguments. This combined with a history of long term drug dependency it becomes Wilsonian in it's tragedy. After all the stories, interviews and commentary it is clear that Whitney Houston was not a victim, she was culpable in the downfall of her career and image. She was an international musical superstar who wielded an extraordinary amount of power that translated into over 100 million records sold and the highest-selling single of all time. What is also clear to me is that Whitney is indicative of the powerful women syndrome and most importantly the Black female/Baby Boy dynamic. John Singleton 2000 film "Baby Boy" is a slept on as a piece of social commentary and popular culture coming together. I refer to that film so often because it is a painfully accurate depiction of an epidemic in our community. The refusal of some grown black men to take responsibility for their behavior and it's consequences then relying and/or blaming black women for being stymied. Often you will find black mothers that encourage support this arrested development.
Feminism is currently seen as a retro movement connoting images of burning bras and opening our own doors. Through popular mainstream media i.e. male dominated/dictated journalism it is basically archaic. Referenced only when a man doesn't want to pay for the first date or wants to initiate a non-committal sexual liason.
Unfortunately in the black community especially the heterosexual black community it is nearly non-existent hidden beneath the need for black liberation and equality. Many women feel forced to choose between being a woman or being black ( which by the way is ridiculous). In many ways third world communities suffers at a greater rate of insidious sexism pervasive in mainstream hip-hop, popular female black pop stars , black romantic comedies, literature, clothing and the relationship of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown.
I thought about my community's relationship to feminism after watching #OWN's Next Chapter with Gloria Steinam. I was embarrased as a women's studies minor to not be familiar with any of the black women she referenced as being important in the struggle for Women's equality but familiar with all the white women. In addition, after reading about Bobby Brown upcoming interview with Matt Lauer to clear his name, I became slightly incensed. Bobby Brown who is now engaged, finds the need to clear his name after writing a tell-all book in 2007 about thier union. To let the whole world know how he didnt get Whitney Houston hooked on drugs but that she introduced the "hard drugs" to him. Now while I question the accuracy of that memory, I ponder at some of the elements of thier union.
Whitney Houston created every inch of her fame. She sang at every event, till drugs took it's toll, she produced successful family friendly movies like The Princess Diaries & Cinderella, successful albums and mentored the careers of young female artists. She brought gospel music to a mainstream pop audience using her commericial appeal. She created a legacy that will live long after her physical form for many decades to come.
Alternately, Bobby Brown a member of the successful group "New Edition" spawned a successful solo career with the smash "My Prerogative" that launched him into superstardom. By the time they were married, his hits were behind him. During thier marriage he was arrested several times, served time in jail, claims of infidelity were rampant, embarrassed her at public events, the reality show "Being Bobby Brown" which destroyed her image was at his insistence, she financed his child support payments and even the article in the National Enquirer about her drug -ridden bathroom was a photo taken by his sibling. The first reunion tour he attempted with New Edition in the 90's was successful but he left before it was finished because of inconsistent behavior.
Whitney during their union starred in 3 successful movies, "Waiting to Exhale","Preacher's Wife" and the mega hit "The Bodyguard". The latter resulting in one of the biggest selling albums of all time, the biggest selling single of all time & Preacher's Wife the biggest selling gospel album of all time. After their divorce , she attended his mother's funeral without incident, no publicity photo ops and even sang at the service. When he attended her funeral , he created a disruption that made newspaper headlines and yet again brought attention to the mistreated /misunderstood poor Bobby Brown.
Honestly, I do not know the intimate details of their relationship and that information will remain between her spirit and his memories.
As a black woman from the outside looking in, it's disturbing to see the coddling and infantile behavior that is allowed and not commented on.
There were black women after her death, commenting about "leave Bobby alone", he didnt cause her pain. I say, "Who cares about him'???
This was about her death, the loss of her talent to the world. Even after her untimely death at 48, she leaves the remake "Sparkle" that showcases younger, female talent who have been influenced by her trained, vocal talent.
She struggled for 10 years to get this film produced and put on the major screen which will have a summer release. While Bobby Brown's latest effort is another New Edition reunion tour and granting interviews to clear his name. Does he take this opportunity to honor the woman who supported his children, defended him even during his infidelities, who shared his name on her production company-BrownHouse Productions and remained his friend till the end? Nope, like a child he concerns himself with his name and his new engagement.
In the name of defending our black men we sacrifice our feminine powers. If Whitney Houston had not fallen victim to being a "beautiful celebrity junkie" ( and possibly homophobia) maybe she would have seen the folly of her union. Not just because of her incredible fame but for a woman who's presence brought so much to the world of entertainment , she would have honored her own creativity and tenacity. She would have listened to her Spirit and knew she needed a partner who -regardless of gender-that understood and supported her growth. When your honored with a gift like that, it is beyond your own physical needs and it becomes a mission that could potentially fulfill a higher calling. She would seek someone who encouraged the spiritual and physical health, fought against her fundamental darkness and looked for spiritual light.
Whitney may have died thinking she was no more than a great voice of yesteryear. As a opposed to an accomplished, intelligent artistic powerhouse who's voice influenced the musical landscape, and who was also tragically fallible . We will never know.
An Actor/Director sharing her thoughts on creativity in this crazy metropolis, New Yawk Citay.