Monday, February 28, 2011

PUSH by Sapphire

"I don't understand why some kids git a good school and mother and father and some don't. But Rita say forgit the WHY ME shit and get on to what's next." -- Precious, PUSH

Clareece "Precious" Jones' earliest memories are of being abused by her parents. Rather than act as the safety net she desperately needs, school administrators advise her teachers, who first notice her worrisome signs of withdrawal at age five, to "focus on the ones who can learn."

By the time Precious is sixteen, her life's been one of submission for survival's sake. She's in junior high, can't read or write, weighs two-hundred-pounds and is pregnant by her father for the second time.

When her second pregnancy is discovered by school administrators, she's expelled and referred to an "alternative" school, where she meets girls with similar backgrounds as hers, and a teacher who changes her life. Miss Rain does more than teach her to read and write; she teaches her to find her "voice."

It's through the process of journaling that Precious finds the strength she'll need to leave her mother and deal with the biggest challenge she's faced yet.

By the time I finished PUSH, I felt optimism for Precious' future. I also felt a sadness that stayed with me long after I read it. Sapphire's raw and uninhibited verse was evidence to me that she'd not created Precious in a vacuum.

PUSH is poetic and thought-provoking. But it's also graphic and disturbing. It's a book I'd only recommend to readers who are comfortable feeling uncomfortable.

Do you think a story is ever too gritty or shocking to tell? When you think of an author writing authentically, what books or stories come to mind that you've read?


In the following short video clip, Sapphire discusses her background, where she got the inspiration to write Precious' character, and the movie adaptation of her book. She's an inspiring lady. (Click here to watch the entire interview.)

"But I couldn't let him, anybody, know, page 122 look like page 152, 22, 3, 6, 5 -- all the pages look alike to me. 'N I really do want to learn. Everyday I tell myself something gonna happen, some shit like on TV. I'm gonna break through or somebody gonna break through to me -- I'm gonna learn, catch up, be normal, change my seat to the front of the class. But again, it has not been that day." -- Precious, PUSH
Suggested Reading:

Monday, February 14, 2011

HOW DO I LOVE THEE? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Every year on Valentine's Day, I remember English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning's love sonnet "How Do I Love Thee?" for it's simplicity and intensity.

I'd be withholding information if I didn't also tell you that it's one I chose to memorize and recite at a junior high school assembly long before I understood the true meaning of its verse.

I hope you enjoy this expression of pure love.

Do you have a favorite love poem? Better yet, do you write them? If you do, I invite you to post one in the comments. Wishing you a Happy Valentine's Day! *hugs*


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, -- I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! -- and, if God Choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ignorance: Enough Is Enough

The last few weeks have ... well, how shall I put it? ... sucked.

Anyone who knows me off-line, and maybe some of you who are my friends on Twitter know by the content I retweet that I value children, education, diversity, civil rights and equality.

I have a zero tolerance policy toward any form of bullying or the targeting of any group based on ethnicity, religion, economic status, sexuality, gender or disability.

Further, I do not condone hate speech. Ever.

Particularly when said speech is delivered under the supposed guise of humor. What some seem to not understand, or wish to trivialize, is that these remarks demoralize and dehumanize, wear-away at the human psyche, incite hate, and feed intolerance. It is the kind of speech that perpetuates negative stereotypes.

For any of my non-Latino friends who haven't heard of the disparaging remarks made recently about Mexicans (hi, that would be me) by a respected organization for humor's sake, I invite you to pour yourself a cup of something strong and take a few minutes to watch the BBC's Top Gear Video.

If you've seen it and can't stomach watching it again (once was enough for me), please click through to their lukewarm apology.

My question: What might the media's response been if instead of Mexicans [insert another name] had been the group singled out with racial remarks?

I have a sense of humor. A twisted one, even. But this? This is not funny. It's indecent.

Telling me to go get a sense of humor when I feel personally attacked because of my culture is not the answer.

If you have a few minutes, please visit "All the Latest of the TOP GEAR Controversy" at author and Twitter strategist Julio Varela's blog to read about this important topic.

(Since the posting of this article, yesterday, a response issued by the BBC to the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, Being Latino, Inc., The National Council of La Raza and The League of United Latin American Citizens was made public, stating they'd remove the "objectionable" footage from episodes airing in America.)
"The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority." -- Ralph W. Sockman