Book Review: Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Damian Duffy and John Jennings (2017)

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Octavia E. Butler Gets the Graphic Novel Treatment (Finally!)

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Trigger warning for violence, including rape.)

Inventive, hypnotic, unflinchingly honest – such is the work of Octavia Estelle Butler, and in Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, the grand dame of science fiction finally receives the graphic novel treatment she so desperately deserves.

First published in 1979, Kindred tells the story of Dana, a modern black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported to the antebellum south. She finds herself on a Maryland plantation, circa 1812(-ish), placed directly in the path of a drowning boy named Rufus. Over a period of weeks (her time) and years (his), Rufus will unconsciously summon Dana to his side whenever his life is endangered. Though she’s often tempted to let the selfish young man – and heir to the Weylin plantation – die, to do so would threaten her very existence. Rufus is Dana’s distant ancestor, and her life depends on the continuation of his. That is, at least until Grandmother Hagar Weylin has a chance to be born.

2017-06-25 - Kindred - 0006 [flickr]

There’s a well-known nerdy maxim (or trope, if you prefer) that time travel isn’t safe for black people, or women, or [insert your marginalized group here]. Time travel is “exclusively a white [male] privilege,” as Louis CK put it. Kindred manifests this principle in ways both chilling and potent. Dana uses her time in the past to try and change things for the better, if only in tiny increments: she surreptitiously teaches some of the enslaved children to read, and attempts to steer her great-grandfather in a more enlightened direction. Yet history is more likely to change Dana than vice versa, as she notes with shock and horror as she finds herself growing accustomed to the daily cruelties of slavery.

Likewise, when Dana’s white husband Kevin is left stranded out of time – for a whopping five years, as she later learns – Dana is frightened of who or what she might find upon her return. How might an era steeped in racism and misogyny stain the man she loves?

Kindred is one of my favorite books, by one of my favorite writers. The prospect of an adaptation left me both nervous and excited, which is par for the course when it comes to literature that’s burrowed its way into my heart and mind. But Damian Duffy’s translation of the work is masterful; he mostly captures the spirit and tone of the original, and deftly condenses the novel into a comic book format.

(I say mostly because, let’s face it, Octavia Butler is in a class of her own. The original work is infinitely more harrowing, but the adaptation is still pretty great. If you haven’t yet read Kindred, you owe it to yourself to start today. If you have, this will definitely leave you clamoring for a re-read.)

2017-06-25 - Kindred - 0018 [flickr]

From the first panel, which ominously proclaims “I lost an arm on my last trip home,” John Jennings’s artwork is moody and atmospheric.

2017-06-25 - Kindred - 0001 [flickr]

Many of the palettes are stripped down, with two or three colors dominating many of the scenes.

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He employs some pretty neat tricks, such as placing close-ups of Dana and Rufus side-by-side to emphasize both their opposition and interconnectedness,

2017-06-25 - Kindred - 0010 [flickr]

and underscoring Dana’s trips through time and space with dramatic changes in color. Some of the drawings, especially of Rufus and his father Tom, are a little rough around the edges – which struck me as perfectly apt, given the circumstances. Dana, on the other hand, is a near-perfect mirror image of how I envisioned her.

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2016-12-23 - Kindred - 0008 [flickr]

Even the design of the book is breathtaking. The book cover features an almost gothic landscape of dark purple trees against a black sky and lavender moon. On the back side, the Weylin house beckons. The first and last pages are splashes of red with streaks of pink; Dana, Isaac, or Alice’s skin after a brutal lashing.

2017-06-25 - Kindred - 0017 [flickr]

Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation is a wonderful homage to Octavia Butler and the world she built, explored, and ultimately dismantled in Kindred. I hope it’s also a hint of what’s to come: from Kindred to the Parables duology, Lilith’s Brood to the Patternmaster series, Butler’s novels and short stories are all but begging for second lives on screens both big and small, panels in comic books and fan conventions the world over. May Damian Duffy and John Jennings’s work introduce a whole new generation of fans to this extraordinary writer.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

Book Review: Wintersong, S. Jae-Jones (2017)

Monday, February 6th, 2017

“Such sensuous enjoyment.”

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Netgalley.)

I surveyed my kingdom. Chaos. Cruelty. Abandon. I had always been holding back. Always been restrained. I wanted to be bigger, brighter, better; I wanted to be capricious, malicious, sly. Until now, I had not known the intoxicating sweetness of attention. In the world above, it had always been Käthe or Josef who captivated people’s eyes and hearts—Käthe with her beauty, Josef with his talent. I was forgotten, overlooked, ignored—the plain, drab, practical, talentless sister. But here in the Underground, I was the sun around which their world spun, the axis around which their maelstrom twirled. Liesl the girl had been dull, drab, and obedient; Elisabeth the woman was a queen.

“I may be just a maiden, mein Herr,” I whispered. “But I am a brave maiden.”

When Liesl’s younger sister Käthe is claimed by the Goblin King and kidnapped to the Underground, it’s up to Liesl to rescue her. After all, it’s Liesl and her mother who keep the family together and the inn running. Plain, drab, boring Liesl, who lacks Käthe’s voluptuous beauty, or her brother Josef’s virtuosity with the violin. Liesl, who composes her wild and untamed music only under the cloak of night; the music Josef polishes and performs to accolades, but for which Liesl seeks neither praise nor recognition. Like legions of unremarkable girls before her, Liesl labors in the background, her accomplishments usurped or denigrated by the men around her, depending on the circumstances.

Yet the Goblin King – Der Erlkönig, Lord of Mischief – sees Liesl for who she truly is: a unique talent, full of beauty and grace. A soul brimming with passion and wonder – and, yes, even anger and lust. A worthy opponent. The girl with whom he once sang and danced in Goblin Grove, all those years ago. The girl who forgot him – and her promise to him – once she traded in their silly childhood games for a mop and bucket and likely spinsterhood.

Liesl descends into the Underground on a sacrifice of sheet music, only to find that her mission to rescue Käthe is just the opening round of her game with Der Erlkönig. Once a mortal man, the Goblin King sacrificed his soul to bring peace to the world above. Now he is forever confined to the Underground, where he rules over the goblins and fae who once wreaked havoc on earth. But in order to turn the seasons, he requires a spark. Passion. A wife. Yet Der Erlkönig’s brave maidens do not survive long in the Underground – and, should Liesl succeed in freeing Käthe, he will need a replacement if spring is to come.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation, Daina Ramey Berry (2017)

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

A difficult yet necessary read.

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for violence related to slavery, including racism and rape.)

This book is written in a historical moment that historians have not yet named—a moment when black persons are disproportionately being killed and their deaths recorded. We witness the destruction of their lives via cell phones and dash and body cameras. The current voyeuristic gaze contains a level of brutality grounded in slavery. I call this moment the historic spectacle of black death: a chronicling of racial violence, a foreshadowing of medical exploitation, a rehearsing of ritualized lynching that took place in the postslavery era. African Americans and their allies respond by rejecting the devaluation of their bodies with the phrase #BlackLivesMatter. This book, however, argues that the historical record is clear: #BlackBodiesMatter.

Dear wife, they cannot sell the rose
Of love, that in my bosom glows.
Remember, as your tears may start,
They cannot sell th’ immortal part!

(A poem carved by an enslaved black man named Mingo, on the beam of his cell, as he awaited trial and execution.)

Whether it’s some rando on a plantation tour, or a nationally syndicated talk show host, it always boggles my mind when people insist that some slaves were treated well: “like members of the family.” I guess this means they weren’t flogged on the daily, forced to live in unheated shacks, or forcibly bred? Idk, given that women and children were largely considered the property of their husbands and fathers; the first case of child abuse wasn’t prosecuted in the United States until 1874; and marital rape wasn’t a thing in all 50 states until 1993, forgive me if I don’t find this argument terribly compelling. But I digress.

I may have received the same sanitized, whitewashed public high school education as everyone else – but it doesn’t take an especially critical thinker to realize that, at the end of the day, slaves were property. In the eyes of the law, they were more somethings than someones: more like a television set or CD player (or, to use more contemporary examples, a banjo or a milk pan) than a human being. Some enslavers may have been less cruel than others, sure, but that doesn’t negate the power differential one bit. To borrow an example from this text, kindly patriarch Dr. Carson may have provided medical care for his slaves, and worried about their well-being after his death, but if he had had a bad day, there was nothing preventing him from taking his frustrations out on one of them. As his property, it was well within his right to punch, whip, stab, shoot, starve, dismember, rape, or molest them. And therein lays the problem: when you dehumanize and objectify others, especially but not only by relegating them to the status of property, it excuses any and every abuse imaginable. Slaves exist at their captors’ mercy.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: ‘All the Real Indians Died Off’: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz & Dina Gilio-Whitaker (2016)

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Belongs in high school libraries everywhere.

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received an electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss.)

Non-Natives thus position themselves, either wittingly or unwittingly, as being the true experts about Indians and their histories—and it happens at all levels of society, from the uneducated all the way up to those with advanced college degrees, and even in the halls of Congress. […]

The result is the perpetual erasure of Indians from the US political and cultural landscape. In short, for five centuries Indians have been disappearing in the collective imagination. They are disappearing in plain sight.

Imagining huge fields of gold, which did not exist, Columbus instituted what later became known as the encomienda system, large estates run on forced labor for the purposes of extracting gold. Las Casas reported that when mining quotas were not met by the Indians excavating the gold, their hands were cut off and they bled to death. When they attempted to flee, they were hunted down with dogs and killed. So little gold existed in Hispaniola that the island turned into a massive killing field.

He [King George] has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

—Declaration of Independence

— 4.5 stars —

Native Americans should be honored to have sports teams named after them.

The Indians lost the war, why can’t they move on already?

Indian casinos make everyone rich.

Whether your ancestors were indigenous to North America or not, no doubt you’re familiar with at least a few of these myths about Native Americans. Actually, that’s an understatement, given that our culture – right down to its founding documents – is steeped in such half-truths, contested theories, and outright lies. They’re taught in our high school history books (Columbus discovered America; the convoluted and decontextualized myth of Thanksgiving), trotted out for celebrations (Native American mascots; cultural appropriation in Halloween costumes), and have been used to strip Native tribes of their lands, power, and self-determination (“real” Indians live on reservations/meet blood quantum requirements/belong to a tribe/adhere to certain spiritual practices).

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (2016)

Friday, September 9th, 2016

Harrowing and heartbreaking — and brimming with humanity.

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC though Edelweiss. Trigger warning for violence, including slavery and rape, and offensive language.)

Cora couldn’t pay attention. The tunnel pulled at her. How many hands had it required to make this place? And the tunnels beyond, wherever and how far they led? She thought of the picking, how it raced down the furrows at harvest, the African bodies working as one, as fast as their strength permitted. The vast fields burst with hundreds of thousands of white bolls, strung like stars in the sky on the clearest of clear nights. When the slaves finished, they had stripped the fields of their color. It was a magnificent operation, from seed to bale, but not one of them could be prideful of their labor. It had been stolen from them. Bled from them. The tunnel, the tracks, the desperate souls who found salvation in the coordination of its stations and timetables—this was a marvel to be proud of. She wondered if those who had built this thing had received their proper reward.

RAN AWAY
from her legal but not rightful master fifteen months past,
a slave girl called CORA;
of ordinary height and dark brown complexion;
has a star-shape mark on her temple from an injury;
possessed of a spirited nature and devious method.
Possibly answering to the name BESSIE.
Last seen in Indiana among the outlaws of John Valentine Farm.
She has stopped running.
Reward remains unclaimed.
SHE WAS NEVER PROPERTY.
December 23

Sixteen-year-old Cora was born on the Randall plantation in Georgia, just like her mother before her. Mabel’s mother, Ajarry, was the first of their line to set foot on American soil. She was kidnapped, separated from her family, and enslaved when she was just a girl. Twice she tried to commit suicide on the long voyage across the Atlantic, to no avail. She married three times and birthed five children; Mabel was the only one to survive into adulthood. Mabel had a little more luck in her escape attempt: when Cora was ten or eleven, she ran away, never to return.

The first time Caesar asked Cora to run away with him, she refused. Three weeks later, she said yes. In the interim, Cora had snapped; just for a second, throwing her body over that of a young boy named Chester to shield him from punishment. A beating with a cane, for the crime of bumping into his owner’s brother, thus spilling a drop of wine on his shirtsleeve. She’d landed on Terrance Randall’s radar; Terrance, who was now poised to assume control of his brother James’s half of the plantation. Terrance, the crueler and more sadistic of the Randall boys.

“She had not been his and now she was his. Or she had always been his and just now knew it.”

So Caesar and Cora make a break for it, with a little help from the famed Underground Railroad. Only here, Whitehead reimagines the UR as an honest-to-goodness, wood and steel train; one that travels through tunnels carved into the rock by black and brown hands. A railroad that runs up and down the East Coast, on an intermittent schedule, with stops closing and rerouting as needed.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Everfair, Nisi Shawl (2016)

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Fascinating Idea, So-So Execution

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley.)

Ever fair, ever fair my home;
Ever fair land, so sweet—
Ever are you calling home your children;
We hear and answer swiftly as thought, as fleet.
Tyrants and cowards, we fear them no more;
Behold, your power protects us from harm;
We live in freedom by sharing all things equally—
We live in peace within your loving arms.

Leopold II of Belgium founded the Congo Free State in Central Africa in 1885. Ostensibly established as a humanitarian and philanthropic venture, Leopold instead exploited the land and people as a personal venture. Indigenous workers were forced to harvest ivory, rubber, and minerals. Failure to meet quotas was punishable by death, so proven by delivery of the offender’s hand – leading to a rash of mutilations, as villages attacked one another to procure limbs in anticipation of not meeting Leopold’s unreasonable demands. Between murder, starvation, disease, and a drastically reduced birth rate, countless indigenous Africans perished under Leopold’s short rule; some estimates put the death rate as high as 50%. Due to international criticism, Belgium annexed the Congo Free State and assumed control of its administration in 1908, after which time it became known as the Belgian Congo.

Turning her lens on “one of history’s most notorious atrocities,” Nisi Shawl looks at what might have become of the Congo Free State, if white socialists from England and African-American missionaries had united to purchase land from King Leopold II, making it a haven for free blacks, “enlightened” whites, and Chinese and African refugees from Leopold’s reign of terror. Picture an eclectic fusion of Western, Asian, and African cultural practices, politics, and religious beliefs, all made more prosperous – and feasible – through fantastical steampunk technologies: aircanoes capable of transcontinental flight (and easily weaponized); mechanical clockwork prosthetics (also made deadly with the addition of knives, flamethrowers, and poisoned darts); steam-powered bikes; and Victorian-era computers, to name a few.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, Jesmyn Ward (2016)

Friday, August 19th, 2016

You need to read this book.

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley.)

[W]e are writing an epic wherein black lives carry worth, wherein black boys can walk to the store and buy candy without thinking they will die, wherein black girls can have a bad day and be mouthy without being physically assaulted by a police officer, wherein cops see twelve-year-old black boys playing with fake guns as silly kids and not homicidal maniacs, wherein black women can stop to ask for directions without being shot in the face by paranoid white homeowners. I burn, and I hope.

– Jesmyn Ward, Introduction

A friend recently told me that when she gave birth to her son, before naming him, before even nursing him, her first thought was, I have to get him out of this country.

– Claudia Rankine, “The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning”

Anthologies tend to be pretty hit or miss with me, but the eighteen pieces in The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race are uniformly excellent. There wasn’t a single poem or essay that I didn’t love. I devoured the whole thing in most of an afternoon, and was left hungering for more.

Inspired by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time – “A Letter to My Nephew” in particular – Jesmyn Ward compiled a collection of essays on race by and for a new generation. The result is eclectic and surprising and just straight-up breathtaking.

I wasn’t sure what to expect – a more academic bent, perhaps? – but in this case, I think my preconceptions were a positive, because The Fire This Time upended them in the best way possible. Through a mix of poems, personal essays, letters, and creative nonfiction, the contributors explore a wide range of topics, both expected and not: the black immigrant experience; police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement; walking while black; reassessing one’s long held identity in the wake of contemporary DNA testing; the legacy of slavery in New England; depression and loneliness as a consequence of cultural disconnectedness; constructing composite fathers; metafiction in hip hop; and “artistic rituals of labor,” from grandmamas to Outkast.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Gilda Stories: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition, Jewelle Gomez (2016)

Friday, June 17th, 2016

A subversive and exhilarating read!

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free book for review from the publisher. Trigger warning for violence, including rape.)

“Why do you say others may kill and we must not?”

“Some are said to live through the energy of fear. That is their sustenance more than sharing. The truth is we hunger for connection to life, but it needn’t be through horror or destruction. Those are just the easiest links to evoke. Once learned, this lesson mustn’t be forgotten. To ignore it, to wallow in death as the white man has done, can only bring bitterness.”

My love is the blood that enriches this ground.
The sun is a star denied you and me.
But you are the life I’ve searched for and found
And the moon is our half of the dream.

That she hit him with his own whip seemed to startle him more than the pain.

The Girl is just nine when her mother passes away – of the flu, contracted from one of the white women she was caring for in the main house. Scared that she’ll be sold off like her father, she runs away, getting as far as the state line that separates Mississippi from Louisiana before being discovered by a bounty hunter. Gilda finds the Girl in her cellar, shaking and covered in blood – and with the corpse of her would-be rapist at her feet.

As with many girls before her, Gilda takes the Girl in, offering her sanctuary in her saloon/brothel. But Gilda and her lover/business partner, Bird, take a special interest in this girl, teaching her how to read and write in multiple languages; how to grow her own food and run a business; and, eventually, in the ways of their kind. Gilda is a three hundred-year-old vampire, you see, and her days walking this earth are numbered. Tired of the war, hatred, and inequality that surrounds her, Gilda yearns for her “true death,” and hopes to turn the Girl so that Bird will not be left alone in her absence.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, Don Tate (2015)

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

“My heart to lift, my empty mind to feed, And all the world explore.”

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through NetGalley.)

George Moses Horton (1798–1884) was an African-American poet – the first black poet to be published in the Southern United States, as a matter of fact. Born into slavery, he taught himself to read and composed and memorized poetry in his head. When he was 17, his master decided to divide the estate. George and his family were separated, with George going to the master’s son.

On weekends, he traveled to nearby Chapel Hill to sell produce – and his poetry. Students at the University of North Carolina, taken with his verse, bought love poems at twenty-five cents apiece; Horton befriended the writer Caroline Lee Hentz, who helped him learn to write, and arranged for his work to be published in the Gazette. He also published a book of poetry, The Hope of Liberty, in 1929. With his earnings, Horton bought his time from his master (in an arrangement that was illegal) – but he was not allowed to purchase his freedom.

Despite his success and support from college students and faculty, Horton remained a slave. Many of his poems protested the “peculiar institution” of slavery, though he was forced into semi-retirement (from poetry, that is; he was still made to work on his master’s farm) by the start of the Civil War. Horton lived to see the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and became a free man at the age of sixty-six. After the end of the war, Horton traveled west with the Union army and transmuted his journey to verse.

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Book Review: The Glass Arrow, Kristen Simmons (2015)

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Meet The Handmaid’s Tale’s Younger YA Cousin

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher. Trigger warning for rape – including allusions to rape, at least one rape attempt, medical rape, and general rape culture – human trafficking, slavery, and violence.)

My ma taught me one thing from the beginning: My body is mine. My own. No one else’s. Just because someone thinks they have rights to it, doesn’t make it true. I thought I understood that before, but here, in this place, it’s become more clear than ever how right she was. My flesh and blood – it’s the only thing I own, and I’ll defend it until I can’t fight anymore.

Behind us are two or three dozen country people from the outlying towns. With them are cages of chicken and goats, sheep, even cattle. That’s where we fit on market day. Between the executions and the livestock sales.

Fifteen-year-old Aiyana (Aya to her family; Clover to her captors) is a rarity – a free woman living in the forests of Isor. Along with her mostly-adopted family – her cousin Salma; fellow refugee Metea; and Metea’s children, Bian, Tam, and Nina – Aya hunts and gathers the food she needs, prays to Mother Hawk for guidance, and just generally goes about her business, all while evading detection by the feared Trackers.

In the nearby city of Glasscaster, women are items to be bought and sold. Property. Slaves. Young women may be purchased for sex (read: rape) or for breeding, only to be foisted off on pimps in the Black Lanes after they’re all “used up.” Along with “First Rounders” (read: virgins), “wild girls” are among the most valuable of them all – not only do Magnates take especial pleasure in breaking these formerly free women down, but their time outside of the city and its attendant pollution has blessed them with superior fertility. Lucky them.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Country of Ice Cream Star, Sandra Newman (2015)

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

You Reading. Is Bone.

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Goodreads’s First Reads program. Major trigger warning for rape, human trafficking, forced abortion and sterilization, violence, and scenes of war.)

These be the Sengles in the time I speak of, when my trouble grown. Of baby children, be Bother Zero Tool, the Answer Zero Ka, Fine One Ndiaye, Bell Eyes One Ndiaye, and Lolina-tina One Diouf, Crow’s child with Mari’s Ghost. Be healthy screaming babies, they got grandy rolls of fat. These all got mothers living but the twins Bell Eyes and Fine.

Of littles, there be Dinty Moore Two Fall who cannot hear, Naomi Two Forgotten, Maple Two Diop who be a son of John of Christ, Mohammed Three Insulting, Story Four Duval that has got reddish hair, Problem Four Tool, Luvanna-Lana Five of Lowell, Best Creature Five Wang who is misname and be annoying, Mustapha Five Insulting, Dollar Saver Six Fall, a fine enchanting little who can sing, Baboucar Seven Grandpa, Jeep Cherokee Seven Skips and Foxen Seven Fall. The mother of all three Falls be alive but gone to Lowell, now name Lowell Second Plumber and got posies bad.

Of the eights and nines, there be my vally Keepers Eight Fofana, worth all other children, and her favorite hatred Mouse Eight Wang. Progresso Nine Wilson and My Sorrow Nine Wang been solo-animoses for some years, ain’t speak with never another child.

Then come Marlboro Ten Tete-Brisee and Kool Ten Tete-Brisee, twins, birdcatcher-age and lean. Shiny Eleven Angels be a prettieuse and flirtish girl that give bad sign of wisdom, for she dabbit after Crow. Shiny chosen her own name, this be the measure of her wits. Redbook Twelve Ba, Bowl Thirteen Tete-Brisee and Cat Fancy Thirteen Ba all go ridiculous in love with Driver. They tend the littles and tell reveries one to the other, all day long. Jonah Fourteen Feet the only weakly jones, and scary since his brother took to Lowell two years gone. Then come Jermaine Fourteen Uptown, Christing born and Christing seriose in gentleness. Jermaine be wisty for my love, and many Lowells also and some Christings sleeping hungry for my love.

Next be Tequila Fourteen Tool, Mari’s Ghost Fourteen Diouf, Hate You Fourteen Ka, and Asha Badmouth Fifteen Feet. Then come my place. Then come malicieuse Crow Sixteen Doe, and Villa Seventeen Insulting, fool infatuate for any male. When she ain’t bother males, she eat, that be the list of what she do. Last come my Driver, which make thirty-eight in Sengle town.

These been my Sengles in the year when Driver been our sergeant; time that kindly John been husband of the Christing fellowship; when the Lowells’ El Mayor been Sengle born and Sengle brave. Mamadou was NewKing of Mass Armies, savage like his people – yet the child have dignity and sense, best of the worst.

Fat luck been the story of this year. Snares ever struggling full, and every arrow find a turkey. Any a sleeper street we did maraud, that street give food. We war like twenty guns, but no one injure. Sling our hammocks in the crowns of sycamores like secret birds, and rest there, chattering and smoking, noses to the stars. Children forgot the taste of hunger and the touch of fear.

Yo when Driver sicken, this the happiness we lose.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino et al. (2013)

Friday, December 20th, 2013

A Must for Tarantino Fans

four out of five stars

Based on the 2012 film of the same name, Django Unchained is a slavery revenge fantasy in the vein of previous Tarantino movies, namely Inglourious Basterds (Holocaust revenge) and Kill Bill (rape revenge). Caught after an unsuccessful escape attempt, slaves Django and his wife Broomhilda are auctioned off to separate bidders. Whereas Hildi finds herself in the clutches of Calvin Candy – a self-proclaimed Francophile who is as rich as he is evil – Django is eventually acquired by Dr. King Schultz, a dentist-turned-bounty hunter. Schultz offers Django his freedom in return for his help identifying and killing the Brittle brothers, who were employed as overseers by Django’s previous owners. (Naturally, Django can’t believe his luck: killing white men, and getting paid for the privilege? Sign me up!)

Touched by Django’s love for Hildi (and compelled by his hatred for “the flesh trade”), the German-born Schultz takes Django on as a partner and apprentice. The two spend the winter training together, while Django earns the money to buy Hildi’s freedom. Come spring they make the journey to Candyland, ostensibly to buy a slave for the purposes of Mandingo fighting. When their ruse is discovered by the “head” house slave Stephen (power being relative), everything goes sideways, as they say.

Since the graphic novel is adapted from the original script, it contains some new material – including a number of scenes featuring Broomhilda. I’m pretty bummed that these were cut from the movie, as they helped to better flesh out her character, which mostly functions as an archetype of the damsel in distress. Not that this isn’t in some ways a step up from how women of color are portrayed on screen – but still, I would have liked to have gotten to know Hildi better as a person. “Little Troublemaker” hints at so many stories left untouched, don’t you think?

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 13: Boobs, bacon & bigotry.

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Burger King's Singing in the Shower 03

Mary Elizabeth Williams @ Salon: Will shower for sausages; She’ll “shake her bits” to whet your appetite

In which Burger King tries to one-up its previous misogynist campaigns (can I interest anyone in a blog job burger?) by covering a naked woman in the dismembered corpses and fried secretions of tortured and murdered animals and making her wiggle her (and the animals’) bits in service of the male gaze. Cue: “morning spank routine.” Barf, gargle, repeat.

Tracy Clark-Flory @ Salon: Berlusconi is a boob; The prime minister sells sex for political gain, but many Italians aren’t buying it

While dissecting Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi’s entrepreneurial endeavors – which largely involve selling women’s sexuality on his television stations – Clark-Flory mentions this gem of a tv stunt:

[T]he popular video “Il Corpo delle Donne,” which translates as “The Body of Women,” compiles some of the most shameless moments of T’n’A from Berlusconi’s stations and state television. The most egregious example: A woman is shown suspended from the ceiling in skimpy underwear next to a literal piece of meat clad in a matching pair of panties; it’s awfully reminiscent of that infamous meat-grinder Hustler cover.

After 20 minutes spent perusing boob/burger pimp BK’s website, I’m kind of glad I don’t have a video clip to illustrate this piece. Oy.

Stephanie @ Animal Rights: Breaking Unjust Laws: Clarence Darrow and Inherit the Wind and (especially) Breaking Unjust Laws: AETA, Fugitive Slave Acts, and Oppression Connections

Using the 1960 film Inherit the Wind as a jumping-off point, Stephanie briefly discusses a few similarities between the animal rights and U.S. anti-slavery movements. Or rather, similarities in how each movement was (is) countered by corporate powers, with no small amount of help from the government. (Hint: the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 is to abolitionism as _____ is to the animal liberation movement?)

(More below the fold…)

Like livestock, but fuckable.

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Update, 9/1/09: Guest posting at Sociological Images, Anglofille offers an excellent discussion of George Sodoni’s misogyny – and of the media’s negligence in its coverage of the crime, which more often than not includes a hefty dose of victim-blaming.

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Freschello (Cow)

I had planned on including this in my next intersectionality link roundup, but I’d rather this post be timely than in context. Besides, if you need additional context – here ya go.

New York Post: Full Text of “Gym Killer’s” Blog

Yes, I actually suffered through this misogynist’s entire blog. Blame CNN; one of their journalists piqued my curiosity by quoting from the following excerpt:

Why do this?? To young girls? Just read below. I kept a running log that includes my thoughts and actions, after I saw this project was going to drag on.

December 22, 2008:

Time is moving along. Planned to have this done already. I will just keep a running log here as time passes. Many of the young girls here look so beautiful as to not be human, very edible.

George Sodini, consumer of women.* Note how the women go from being not human (read: nonhuman animal) to not alive (read: “meat” -> or an non-sentient object). He reads much like any “good” fast food commercial!

Elsewhere – in the context of an extremely racist rant, which begins with him postponing his “project” in order to “see the election outcome” – Sodini says, and I’m paraphrasing, that every “brother” ought to “get” his own “white hoe” as a sort of “reverse indentured servitude thing”: “Long ago, many a older white male landowner had a young Negro wench girl for his desires. Bout’ time tables are turned on that shit.”

Actually, a truly “reverse indentured servitude thing” – the very term “indentured servant” is misleading when it’s clear that what he’s really referring to is slavery – would see white men relegated to property status, and distributed among women of color (and, more generally, men of color and all women).

As a commenter at the Reclusive Leftist notes,

The murderer suggested offering black men white women as sex slaves as a way of compensating for the fact that white men used to rape black women slaves.

Who was wronged by white men raping black women slaves? The black women slaves? No! Black men of course!

Who should be compensated today for black women slaves having been abused in the past? Black women? No! Black men of course!

To Sodoni, women were nothing but objects to be consumed – or bought, sold, traded or borrowed, for example, to repay a “debt” incurred by one’s past “wrongdoings.” We are but chattel, livestock, property – servants and slaves. Our violation does not harm us – for how can an object experience suffering? – but rather, our owners: men.

Replace “women” with “animals,” and you’ve summarized the popular view re: nonhuman animals. Hopefully, you’re just as appalled.

(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: Amazing Grace opens this weekend! 2/23/07

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Feb 22, 2007 5:00 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Amazing Grace opens this weekend! 2/23/07

As I have been overwhelmed with other projects, DawnWatch took an inordinately long President’s Day weekend. I will be playing a little catch-up today. The highlight of that weekend was an HSUS advance screening of Amazing Grace, directed by Michael Apted, which opens tomorrow, Friday February 23.

Amazing Grace is the story of William Wilberforce’s parliamentary battle to end the British slave trade. What I had not known before seeing the film, but was not surprised to find out, is that Wilberforce was also one of the founding members of the original Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The film opens with a scene in which Wilberforce intervenes as a horse is being beaten. There are many references to his passion for animals throughout the movie.

Even without the animal friendly theme, I would fervently recommend Amazing Grace to all activists. It shows what can be achieved against what appear to be insurmountable odds. It is inspiring. It is also beautifully acted and directed — a pleasure to watch.

DawnWatch generally encourages animal friendly media by asking people to respond to it favorably with emails to media outlets. The best possible way to show support for an animal friendly film is to go see it — not to wait for it on DVD. Box office sales the opening weekend are the most important, influencing the length of the movie’s run and its distribution to other theatres. Big sales on opening weekend also let the production company know that the public is eager for movies that matter.

So if you are thinking about a movie this weekend (even if you weren’t) — why not show support for messages about making the world a better place, by going to see Amazing Grace? And please forward this recommendation to anybody you know who cares.

Yours and the animals’,
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited — leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free.)

To discontinue DawnWatch alerts go to http://www.DawnWatch.com/nothanks.php

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HSUS: See the power of film to help animals

Monday, February 19th, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Humane Society of the United States – humanesociety [at] hsus.org
Date: Feb 16, 2007 6:07 PM
Subject: See the power of film to help animals

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The Humane Society of the United States
THE POWER OF FILM: Watch, Vote For, and Create Movie Magic for Animals
February 16, 2007
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Sometimes all it takes is a good story. And when that story is told through the language of film, its power can inspire viewers to change how they think and act. Today I want to share with you three ways you can celebrate the power of film to change animals’ lives.

See Compassion in Action in Amazing Grace

Next weekend, you won’t want to miss the true story of William Wilberforce (1759-1833), a political activist who was not only a leading abolitionist but one of the founding figures of the animal protection movement. The film captures Wilberforce’s determination to end the cruelty and suffering imposed on both humans and animals in his era, and it’s an inspiring story of how one person can make a difference. I loved Amazing Grace and hope you’ll see it on opening weekend, beginning February 23.

Watch our exclusive movie preview: https://community.hsus.org/ct/-1S7Mss1Rzm6/

Find a theater near you: https://community.hsus.org/ct/J1S7Mss1Rzm7/

Vote for Your Favorite Animal-Friendly Film

Academy Award-nominated Happy Feet (shown at left) is one of three animated family feature films nominated for our 21st annual Genesis Awards, which acknowledge positive portrayals of animal issues in film, television, and print. Which movie will win? Vote for your favorite film in this and each of three other
categories, and we’ll enter you in a drawing to win a free weekend trip to New York, courtesy of Southwest Airlines and W Hotels.

Vote now and enter to win. Click here: https://community.hsus.org/ct/-pS7Mss1RzmI/

Make Your Own Film for Animals

If you’re 16-25 and an aspiring filmmaker — or just someone who wants to do more than upload funny home videos to YouTube — then check out the Film Your Issue (FYI) competition. FYI invites young people to create short films that address issues that are important to them. The Humane Society of the United States is a featured partner, and we’ve even provided “B roll” you can use to create your own movie about our top campaigns.

Make your own movie. Click here: https://community.hsus.org/ct/-7S7Mss1RzmW/

Thanks for all you do for animals.

Sincerely,

Wayne Pacelle
President & CEO
The Humane Society of the United States

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Copyright (c) 2007
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
All Rights Reserved.

humanesociety [at] hsus.org | 202-452-1100 | http://www.hsus.org
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037

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Tagged:

Book Review: The Enslavement of the American Indian in Colonial Times, Barbara Olexer (2005)

Monday, January 30th, 2006

An enlightening look at an oft-ignored subject!

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review at the author’s invitation.)

In THE ENSLAVEMENT OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN IN COLONIAL TIMES, author Barbara J. Olexer examines the subject of American Indian slavery. While she does trace the roots of American Indian slavery back as far as 1013, her discussion primarily focuses on the colonial period, particularly the 1600s and 1700s. THE ENSLAVEMENT OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN… offers an illuminating look at what, sadly, is a little-known subject. Given the dearth of books on this topic, Ms. Olexer’s tome makes a welcome addition to the existing literature.

Starting with the Norsemen’s “discovery” of America in the tenth century, THE ENSLAVEMENT OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN… explores the topic of American Indian slavery. What started as the kidnappings of individual American Indians eventually escalated into an American Indian slave trade, albeit on a smaller scale than the African slave trade. The trade reached its height during the 17th and 18th centuries, but had largely ceased by the 1780s. The reasons for the American Indian slave trade were many. Commonly, colonists instigated warfare between already unfriendly tribes, as a means of weakening their enemies as well as obtaining American Indian slaves “legally.” Additionally, trading in American Indian slaves was another tool with which to rob the Indians of their land. American Indians were often tricked into slavery, ambushed by unscrupulous colonists, or simply kidnapped and “exported.” By the end of the Revolutionary War, however, American Indian populations were decimated to such a degree that slavery was no longer necessary. Nor was it profitable; Africans were more plentiful and made for more obedient and resilient slaves.

THE ENSLAVEMENT OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN… covers both the scale of and the reasons underlying the American Indian slave trade. The book is divided into eleven chapters: It Began as Kidnapping; The Pilgrims and the Pequots; King Philip’s War; The French in Canada; The English and the Westo; The Traders and the Neophytes; The Tuscarora and Yamassee Wars; The End of the Trade in Carolina; The French in Louisiana; The French and the Natchez; and Conclusion.

As you can see from the chapter titles, Ms. Olexer looks at the French as well as the English settlers, and also examines Spanish-Indian relations. A number of American Indian groups make an appearance, including the Huron, Eskimo, Pequot, Narragansett, Saconnet, Nipmuc, Mohegan, Iroquois, Seneca, Tuscarora, Westo, Powhatan, Catawba, Chowan, Yamassee, Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Waccamaw, Natchez, Sauk and Fox tribes, as well as the Wampanoag Federation and the Five Nations. Geographically, the discussion concentrates on the north- and south-east of the United States. Several chapters are devoted to the Carolina region in particular.

Although schools and scholars are finally beginning to acknowledge our forbearers’ brutal treatment of the Americas’ original inhabitants, the subject of American Indian slavery still merits little attention. Indeed, I don’t recall learning of the topic at all during elementary, junior, or high school. Unfortunately, few books exist that tackle this significant topic. Barbara Olexer’s THE ENSLAVEMENT OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN… helps to fill this void, and makes a great addition to the history buff’s bookshelf. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in the American Indian experience or the history of slavery. An added bonus: the author donates a portion of the proceeds to the National Museum of the American Indian.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)