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I hated, absolutely hated Guiliani and began to evaluate things

from that part of my life, the overtly political side of myself.

 

 

An interview with Dennis Leroy Moore

New York-based experimental guerilla filmmaker 

By Sharon Gates

 

Dennis Leroy Moore is a native New Yorker and was born on February 19, 1976 in Flushing, Queens. He is an actor, writer, theatre director, and filmmaker. He has written in-depth essays on black film – “Notes from the Underground,” as well as “Parable of a Man Crucified” about Marvin X’s video-drama One Day in the Life. His theatre credits include works by Amiri Baraka, Samuel Beckett, and Bertolt Brecht; James Baldwin’s classic “Blues for Mister Charlie” as well as early obscure one-act plays by Tennessee Williams.

 His first feature film As an Act of Protest is a disturbing film about an actor who goes through a “stations-of-the-cross journey” in hopes of discovering an ultimate way to rid the world of colonization, racism, and police brutality. The film debates the power and relevancy of art in times of extreme oppression. It first premiered in February 2002 at Los Angeles’ Pan African Film Festival. It was produced by Melissa Dymock of John Brown X Productions.

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Sharon: What was the genesis behind As an Act of Protest and how did the project first come together?

Dennis: It was a long process. In a certain way, I suppose the most honest statement I could make about the film’s inception is that it took twenty-four years to make it because that’s how old I was when I wrote it. It was the totality of my experience as a black man, as a young artist, as a very sensitive kid. The idea itself – the conscious dramatic storyline - was something I had toyed with in my head for years. I always liked the metaphor of the Actor and I always thought a story about a black actor would be an interesting movie. It was always very general, though. 

When I was nineteen and going through my first big bout with depression, I read James Baldwin’s “Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone” and while I was being treated in a hospital I made notes for a movie about an actor. I had never studied filmmaking nor did I even have the desire at that time to make a film, but I knew it would be a logical extension of my theatre work. Film, theatre – those are just the specific mediums. A visual artist could work on canvas, he could use oil, acrylics, watercolor – doesn’t matter. He’s a painter first and foremost – it just gets more specific with each individual artwork. Sometimes you know something won’t work for you in color so you use black and white. Or maybe you’re not feeling clay, so you use something else, you know? As a director, if you’re like me – it’s just a matter of feeling the medium to direct the piece. Is it live or more cinematic? Those are always the impressions I begin with.  

Sharon: So you wrote the piece over a period of years?

Dennis:Well not literally, no. The specifics of the film – the themes of manhood, Christ, racism, Cairo’s entire arc of experience – these specifics were cultivated after I had gotten over the first tidal wave of immediate inspiration. For example, I knew after the Diallo incident that I had to stage Blues for Mister Charlie at the National Black Theatre in Harlem. I simply had to address that incident and found the perfect metaphor with Richard in Blues. After the Diallo Trial and the verdict and all that – my anger and resentment towards the American system had reached its peak. 

I hated, absolutely hated Guiliani and began to evaluate things from that part of my life, the overtly political side of myself. I was always against many things. But you see in the summer of 1999 I was really trying to figure out what I was for.  So the piece began to develop out of my anxieties about my life, my future, my art. Even my “career” – whatever that means. And when those personal feelings and doubts crossed paths with my innate sense of right and wrong and my political convictions, I knew I had a script. I sat down and wrote for a week straight. I just vomited the whole thing up. My goal was to be direct, honest, and completely real about expressing what I was going through. I made a lot of enemies just after I wrote the script. Some of my white friends thought I was nuts and too militant and some of my black friends and artists of color just felt it was too weird and too personal. Not funny, enough. Not enough entertainment. That sort of stuff. 

Sharon: What did your producer, Melissa Dymock think of it? How did you get her involved?

Dennis: Melissa had always been involved with me ever since the summer of 1998. She produced Blues for Mister Charlie without knowing a stitch about theatre, which is an incredible thing. I always considered her a maverick, because she’s got instincts, guts and moves like a warrior. I find it funny that she’s this Southern white woman, and I’m a Northern black kid from the Caribbean and together we made something. She’s a simple working class woman who has always wrestled with the odds – in school she had a learning disability, her demeanor was different, etc. 

So she understood my artistic nature and was comfortable around artists since she was an architect. She’s an artist herself, but denies it. She’s worked in construction, you see. But that experience of creating buildings added to her impression of what her role as a producer was and could be. She’s a damn good producer. She’s loyal and we’re very passionate about what we do. However, the stress and the mania that I partially am responsible for during the shoot, I think, tapped her out. She still holds things against me. 

It’s very complicated when two close people really work with each other. It’s like a marriage that can slowly begin to crumble if you both have egos and if you both are insecure. But, anyway, I told Melissa about a script I was writing loosely based on my life and then I added the whole Diallo and Hamlet-revenge association and she really liked it. She laughs cause she never actually read the script until the last minute. I ‘ll never forget when she called me up one evening crying – telling me that she liked what she read and that we had to do this piece or at least die trying. 

She felt it was very contemporary and probably had the closest idea of what I was trying to do. Also, the wardrobe artist and actress Angie Saidel – she’s an artist from Germany – she had amazing insight into my concept. She played the French banker, Madame Dupree and was amazing. After Umar from the Last Poets, they were the closest artists or people in tune with script. So…yeah, Melissa was very supportive. And even though we were at each other’s throats by the time we finished “Blues” – we still worked together.

Sharon: So you were still close after Blues -  

Dennis: Melissa and I were extremely close after Blues, but after the experience of doing the play at the National Black Theatre I was very depressed because my dream of a permanent theatre company was ruined. I was very angry, very resentful and it strained all my relationships.

Sharon:What exactly happened at the National Black Theatre? Why did you sever ties with them?

Dennis: I hate talking about this because I’m the one who always gets in trouble, but I’ll tell you the little I know and what I think is closest to the truth. One, they (National Black Theatre) were in a huge financial hole and in dire straits, they were nervous the banks would take their building and Two, they hated my methods, my emotionality. I was really just like the character I play in Protest. Abner’s entire character was a very conscious projection and satire of who I actually was when I was at that time directing plays.  I was crazy, you know? But I was alive – full of energy and ideas. That’s how all young people are supposed to be. 

The problem, however, is outside of Music or the Sports world – black men are not allowed to be so positively self-absorbed and celebratory. We’re not allowed to be energetic unless we’re running for the white man on a basketball court. They are not allowed to strut their stuff, so to speak. They’re not allowed to take their work and their lives as serious and complex like a singer is able to. Or the way Tiger Woods or Kobe Bryant are entitled to. Not to knock sports, but give me a break. A writer’s sense of self, arrogance, determination, and talent when it comes to him expressing his ideas and feelings is ten times more important or useful to humanity that some jock throwing a ball and getting all emotional about it. Let’s be honest here. 

Sharon: So you feel that art should receive the same attention that mainstream sports do?

Dennis: That’s a trick question…But yes, I think if people could actually talk about and debate art the way they could sports, things would be a lot different. Not necessarily better – but our culture wouldn’t be as trashy and stupid as it is…When I was doing nothing but snorting loads of cocaine and debating how to kill myself these were the very thoughts running through my head. And it depressed me, because then you start believing that you have to compete with the machine. With the mainstream. As a relatively sane and smart person, I never could comprehend the whole capitalist side of art. I always felt that money and art cancelled each other out. It’s like love and attorneys. 

The reason I reject the whole institution idea of marriage is that if it doesn’t work out, some one has to pay money. As if you could actually compare your life, your blood, your love or hate for another person with money! That’s insane to me. Likewise in art, the whole idea of having contracts for example is ridiculous to me. Do Shamans have contracts with their tribes? Do Punk Bands and Rap groups have contracts with each other? No, they get together cause they understand one another. They can vibe off of each other.  Contracts are for business. I completely resent the fact that I have to even consider business when I’m directing a play or writing a new film.

Sharon: Well, we need to have money, don’t we? I understand what you mean but don’t you think the more money and power an artist has access to  - the better? 

Dennis:Absolutely not. So, Michael Jackson is a trillionaire. Who cares? Has that really improved his music? No. He’s flown around the world, but that means nothing if he isn’t feeling anything. I think he’d be the same genius if he were poor. In fact, he’d be healthier if he were less rich. He wouldn’t be this freak that we come to know him as. But you never know, actually. He’s probably always felt that way. I can relate on that level, cause I’ve always been the odd man out myself.  

Sharon: You’re not serious about that are you? Why would you consider yourself a freak?

Dennis: Well, I say that because it’s true. I been the freak my whole life. I’m 26 years old and I’ve got nothing to show for it, which I find pathetic. I know this sounds crazy, but it’s not and I’m trying to deal with it. I can’t seem to sustain healthy relationships with women, I always scare them off. I don’t know how to make money. I’m constantly borrowing and begging. I know a lot of flaky people, so what does that say about me? I don’t know how to make friends. My social skills suck. I want desperately to have my own theatre company, but could never find anyone to join or help me. I felt real lonely from the age of sixteen and on. I could never be myself, and then when I was myself I was hated. I seemed weird to people because I was emotional and read a lot, and had a very mixed eclectic family. I was a loner. I lied to make friends and indulged in art in order to express truth. What do you think As an Act of Protest is really about? If you really look at it - it’s about living on the fringes of society. And those who are sensitive, those who want truth at any cost will suffer and be persecuted. That’s where all that clunky Christ imagery came into play. 

Sharon: Yes, it was sort of convoluted. The second time I saw it in NY it made sense though.

Dennis: That’s the thing about art. Or like a good book - with every reading, you get something new from it. Sometimes things click – associations, imagery, subtle jokes. Sometimes they just leap out and you realize what was there all that time. I love that. I think pure art contains that and doesn’t have signposts telling you instantly WHAT TO FEEL. That’s my chief complaint with Hollywood films. They insult the audience and we accept it. I’ll never understand that. Might as well be real about it and go to an S&M club. I suppose I’d rather have a sexy matron insult me with a lion’s tail and have my own fantasies, rather than go to a movie and be teased by some fat Hollywood producer, who is only projecting the warped thoughts of the White Male. I don’t mean to paint such a vulgar picture, but that’s what it is. 

Sharon: Isn’t film an extension of the voyeur? Aren’t all filmmakers indulging and revealing their fantasies?

Dennis: Yes, but it would be nice to experience different fantasies. You see, Hollywood pumps out drugs – eye candy, stuff that doesn’t mean anything. It’s sole purpose is to give a kind of Great Adventure experience and cool effects and stuff you’d see tripping on Acid or whatever. There’s no humanity, nothing real about it. I read a poet like Langston Hughes or Kalamu ya Salaam or Sylvia Plath, and get all these different meanings and layers of life and experience. Some I relate to, some I don’t. But I always get chills up my spine when I read them – because they are revealing themselves to me. They are making themselves vulnerable. And that’s real art. There must be an emotional risk involved, if not a literal one. 

Sharon: So who would you say is a Poet of the Cinema?

Dennis: Please don’t ask me this…Okay, let’s see…First and foremost Charles Burnett, John Cassavetes, Julie Dash, Abbas Kirostami, Lars von Trier, Raoul Peck, Haile Gerima…Bill Gunn was certainly a master. Ingmar Bergamn, Satyajit Ray, Djibril Diop Mambety. He’d probably like that, though…Even big filmmakers like Oliver Stone, Scorsese, Coppola. Sidney Lumet was always one of my favorites, as well as Robert Bresson, Hitchcock, and Costa Gavras. Melissa turned me on to Fassbinder and he was great, also…I could go on and on…

Sharon:What do you think of Harmony Korine?

Dennis: I like his aesthetic, what he’s doing with film is important. But unfortunately, he’s just a bratty, screwed up white boy. His politics frighten me, so do his movies. Which is not a bad thing, because I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t perhaps the most innovative American filmmaker whose broken into the mainstream without forsaking his identity. He’s a real artist. His last picture Gummo, was a dogme 95 experiment and it was insane. Werner Herzog loves him though, so I guess he is truly validated. 

Sharon: Have you ever heard of Naeema Barnett?

Dennis: Yes, I saw her film Civil Brand in Miami at the American Black Film Festival, at Melissa’s request. I think she is a major talent in terms of latent ability. And Civil Brand was commercial enough to get picked up, so I hope it gets released. I think if she continues on and develops working with new and younger actors, she’ll be exactly what black actresses need to have – an intelligent, fiery, female director! What I like about her is that even though her sensibilities are very commercial, she’s still expressing her own feelings and emotions. 

Sharon: What about Spike Lee?

Dennis: Spike is a damned good craftsman. And of course he was a major inspiration to me growing up. He’s our Steven Speilberg  because everyone knows who he is and they know what to expect; his name is more famous than his actual work. But I don’t know if he’s a real artist, though…Although with “Bamboozled,” I thought he cracked the shell wide open, so I guess he is. It’s just that al his stuff is so overtly self-conscious and never feels really personal to me. I’m suspicious of his intentions politically, and I hate the fact that all his films seem so cartoony. But, look, he’s developed and grown and I look to him to see how an artist can grow in mainstream filmmaking. What I find interesting is that he made a full circle already, which I think is impressive. 

Sharon: You mean going from “She’s Gotta Have It” to “Bamboozled”?

Dennis: Yeah. Regardless of what anyone thinks about Spike Lee, he has a singular vision and he is growing, unafraid to experiment. Before “Bamboozled,” the only thing I liked was “Get on the Bus” which I thought was very radical.

Sharon:Why?

Dennis: Because the most progressive thing a black filmmaker can do is show black men of all ages and colors relating to each other. Talking to one another like human beings. Brecht said “Art is not a mirror to hold up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” Sometimes in art you have to project what you would like to see happen. Remember, most people still have a skewered view of black men. We’re not real to many people, we’re not human and intelligent or as deep as white men are. This is what Hollywood movies purport. 

So to be radical is to show our complexities, simple as that. Black people are not buffoons, not simpletons, not savages, and not holy noble-types like some of those silly Sidney Poitier movies. I am convinced that if we can represent one another like the human beings we really are, some of our problems would go away. I’m not saying this is an answer to anything, but I do know that if some director made a real heart-aching black love story it would be the most phenomenal thing. We don’t see ourselves loving each other and that has become detrimental to our mental health. 

Sharon: Okay. Now you have mentioned several things I want to address. First, let’s rewind. I originally asked you about the convoluted Christ imagery. You were making a parallel to fringe thinkers, lone individuals against society-types with Jesus Christ. Tell me more about this.

Dennis: I mentioned Christ because if you really think about it – he’s the ultimate revolutionary. He was the first Communist. I mean that in the truest sense. And he is a model of what the artist himself goes through. I’m not saying I’m God, I’m saying that we are all part of Christ, though. Artists know what its like to risk their necks. Like revolutionaries or teachers or even a real athlete whose trying to stretch the bounds of their talent for humanity. We feel if we are right then we must be bold enough to take all the blows. So I mean Christ-like in the sense of believing in our cause, in what we preach – not being the son of God or anything. I don’t want this to seem too loony.  But it probably will come off sounding strange anyway, so I guess it is what it is, right?

Sharon: How valuable are money and options to you?

Dennis: Options are very important, but I don’t think money creates options. It certainly helps and if I was rich, I’d be dangerous because I’d pour all my money into art and education. That is probably the most revolutionary thing anyone could do. People think revolution is about violence and they’re missing the whole point. It’s about raising consciousness and taking people to the next level. I mean we only use – what? Ten percent of our brain? Artists sweat to use at least eleven percent and then if they can hoist up everyone else it all falls into place. We get folks to climb up to where we’re at. But that’s hard when you know you have to compete with Pop culture. So…as far as money is concerned, I only want money so I can make more films. I don’t need eighteen cars, and fur coats, and seven houses. No true artist could even handle all that. You go insane because you’re energy would go into paying bills and mortgages instead of writing and painting or trying to save the world, as corny as that sounds. I mean, I have enough trouble paying my phone bill.

Sharon: Don’t you believe that there could be a balance?

Dennis: Yes. But it’s hard. I hope to achieve it one day, though.  

Sharon: Let’s go back to “As an Act of Protest.”  I want to discuss the style and aesthetic of the movie in conjunction with its content. You definitely have your own unique style as an artist, and the film seems to contain several different styles within itself.

Dennis:Yeah, form follows function. And I do employ different methods to express different scenes.  

Sharon: Yes, you seem to meander into different forms at times, but it all comes together. For instance, the scene at Professor Eastman’s house are very extreme and expressionistic as opposed to that scene where Cairo comes home to find Karen and the white girl drunk. That whole sequence was so bizarre and real it almost had a documentary feel.

Dennis: Yeah, it’s a real mixed bag. For that Eastman scene we used ultra long lenses and stretched it out when we were editing. That other scene was shot hand-held in the midst of the action with natural light. Incidentally, that scene where Cairo goes home and finds the girls drunk is one of my favorite scenes. I like it because emotionally-speaking its very real. People seem stumped by it, but I like it. 

Sharon: I have to admit I was stumped. But when I saw it again I realized that I’ve been through similar situations, particularly in a mixed-race atmosphere. My boyfriend in College was white and I remember during the OJ trial, I went off on him several times about the racism in this country. I made him feel guilty and seemed to have blamed him for everything. I was immature, but it is a truism that exists. Sometimes we get so frustrated with the system we lash out on our loved ones, even more so if they are white.

Dennis: Yes. It bothers people that scene. It is there to expose what really goes on in the mind of a frustrated, conflicted, beaten down black man. And I did it to rile up some people, and annoy the rest. That’s the part of the movie that most people begin to question what the point is. Which is stupid to me, the point is whatever it is that you are seeing. No one ever asks what’s the point of a verse in a song or no one ever asks what the façade of a house is supposed to mean. We are obsessed with definitions and people can’t accept sometimes that what you see is what you get. Cairo is angry and confused. That’s it, it doesn’t get any deeper. Why is he that way? Well, look at the world he’s living in.  

Sharon: What about excess? Is that something you’re drawn to?

Dennis: Yeah, in a way. I suppose that’s right…But to be honest I don’t like to say excess because it relates to being decadent, so it has a more negative connotation…I mean the way I look at it is that I was very conscious that it was my first film, so at times I felt I needed to prove how creative I could be. That’s the main thing a lot of filmmakers wrestle with on their first film. You feel you have to prove yourself all the time. It was overkill I admit, but I think the style that evolved was really magical and fit for the film…

Sharon:“As an Act of Protest” goes from one extreme to the next. Soft, then hard. Comedic, then tragic. Slow, then fast. I think that was one of the best things about the film.  Also, the blending of the real and the surreal…But I want to ask you if you find your style or at least this particular work ‘oppressive’ in any way. 

Dennis: Oppressive meaning harsh? Yes. I think my work is always a little oppressive on the audience cause I want them to think. I tend to be excessive as Protest proves, but really I think the work is oppressive because of the emotional elements and truths involved. Yes, racism exists, yes black people can be profound, yes young people do have minds and are angry, yes – sometimes life does suck. And one thing does inform the other, it’s all connected. People hate that, though because it makes them have to absorb and think every second of the scene. If they hate that it’s because they are not used to it. But that’s too bad, we have to learn how to be mature adults and watch adult movies. I mean the same folks who tell their eight-year old kids not to eat with their hands are out their watching “Austin Powers.” It makes no sense.

Sharon: Do you consider yourself angry?

Dennis: No. I’m frustrated. I get angry sometimes, but I don’t walk around being angry. 

Sharon: Would you like to get married? Do you see yourself as a family man?

Dennis: No. I can’t even take care of myself, I’d freak out if I had kids. Marriage is something that I can’t really see either. I think it’s hard to stay with one woman and commit, but if I met the right Lady I suppose I’d be singing a different tune. And it’s less about me, and more about the woman. Most women can’t hang with me too long, I become too much for them and not as involved in their lives as they’d like.

Sharon: Do you think all artists are like that?

Dennis:I think you have to self-involved to an extent because you are the source of your work. However, it does happen that artists meet and fall in love. We’re human beings, aren’t we? And everyone knows artists make the best lovers…when we’re not bitching and moaning that is! 

Sharon: What’s the current situation regarding “As an Act of Protest”?

Dennis: We’re still screening it at the Anthology Film Archives each month in lower Manhattan and it’s scheduled to close the Brecht Forum Film Festival on Monday, September 23rd.  We have some screenings scheduled end of this year, early 2003 in New Orleans, North Carolina, and Baltimore.

 

BLACKAUTEUR'S EDITOR SPEAKS OUT

A Final Word on As An Act of Protest

By Sharon Gates 

I do not know what the creators of As An Act of Protest feel about the varying reviews and/or responses towards their work, but I do know that the timing seems to be appropriate. Black Film Review's (BFR) Gregory Johnson's lacerating write up of the film seemed to stem from a very personal place. Likewise, Rome Canaal's praising of the film seemed to be a lovely release waiting to happen. Rome told me he had been waiting to see a film like this for a long time. The problem, however, that seems to erupt from new works of art -- especially black films -- is that we do not know what to make of something that does not seem to follow a previous model. 

As An Act of Protest is not a brilliant work, and yet I do feel it is a masterpiece. I have never seen anything like it. I think it combines originality, creativity with a healthy dose of social commentary and revolutionary fervor. What is revolutionary about the picture is that is was shot on DV, but at times looked like 35mm. (Although the projector at the Anthology was "ghosting" given the film a murkier, slightly out of focused look. This will hurt Dennis Leroy Moore if he insists on screening at the Anthology. It's a great spot, but I hope they alert the managers of their technical sins!)

Also, I have to admit, "As An Act of Protest" contains some of the most original and heartfelt lines of dialogue I have heard in a long while...

The acting in the film is exquisite. Luis Laporte, had he been a white actor, would be the hottest thing around. James Dean couldn't touch him. He smiles one moment, cries the next. He's violent, then meek and child-like. When was the last time you witnessed a black man go through these emotional journeys on screen? The closest thing would be Jeffrey Wright in "Basquiat," although even that seemed one level throughout. Dennis Leroy Moore, I think it is fair to say, is absolutely riveting in the film as -- if not a bit Pacino-esque. It's probably because he consists of that similar type of intensity -- glaring eyes and the pulse of that old school --New York thang.  

I missed him when his character dropped out of the film. The entire cast was excellent. What's revolutionary here is that you get an opportunity to witness the black diaspora in all its variety: no two black faces look the same! Cairo's mother is a warm, light-skinned woman with a delicate voice. Cairo's father is dark with earnest eyes and cold voice. Professor Eastman is handsome, regal, and has a musical quality to his voice. Umar of the Last Poets is dark, poetic, and jazzy. 

See my point? They are all different and you can't confuse one character for the other. That is wildly original in this new age of "blaxploitation" and Holly-weird freaky flicks with black people running around with gold teeth and guns and spouting "nigga" every ten seconds. My husband is not like that -- why is this then what I expect when I see black people on film? Why? Because I have been conditioned to accept Hollywood movies as art and their interpretation of black people as real and the only truth . . .

I have never been a fan of what we tend to regard as "art" films (a ridiculous term) or independent film in America. The occasional Julie Dash piece I have relished, although her Rosa Parks movie was kitschy television soap-opera-ism and it is sad when a filmmaker of Ms. Dash's depth cannot get the funding for the work she does best - tonal cinematic-poems. Her work is completely unconventional, like the old films of Melvin van Peebles or the one-hit wonder Wendell B Harris' brilliant Chameleon Street

It is fair to say that As An Act of Protest will be a cult film; it will get better with time when people's taste actually catch up to works birthed before their time. The September introductory issue of BlackAuteur will feature a spread on the debate of the New Wave of Black Films within the underground and the bastardization of "Blackness" in Hollywood. These articles on As An Act of Protest will appear in the 'zine, along with notices on Marvin X's "One Day in the Life" and mainstream work such as an essay about Kasi Lemmons ("Eve's Bayou," "Caveman's Valentine") 

I think it would be interesting to view Hollwyood: Training Day & Monster's Ball with the independents: As An Act of Protest and Daughters of the Dust and decide who paints real depictions and whose coming from an honest place. Who do you think? I may be late to this dinner, but I certainly know what I'm ordering.

(c) Copyright April 28, 2002 by Sharon Gates blackauteur1@yahoo.com 

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 1 July 2008

 

 

 

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