Monthly Archives: February 2015

Film Review: Truths and Fairytales reexamines AIDS today

Truths and Fairytales

Kevin V. Tudor, writer/director

Runtime: 68 min

Sandstorm Productions (2015)

Truths and Fairytales Stills

Scene from Truths and Fairytales

 

 

“Nobody cares about this anymore.  The hype is gone.  HIV is the new diabetes!”

Newcomer writer/director Kevin V. Tudor tackles the continuing but often not spoken of, topic of HIV and AIDS.  Told through the review of case files, Tudor explores the lives of three people who found themselves infected by the HIV virus, leading to extreme life changes to ultimately death.  Many of the myths and questions of the 1980s find rise as those infected and impacted by the still misunderstood virus act on fears, misinformation, or denial.  The movement through the lives are tied together by a ribbon of pain, fear, anger, and anguish.

In the film, Truths and Fairytales, Dr. Adam Clark (Sean Richards) is mourning the death of his wife from AIDS complications.  His friend and colleague, Dr. Kathy Ryan (Susan Olupitan) seeks to console him through the work he has done with others affected by the disease. The stories (represented through case files) reveal the sense of anger through Lisa (Maggie Brothers), the naiveté Jessy (Montgomery Hutchinson), and the disillusioned Charlotte (Juliette Fairley).  The confluence of their stories reminds the viewers that HIV/AIDS is no respecter of person.

The stories of the three cases are compelling, evoking the viewer with a sense of hope marred by an understanding of reality.  AIDS/HIV has fallen away from the headlines but continue to ravage within the United States and around the world.  This film is a reminder that the work of AIDS education still has a long way to go.  This film has its place among educational settings where new and fresh perspectives on AIDS/HIV can be discussed and treatment can be reinforced.

Kevin V. Tudor

Kevin V. Tudor

Kevin V. Tudor has soft yet effective touch on delivering a delicate message to today’s audience.  As a storyteller, Tudor, a physician, has found the right language to translate a message that appears to have gone dormant from the general public.

Watch the trailer and then purchase your copy from Amazon.

Guy A. Sims is the author of the romantically romance novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.  He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the forthcoming Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.  BCEPressworks.com

Anthony Anderson Gave It To Ya!: Really Funny or just Real?

AAndersonThe 49th Annual NAACP Image Awards is, how they say in Hollywood, in the can.  The awards show with the purpose of highlighting the very best in public service and the arts aired on Friday, February 6th, 2015 with the versatile comedian, actor–and in his own right–dancer, Anthony Anderson.  This star-studded event was filled with such notables as media mogul Oprah Winfrey, justice department U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, noted actress Angela Basset, and the ever talented Lawrence Fishburne (and the never to be overlooked actress, Gina Torres).  Award winning and award worthy films such as Selma, Belle, and Get On Up were acknowledged for the creative treasure they bring to our collective consciousness.

 

Above all of the applause, laughter, and appreciation for talent, skill, commitment, and creativity, a not-so-subtle message of self-empowerment, self-appreciation, and self-definition was delivered in the deceptive wrappings of humor.  As with most award shows, the host begins with a monologue, a song, or perhaps opening which serves as the overture for what’s coming up.  Most times, the opening can be self-serving or simply a spectacle to enjoy.  This time, those in charge of the NAACP Image Awards felt a need to send an affirming message to the multitude of African American artists, writers, actors/actresses, directors, producers, and others involved in the wonderful world of entertainment.

Group 1

 

Host Anthony Anderson delivered in his unique cadence and style a message to his peers regarding the Hollywood Snubification of African American films, actors, directors, etc.  He begins his monologue (after telling his mother he loves her) with a definitive “So What!”  These two words uttered on such a major platform was so attention grabbing that members in both the theatre and the viewing audience could not have imagined what was to come next.  Anthony Anderson continued with “We got our own show…right?”, as if he both the conviction and responsibility to remind the audience that what many desire is right there before them and among them.  Often times, when a people look for affirmation from someone else, they can easily forget that the strongest affirmation comes from inside, from those who know you best, and from those who are concerned for your best interest.

 

Now, a message like that is often difficult to deliver, especially when you only have about three minutes to do so.  The writers of the show knew that the adage a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down was apropos and created a delectable-hip treat for the audience to suckle on.  Anthony Anderson and his posse did a song-satire-and-dance number to the wildly popular Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars but his message wasn’t about asking the audience to “stop and wait a minute, to fill his cup and put some liquor in it”.  Anderson observed, “Stop, wait a minute, look at this place with all this talent in it!”  It is clear that the audience is grooved to the beat (just check out the cute Blackish kids) but more importantly, the message clearly resonated.  Anthony Anderson did more than remind his peers and colleagues that acknowledgement from the major awarding bodies are not the end. “Forget them!” he shouts–I mean sings.

“Tonight he’s gonna give it to ya!

TV One’s gonna give it to ya!”

The piece de résistance is the closing line of the bar, “Stop beggin’ the man to give it to ya!

Group 2

 

Over the past several months, commentary about the relationship between Hollywood and African American artists has made its way to the media forefront.  Comic/actor Chris rock wrote a scathing piece in the Hollywood Reporter (Here), as well as phenomenal actress Viola Davis’ comments on the lack of diversity in Hollywood during her acceptance speech at the Screen Actors Guild (Here).  These are just two of the many voices over the decades addressing the issue in their own way.

 

Anthony Anderson’s message, though upbeat and funky, is downright important and necessary.  It speaks to the second principle of Kwanzaa, Kujichagulia–that we should define ourselves, name ourselves, and speak for ourselves instead of being defined, named, and spoken for by others.  When we as a people wholly understand that we will have truly gained the greatest prize.  Don’t believe me…just watch!

If you missed it…take a listen!

Guy A. Sims is the author of the romantically romance novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.  He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the forthcoming Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.  BCEPressworks.com

 

American History: The African-American Edition

I is the Future

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February marks the beginning of the national observation of the history, achievements, and reflections on the current state of our nation from an African-American lens–Black History Month.  From its beginnings in 1926, the former Negro History Week was conceived to educate the masses and celebrate the progress of Negroes in the United States.  The brainchild of Dr. Carter G. Woodson took foothold in American society and in 1976 was expanded to include the entire month of February, historically corresponding with the birth month of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Central to Black History Month is the impetus for the furthering of education.  Education not simply for repetition or regurgitation but for the building of our culture, communities, and this nation through the understanding of the sorrows and successes, the hindrances and honors, the what has been and the what could be for us as Americans.  Twentieth century philosopher, George Santayana…

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The Case for White History Month by Guy A. Sims

WHM

Note: This has been updated as things haven’t changed.

It’s almost February 2016 and I didn’t have to wait long.  Every year inevitably there is a post or a tweet or blog asking the question, “So when is White History Month?”  Grant me the leeway to be naive and receive this inquiry at face value. I will even go as far as to set aside the response that Every month is White History Month for the sake of argument.  I strongly believe that each and every one of us have the inalienable right to have our interests, culture, and perspectives heard and recognized. That is what makes this country, the United States of America, great.  In addition, to Black History Month there are Women’s History Month, Hispanic-Latino Awareness Month, Asian-Pacific Month, and other cultural recognitions.  We also have Irish-American Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, and Italian-American Heritage and Cultural Month.  To add more dates to recognize on the calendar there is a veritable cornucopia of days highlighting everything from popcorn to dentists to grandparents to encouraging smoking cessation.  If we have room on the calendar to celebrate all of these, why not a White History Month?

 A White History Month could be a wonderful compliment to the diverse ingredients that make up the Great American Melting Pot.  Of course, it goes without saying, White History Month has to be more than a collection of trivial facts and happenings but a comprehensive look at the history and the impact on history through the Caucasian/white lens.  The time should be set aside to recognize trailblazers, those who sacrificed in the face of adversity as they worked to move the culture forward, as well as events serving as milestones of pride and motivation.

 My recommendation for the formulation of a White History Month is to draw from the Black History Month blueprint.  In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson established Negro History Week as a reaction to the lack of recognition of Negro history and accomplishments in most of the textbooks at that time.  Dr. Woodson promoted the idea of Negro History Week which quickly caught on and was soon celebrated around the United States.  Fast forward, the year 1976 was central to the advancement of this body of cultural knowledge.  The country was celebrating its bicentennial and it was the 50th anniversary of Negro History Week.  It was decided that Negro History Week was to be expanded to Black History Month.  I don’t propose to begin with a White History Week although it might be a good place to start–as a way for it to catch on.  A new cultural recognition often takes time to gain popularity–consider Kwanzaa as an example.  It’s still a hard sell for some African Americans.

 The month of February was selected by Dr. Woodson because two important men in Negro history were born during that month: Frederick Douglas (Feb. 14) and President Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12). It would be important to identify the month with individuals who best represent the lives, culture, and philosophies of White Americans.  My recommendation would be the month of October.  October is the birth month of President John Adams (Oct. 3) and Bill Gates (Oct. 28).  President Adams was a statesman, diplomat, and a leading advocate advancing independence from Great Britain.  Adams was also opposed to slavery and never owned any (he gets a vote from me).  Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, not only changed the world technologically, he also represents the philosophy of Corporate Social Responsibility with his Millennial Scholarship (another vote from me) and his world-wide philanthropies.  These two individual could serve as the anchors for this period of recognition.

One of the most challenging but equally important aspects of White History Month will be the programs and activities highlighting the month. These programs should be designed to uncover and highlight the trials, the accomplishments, the trailblazers, and unsung heroes and heroines of the struggle.  This is an opportune time to bolster pride in children who feel they have not been recognized, negatively portrayed, or simply absent in history, literature, the sciences, the arts, politics, or merely as citizens.  It is a time to invite dynamic speakers to articulate the connection between the hardships of the past with contemporary issues and the hope for the future.  Moreover, while there may not be a White National Anthem it would be appropriate to conclude your activities with a song while crossing arms (right over left) and holding hands with your neighbor to visually exemplify the struggle, perseverance, and the cultural connection.  As you select the song please remember that the National Anthem belongs to everyone and (for the few who might suggest) Dixie was written by black men from Ohio.  One additional programming note: dismiss the feeling that your programs are not successful if people from outside your culture do not attend or it feels like you’re preaching to the choir.  Remember, others may feel uncomfortable, may not have a white friend to go with, or may not feel the program has anything to do with them.  It’s okay.  Have the program and know there’s more food on the reception table to go around.  You can even wrap some up and take it home (just an insider’s tip).

 Need more of a reason for an attempt at a legitimate White History Month?  A recent tweet gave President George Washington credit for significant work with peanuts, not George Washington Carver.  This is such a slight for all that George Washington has done for the United States.  A White History Month would serve well to provide opportunities to learn so that historical faux pas such as this can be avoided.

I look forward to participating in White History Month activities with my friends who get it and learn an interesting thing or two by the month’s end.

Guy A. Sims is the author of the romantically romance novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.  He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.  BCEPressworks.com

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