If I could create a starry constellation of badassery, I’d create one of Danny Trejo.
I caught the feels for him when I saw him in Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado. (Come to find out those two are cousins.) Trejo’s assassin, Navajas, moves like a leather-vested wraith through the Mexican streets to hunt down Antonio Banderas’ El Mariachi, and then he pulls back the vest to reveal one of the slammingest tats (the woman is Trejo’s moms) and the throwing knives…::swoon::
It’s only a matter of time, I think, until we face a bigger conversation in the wake of the Tupac Shakur “performance” orchestrated by Dr. Dre last week at the Coachella music festival. Dre and Snoop Dogg are reportedly already looking into how to bring the 2-D likeness of their former Death Row labelmate on tour with them later this year. And no one can question both Shakur’s mother, Afeni Shakur, being “positively thrilled” with the act, or Dre for making a donation to the charitable foundation named after Tupac.
But one can hope that, if Dre and Snoop’s plan comes to pass, we get a more fully realized version of Shakur’s life and catalog; you have to wonder how the Coachella crowd would have reacted to hearing the Tupac of “Keep Ya Head Up” or “Dear Mama” rather than the abbreviated version seen above.
So I have been thinking of Nate Dogg in general but rap music in particular and the difference between how I as a Black woman and how White men relate to rap music.
While I understand that sexism and patriarchy is systemic, that we LEARN and are taught how to be “men” and “women,” how to be racist, how to be sexist as well as how to Love, how to forgive.
What I am getting at is, to be crude, we don’t pop out of our mommas knowing how to be men and women, we are taught from infancy on through blue and pink clothing, girls being told to sit a certain way that is lady like, boys being told crying is weak, and not manly etc.
I also know that there are several structural things impacting the lives of Black men and women such as archaic drug laws, mandatory minimums, three strikes, the underdevelopment of public education, gentrification, police who shot and kill Black people with impunity, and the lack of good grocery stores in working class and low income neighborhoods. All this shit matters.
Hosted by Thea Lim, featuring Tami Winfrey Harris, Andrea Plaid, and Latoya Peterson
It was bound to happen sooner or later.
We proudly (or shamefully?) present the True Blood roundtable. And don’t worry, if the Racialicious Roundtable hex gets True Blood canceled, we promise to never roundtable another TV show again. And now, let us begin with True Blood Season 3, Episode 2: Beautifully Broken.
Black Family Dynamics
Thea: So the first thing that popped out to me about this episode was Alfre Woddard as Lafayette’s mom…and of course the fourth member of this family would be institutionalised*, homophobic, xenophobic, racist and full of general hatred. Now, I don’t expect some kind of Cosby Show happy black family, but it continues to rankle me that the only family of colour on True Blood is so messed up. Or perhaps it’s not that they’re messed up, but that they’re messed up in a very flat, monochrome way, while the other families (if you think of Eric and Pam, Bill and Jessica, and Sookie and Jason as all families) seem to have much more fleshed out, good-and-bad dynamics.
And sidebar: There’s not much love or compassion for the mad people’s/people with disabilities movement on True Blood either…Lord, I hate it when TV shows use mental health institutions (I officially stopped watching House over their representation of an “asylum”). At least Meadowlands looked like a nice enough place.
Tami: Can we get a functional, true-to-life black person on True Blood? Just one? See here’s my problem with the “diversity” on TB: It’s like Alan Ball realized he had to do better than Charlaine Harris’ whitewashed Sookieverse (Harris wrote the books on which the HBO show is based.), but his solution was just to toss some stereotypical, one-dimensional characters into the town. Sassy, tough-talking, angry black chick? Check. Bible-thumping, “Oh, lawd!” hollering mama? Check. Large, stern black woman in public service profession? Check. Drug-dealing black man who frequently calls women “bitches” and “hookers?” Check. Ex-con who winds up with bullet in his brain. Checkitty check check. You know I love me some Lafayette as much as the next TB fan. His bon mots are my favorite. And I have been thankful that they have allowed him some depth and humanity. Nevertheless, when I look at Lafayette together with all the other black folks in fictional Bon Temps, I get a little queasy at how “typical” and uninspired the show’s portrayal of my people is.
Andrea: ::Stumbles in from watching all of the episodes in a week:: True Blood newbie joining the discussion here. So….those dysfunctional Negroes. I agree with you, Tami with every critique you have about Tara’s family. I also think a far more sinister message is getting played out via Tara’s fam: if Black folks don’t let go of their -isms and -phobias, they will be locked up in sanitariums. Bill having slaves? Groovy, because he’s renounced his evil ways and is trying to mainstream. Eric being a Nazi? Well, Eric *is* a vampire. Jason having all sorts of -isms and -phobias? Well, that’s aight because he’s, well, young, dumb, and full of cum. Arlene? Well, she’s coded as “poor white trash,” and, by extension, not having the educated sophistication to realize how “ignorant” she is. But none of the white characters suffer from debilitating mental illness because they’re holding on to bigoted views. They’re just quirky, lovable them. (/snark)
Latoya: I take a different view on this one . To me, the revelation that Tara’s family has a history of mental illness provided some much needed context and backstory to characters who were in danger of being sidelined. A lot of Tara’s development and characterization have been around how she has coped with her childhood – showing how her family has a history of mental illness provides even more depth to her mother’s struggle with alcohol, Tara’s own struggle, and why she and Lafayette can be so cold and secretive. They are doing it to protect themselves and hide their background. And considering mental illness in the black community gets so little attention (see here for some studies and discussions) I was glad to see it receive a frank discussion. These scenes weren’t played for laughs until Lafayette made that crack about the sexy attendant.
And while I will second Tami’s call for “a functional, true-to-life black person,” I have to say that any remotely functional, clear thinking person would have gotten the hell out of Bon Temps before the end of the first season.
Nazis and Political Subtexts
Thea: So, is True Blood taking inspiration from Twilight? Oh just kidding. Werewolves! Nazi werewolves! If vampire narratives are always about sex, what are werewolf narratives about?