Tag Archives: early draft

A (Possible) New Writing Superstition

So I promised to be back and post more and obviously I lied, you should be used to that by now. I’ve been sick lately which is one reason there’s not been posts but the main reason is that that I’m participating with a friend in our very own NaNoWriMo. November is a bad month for me, in addition to my natural procrastination there are papers due and midterms/prep for finals. It just does not work and so from Dec. 6 – Jan. 6 I am attempting to write 50,000 words. I started out strong but the plague knocked me on my ass and I’m currently at about 7,000 words.

It’s a novel by the working title of Spin Tight, Unravel and thats’ all I’m telling people right now. I’m testing a theory and perhaps a new superstition. I’m am not a plan-ny sort of writer. I’m generally much more organic, when I start a story I may have a vague idea of where I want it to go and how it should end but it’s all mutable to a certain degree. Often I’ll only start with an image, like a woman walking out of a burnt out valley will all her hair shorn and bloody and the story will build up around that image.

So the idea of outlining a novel does not work for me. I’ve tried and what almost inevitably happens is that I become bored with the story. When I write out the important points and the story unfolds in my mind it feels already told, there’s no surprise for me, no fun in the story. I admire people who can outline and write that way but it’s definitely not for me at this point in time. So my not telling people about the plot of Spin Tight, Unravel is along this line of thinking that maybe if I keep the ideas inside my head I’ll feel more of an urgency to get them down on paper and actually finish this novel when I’ve never finished any of my others. We’ll see if it actually works.

So yes, no sharing of the plot at all but I will share a small (very) rough piece of what I’ve already written:

There writ across her mothers form had been a story, a moving tapestry of her mother clad in piecemeal armor, with a spear in her hand. The mother on her mother had had her head titled up towards the mound of breasts that formed her sky. There curling around the points of the northern mountains were all manner of beasts: fire in the form of women, long black snakes opening their maws to reveal blood red throats, creatures of one or three or sometimes a hundred legs, things that looked like dogs but with a human faces. Tentacles, horns, fingers, feathers, fur, braids, toes, claws and scales, all of it blending and moving around each other in huge clouds of flesh. They only had one thing in common they called for her mother and they were beginning a descent towards her.

Terminology – Savagification!

In my post last week about representation of Africa in the media I talked about the savagification that bleeds through in these articles. If you haven’t heard of “savagification” used in this way let me explain:

Savagification is the way in which countries/continents, not in the affluent West (This does of course have exceptions. It also happens in articles about Indigenous People located in the West, brown folks who live in the ghetto in the West, etc.) are dealt with in the press. Often the articles are written to be as inflammatory and “fear the brown invaders” as possible and very often include very little input from folks from that region except for small soundbites that bolster the reporter’s view that the people are just a bunch of savages. There are a couple of methods used to achieve this end.

Savagification means that the acts the people/country (because often the articles do not distinguish between individual acts and the country as a whole, so if Gambia has one serial killer all the people must be serial killers in the making) are accused of are described in loving gory detail. There will often be pictures that accompany the article that do their best to show the person in their “native dress” or poised with a machete or in some way that depicts them as savage and untameable. Those are often the only pictures that accompany the article unless there are to be some pictures that show the victims of these acts, often bloody mutilated and sitting on a filthy dirt floor with big tearful eyes staring up at the camera. This is a deliberate scare tactic used to bolster the West as some bastion of truth and civilization while painting the “others” as “savage uncivilized places” (and of course any people of the Diasporas of this country also carry that violent brown blood!). They won’t show the skyscraper cities with computers, cars, etc. because that would refute the “this whole country is just a backward savage place” notion they’re trying to promote. And of course they wouldn’t think to examine the colonialism that profits off of this view, the destabilization of the country and the continued subjagation of the people there.  

Another way savagification is achieved is by ignoring any history in the situation.  This is seen when the Rwandan genocide is discussed and there is no mention of the fact that colonialist policies are what instituted the original separation between the Hutu and Tutsi. When there are articles about witch-hunts in Africa that fail to point out the West’s own history with women accused of witches and the pagan-bashings that happen everyday in America. Because if they showed that horrible things happen in America too that would undermine the sensationalism of the article itself. Articles written about horrible things in the West are always carefully formed to present the atrocity as an isolated incident, actions by sick individuals but not part of the fabric of the country. (In a way you can zero this in to how POC are treated in the media versus White people, where anything that POC do is seen as representative of all POC whereas whiteness doesn’t hold that monolithic idea.)

There are other ways the people/countries in these articles are savagified having to do with word choice and the angle at which facts are presented but these were two of the big ways I wanted to touch on. So now you know what to look for in these articles and knowing is half the battle (I’m sorry, I’m a child of the 80’s I couldn’t help it).

 

I love Omarosa! Why Don’t You?

This whole post came about because my friend Jackie and I were lazing around and flipped onto some Reality Show countdown on VH1. It was showing the fight on the Surreal Lifebetween Omarosa & Janice Dickinson. I said to my friend “Y’know I kinda like Omarosa”. Her response? “Me too.”

So we started to toss ideas back and forth, not only for why we really like Omarosa but also why other people seem to have this unspoken but powerful need to hate her. It really comes down to our society’s view of women and the view of black women in particular.

Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth burst onto our TV screens on the Donald Trump reality show Apprenticeand though she didn’t end up with the big prize we all heard about her. Omarosa was the villainess, the bitch, the evil player that everyone loved to hate, but my question always was why? I enjoy some reality shows (though they are usually more frivolous that Apprentice) so I tuned in for a couple episodes way back when to watch this black woman that had all my friends talking. 

And honestly I didn’t understand the hate.

I saw a smart business woman. I saw a woman who had been immersed in the shark-filled waters of the business world and had discovered how to swim. Let’s be completely honest, the backroom dealing, the harsh attitude, the need to have everything her way and not compromise on what she thought was right, all of those things wouldn’t have gotten a blink, let alone intense media coverage had she been a white man. I mean how often are White Male Reality Villains heard about and known beyond the bounds of fans of that show? Almost never and when they do they fade quickly from public consciousness, anyone not a fan of Survivorstill remember Johnny Fairplay? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Yet Omarosa became a household name and achieved heights few others have aspired to…being known by only one name.

Look at the “character flaws” generally attached to her, the reasons for hating her given are usually something along the lines of: “bitch” “bossy” “aggressive” “angry” “defensive” “not able to get along with others” “liar” these are very similar (exactly the same in some cases) to the accusations constantly thrown at African-American women within our society, the constant stereotype of the overbearing, controlling black woman.

Let me get back to what inspired this post, the altercation on television, specifically the other combatant: Janice DIckinson. Janice is frequently described with the same kind of epithets as Omarosa, yet she is very rarely has the vitriol pointed at her that is constantly pointed at Omarosa. In fact she profits off the perception of her as a “bitch”,  gaining not one but two shows of her own after parting ways with America’s Next Top Model: The Janice Dickinson Modelling Agency and Abbey & Janice: Beauty & The Beast. So why? Why does Dickinson get show deals and lauded as a fashion/queer icon where anytime Omarosa is talked about it’s in terms of negativity, she’s called chickenhead, people “pull an Omarosa”, she’s used as a measuring line for the villainy of reality show contestants.

This “bitchyness” that’s such an iconic personality trait for a white woman and yet for a black woman it makes her hated world-wide? A lot of it has to do with perception of black women in America and Omarosa’s history of success. When a Woman of any Color is not submissive and stands up for herself (especially against a white man and especially on a reality show) she’s a villain or unreasonable or stupid or a bitch but they don’t all get as famous as Omarosa has. Part of that could simply be the wide response/audience of the first Apprentice but I think much of it has to do with her history. She worked in the Clinton/Gore administration and  has a history in business, hell the very fact the Trump picked her for his show gives her a lot of business cred. Mainstream America cannot write her off like they do many of the other Women of Color they see on their television, they know that her approach does work to some degree, that she has known success.

Let’s look at the perception of businesswomen. What is the constant image America gets of the successful business woman through our media? That she is someone who uses/used sex to get ahead or at the very least someone who is highly sexualized (if she’s traditionally beautiful). I could list multiple movies and TV shows where this is the case such as Sex & The City, Ally McBeal, Women’s Murder Club…etc. 

When we combine that view with the already highly sexualized view of African-American Women in our current society, it’s fireworks or ignorance all over the place. We as a society are conditioned to expect Omarosa to use her sexuality, to not be successful but she breaks these “rules”. She does not use her sexuality at all in fact. She comes to the show (and every appearance we see her in) hard and she comes with a highly developed sense of self and her own worth.

The automatic response to this woman breaking through our expected perceptions of her seems to be anger and hate. That anger becomes focused on things she does that when looked at objectively are actually no worse than anything contestants in the same episode or on other reality shows have done hundreds of times. Yes there might have been some lying, some backstabbing, some ambition on her part but isn’t that the point of reality shows? That’s at the base of all reality shows, trying to show that you (or your team) is the best and sorely deserves the top prize. 

There will of course always be some who’ll claim that the hatred targeted at Omarosa has nothing to do with gender or race but in that case I’m still waiting for them to explain to me the hatred that Omarosa’s name invokes. And why that same hate is directed at ‘ole whats-his-name, you know the one I mean, the one from Big Brother…

I feel that I actually could have gone on for a couple more posts about Omarosa by expanding everything in this post but I have training at work today and no time in which to do it. Plus I promised y’all a post on Omarosa this week but I might come back to this essay later, consider it an early draft.