Black News, Entertainment, Style and Culture - HuffPost Black Voices
iOS app Android app More
August 1, 2015

I Just Want to Be Held and Spun Around: On Black Life, Death, Love and Exhaustion

Charleston Mourning Joe Raedle via Getty Images

Fearing for your life every time you walk outside, every time you get behind the wheel, every time you see a police officer, every time you breathe, is exhausting. Living in a world in which your blackness and woman-ness makes you less than human -- a hypersexual, angry or subservient caricature, the constant target of catcalling, rape and assault -- is exhausting.

Cincinnati Shooting Begs The Question: What Kind Of Limits Should Campus Police Have?

Athena Image
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Death Of A Young Black Journalist

Athena Image
Jimmy Anderson

Police Union Files Grievance To Get Ray Tensing His Job Back

Athena Image
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jill Scott On Body Image: 'People Are Drawn To Confidence'

Athena Image
Bryan Bedder via Getty Images

Cosby Lawyer: I'm Not Victim-Blaming, But 'Women Have Responsibility'

Athena Image
Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty Images

How 'Assembly-Line Justice' Victimizes Kids In St. Louis County

Fergusonfrustrationlaw Enforcementmike Brownmissou
Michael B. Thomas via Getty Images

#WannaKnow Who Won The Drake vs. Meek Mill Beef?

Drake
Instagram

WATCH: Bill Cosby's Lawyer Speaks Out On HuffPost Live

Athena Image
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Officers Involved In Samuel DuBose Shooting Were Sued In Earlier Death Of Unarmed Black Man

Athena Image
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Handcuffed Hit-And-Run Suspect Dies In San Francisco Police Custody

San Francisco San Francisco Police Sf Police Killi
KRON

Black Actor Lands Iconic Broadway Role In 'Les Miz' And Makes History

Kyle Jeanbaptiste Arts Black Actors
Kyle Jean-Baptiste

Martin Luther King Jr. Had A Surprising Role In Saving 'Star Trek'

Englandblack Whiteformat Portraitmalepersonalityam
William H. Alden via Getty Images

Teen Perfectly Illustrates The Problem With NBC's Sam Dubose Tweet

Nbc Mug Shot
Twitter

#BlackLivesMatter Co-Founder Mourns 'Senseless Murder' Of Sam DuBose

Patrisse Cullors
HuffPost Live

8 Times Vivica Fox Slayed The Big Screen

Actress Celebrity Entertainment Juwanna Mann Movie
Getty Images via Getty Images

Bill O'Reilly Compares #BlackLivesMatter Movement To Gestapo

Bill Oreilly Gestapo Black Lives Matter
YouTube

What Cops And Their Supporters Are Saying About The Sam DuBose Video

Athena Image
ASSOCIATED PRESS

What Racist Scumbag Put Confederate Flags Around Martin Luther King Jr.'s Church?

Athena Image
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cop Pleads Not Guilty In Killing Of Sam DuBose

Athena Image
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jail Defends Procedures Amid Scrutiny Of Sandra Bland's Death

Athena Image
Pat Sullivan/AP

In His Own Words, Iraq and Afghanistan Vet Recounts Journey From Homelessness To Hope

Athena Image
Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post

Three Other Black Men Have Died In Altercations With University Of Cincinnati Police

Athena Image
ASSOCIATED PRESS

We Weep For African Lions. But What About Black Lives?

Athena Image
ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Public Still Can't See The Eric Garner Grand Jury Records, Court Rules

Athena Image
JEWEL SAMAD via Getty Images

Activists Want To Know Why An ICE Officer Is Back At Work After Fatal Shooting

Athena Image
Facebook

#BlackLivesMatters Co-Founder ‘Mortified' By O'Reilly's 'Anarchistic' Comment

County Removes Confederate Flag, Replaces It With Another Confederate Flag

Walton County Confederate Flag
Michelle Uhlfelder
Global Black Voices
 

Black Activists Pressure Obama To Defend Stateless Dominicans

Athena Image
ERIKA SANTELICES via Getty Images

4 Huge Ways Obama Spoke Up For Women On His Historic Kenya Trip

Athena Image
SAUL LOEB via Getty Images

Boy, 8, Is First Child Ever To Receive Double Hand Transplant

Athena Image
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Black Trans Inmate Ashley Diamond Alleges New Sexual Assault

Athena Image
Getty Images/Vetta

Sandra Bland Memorial In Ottawa Defaced With Racial Slurs

Sandra Bland
Facebook/Black Lives Matter - Ottawa Coalition

In Just A Few Days, These Girls Designed Apps To Make Studying More Fun And Fight Bullying

Black Girls Code Hackathon
Twitter: Kimberly Bryant

Black Students In The U.S. Get Criminalized While White Students Get Treatment

Athena Image
Hemera Technologies

New Footage Of Sandra Bland Released

Bland
Courtesy of Bland family, File

This App Could Help Combat Racial Profiling During Traffic Stops

Athena Image
Courtesy of Mbye Njie

There Have Been 132 Pro-Confederate Flag Rallies Since The Charleston Shooting

Athena Image
Credit: Associated Press

Country's Youngest Convicted Killer Gets Released

Athena Image
Malcolm Denemark/Florida Today

The Complicated Problem Of Race And Special Education

Athena Image
FREDERICK FLORIN via Getty Images

White House: Criminal Case Against Darren Wilson Closed For Good

Athena Image
ASSOCIATED PRESS

FOLLOW HUFFPOST

    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    3. View all RSS feeds

'Fantastic Four' Cast Handles Offensive Interview Like Pros

Athena Image
Alexander Tamargo via Getty Images

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Weighs In On Drake & Meek Mill Beef

Athena Image
Katie Darby/Invision/AP

A Running Tally Of How Athletes Are Scoring The Drake-Meek Mill Beef

Athena Image
GLYN KIRK via Getty Images

Michael B. Jordan Hopes 'Creed' Will Give Boxing New Life

Athena Image
Warner Bros.

If Tupac And Biggie Twitter-Beefed Like Meek Mill

Athena Image
Rob Kim via Getty Images

'Shaft' Getting Remake From 'Black-ish' Creator

Action Actors Celebrities Entertainment Film Foota
Getty Images via Getty Images

Ray Rice Doesn’t Deserve A Second Chance In The NFL

American Footballnfl
Ronald Martinez via Getty Images

Russell Simmons Inks HBO Deal To Develop TV Programming

Athena Image
Eugene Gologursky via Getty Images

How White People Sound When They Argue About Racism

How White People Sound
Twitter

Ice T's Voiceovers Make Your Favorite Cartoons Even Better

Dora
Getty/NBC

Mariah Carey Will Direct A Movie For The Hallmark Channel And It'll Probably Be A Glorious Mess

Athena Image
Ethan Miller via Getty Images

Serena Williams Proves Strong Is Beautiful In Awesome New Instagram

Serena Williams
Instagram

Nicki Minaj Puts Her Ex-Boyfriend On Blast Over Ghostwriting Claims

Athena Image
Theo Wargo via Getty Images

TV One's 'Verses And Flow' Enters Fifth Season Amid Limited Music Programming

Tv Ones Lexus Verses And Flow
Teal Moss Photography

Now Watch This Amazing TV Reporter Whip, Watch Him Nae Nae

Water Morris San Diego Dance
Fox 5 San Diego/KSWB/YouTube

Why It's Harder To Be a Model Today, According To Tyra Banks

Athena Image
John Sciulli via Getty Images

Queen Latifah And Mary J. Blige To Join NBC's 'The Wiz Live!'

Mary J Blige Queen Latifah
AP

Son Of Imprisoned Rapper Mac Phipps Says 'It's A Good Feeling' Dad May Be Home Soon

Mac Phipps
Sheila Phipps

The Weeknd Is Literally On Fire In 'Can't Feel My Face' Music Video

The Weeknd Cant Feel My Face
Apple Music

Jay Pharoah Opens Up About His Painful Battle With Depression

Jay Pharoah
HuffPost Live

Raven-Symoné Was Told What To Eat As A Child Star After 'Getting Fat'

Ravensymone
ABC

How Excusing Tyga And Kylie Jenner's Relationship Validates The Sexualization of Young Girls

Athena Image
Mike Windle via Getty Images

New 'Daily Show' Host Trevor Noah: 'I'm A Connoisseur Of Racism'

Trevor Noah
Comedy Central

'Empire' Costars Grace Gealey And Trai Byers Engaged

Ap
Grace Gealey Trai Byers Engaged

New York Summer Camp Gives Homeless Children A Chance To Just Be Kids

Athena Image
Homes for the Homeless

What You Need To Know About 'Independence Day: Resurgence'

Independence Day
20th Century Fox

Jaden Smith Walks Around Italy With A Giant Mug In New 'Scarface' Video

Jaden Smith Scarface
490tx

7 More Documentaries To Stream On Netflix

Nina Simone
Radical Media

Tyrese Gibson Calls Out 'White' Radio Stations For Being Racist

Celebrities
Jemal Countess via Getty Images

Danielle Brooks Shows Off Body Confidence With Gym Selfie

Danielle Brooks Body Confidence
Instagram

Rihanna Was Reportedly Blocked From Playing A Free Concert

Athena Image
Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty Images

Police Officer Shares Meal With Homeless Man To Make Him Feel like 'Just Another Person'

Police Officer Ocala Police Department
TiAnna S. Greene/Facebook

100 Queer Characters Of Color Who Show Why Media Should Diversify

Athena Image
Katy Winn/Invision/AP

Coco And Ice T Are Expecting Their First Child Together

Athena Image
Ilya S. Savenok via Getty Images

Dionne Warwick Remembers Bobbi Kristina Brown

Athena Image
Larry Busacca via Getty Images

The Moment Charlamagne Tha God Stopped Defending Bill Cosby

Charlamagne Tha God Huffpost Live Charlamagne Tha
HuffPost Live

Patriarch Of Musical Jackson Family Suffers A Stroke

Athena Image
ASSOCIATED PRESS

These Photos Prove Iman Is More Fierce And Flawless Than Ever!

Iman
Iman/Instagram

Paul Mooney On Cosby's Legacy: He Got His 'N****r Wake-up Call'

Paul Mooney
Courtesy of Jill Newman Productions

‘Empire’ Star Derek Luke Slams Followers For Criticizing Wife's Race

Actpr Tavern On The Green National Board Of Review
Matthew Peyton via Getty Images


Now even later, we have kids looking at Barack in the White House, and they are going to say "yeah! That's what I want to do!" So it is very, very important, especially as I say for children, who take it to heart in a different way. It has a different resonance. So I think the notion of us seeing something as possible, even cinematically or on T.V., will affect our choices later.

Talk more about what made 'Sweetback' so empowering. Are films as empowering today?

'Sweetback' is about a brother who goes from a "me" mentality to a "we" mentality. It's about a street brother who becomes a revolutionary. He goes up against the system. Now 'Shaft' (1971) is about a brother who works in conjunction with the system. He's a private detective working with the system. Then 'Superfly' (1972) is about a brother who deals drugs against his own people for the system.

So what happens is, that as the corporations get involved – 'Sweetback' was made independently of big money, the other two films were made with big money – when big money gets involved, they may keep the same empowered black lead, BUT the revolutionary message of going up against the system gets drained out. So what happens is you keep the same brother with the mustache and the afro, and the same theme music, but we drain out the revolutionary core of that message, bit by bit.

The same thing happened with rap music. Gil Scott-Heron started out talking about how the revolution will not be televised. And then you take that up to Public Enemy talking about how we need to fight the power. But when big money got involved, the rap they started to fund was more about "I got money and b*&^%#$ and hoes." Not rap that's telling you to get up and stand up, or fight the power. So the rap that gets funded will have that same good groove, and great beat, but what you will be dancing to will be something that in fact is counter-revolutionary and designed to keep you down.

Because people start to confuse freedom with money. Getting paid by any means necessary starts to replace freedom by any means necessary.

And the shell game that Hollywood plays is that if you make a movie like 'Jaws' where a shark eats people and it makes money – Hollywood's not black or white, it's green – they're going to make more movies about fish (or squid or whatever) eating people until that type of movie stops making money. Then they'll say "that type of movie's not making money anymore." They won't say it's the race of the people in the movie. Whereas with the black movies, when the movies of the '70s began to run out of steam, they didn't say "it's the genre." They thought it was the fact that the movies had black actors in them, and they shut the door on those black actors.

Then in the '90s, when I did 'New Jack City' and Spike did his movies, we were in the system as film directors and writers. Things changed. But there is still no head of studio that is African American. The golden rule is, he with the gold makes the rules. So we still don't have true access to that.

What is the state of black filmmaking today? What kind of special challenges do black filmmakers face when trying to get our stories onto the screen?

I don't want to be put in a position where I look like I am a film critic. However, my film 'Baadasssss' in which I play my dad – we were nominated for best screenplay, best film, and best director, and we were in the best ten films of the year from Ebert and Roeper – is about my dad directing 'Sweetback' with a multi-cultural crew. [At around the same time ] that 'Baadasssss' came out a film called 'Soul Plane' came out. It takes the premise that African Americans running an airline is a joke. That we couldn't run an airline. That the plane would be purple, and have spinners and be going up and down. The pilots would be blowing refer in the cockpit. It was funny stuff. That they would be giving out fried chicken in first class. It was a laugh. But the essential message under it was one of disempowerment. That black people can't even run a d#$% airline. The same [time] you have my film coming out, and my film is saying people of all colors can come together under an African American film director and make a hit film. The movie I made had to be made independently for a million dollars. 'Soul Plane' could be made by a big studio for $16 million dollars.

What I'm saying is that a message of disempowerment with some humor over it can get funded for $16 million by a big studio, but that message of empowerment across racial lines didn't. So even in this day and age, sometimes it's easier to put out something that is not as positive. I'm not upset about having our 'Soul Planes,' just like they have their 'Dumb and Dumbers.' But the problem is that we don't have enough [films like] 'A Beautiful Mind,' 'Or Good Will Hunting' or 'Sleepless in Seattle,' with people of color. And I'm not just talking about black folks. Native Americans, Indians, all of us.

Look at this – we are 33% of the film going population, and 2% of the filmmaking population. We are only 12% of the entire population. That's deep. We are disproportionately under-represented. We are watchers. We've got to be doers. We play ball. We've got to own the team.

But things are changing. A couple of years ago, Chris Rock could make a film about a black president that was a joke, and now we've got one! America is a funny place. It's a beautiful place, too. I mean, where else would my family have the chance to do what we do. For us to have a bloodless revolution like we just had. So we have a lot of issues here, but I've got to tell you, man I've been all around the world, and there's no place like home. I hate to sound like Dorothy, but I mean it!

There seems to be an effort to make more stories about black women that are empowering. What are your thoughts on the movie "Precious"? How do you feel about "The Princess and the Frog"?

That's a good question, because I was driving down Sunset Boulevard with my daughter a while back. We were talking about women in film. And we were talking about weight. And it's interesting because they did research that shows that the heavy-set, sassy black woman serving up attitude is something that America still seems to be very comfortable with. It's like Aunt Jemima with attitude.

So we're driving down the street, and I say "look here!" We looked up and we saw a billboard with Martin Lawrence playing a heavy-set, sassy black woman in 'Big Momma's House.' And then we drive a little further, and then we saw Tyler Perry playing a big sassy woman (laughs) in 'Madea's House.' And we drive a little further, and we saw Eddie Murphy playing in 'Norbit' as a sassy black woman. I was like, "wow, that's deep!" And then we drove a little further, and we saw a billboard with sister Queen Latifah. (Laughs) And there are studies that show that Oprah does better when she's got too much weight and is trying to lose it. When she has lost weight and is looking great, then she is getting the hater energy. So it's interesting. That's deep that we are still more comfortable with that.

And we were talking about what she would face, because my daughter is fine, and she stands up straight, and she's an articulate sister. She's bilingual, she speaks French. And we were just talking about the kind of things she'll face not only from the world at large, but even from other sisters saying "well if you talk like this, or are doing this, are you trying to be white?"

I hope that not only will we see the President bring change, but that we'll also see some change from Michelle. A bright, tall, fine, eloquent, accomplished sister. Seeing that kind of image. And not the angry black woman. Not serving up all the attitude. I think it's a fight.

And it's funny that you mention it. I am just now thinking about trying to do a story about the rise of a very powerful black woman. I won't tell you the name or I'd have to kill you. But I think we need more stories like that. And I think we need more sisters directing and producing, writing, etc. You know, the struggle continues. It's very important to see us branch out.

That doesn't mean that we don't have the new n!#$@#$ of cinema. The new n!#$@#$ of cinema are the Arabs. They are doing to them what they used to do to us. As long as we sit by and tolerate them doing that to them, the sand brothers and sisters as they call them -- you have to remember "what you do to the least of these, you do to me." It doesn't mean that because things have gotten better for us that they can't shift it back. It's like I said in a talk last night. Democracy, even cinematic democracy, is like the gas on a car. If you take your foot off it, it'll slow down.

What are you thoughts on Black History Month? Do you think that it is still relevant in the age of Obama?

I think it's super-relevant. I just showed a new documentary I have called 'Fair Game.' It's on TV One. Man does it answer that question. And it asks the question: Now that we have a president in the White House who reflects us in many ways, is it a "fair game"? Is it a level playing field? Watch that movie, and [you will have my answer.]

+ More on Mario!
50 Cent -- Producing and Starring in 'Things Fall Apart' with Lynn Whitfield and Mario Van Peebles



Check Out the Remaining 'Way Black When' Presentation:

Fri @ 8pm(ET) – 'Three the Hardway':
Jim Brown, Jim Kelly and Fred Williamson fight environmental racism in this action-packed flick.

BLACK POWER CINEMA PANEL: During each movie, Mario Van Peebles will will be on hand to offer an inside look at what it took to create these iconic films, and how they changed the perspectives of black audiences and Hollywood. Joining him will be is his father...the 'father of Black Exploitation,' Melvin Van Peebles (Sweet Sweepback's Baadasssss Song) as well as Fred "The Hammer" Williamson (Three the Hard Way) , Roger E. Mosley (Sweet Jesus, Preacherman).
Tagged as: Black History Month, Black History Month 2010, BlackHistoryMonth, BlackHistoryMonth2010, Mario Van Peebles, MarioVanPeebles, tv one, TvOne

Comments: (5)

Add a comment

Page 1 of 1

More Black Voices Features

Follow Us

Most Commented Articles

Get Closer to BV

BLACK MUSIC NEWS
The latest news and updates on a multitude of music stars.
Check It Out!

BLACK MUSIC NOTES

       

MEN OF MCCAFÉ SEARCH
McDonald's continues its nationwide search to find five community-service minded black men during this year's CIAA tournament.


LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MEN

       
 

Find a Message Board

Discover conversations on everyone from Barack to Beyonce. There are nearly 50 forums, so click on a category below and find the right one for you.

Blog Roll