I tuned in to watch the most recent episode of “Oprah’s Next Chapter” in which Tyler Perry was interviewed in anticipation of his two new TV shows on OWN. Initially I did not want to watch this interview because I’ve read about Tyler Perry and watched previous interviews on his life and his work and figured it would just be a recycling of the same answers. I thought it would just be another introductory interview to Tyler Perry, the man, the mogul, and the voice behind Madea. However, I chose to tune in because I really wanted to hear his point of view on his writing style and the stories he tells (and how he tells them).
Like many of my peers (particularly those who are college educated and/or of color), I have felt frustrated by the repetitive course the plots of many of his films and TV programs take. I felt like his work was stereotypical and “one-note,” telling the story of a Black woman who was beaten or victimized in some way then “saved” by a male “knight in shining armor” who helps turn the woman’s tattered life around. I also felt conflicted by Madea’s character, the pistol-toting, Southern-accent having elderly woman with one-liners and a short fuse. While I was humored by her unnecessary “r” annunciations in certain words and boisterous attitude, I also felt like we were going back in time with characters like her to days where Blacks were forced to portray such stereotypical, demeaning characters if they wanted to perform in the entertainment business. I was not so put off by his work as to call it “malt liquor for the masses,” however, it has been a while since I’ve bought tickets to a Tyler Perry film and I have not DVRed an episode of “Meet the Browns” or “Love thy Neighbor.”
I watched and listened for his response to Oprah’s questions, questions where she quoted critics and challengers of his work and it made me think of his work a little differently. He responded to the critics by noting how he lived and was raised in the South and was merely telling stories from the perspectives of those he knows or has observed, writing what he knows. Thinking about his work made me think about my writing and the way I tell stories. I am a city girl who’s been shaped by my Black culture but also by the social, political and cultural diversity of New York City and that affects the way I write and tell stories. It would not be impossible for me to write about the plight of someone from the rural South though it would take extensive research and it would not come naturally to me. Needless to say, creative writers who write realistic fiction (i.e. not science fiction or other genres that rely heavily on the imagination) usually tend to stick with writing what they know.
I agree that his work stands out to the point where people either love it or hate it because there aren’t as many other stories of Black families being told in film or on TV. So perhaps instead of judging him for the stories he tells, it’s better to work toward figuring out how Hollywood can be more effectively diversified so that more stories of more people can be told in hopes of breaking and shifting stereotypes.
Did you watch the Tyler Perry interview? What were your thoughts on it and how do you feel about his work?
Yesterday was supposed to be a joyous day. Students and employees got a day off from work to enjoy the Springtime sunshine, and friends and family members supported their running loved ones in the Boston Marathon. However, the day turned out to be anything but typical.
via New York Daily News
The emotions felt when I first heard the news of the explosions at the finish line on Boylston Street–a street I have walked down many of times, and where some of my friends reside–reminded me of what I felt junior year of high school on September 11th. Shock, panic, fear, relief, an inexplicable mix of emotions. I heard about the events from my aunt in New York because I was in my own world getting ready to head to school to do some work. And after hanging up with her, I made sure check in with friends and classmates who may have been in or at the event.
Fortunately no one I personally know was injured or harmed, but this does not take away from the aftershock of it. It does not take away from the compassion I feel for the 8-year old boy’s family or for those runners and spectators who lost limbs or lives as a result of such hatred.
While it is true that people are killed every day outside of this country in war, genocide or just plain cold-blooded murder, that does not and cannot invalidate what happened in Boston yesterday. Any life that is unjustifiable cut short is valuable. My prayers are with the families and friends of those harmed. While New York is home for me, my heart hurts for Boston. I admire those who ran toward the chaos to help. I admire the police officers and those called in to work and repair this city from their homes or vacations. This is a tough city and though it will take time, it will rebuild itself from this.
On a brighter note, I got a Facebook invitation for a “Run for Boston” event. While I am not what you call a “runner,” I am working on improving my health, and I am considering taking on this mission to run the distance in support of the Marathon and for those harmed yesterday. It is more than just running, I think running for Boston is a message of courage, support and fearlessness. It may take me a month (maybe more) to get through all 26.2 miles, but I’m down for the cause.
Who else is with me?
This past Sunday, I had the desire for a Sunday homestyle or IHOP-ish kind of brunch. It was Easter and I was missing home, missing my church family, plus I had plenty of work to do for classes and the law journal (needless to say, I could use the comfort food). Yet, I wanted pancakes without the butter, without too much sugar or white flour or processed foods. I am trying to eat clean after all. I found a recipe online for whole grain pancakes that I started with and made the recipe my own:
What You Need:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp organic sea salt [the recipe recommends fine sea salt but I didn't have fine sea salt and it still came out okay]
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 cups of organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk [you can use the milk of your choice: dairy, soy, or otherwise, but if you do, add 1 tsp vanilla if your milk doesn't have vanilla. Also, if using vanilla milk, make sure it's unsweetened so you're not adding extra unneeded sugars. If you want to make waffles instead of pancakes, use 1/4 cup less milk]
2 tbsp raw honey [or you can use brown rice syrup or coconut nectar, warmed in microwave for 10 seconds. I used local pure/raw honey]
1/4 cup extra virgin organic olive oil [plus a little extra to rub on the pan/griddle]
What To Do:
In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and oil until smooth, add the milk, honey and vanilla (if you didn’t use vanilla milk). Mix well. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and beat only until large lumps disappear. The batter should be fairly thin (thicker for waffles). Put a little oil on the griddle and rub evenly with a paper towel. Heat to medium high. Pour 1/8 cup (or more for larger pancakes) batter onto the griddle in four even circles. When small bubbles appear flip over and cook until the steam stops.
If you have a sweet tooth, top with sliced fresh or thawed frozen fruits and 100% pure maple syrup. For a more savory breakfast/brunch, add low-fat turkey bacon or sausage with eggs.
What’s your favorite thing to eat for brunch?
“Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
(the philosophy major in me just won’t quit)
There’s a saying that it takes thirty days to make a habit. After that it becomes routine. Well, today is day thirty for me. I cannot believe I have gone from not really enjoying exercise to doing it almost daily (I take one rest day a week). I cannot believe I have gone from finding EVERY excuse I could not to exercise or make my physical, emotional, and spiritual health a priority to making the time in my busy schedule to fit it all in.
I have learned a lot about myself and my body in the past month. Since my first day, I have learned that I actually like blueberries (I hated them when I was younger). I’ve also learned that my body needs more food than 1200 calories. I’ve learned what not drinking enough water can do to my body and I am still trying to get a set sleep schedule going (but finals are on the way so I don’t see that happening until the summer).
I have learned that when it comes to fitness, I stay motivated by others, by reading about my friends’ health journeys, by having a group of people to share and remain accountable with.
I am learning not to focus on the scale (or even the tape measure). This is more than a numbers game for me because if healthy for me means being a certain dress size or number on the scale, I’m fine with whatever those numbers may be (though it doesn’t hurt to set goals anyway). I’m not striving for “skinny” because my heritage and culture is about embracing curves and because skinny doesn’t necessarily mean healthy (just look at some high fashion models or actresses, for instance). Yes, the scale has moved down a few small notches, but what’s more rewarding for me is that I am able to comfortably wear clothes that I haven’t been able to in a long while.
What’s more rewarding is having more energy to get through my long days of classes, and having reduced stress levels to push through piles of schoolwork. It also feels great to notice my body getting stronger and more flexible with each day of movement.
I’m okay with the slow progress because I am not looking for a quick fix since quick fixes are temporary. Instant gratification is not always lasting or worth it.
So I will continue to do dance my way to a better, healthier body. The foodie in me will continue to experiment with new recipes and ways to make healthy foods taste great (I refuse to eat bland foods). I can’t wait to see how things have changed when I get to Day 60, but in the meantime I’ll enjoy this journey.
I LOVE avocado! The flavor, consistency, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s beneficial to eat too. The avocado is a great source of healthy fats, low in fructose and high in fiber, potassium, vitamins E (for great skin and hair) and B (for energy). It can help maintain heart and liver health, lower and control cholesterol and blood pressure, and fight free radicals.
It is a fruit that can be eaten whole, sliced with a salad or mashed. According to Mercola.com, it is also one of the safest foods you can buy if you can’t go organic due to its thick skin protecting the insides from pesticides.
One of my favorite ways to eat it is in guacamole Here’s a great guacamole recipe I found online by Alton Brown:
What You Need:
3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt [I usually use sea salt instead]
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
[If I don't have the tomatoes and jalapeno at the time, I'll just use medium or hot all-natural chunky salsa]
What To Do:
In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.
For leftovers: Slice red onion into fairly big pieces and put them in the bowl or dish with the remaining guac. For some scientific reason, red onions work wonderfully in keeping avocados fresher for longer (I’d say a day, maybe two but that’s pushing it). When you’re ready to eat the leftovers, just take the onion pieces out and serve.
What’s your favorite recipe?