NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 73

PBS Master’s portrait of Alice Walker was called “Beauty and Truth.” The portrait, filmed by two Indian filmmakers, Pratibha Parmar and Shaheen Haq, was of the genre that Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple launched; a saintly black woman besieged by cruel black men. In one scene, black moviegoers are chastised for boycotting The Color Purple. What they leave out is that Ms. Walker had problems with the film as well. By bonding with the black bogeyman craze these women are excused from criticizing men in the Indian and Pakistani communities whose attitude toward women makes the misogyny of black men seem Farm team. D league. Some white men, silent about how white men treat white women, have deputized themselves as honorary black feminists while recent studies suggest that 90% of white women claim that they have seen their mothers, sisters or daughters battered.15 One of those men, Maurice Berger, writing in the Village Voice, December 1, 1998 said; While a number of African American women in the race movement have accused their male counterparts of sexism in recent years, few have done so as authoritatively as Hazel Carby… Critiquing the role of masculinity in the work of such progressive historical figures as W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Miles Davis, Leadbelly, and the biographer C.L.R. James, Carby constructs a semiological and historical context for understanding both the inherent “male centeredness” of black race leaders in the 20th century and the ways in which such repressive methods of thinking and acting continue to undermine the cause of black liberation. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE So will there be an end to black male writer bashing in the Times and elsewhere? I doubt it. For one, it provides an opportunity for feminists from other ethnic groups to avoid revealing the secrets of their communities by dumping all of the crimes against women on black male misogyny. For example, The Tablet, a Jewish publication, invited me to comment about Alice Walker’s generalizations about Israel, which led to disturbances during her appearance at the ymha. Instead, I took the opportunity to encourage filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, David Simon, and David Mamet, who’ve volunteered to referee conflicts between black men and women for profit, to make films about the historic conflicts between Jewish men and women and to shed light on the treatment of Jewish women in the United States and Israel, a problem that feminists, writing in the Jewish feminist magazine, Lilith, claim, has been covered up. Maybe the producer of Precious, Sarah Siegel would finance it. I even quoted a Tablet article that criticized Jewish producers for awarding Gentile actresses roles that were meant for Jewish women. If they did do a Jewish Color Purple, would the producers choose one of those blonde Rhine maidens in Woody Allen’s films over a Jewish actress? Steven Spielberg has given us two black bogeymen, Mr. in The Color Purple, and Leroy in The Help, and an insulting portrayal of captured Muslims in Amistad.14 Their first response was enthusiastic, which I took to mean that the women on the staff were grateful that a writer had arrived to rescue them like Steven Spielberg rescued Celie. I was shocked when I received the following note from the editor; “Sadly, I’m writing to say that we have decided not to go forward with the piece. We are deeply sorry about putting you… through the wringer, but here at Tablet this turned into a girls versus boys thing — and as you know, girls have the power.” I thought that these women would greet me as a liberator but then I thought why should these feminists criticize the men in their community when they can relieve themselves on the brothers? They’re not the only feminists who cover up the abuses against women in their communities and use the black male as an all-purpose piñata. 71 However, Barry Scheck, co-author of Actual Innocence, (2000) found that dna analysis proves that at least 50% of black men accused of raping white women are innocent, “regardless of what Eldridge Cleaver said,” Scheck adds.