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Archive for November, 2009

She’s so “Precious” – A Review

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on November 26, 2009

Precious, her mom, and her daughter

Upon entering the theater I felt nerves and anticipation coursing through my body. I expected to cry. I expected to feel anger and helplessness. I did, indeed, feel all of those emotions; but, I also felt more emotions than I expected inspired by the people around me and their comments. The experience of watching Precious has likely strengthened my resolve to tell my story. Not because anyone can do it if Precious did it, but, because, it will be my red scarf handed down to the little girl who feels all alone in the world.

Prior to viewing this movie, I read tweets from people who refused to see it, from those who saw it and were deeply touched, and from those who opined on the gross amount of racial stereotypes. Of those who refused to see it, many found fault based on the previous work of the people responsible for bringing the film to the big screen: Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry, and Oprah Winfrey. Words and phrases such as “coonery” and “typical black girl from the ghetto” were common in their complaints. Of those who saw it and were unimpressed, this tweet speaks volumes: “Whoeva suggest anyone too see this movie “precious” need to kill urself….dis givs black familys a bad look smh.” Please don’t listen to this person. I could cry peeling back the layers of disillusionment and incongruity present in that one allegorical onion. What came first: Precious or the Black Family?

This movie was adapted for film by Lee Daniels based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire. It is a first person narrative dictated to us by Clarice “Precious” Jones. Walking through the streets of Harlem with a scowl on her face and the weight of years of sexual, physical, and verbal abuse on her shoulders, she tells us the story of her life in such a manner that it prompted one viewer behind me to say, “This is realistic. I like it.” A concise and accurate statement, it is the reason to see the movie.

In the afore-mentioned tweet we see a common model for behavior in (Black) families. What goes on in the house, stays in the house; and, this is a thread that runs throughout the movie, as well. From the outset, we see Precious avoiding the truth and refusing to tell her story, petrified that her mom would kill her. Meanwhile, her mom continues to call her a fat ass, tells her that she’s a dummy, education won’t help her, she’s a nobody, and she should rely on a welfare check to get by in life. These are the racial stereotypes that people are afraid to see. They don’t want people to know what is said in their homes. Well, maybe what is said should change. It’s just a theory. A theory that “Precious” is attempting to make a practice.

In one form or another everyone can relate to her story. We have all either been the abuser or the one abused in some way. Other comments heard around me include: “Is that really how big she is?” “She looks like a boy. She looks like Eminem.” “Y’all ain’t right.” The second comment was directed to Mariah Carey’s performance as a social worker. Without her glamorous hair and makeup team, Mariah looked like an average woman, but it prompted someone to call her a boy. Worse, her friends laughed and made other jokes about her appearance, causing one girl (the only big girl in the group) to casually denounce their behavior. It is this casual accusatory tone that encourages the abuse. It is not seen as something that is really bad behavior. If she were to leave the theater and discontinue the friendship, she would be blamed for taking herself too seriously. “It’s just a joke” they might say. Well, Precious didn’t take it as a joke when she smacked her classmate for calling her fat.

The tagline for the movie is: “Life is hard. Life is short. Life is painful. Life is rich. Life is….Precious.” Does it have to be this way, though? We’re so busy preparing each other for the “real world” that we forget to take care of each other. We forget to love. We forget to be the models of good behavior that we actually seek in others. Life is not some made up entity that comes out of nowhere to do us harm. Life is people. We are the creators of Life. If our lives are so rich and precious, why do we choose to de-value it?

Posted in Media Analysis, RandomThoughtOftheDay | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

What You Can Learn From Working In Retail

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on November 13, 2009

At the pay desk

Retail – It’s a thankless industry. Between the elitist customers who look down on you for being a lowly salesperson and the family that does the same, you can begin to feel like you’re wasting your time in a position that has no potential to help you in your professional life. Well, you’re wrong. If you’ve been trying your best to get a so-called real job but feel that all you can get is retail, consider yourself lucky because you are now privy to the best on-the-job training for which you will not have to pay.

Your time spent on the floor of your retail store will give you countless hours of access to sensitivity, anger management, and customer service training while, also, developing your social skills, exposing you to deductive reasoning, working with a team, and developing your confidence. If you think these attributes are not important to your professional life, then re-read the skills and requirements that employers are looking for in their job ads.

You will begin to notice that people have a tendency to repeat certain actions. Take notice of these patterns because they can offer much insight. What follows is a list of some behaviors that you should take with you into your professional and personal life.

Read the fine print
When something is on sale, most companies list all of the exclusions in their marketing. This is the same for companies outside of the retail industry. Read through paperwork. Ensure you have full knowledge of what you are entering into. Don’t sign something without this knowledge.

Ask proper questions
Sometimes you can’t answer something for yourself, and you need help. It is perfectly acceptable to ask someone who is more knowledgeable about the subject for assistance. However, they cannot read your mind. “You know what I mean” will not always work. It is best to be clear on what you need so that the other person can adequately and efficiently serve your needs. Give the person clues to help them understand what you need.

Help yourself first
When was the last time you walked into a store that had no marketing, no price labels, and no item descriptions? Not recently, I would bet. How often do you bypass the marketing, price labels, and item descriptions to ask someone what’s on sale, how much something is, or what something is, though? In retail as in life, signs and labels are around to help you help yourself. People are much more willing to help you find a solution to your problem when it appears as though you have taken the initiative to educate yourself on the matter from the outset without expecting that you are entitled to receive the answers from someone else.

Double Check
You were taught this lesson in school. People make mistakes, but agreeing to their mistake will cost you in the end. After you have helped yourself, asked the proper questions, and read the fine print, ensure that all of the facts and figures are correct before signing your name.

Just because it’s on the front table doesn’t mean it’s for you
The first thing that you see is not always the solution to your problem. If you’re allergic to wool, would you buy a sweater without checking the fabric label? In the professional world it is necessary to dig deeper. Guarantee that you have fulfilled your needs before walking away.

Posted in Advice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »