Way Back Wednesday-“Jungle Fever”

In 1991, Spike Lee released a film that changed the way America looked at interracial dating.  This past weekend, I decided to watch “Jungle Fever”, seeing as how I haven’t watched it in its entirety in some years (and it was part of the The Spike Lee Collection that I had just purchased).  And as is expected, my take-aways from the movie have evolved over the years.  I don’t exactly remember the source, but I do remember reading somewhere that Spike initially wanted to make a movie portraying how the crack epidemic was tearing up families in America.  He thought that people would not be receptive to that concept, so instead he decided to focus on interracial dating and have drug abuse be a subplot. 

Let’s be honest-interracial dating, in most cities across this country, is still considered taboo, so just imagine how it was tweny years ago.  Unfortunately, Flipper and Angie couldn’t make it work, but there are multiple interracial couples in the United States, despite funny looks and harassment from families and strangers alike, that have made it work.  Any relationship is hard, but let’s face it; interracial relationships can be extremely difficult.  The couple has to overcome obstacles and opposition that may arise from outsiders in regards to their relationship.  For some, race isn’t an issue.  For others, it’s the first thing they think about in the morning.

Twenty years ago, interracial dating was mainly focused on black people and white people.  Today, interracial dating has expanded to include blacks, whites, Asians, and Latinos.  I would like to think that as Americans, we have overcome the whole issue we have regarding dating outside of our race.  But I’m not naive, so I know this isn’t the case.  As a 21 year old, I dated a white guy for a few months.  When we went to most places, I was very cognizant of the looks we received, mainly from blacks.  He and I never discussed it, so I’m not sure if he was aware.  I do remember when he and I went to see “Bad Boys 2” and some white teenagers sitting behind us where making derogatory comments about blacks and whites under their breaths, he quickly turned around and told them to “shut up!”.  It was an ok relationship; we were ridiculously young, but he was totally infatuated with me.  In the end, I don’t think he really had any ambition and I had just graduated from FAMU, so I felt that we weren’t equally yoked.  I think I would date interracially again, but I’m not sure I would marry a non-black man. 

The film brought to the silver screen conversations and issues that were occuring all over the U.S.  There’s a scene in the movie where Drew, Flipper’s wife, and her girlfriends sit around and discuss interracial dating, how black men leave black women for white women, and so forth.  I’ve had similar conversations with my friends, as I’m sure most black women in this country have.  But let’s not forget that Paulie, Angie’s ex-boyfriend, decided to take out one of his shops black customers.  He was ostracized and beat up for it by his fellow Italians.  Angie even received violence against her at the hands of her father.  In regards to drug abuse, Spike touched on how no matter what families do, if they have a loved one that’s on drugs, they may not be able to help them.  And there’s nothing like a mother’s love; Lucinda loved her oldest son, Gator, until the very end.  It took her awhile to see that Gator was no good, but by then he had already “borrowed” so much money and stole her television.  The movie also brought Halle Berry in a small but powerful role-a role that helped her win the part of a former drug addicted mother wanting to gain back custody of her son in the film “Losing Isaiah”.  We also saw Queen Latifah on the big screen for the first time.  Personally, I love “Jungle Fever”.  As a twenty-something year old, I’m much more appreciative of this movie than the first time I saw it as a teenager.  It had a great story line, great acting, and made you relate to the characters.

What have we gained from “Jungle Fever”?  Has the world evolved over the last twenty years when it comes to interracial dating?  Are we still having problems with drug abuse in this country?  What are your thoughts on the movie in general? 

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

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This Week in the News

Who knew Common was a thug rapper???  I certainly missed that memo!  Now, I must admit I don’t own any Common albums (I hear what’s on the radio and what plays on my Common Slacker station), but I believe I’m familiar enough with him to know he’s NOT a thug or anything demeaning that Karl Rove wants the American people to believe that he is.  I think there was enough backlash on Twitter to get the point that America wasn’t falling for it. 

And now Jill Scott is a racist…just because of some remarks she made in an article she wrote last year for Essence regarding interracial dating.  Jill states she grew up to believe that everyone is equal, but she felt “her soul wince” when she found out a friend of hers was dating a Caucasian woman.   I applaud Ms. Scott for her honesty; I’m sure we all feel some type of way when we see a friend that we feel has “made it” dating someone outside of their race, no matter or skin color or ethnicity.  Both cases are just classic examples of right wing extremists going overboard.

I’m no watcher of “Two and a Half Men”, but I’m sure someone is as it’s the #1 comedy in America.  And in the wake of Charlie Sheen going off the deep end, Ashton Kutcher will be replacing the star next season.  Apparently a deal was finalized last night.  Maybe I’ll watch the season premiere, just because…

And it appears Eddie Long is going to trial.  If you’re like me, the Bishop fell off your radar a time or two, but it appears he’s always been under the watchful eye of somebody.  Like the Bishop stated, I believe we are all ready for the truth to come out, so I support this case being settled in court. 

And lest we not forget the comments that Clifton Powell made about Spike Lee.  You can listen to them here.  He admits he shouldn’t do it, but he continues talk about Spike and threaten to kick his tail…Why can’t we all just get along???  It’s one thing if you don’t like someone and/or their politics, but it isn’t always necessary to put stuff out there.  This is just an opportunity to keep stuff going in Black Hollywood, which is small anyway.

Lastly, my condolences to the families of Mia Davis and Daryl Hawks, who both passed unexpectedly this week.

What news is going on in your world?  I hope you all have a great weekend, and until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

This Week in the News

Happy Good Friday!  Some of you have a 3 day weekend (lucky!), while the rest of us have to work.  At least today will be a short day for me. 

First, sad to say that the body of 16 year old North Carolina teen Phylicia Barnes was found in a Baltimore river last night.  Investigators are working diligently to find out what happened to the student and to see if there is any connection between her and a male whose body was found a few miles from hers in the same river.  My prayers go out to her family.

On a different note, who doesn’t love a good cupcake?  (I know I do!)  Well, so does have of the DMV area.  So much so that the line at Georgetown Cupcake in Bethesda Row is blocking the entrances and patios of neighboring businesses, which does not make owners happy.  Currently, the owners of Georgetown Cupcake are thinking of solutions to their problem. 

Today is Earth Day.  Make sure you do something to recycle and protect the Earth.  For more about Earth Day and to see what activities are happening in your area, go here.

And what I knew would probably be inevitable one day-Tyler Perry telling Spike Lee to “go straight to h*ll!”  Yes, we all know that Perry and Lee have never really gotten along.  I’m a fan of both filmmakers.  Both filmmakers also do some things that I don’t enjoy.  But I have a feeling there is a little jealousy on Spike’s part.  Tyler has been able to be more successful that Spike, even during the days of “Do the Right Thing”, “School Daze”, and “Malcolm X”.  It’s never a good thing when there’s dissension amongst people in the same field, but as it has been pointed out before, W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington didn’t alwways get along, either. 

That’s all I have for you today, folks.  What did I miss?  What’s going on in your world’s?  Enjoy your weekend, have a wonderful Good Friday, and a Happy Easter!  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!