img 3035sapphire1 Sapphire to Speak at Clark Atlanta

She will be here October 15 for two events.

Clark Atlanta University (CAU) will host acclaimed poet and author Sapphire at two exclusive, free events Friday, Oct. 15.

The public is invited to attend “Lunchtime Literati: A Conversation with Sapphire” at noon in the University’s Davage Auditorium. At 6 p.m., Sapphire will share from her novel “Push” and participate in a panel discussion during “An Evening of Literary Excellence:
Sapphire @ CAU.”
The writer’s debut novel published in 1996, “Push” chronicles the life 16-year-old Clarice Jones, a young woman whose everyday life centers upon a horrendous cycle of sexual, psychological and physical abuse. Challenged and inspired by a teacher, she ultimately finds her own voice and esteems herself in overt and wonderfully subtle ways. According to Goodreads, the book is “an electrifying novel that shocks by its language, its circumstances and its brutal honesty….” In 2009, the literary work was adapted into the major motion picture “Precious,” which won the 2010 Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film, executive produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, will play free of charge Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Davage Auditorium. The events are free and open to the public. For more information, call 404-880-8337.

  1. Sarah says:

    I will not be going to any readings by this author. Her book is one of the reasons that we have seen a cultural set back by another 25 years. We first had the Color Purple 25 years ago, that had all the negative images of white people super-imposed on blacks, pedophilia, incest, rape, homosexuality, etc. Then 25 years later, we have another movie with some of the same negative characterizations that are associated with white culture, rape, incest, pedophilia, aids, etc are back again being pushed by black faces unto our community. This book is not a literary work, such as “Destruction of the black Civilization”, why waste valuable time buying her book ? Between her, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, and Lee Daniels, they have cause the set back of our people with their bufoonery. Don’t forget Lee Daniels was responsible for Monsters Ball with Halle Barry.

  2. callen says:

    I have to agree with Sarah there no reason to buy this book.

  3. Susana Yvette says:

    What I find most interesting is that both The Color Purple and Push feature victims of ‘closeted and unspoken abuse’ who in telling their story finally break from the abuse. I remember the debates about ‘airing dirty laundry’ when The Color Purple came out and wondered even then —- Well, what do victims do for healing? It is as if the soul of one person has to be sacrificed for the sake of appearances. One person sacrificing their sanity and spirit for the sake of her/his people. But when does the community do for them?

    It isn’t as if these aren’t issues are isolated to one community, one set of people.

    I guess knowing victims of abuse who suffered in silence so that no one would ‘look’ bad gives me another take on the matter. Works like these offer some victims the strength to break the cycle and at the very least start much needed dialogue.

    I am a fan of any work that rattles the status quo and makes every one check themselves, so I will definitely be in attendance.

    1. Sarah says:

      I have to disagree with you on the airing of our problems. If blacks have problems in our communities, we will or should seek our own solutions to that problem and not have some jew/zionist tell us what blacks should be doing, with a black face to push their agenda. Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels to name a few of them.

      Anytime there is a movie with more than one black in the lead, there is going to be degradation on the part of the blacks and all the negative sterotypes wiill be piled on to make white folks feel good about redeeming us by the end of the movie. In Color Purple the same white woman who Oprah did not want to work for, she ended up as a humble servant to her. Lesbianism was put on display on the big for first time, with the blacks being the poster child for it. In Precious, all the healers and helpers to this big, fat, black, woman were all light skined blacks. They did not want to introduce any whites, since this was supposed to be all about blacks; but they made sure to have all the nice light skined blacks as her savior.

      What movie have you gone to see where the white mother or father had their child perform oral sex on them? You will NEVER see white people degrad themselves in any movie like that for entertainment, but they will get some money hungry black, hispanic or other persons of color to do the most debasing things to justify their opinions of us as being base people.

      We have got to look beyond the entertainment feature to see what is being hidden in the message. Why do you think that Tyler Perry has so many whites coming to see his movies? Because he has the loud, obnoxious, black females, the trash talking black man with legal problems, who beat-up their wives or girl friends, and of course the cross dressing pistol packing grandmother. If he had regular movies without all the negative blacks to make white folks feel good, his movies would be flops at the box office.

  4. Susana Yvette says:

    “It isn’t as if these aren’t issues are isolated to one community, one set of people”.

    {Pardon me. I just can’t let the error go}

    I meant—-
    It isn’t as if these issues are isolated to one community, one set of people.

    1. travelingmad says:

      Sarah and Susana both make excellent points. I tried to figure out myself why the Tyler Perry movies and such were so popular. To put it plainly, white people like to see us “actin a fool!” We continue to feed into the stereotypes that people already have of us.

      Working in child protective services, I have seen some really awful things involving children. But Sarah is right in saying that you will never see an identical movie where the victims or family is white. White people don’t want to see anything that negative about themselves on the big screen.

      The same goes with the leading actors. I have yet to see a good movie where the two leading actors were black men that was not derogatory or black slap stick comedy!

      As far as buying this book or seeing this movie, I could not spend money to see something horrible and painful that I saw almost daily. Instead, people should put that money to a better cause such as their local social services, YMCA or Big Brother-Big Sister program.

  5. arauzingink says:

    This is Susana Yvette, but I’m writing from my blog…

    I can’t answer in too much detail as I am dismissing students, but I wanted to note that the major difference in our point of view is that I am really referring to the literary works and not really referring to the films.

    I wince whenever books are turned into movies because so much is lost in the translation and there is not time to sit and digest then go back. The point of a movie is hit you with it all at once—or what would be the point.

    I am well aware of how our people are depicted and how carefully perceptions of the ‘other’ are crafted, but it does not negate that there are issues to be discussed. No, having the drama unfold in the public eye is not ideal, but it gets the ‘dialogue’ started –within our community– as well.

    Even our few words on this blog are a part of a conversation that enlightens and gets people thinking about solutions. I am no fan of empty rhetoric, but I realize that you and I wouldn’t even be having this exchange of ideas if not would not not for these works.

    I have to go, but hope to write more later —
    after I get to hear for myself how Sapphire felt about the film version of the book. I hope she can even address some of the issues you pose. I am sure she has heard it before and look forward to hearing her justification and experiences.

    1. arauzingink says:

      I was able to attend Sapphire’s speaking engagement and thought of all the points raised here as the event got underway.
      It did not fail to disappoint.

      Right off the bat the question was posed about the “Great White Hope” scenario and how in the film it became a light-skinned sister. The student posing the question reminded the audience that in the novel Ms. Rain is a brown-skinned, dreadlocked woman. Sapphire said the director simply “had to have” the actress who was cast in the role and that she didn’t have anything to do with casting.

      She stressed that when she wrote the novel she quite deliberately had Precious supported and strengthened by HER community. She believes wholeheartedly that solutions have to come from within the community.
      She charged all of the audience to not simply Focus on Precious, BUT to turn our attention to the male nurse, the social worker, the teacher, the classmates, the staff at the halfway house; the women in the Incest Survivors group —the COMMUNITY that helped her overcome her trials and for us to work to BECOME those pillars of the community.

      The story was inspired by a young lady who Sapphire actually taught and she described writing the book to mobilize MOTHERS against this type of abuse. She thought she was leading a charge and found instead that the black community was embarrassed by the book. She cited the ‘middle class’ in particular. She said even though her book was a #1 Best Seller, Essence Magazine would not even print a review of the book.
      It was young people who kept the book alive.
      She had never intended for young people to read it, but the fact that it was risqué seemed to draw them in and to date she has had countless women, and even some men, thank her for the book.
      It did add dimension to her speaking at a University and the moderators reminded young people of the services available on the campus when they find themselves in need of any support. The young speakers on the panel had great comments and questions that brought forth the voice of this generation.
      I personally love hearing what people think. It opens up my mind and offers new perspective, so even when I ‘think’ I don’t like something, I dig deeper and learn more. I think that was why I felt compelled to respond to the post [I don’t do this often]. I couldn’t imagine making my mind up about anything without checking it out for myself.

      As a teacher in NYC schools the book took me into the underbelly of what I had heard and seen. The film is another matter altogether. It could only touch upon aspects of the book in order to get an ‘R’ rating, so imagine just how raw the book is. But the novel sits prominently on my shelf and I brought it dog-eared and all to have it autographed. She is an artist and her ability to find words for the inexplicable is an inspiration.

      Quite early on she addressed the backlash the movie “Precious” received from the black community.
      She read the ‘UNedited’ version of the New York Times editorial she sent in response to Ishamel Reed. [No way would they print what she suggested about the Master and male slaves!]

      Here is a part of the edited article:
      Why Stories Like ‘Precious’ Need to Be Told
      February 11, 2010
      To the Editor:
      Re “Fade to White,” by Ishmael Reed (Op-Ed, Feb. 5): In the 13 years since my novel “Push” was published, I have talked to thousands of women who have been sexually abused, some of whom have had experiences that make what happened in “Push,” which was made into the film “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” look like a walk in the park.
      I’m not a social scientist but a creative artist. I took and will continue to take the stories of women I have listened to and turn them into fiction.
      I write about black women because it’s the world I know. “Fade to White” mentions that incest is not confined to one group of people. I agree, but I argue that it does have a different place in African-American culture than it has in white American culture. During slavery many black women were impregnated by their masters, who were often also their fathers. The white male was literally the master-father of the plantation.
      I would like to see black males less defensive and more courageous in their investigations of sexual abuse in the black community….
      Silence will not save African-Americans. We’ve got to work hard and long, and our work begins by telling our stories out loud to whoever has the courage to listen.

      Brooklyn, Feb. 10, 2010

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