Posts Tagged ‘moral standards’

Book Club Member, Ariel Hughes reading "For Colored Girls.." photo by Ms. Kuficha

Greetings, Emery Book Club Members!

In the month of May, we are challenging our book club members to attend EVERY meeting and bring their enthusiasm into the reading of poems we will perform from our famous new book, “For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf”.

In this fascinating book of poetry, our author, Ntozake Shange, began with a series of seven poems exploring the realities in the lives of seven different women. From there, any poetry or choreopoetry Ms. Shange created and developed was put in her collection, “For Colored Girls…” Eventually, the collection became a best-selling book and a well-received off-Broadway play.

I first saw “For Colored Girls…” when I moved back to California sometime in the late 1970’s . Instead of attending the play with my husband at the time, I attended it with girlfriends who would be more available to the emotional aspects of the play. We found the play to be one of the most profound pieces of work we’d ever experienced, mostly because of the subject matter. Ntozake spoke the language of our hearts. She reminded us of our heartbreaks and sorrows but we didn’t feel defeated as we watched the actresses perform her choreopoetry.

By the end of the play, after shedding tears and squelching anger, we, the audience, rose triumphantly embracing the actresses with our thunderous applause! We chanted, “I found God in myself and I loved her!” Were there any more powerful words a woman could say when life had seemed defeating? This was the gift I found in Ms. Shange’s work! We affirmed that life’s hard tricks could not defeat us as we walked out of that theater. There was so much excitement in the crowd as we walked into the sunlight of an early summer evening. Conversations buzzed around ours as we all had so much to say about which part of the play’s choreopoetry most affected us. We couldn’t just return to our homes; we needed to sit together, break bread and continue to share our findings, that which opened within us due to the depths the play caused us to explore.

Let’s perform “For Colored Girls…”, each of us taking a poem that resonates with us and provokes us to thought, laughter or one that we just find interesting…

I have described for you my experience with “For Colored Girls…”, and I now will challenge you, our book club members who now have received this book, to find the poem of your liking, one that speaks to your soul or spirit. The poem you choose, you will read to the club members. We will each “perform” our poems to each other much in the spirit of Ms. Shange’s play. While you do not have to learn your chosen poem by heart, you must learn it well enough that when we hear it, we hear the voice of the poem NOT the  person reading the poem. Take time to read and reread and reread the poem you choose until its words roll out of your mouth, each word with meaning and innerstanding. A performance means that you put your talent, your enthusiasm, your sassiness into that poem! Make it YOUR poem!

This is how we will read this book. Each student chooses her poem and learns it to the point of deep connection. When it’s your turn to perform your poem, bring a prop or wear a color that best suits your poem. For example, Ariel has chosen to perform the poem, “lady in yellow”. She will bring something yellow when she reads her poem to the book club. Remember: THIS IS FUN! Step up with enthusiasm and recognize that these poems may represent something special that only you can connect with. We will choose our poems and start practicing on Wednesday.

Each student is required to subscribe to the blog! You will see a box on the right of the page: “EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION”. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section at the bottom of the blog. Your comments are appreciated and posted after I read them. Thank you all!

Our next meeting is THIS WEDNESDAY, 4 May 2011, IMMEDIATELY after school in Ms. Rasmussen’s class, room 15. Looking forward to seeing you there! BRING YOUR BOOKS & JOURNALS! (those who have received them)

"Colored Girls" are the Rainbow: Black, Red, Brown, Yellow & White! We all be Colored Girls! So, LOVE & RESPECT Yourselves!"


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In the following video, Sista Souljah speaks truth to young girls and women of African descent, seeking to awaken them to the wealth of their African

Sista Souljah aka Lisa Williamson

ancestry. It is still commonplace in many African societies to teach their girls how to embrace and value womanhood through rituals and ceremonies.

In America, Sista Souljah decries, womanhood is not so beautifully defined. Instead, girls are taught through the media that womanhood means they have to be dumb and sexy. Worse yet, the image of the Black female is thrust across television and movie screens, fashion magazines and music videos as either ignorant or decadent or both. As a result of those portrayals and their pervasive acceptance, it is common for Americans to speak ill of her, says Souljah.

Winter Santiaga, the main character in Souljah’s book, “The Coldest Winter Ever” freely exhibits the denigrating behavior without apology. She also clearly equated manhood with sex, money and material wealth. She equated womanhood with the same. However, to her, women were to achieve those things through the use their bodies.

Though Souljah wrote “The Coldest Winter Ever” in the late 1990’s, Winter’s character remains contemporary to present day teens and young women.

After you watch the video, please feel free to share your views. Consider the following questions. Answer those in group 1 or 2. Please write your answer in the comments below. I’ll review and post.

1) Describe which image or images shown in the video reminded you of Winter and share why. As you listened to Sista Souljah’s descriptions of womanhood while a wide variety of pictures flashed by, were there some you found offensive, even embarrassing in the way these women displayed themselves? Which one(s) and why?

2) Briefly discuss your feelings about Sista Souljah’s assessment of American society’s responsibility through its negative portrayal of Black women on television, in movies, and in music videos for creating a negative self-image of Black girls’ as well as corrupting their sexuality. How important is it for Black girls to want to become wholesome, self-respecting women by building their self-esteem,  self-worth and self-image? Are those qualities a Black girl should value or did Winter’s values make more sense? Explain.

* Words that may need defining are italicized. Go to http://www.dictionary.com for easy reference.

**Our next meeting is Wednesday, March 23th, after school! See you there! ;-D

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photo by Dafina Kuficha

In the first four chapters of “Coldest Winter Ever”, we see the emerging character of Winter Santiaga, a twelve year old who is growing up fast,  too fast, it seems.  Untied to moral standards or values, Winter is about fashion, sex and power. By age 12, she and her crew have developed some very promiscuous habits. Leader of her posse, Winter was revered for her choice of fashion, her toughness and for who her daddy is – Ricky Santiaga, drug czar of their Brooklyn hood.  The name and presence of Santiaga or his goons invokes a trail of fear. Young boys or older men dare not speak ill of either Winter or her family! Dressed to the nines, shopping and sex are her main focus. Life is about to drastically change for Winter….

There are six discussion questions. Please take time before you answer and remember, this is a discussion. Answer all six questions or choose two. Use examples from the story to emboss your viewpoint.  Please use complete sentences and use spell check for certainty.

1)  Discuss your first impression when you read about Sister Souljah’s main character, Winter Santiaga? Do you find her lifestyle enviable? If so, why?

2)  What do you find disturbing about Winter’s relationship with her parents? What type of woman were they molding her to become? Use examples from the first three or four chapters to support your answer.

3)  The character, Midnight, seems to be much different from the other young men that are around Winter’s crew. What sets him apart from the others? Does the fact that he may have some character give you a different view of drug dealers? If so, how?

4)  What do you think about the gifts Rickie Santiaga gives his daughter? How do the types of gifts she receives contribute to her behavior in her world?

5)  Not only are the younger  characters in the story stuck on the value of possessions, but the parents and adults are as well. What is the message the youth are receiving about the importance of education? If you have or had a friend like Winter, how would you talk with her about her choices to abandon her education?

6)  Winter Santiaga and her crew engage in sex freely and pregnancies run rampant in her community. Discuss your feelings about their sexuality and how self-respect and feelings of worth tie into their behavior. In other words, how do you feel their behavior speaks to their feelings of self-respect and self-worth?

* Words that may need defining are italicized. Go to http://www.dictionary.com for easy reference.

**Our next meeting is Wednesday, March 9th, after school! See you there! ;-D

Good books enrich our world! photo by Ms. Dafina

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