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Akeelah was the bright spot in their lives. The mother was especially concerned about the

wannabe thug, fearing he was bound to die on the streets of LA like so many of his peers.

We could see how easy it would have been for the movie to focus on him



Review Akeelah and the Bee


By Marvin X


Keke Palmer as Akeelah Anderson

Lawrence Fishburne as Dr. Joshua Larabee 

from Beyond Religion, Toward Spirituality, essays on consciousness by Marvin X, Black Bird Press, 270 pages, November, 2006, $19.95. Black Bird Press: 11132 Nelson Bar Road, Cherokee CA 95965

This is a most wonderful movie, especially for a wordsmith like myself, although I am the world's worse speller, but I did win a spelling bee in elementary school. What a movie and what a pity it only earned 14 million dollars in three weeks. Yet, something positive for a change, reflecting the very best of African American culture and the human spirit.

It is a film about coming to recognize the divine within one's self, an important step in human development. For some of us it takes a lifetime, for others only a few years on the planet, such as the eleven years Akeelah (Keke Palmer) had been around. But what is even more interesting is how the film revealed that it is equally important for others to recognize the divinity of a person—and yes, it took a village to support Akeelah Anderson on her way to the national spelling bee.

Even the boyz in the hood and girls, supported her; also the community intellectual who became her coach, Dr. Joshua Larabee (Lawrence Fishburne, who performed admirably), although Larabee was in pain and suffering along with the rest of the characters—there was communal pain that was too obvious to ignore. Larabee was mourning over a niece, but began to heal as he transferred his love onto Akeelah. He was actually a UCLA English professor but was too traumatized to teach until working with Akeelahhealed him and he returned to the classroom. Akeelah had lost her father to street violence and her mother grieved over the lost of her husband.

The mother was in pain from her loss, she also suffered from that great monster of life called fear—scared to finish college, settling for a wage slave job at a hospital, forcing her to work long hours to survive and care for her children: one in the Air Force, another a wannabe thug and a daughter with a baby. Akeelah was the bright spot in their lives. The mother was especially concerned about the wannabe thug, fearing he was bound to die on the streets of LA like so many of his peers. We could see how easy it would have been for the movie to focus on him, but the world knows his story, it is in the crime section of the daily papers and nightly news. But even the thug eventually embraced Akeelah's mission, especially after instructions from his thug elders. But this is not about hugging a thug, rather supporting a genius on the move.

The film is a model of how the community can and must support its children with talent, especially its impoverished children who work with nothing but the talent God gave them. They often receive little or no parental support and even friends can be haters. Akeelah’s poverty was in sharp contrast with the affluence of her spelling bee comrades from the other side of town who had full if not overbearing parental support, as we saw with the Asian speller whose father nearly crippled the boy emotionally by pressuring him to win.

Akeelah’s mother had no time to see her on the path to the national championship—she had no time or energy to be a spelling bee mom. This was painful for Akeelah, although her mother eventually came around after seeing the determination of her daughter and those assisting her. Children who have parental support are the lucky ones. I know my mother had no time to come see me play basketball—she was busy raising eleven children by herself, so I got over my desire for her to see me at every game. I was happy the few times she came.

Finally, the film was about discipline and focus, a most valuable lesson of life. And again, the film stressed community support, from intellectuals to the boyz and girls in the hood. The entire village helped Akeelah learn the necessary words to become national champion, thus her victory was a community victory.

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I read the Akeela and The Bee review. It's good. I took some children from church to see the movie when it first came out Yvonne

Rudy, I don't have Marvin X's e-mail address, but I want him to know how much I enjoyed and appreciate his review of the film Akeelah and the Bee.  This was a wonderful film that emphasized the humanity of Black people and the importance of family and community in supporting the intellectual and creative gifts of our children.  I loved the film and recommended it to everyone I knew, especially my own children.  It pains me that we take our kids to all these tasteless, heartless animated films like Flush Away.  There are so few really fine and inspiring films like "Akeelah," and we must support them.  Miriam

posted 16 November 2006

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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From The World and Africa, 1965

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W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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