Monday, March 31, 2008

Bell Hooks & Steve Harvey - Powerful, Yet Distinct Messages

Over this past few days I have been treated to two powerful messages from two dramatically different people - Bell Hooks and Steve Harvey.

I listened to Bell Hooks in the video series below as she discussed racial stereotypes in the media.

Underscoring much of Ms. Hooks' viewpoints was the assumption that "progressivism" (aka liberalism) was the best, most complete and de facto standard of thought for Black people". Ms. Hooks told of her past advocacy for feminist and anti-paternalistic causes. She was vocal against "conservative" media productions which attempted to subtly tell the user that the cost of straying from the beaten path down which the writer was attempt to direct them is costly and risky. Ms. Hooks indeed is a rebel and revolutionary at heart. She seeks to destroy the norms and have people to be whoever they feel like being as part of their self discovery.

As I got in the car this morning my radio station was tuned to "102.5 Grown Folks Radio". The Steve Harvey Show was on. As I focused in on the topic of discussion Steve and crew were talking about a young woman who wrote a letter to the show, detailing the struggle that she was going through. She is pregnant. When she told her boyfriend at the time that she was going to keep the child rather than abort it - he hit the road and hasn't caller her since. I have heard of many men who have the logic - "Yes this is my child with you. I think that you should have an abortion. Since you don't want to have an abortion - the fact that YOU have decided to kept it - all of this is on YOU. I am washing my hands of you".

FORTUNATELY this is not how the LAW sees this. If your genes are in the baby - it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY! This is as it should be. You laid down with the woman and did all that was necessary to produce the child. It is your responsibility.

I heard Steve Harvey's message. He stripped away all of the usual EXCUSES that we are likely to hear:

* She set me up and got herself pregnant
* I don't have a job and these child support payments are killing me
* I have a criminal record and can't find a job

I was happy to hear Harvey cut through all of these points and keep the focus on HIS CHILD and the mother of the child.

These two viewpoints - between Bell Hooks and Steve Harvey couldn't be further on the spectrum of common sense. Where as Hooks was deconstructive about our societal norms - Steve Harvey was attempting to seal up the framework by which we MUST live within to have a civilized and properly functioning society. Harvey called for Black men to STAND UP to their actions and responsibility. This was his attempt to patch up the very system that Ms. Hooks was attempting to disassemble. Hooks took more of a Women's Lib viewpoint. I would assume that her call to this Black woman would be to question her relationship and dependency on this man in the first place.

In the end there is no "winner", there is no "truth" beyond the course of action that brings our people closer to our ideals. Some people love to intellectualize certain important things yet run away from the inevitable consequences that their viewpoints bring into the world if ever they shift from the minority view in a sea of countervailing thoughts which are strong enough to absorb their distorted views with little damage and the point where THEIR views are the dominant ones yet fail to produce the benefits that they have long claimed that it would.


une femme artiste said...

Her name is bell hooks, not Bell Hooks_ there is a reason for this. It is her name and deserves to be respected, the way she spells it. I am certain you would do this if you knew (better); that spelling has to do with her love of books...

As for the Steve Harvey program, these two seemingly divergent perspectives can co-exist because life is not black and white, and because this is how change occurs_ organically. Conscious awareness is a wonderful thing in the entire human family.

I personally am working for the time, when we can more commonly heal differences to the point where, "our" people feel whole without separation within a larger societal context. I do so as one individual, by opening my heart and mind to challenges when my life is faced with them.
For now, we are living in the inquiries called feminism and its social relevancy for all, including sexual responsibility and one day, we will walk into the answers of gender and racial harmony without knowing it.

Thank-you for your writing and this opportunity to respond.

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