Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

by Sabin Duncan

There is a scene in the movie The Best Man, where Terrance Howard’s character attempts to assuage his friend’s fears by assuring that “karma don’t come back like that.”  As a father of two beautiful girls, I am certain that I am not alone in hoping that karma indeed does not come back like that.

At the moment we first find out we’re having a daughter, every father flashes back to all the things that he has done to and with someone else’s daughter.  It is at that moment, despite religious standing or affiliation, every father-to-be communicates with God.  A communication, a prayer, or more than likely a plea, that begins with these two words: “Lord, please”.

From that initial moment of humility and probably for the duration of our days, we are never the same.  We attempt to stand rigid, but when those pretty eyes sparkle and coo “please daddy”, we melt faster than ice cubes in a heated oven.  When baby girl cries, our chest expands, our bravado multiplies and our ego rages – because whoever did this to our baby girl, they are about to be victimized by our ferocity.  Yet somehow, the money you had begun saving for a huge high-definition television, becomes easily spent when lil’ mama needs a pretty dress and sandals.  Indeed, we are never as tough as we were before daughters.

Yet I’m here to say that unlike the rest of you, I can tell my daughters, “no!”  In fact, I supplement my “no” with a crazed hysterical look that shouts, “what the heck were you thinking?”  But my girls work with charm – hey, what can I say?  They get it from their dad.  They climb into my lap and use their little fingers to outline my eyebrows or mustache.  Then they tuck their little chins to their chest and look up from under those long eyelashes.  They shrug their little shoulders and affectionately murmur: “daddy….”  The rest of the statement doesn’t matter, because this daddy springs into action. “What!! You can’t find your Princess Tiana Barbie? Well, go get your jacket.  Daddy will get you a new one.”  Later, as we proceed to the cash register of Toys’ R Us, I stoop down and plead with my little ladies, “don’t tell your mama, ok?”

This post is originally featured in Daddy, Am I Pretty? by Damon E. Duncan.  Order Your Copy today!

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Alyce (rt) pictured with her photographer and sister in-law, Tina Thompson

New York, LA and Atlanta have no shortage of up and coming authors, producers and playwrights.  Today’s interview features Ms. Alyce C. Thompson (ACT) of Philadelphia.  Alyce is an author and filmmaker with her own publishing and production companies.

An alumnus from Philly’s famous Overbrook High School, Alyce is charting her own course in the print and film industries.

Here is a recent discussion we had with Alyce.

You have six novels.  How did you get your start in writing?         I got my start through research and studying. I found self-publishing suitable for me at the time of my start almost ten years ago because I had three young children and limited resources, but I knew I wanted to become an author and publisher. Although publishing houses were interested in my work, it wasn’t feasible for my situation. I couldn’t lock myself into a situation and not be able to deliver so once I finished my first novel, I had it copy-written, got my ISBN’s, found graphic artist and printing companies and I was on my way and in charge of my own destiny. Being a single mother, it was important that I could move at my own pace.   Before my book had come back from print, I incorporated my company and I’ve been writing and publishing ever since.  It has been an interesting experience being a small, Black-owned company, but I wanted this so I had to endure all that came with it and I’ve learned a lot and (I am) still learning.

In addition to being a published author you have written two screen plays, one of which is currently in production. Tell us about your film venture.

 Wow. This is a very trying but interesting process, one I enjoy no matter what obstacles are thrown my way.  For me, because I am the main character in the feature, it was hard to pick and choose what I thought would be interesting enough for a feature.  Writing a book is different from writing a script. You have one to two hours to tell the story so being inside the story was difficult.  Once the script was complete, I had auditions and I knew exactly what I wanted from my cast.  Once rehearsals started, I had rewrites.  We had a small budget, but exceeded the budget. I was told, “anything is to be expected during production,” and I found that to be true but as long as you’re working with good people, have God on your side and you remain positive, you can overcome anything that comes your way.  I allowed the cast to bring their own creativeness to the set and that made the experience so much easier and exciting for us.  We had real firearms and although we had professional and skilled pyro-techs on the set, as well as the cast learning safety beforehand, it was difficult for me to stand by and watch my oldest son shoot my youngest son on set.  I didn’t want any of my cast hurt on set so I prayed before and during. Everybody did a wonderful job, became a real family and personalities fit perfectly. The experience was overwhelming.

 Overbrook High School (Philadelphia) has some famous alumni which include Wilt Chamberlain, Guion Bluford, Will Smith and James Lassiter to name a few. What was the culture like at Overbrook?

The culture at Overbrook was diverse. You had your athletes, the popular cliques, the nerds, the dressers, troublemakers. I would say I fell in between, maintained good grades, loved fashion, arts, experienced some negative things, and I was admired and respected for my uniqueness.  Most of my teachers and role models made me feel at home, like anything could be accomplished as long as I believed in me.  Overbrook was a great experience; more like a family environment. Becoming someone of importance was inevitable.  If you were a part of the Overbrook family, you knew you were special.

Tell us about the film 3 Men I Choose to Love.

3 Men I Chose to Love is based on my life’s story; all of the tragedies I experienced during my young life. I have three children; my first son’s father and I were together for five years and planned a life together with children, good careers, houses, cars, etc. We accomplished a lot for our age but things began to change, we finally went separate ways, and when he had gotten his life back, and wanted to be settled down with our son and me, he was gunned down. My second son’s father and I were living together, engaged, had a newborn son, and he was shot and kidnapped for thirty days for ransom but had died. My youngest child; my daughter’s father whom I had been with for two years was gunned down by a fifteen-year-old boy from his neighborhood. Three young lives were taken before they reached twenty-four. So, in short, they are the 3 Men I Chose to Love.  The “3” also represents, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who carried me through my storm and is the reason that I am here today because I couldn’t see life without my children’s fathers and raising my children had been very hard, but “I’m still standing.”

What can we expect from you in the near future?

I have so many dreams and desires, some things that I can’t mention right now but I am currently finishing up, “3 Men” the stage play and I am also working on a TV series based on my other novels.

We are extremely grateful for the time we’ve spent with Alyce and look forward to the books, films, stage-plays, television shows and whatever dreams she causes to come into fruition. 

To learn more about this modern author, playwright and producers, visit her website at www.alycecthompsonbooksinc.com.

Until next time,

Copyright © 2010

Recently, I heard someone refer to another brother as an Uncle Tom.  Although the remark was intended to degrade the target of the remarks, it only demonstrated the users lack of historical and literary acuteness associated with the terminology.

Not unlike most that use the term; to grossly mislabel another while attempting to belittle that person often backfires in a way that demonstrates one’s own lacking of Black history and ultimately the knowledge of self.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Published in 1852, the novel had a profound effect on attitudes toward African Americans and slavery in the United States, so much in the latter case that the novel intensified the sectional conflict leading to the American Civil War.

The author Harriet Stowe, a Connecticut-born preacher at the Hartford Female Academy and an active abolitionist, focused the novel on the character of Uncle Tom, a long-suffering black slave around whom the stories of other characters—both fellow slaves and slave owners—revolve. The sentimental novel depicts the reality of slavery while also asserting that Christian love can overcome something as destructive as enslavement of fellow human beings.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century, and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible.  It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s.  In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the United States alone. The book’s impact was so great that when Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln is often quoted as having declared, “So this is the little lady who made this big war.”

The book, and even more the plays it inspired, also helped create a number of stereotypes about Black people, many of which endure to this day. These include the affectionate, dark-skinned “mammy”; the “pickaninny” stereotype of black children; and the Uncle Tom, or dutiful, long-suffering servant faithful to his white master or mistress. In recent years, the negative associations with Uncle Tom’s Cabin have, to an extent, overshadowed the historical impact of the book as a “vital antislavery tool.” wiki

How many of us have done whatever we had to do in order to survive in the midst of an oppressive situation.  Anybody remember when racist cops and discriminatory lunch counters were the order of the day?  Although we life to romanticize the vigilant 60’s, bear in mind that many of us tolerated untold oppression at the hand of the oppressor.

So I ask the question: “Was Uncle Tom really an Uncle Tom?”  Or was he simply a symbiotic depiction of the innate ability for survival?  I dare to say most of us (and our grandparents) silently accepted the frequency of dehumanization in order to preserve the race in hopes of a brighter tomorrow.  A tomorrow where our children’s children are so comfortable that they fail to realize the significance of the suffering that predates their ipods, x-boxes and their cell phones.

Truth be told, the spirit of Stowe’s fictitious character Tom resides in many of us today.  Don’t be ashamed of it.  Recognize it. Embrace it.  Appreciate what it represented and never forget it.

D’s deux ¢

Copyright © 2010