Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One Thing Leads to Another

Today on Twitter, one of my Tweeps, @DeeshaPhilyaw (who I know of from the Love Isn’t Enough, formerly Anti-Racist Parent website) passed on a link to the NY Times article, “The Hidden Victims of Wartime Rape” which talks about the men and boys who suffer rape and sexual abuse in war times, but are so often overlooked and not reported. It’s a tough article to read, but valuable.

It made me think of a photo exhibit that was recently displayed for a few months where I work, photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik’s “Intended Consequences: Rwandan Children Born of Rape”.

Image from the opening reception of the collection in 2009 at Aperture Gallery in NYC (not where I work)

From the Mediastorm site: In 1994, in the East African nation of Rwanda, one million ethnic Tutsi people were slaughtered, in a genocide committed by their Hutu countrymen. But the scars left by these murderous militiamen go well beyond the numbers of the dead: they live on, in the lives of the women they held captive, raped - and left pregnant.

Intended Consequences tells the stories of some of these women, victims of the sexual violence used as a weapon of war against them. Some 20,000 children were born as a result. Photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik photographed and interviewed 30 women and their families, and has produced a piece of incredible complexity: how does a woman care for her child when it's the son or daughter of the man who raped her?

At the Mediastorm site you can watch videos, look at photos and read interviews from this collection. You can look at Torgovnik’s other incredible and moving works here.

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I responded to the tweet about the NY Times article by saying I couldn’t imagine men & boys being willing to be captured in photos and stories about their abuse, the way the women had in Torgovnik’s collection. @missturman (who’d passed the link to Deesha) pointed me toward @NicoleeditsNicole Franklin, a filmmaker and journalist. Nicole produced & directed a film entitled, “Little Brother”.

From Nicole’s website: Beginning in 2010 in Camden, New Jersey, Little Brother takes an annual look at Black boys as young as nine years old in various urban environments for a one-on-one conversation demystifying what society tends to rob them of: Love.

Little Brother. A conversation that will save a generation.

“It is a rarity to see representations of black boys as they really are: beautiful, open, curious, intelligent, funny, and vulnerable. Filmmakers Nicole Franklin and Jasmin Tiggett's Little Brother, a caring documentary about the hopes, dreams, and experiences of black boys is as important as it is necessary. This endearing documentary series presents black boys as dignified and fully human, which makes Little Brother a filmic exception, rather than the rule.“

--Byron Hurt, director of I Am A Man: Black Masculinity in America, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, and Barack & Curtis.

The film is available for educational institutions, houses of worship, for-profit and not-for-profit corporations, as well as home video use. Nicole Franklin and Jasmin Tiggett are available for in-person appearances and Little Brotherforums in your community.

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Finally, @missturman (mentioned above) is Aisha Turman, a writer and filmmaker. She’s raising money to expand a project she’s started called The Black Girl Project.

From Aiesha's website:
Illuminating the complexity, diversity and humanity of Black girls.

The Black Girl Project is a documentary film which asks pretty much one question: who are you? Of course that question morphed into other, follow-up questions, but that singular question lies at the heart of the film.

In a culture where Black women and girls are either venerated for their saintly accomplishments which strips them of any other character attribute except that of martyr/mammy, or demonized and used as the fall gal to explain away all that is wrong with the Black community and society-at-large, it is important to hear and see Black girls speak their truths.

In this film, we hear from nine ethnically diverse young African American women between the ages of 18 and 21. They speak of hope, triumphs, education, sex, relationships, abuse, love and more. Through them, we see the diversity of Black girls’ and women’s lives that we are often not privy to in the mainstream.

Traditional media continues to have a problem with realistic, multi-faceted portrayals of Black women and girls, and for that matter, all females of color. It is our hope that the film adds to the discussions about Black women and girls across the country and that it will contribute to a paradigm shift in how they are seen by others and how they see themselves.

It’s about time.

I love finding people who are doing great things. Please take a moment to learn more about these projects. Tell others!

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