Published in 1970, “The Bluest Eye” was Toni Morrison’s debut novel and earned her a Nobel Prize. A deceptively short book that packs quite a punch, the story follows eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, a Black girl growing up in Lorain, Ohio shortly after the Great Depression. Growing up in a family plagued by generational dysfunction and a community plagued with self-hate, Pecola comes to believe that having blue eyes will make her beautiful in the eyes of others and solve all of her problems.
A discussion of “Claudine”, a 1974 film starring Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones as Claudine and Rupert (aka Roop), two people living imperfect lives who meet and begin dating.
“Sugar” by Bernice McFadden is the story of a world-weary prostitute who moves to a small town in Arkansas and forms an unlikely and transformational friendship with her neighbor. Sugar Lacey arrives in Bigelow, Arkansas looking for, if not change, then a break from her life. Strutting into town sporting makeup, wigs, high heels, and vibrant big city clothing makes the local women uncomfortable with Sugar’s presence. But one woman, Pearl Taylor, makes it her duty to befriend Sugar when she moves into the house next door.
“His Only Wife” by Peace Adzo Medie takes place in Ghana and tells the story of a young woman who enters an arranged marriage with the son of a wealthy family. When Afi Tekple marries Elikem Ganyo she assumes responsibility to ensure the success of their union. Her family members are hoping the marriage will grant them access to the Ganyo’s financial resources and connections. While his family is hoping her pretty face and personality will gain influence over the son who has a long-time girlfriend of whom they do not approve. Naivete and a sense of obligation to both families find Afi in a battle to convince her husband to leave his girlfriend and make her his only wife.
“Soul Food” is a 1997 George Tillman Jr. drama about the Joseph family’s descent into dysfunction after the matriarch goes into a coma. The story is told through the eyes of the eldest grandchild, Ahmad, who serves as the film’s narrator. Josephine “Big Mama” Joseph and her three daughters gather with their families on Sundays and holidays to share a good meal. The tradition serves to keep them close while their sibling rivalries, meddling, and their raggedy Cousin Faith threaten to push them apart.