Fiction Orchestra Shakespeare #BlackHistoryMonth Films

Hello, there! It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. This semester has been quite irregular for me, so let me briefly catch you up and then tomorrow I’ll post my review of Sula by Toni Morrison.

I’ve taken on a few new extracurriculars. When I was a freshman in college, I auditioned for and got into a college music program. That year was so brutal that I put away my violin and vowed never to play it again. Yet, in November 2016 a fellow faculty member learned that I had long ago played violin and talked me into joining his community orchestra. Thus, a lot of time and anxiety goes into that.

I also started volunteering to read Shakespeare to a man who used to be one of the top Shakespeare scholars in the U.S. He has dementia now, and I felt the least I could do was read to someone who has put so much into our knowledge bank.

I read three fiction pieces at a literary festival on my college campus. I also wrote a proposal to present at the 18th Midwest Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conference and was accepted. Finally, I applied for a full-time position at my current college institution and await an interview.

Since so many films with black men and women at work were released, I’ve spent a lot of time in the theater, too. I saw Hidden Figures when it first came out. In February I saw Fences starring Denzel Washington (who also directed) and Viola Davis (Oscar winner for best supporting actress). Fences was originally a play, written by August Wilson, also a black man, and if you’ve ever been in theater, you could clearly see in the film that Fences was originally meant for stage. The only white person in the film was a garbage truck driver, unnamed.


I also saw Moonlight, directed and co-written by Barry Jenkins, starring Mahershala Ali (he’s also in Hidden Figures), Naomi Harris, Janelle Monae (also in Hidden Figures), and several actors to play Chiron and Kevin at their various ages. There’s nothing like a film that has you on the edge of your seat from the first shot until the last. Nothing is what you might expect.


Finally, a must-see is Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele. I won’t say anything about it for fear of spoilers, but it slays white liberals (yes, white liberals like me) for the microaggressions we’re guilty of. That nervous need to tell black people that we voted for Obama, to try in a pitiful, yet ultimately failed attempt to code switch and say things like “my man!” and “I’ll bet you’re really strong / run fast!” There are no white conservatives in the movie. Which, by the way, such characters are a trope we rely on to show white people are capable of serious horrors, a trope that Peele never uses to show that racism is deeper than we think.

get out.jpg

I think Malcolm X puts it well when he reflects on his time in a foster home, where he lived with white people who were kind to him, but would still refer him as “nigger” (almost like a name and not said with anger) and often talked about him like he wasn’t there:

What I’m trying to say is that it just never dawned upon them that I could understand, that I wasn’t a pet, but a human being. They didn’t give me credit for having the same sensitivity, intellect, and understanding that they would have been ready and willing to recognize in a white boy in my position.


  1. I don’t usually go for horror films, but I keep hearing a lot of good things about Get Out; perhaps I ought to see it. And I’m glad you’ve taken some time to see some good films and get involved in some ‘outside’ projects. I think that helps us to keep balance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that I feel more balanced, but I also get concerned that you guys will think I don’t care about you or book reviewing. I still try to read as many reviews as I can!

      Get Out isn’t horror like Friday the 13th or Halloween. It’s not slashing/stabbing/torture. It’s more like I was horrified the entire time, on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen next. So, if you’re squeamish about violence, yes, some exists, but it’s not gratuitous like it traditionally is in the horror film genre

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on Sula; I read it in a bookclub some years ago and it provoked a very interesting discussion. She is one of my MustReadEverything authors, but I still find her very challenging, all the same. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the films, both what I’ve seen and what I haven’t: they’re all on my lists!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good luck with your job application. I’m quite happy to have a mix of slow and prolific bloggers on my list and I just read whatever’s in my inbox. Harking back to an earlier discussion, I like my blog being commented on but I don’t see it as a condition, or requiring tit for tat. Hope your Alzheimers guy is doing ok, you must be learning a bit of Shakespeare as you go along.

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  4. What a lot of cool stuff you’ve been up to! And watching some good movies. Movies are something I miss – I don’t watch nearly as many as I used to. I want to see Moonlight, but I’m afraid I’ll end up a blubbering mess. I’ve never heard of Get Out, but just looked it up – it looks terrifying!
    Good luck with all your projects and your upcoming review!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think your volunteer experience reading Shakespeare to the man with dementia is a wonderful thing. Good karma for you, Melanie.

    I am dying to see Moonlight. It’s back in theaters since the Oscar but I don’t know if I can get to see it there, with our schedules. But I’m on hold for it at the library already – I’m number 5! So hopefully it won’t be too much longer. And I’m number 7 for Fences. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Do you sleep?! Your schedule sounds insane! Kudos to you for reading Shakespeare to a man with dementia. It sounds like he has played a big role in the academic world. Coming from someone who has experience with dementia patients, I know it isn’t always easy.

    I haven’t seen any of those movies, but I definitely plan to. I particularly want to see Hidden Figures!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You have had one heck of a month, Melanie! Congrats on being accepted to the Midwest Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conference! That’s a huge deal. What will you be presenting on?

    Good for you, reading Shakespeare to that retired scholar. I used to read to my great-grandmother when her eyes stopped being able to focus on the text. It was always a rewarding experience. Does he even know you are there? That you’re reading? Dementia is so hard to deal with…

    I have seen Hidden Figures, but none of the other films. I’m not particularly into TV or film, so this isn’t surprising to me. But, your review makes me want to get out to see Get Out. It sounds like a must-watch for me with my current white liberal perspective. It’s good to have your views challenged.

    Liked by 1 person

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