The Repass film needs your support

If you’re like me then you remember the first time you gazed upon the cinematic excellence of Kasi Lemmon’s Eve’s Bayou; a film that told a story of family, memory, and truth while infused with the supernatural, colorful, other-worldly-ness that is that state of Louisiana.

For years I’ve been yearning for a film like Lemmon’s and by the synopsis of Repass, it sounds like that yearning may come to an end. According to the site, Repass is a:

Supernatural thriller seven-year-old Creole Marie must witness the turmoil that erupts between her parents, Marianne and Boden, as they desperately search for their son. The beautiful and delicate Marianna is a mother whose spiritual and personal beliefs are challenged as she tries to save her son in the wake of several tragedies, while Boden is a foreign citizen whose search through the city is halted by the politics of a community in chaos. 

This seven-year-old Marie connects with her Haitian Voodoo priestess Aunt to connect with the religion in order to find her brother.

The cast & crew of The Repass were awarded wonderful news when they were guaranteed a $3,000 investment if they could get 100 donations from others (of any dollar amount). On the film’s website one can review just how organized and serious this crew is about making this film.

Often times we complain about Hollywood not creating opportunities or representing people of color, but why wait for them when we have the power to bring what we want to see to the screen.

Check out The Repass and donate any amount that you can and help not only this crew and cast, but the catalog of films featuring people of color and a rich diverse history of our African Diaspora.

Watch trailer:

The Repass Official Trailer_1080p from Rae Shaw on Vimeo.

Donate to The Repass’s Indiegogo site 

You can also follow the film’s:

twitter account

tumblr blog

facebook page




Victorie: A Review

Writing about the history of one’s own family can be tough—especially when you are met with reluctant relatives, scarce material facts, and time’s inevitable erosion of people and memories. But with a few sources and some imagination, Maryse Conde was able to conjure up the story of Victoire, her mestiza grandmother; the matriarch and the genesis of Conde’s lineage. Victorie Quidal was a mixed-race woman born in the French-Caribbean island of Marie-Galante. Her “Australian whiteness” of skin was a visual burden that brought on suspicion and mistrust from her community and lust and deceit from men. Victoire is a woman who, without the ability to read and write, gains the power of communication through her famous and delicious cooking, her devotion to music, and her friend, Anne-Marie, who took her and her daughter, Jeanne, in when Victoire had little options. Knowing where she came from, Victoire was determined to give her daughter the life and the access to education that she never had. Sacrifices were made so that the next woman wouldn’t have to suffer such. These actions were the result of a strenuous relationship between mother and daughter, both locked in their own river of emotions, unable to let flow the love both felt for the other. Through the evolution of Jeanne we witness the evolution of Guadeloupe’s new generation post the generation of emancipation. Jeanne is unable and downright unwilling to understand her mother’s servile attitude and her relationship with Anne-Marie’s husband, Boniface. Jeanne relies on education and conservative emotions. These two women, unable to find a common ground, are forever torn and lost in translation—class, language, beliefs, and generation forever keep them at a severe distance. Through this mixed-race woman’s experience in a colored-obsessed society, Conde attempts to reconstruct the foggy facts of not only Victoire’s life but the lives of those who shaped her and Conde’s family. While I believe this book had all the recipes for an intriguing read:

  • Racism
  • Colorism
  • Sexism
  • Caribbean goth

Conde’s mother even had a familiar relationship with Papa Doc! Jeanne, herself, was the daughter of a fierce activist. Despite the fascinating subjects, I found this novel to fall incredibly short of what it could have been. Victorie is part biography, part history lesson, and part social critique. I found myself to be often jarred from beautiful prose into the opinions and critiques of the author, and where I wish there were more imagination and showing stood over-telling and explanation. In the midst of all that depth is still a vagueness that leaves you desperate for more; more detail, more image, more emotion Conde poses more questions to the reader than she does provide answers or at least an imagined, fictional reconstruction of events. It’s as if she is choosy when applying her imagination; bursting certain situations with it and completely avoiding others. There are wonderful metaphors that could stand without the over-explanation of them that follows. When a book is translated from its original language I’m always hesitant to say I don’t enjoy the text. I believe that there are certain things that just aren’t able to make the translation and so more stiff language is used to replace what I am sure was much more languid and beautiful. As I continue to work on my French, I hope that I can revisit Victoire and Conde’s journey through her family history in the novel’s original language.

Cane River Review

I have a fixation with the south, particularly Louisiana—it’s a borderline obsession. My father is from a small Alabama town on the Gulf of Mexico, two hours outside of New Orleans, which I deem close enough for me to claim some sort of Louisiana roots. In fact, Mobile was once the capital of Louisiana during the French colonial period. There is a rich and unique history that lies in that gulf state. From the music, to the food, to the eclectic cultures and hues of people, it’s hard not to fall in love and, in my case, romanticize Louisiana. So, imagine my delight when I stumbled upon Cane River. Ok, more like scoured the internet for novels that took place in Louisiana, but, nevertheless, I became acquainted with this gem of a tale.

Cane River is the story of four generations of women in Lalita Tademy’s family spawning from Slavery, the Civil War, and the Depression era all along Louisiana’s Cane River in Natchitoches Parish. Before going any further, I have to applaud Tademy for her copious amount of research and dedication—she quit her job in Silicon Valley—to telling the incredible story of her family. From word-of-mouth to factual records Tademy wove in elements of fact and fiction to bring us the story of four women who used their ingenuity, coupled with their limited access, in order to survive and keep their family together. The tale begins with Emily, the fierce matriarch of her family–composed and resilient. Despite the tragedies she has faced, she is never deterred from her goal of keeping her family together. From Emily, Suzette is begotten. A once idealistic and romantic girl, Suzette is accosted with the harsh reality of her circumstances and though she must bury those old dreams, she grows stronger and more determined for her family and her children to see the light of freedom. Philomene is the even fiercer re-incarnation of her grandmother with dreams bigger than the two women before her. She is a fighter, despite the repeated blows of reality, she maintains her tenacious will to secure financial independence and reunite her family. The tale concludes with Emily, the realization of all the dreams and sacrifices of the women before her. She operates a new and confusing space of freedom and economic affluence, but she too is unable to escape the affliction of the her reality’s harsh times. But, just like the strong women who came before her, she squares her shoulders and stands up to the challenges of her society, unwilling to let them break or demean her. I was impressed by Tademy’s humanistic approach to each character in her novel. She shed the 21st centuries’ convictions on America’s most heinous crime against humanity and allowed us a deep psychoanalytic glimpse into the world of slavery and the complex factors that held up its institution. The characters lift right off the page and you become so immersed in their story that you feel as if you’re right there beside them. I finished the book in less than three days and was so engrossed that I couldn’t bother to pause and mark up the text for fear that I would miss something. Tademy’s beautiful prose is filled with poetic figurative and metaphoric ethos as it opens the window of the souls and minds of these women. She is able to spare us from too graphic details while still providing us the weight of sacrifice and the complexity of rationale. You’ll find yourself not in criticism of these women and their choices, but understanding their position respective to the confines of their reality. Tademy provides no good characters and no bad characters; she creates humans. Cane River is a story that goes beyond our notions of morality and ethics and centers on survival and the power of family.


Dear Sarra Manning

Allow me to begin by saying how absolutely jealous of every romantic relationship each of your protagonists have had. I mean, does a girl have to move to England if she wants a complex, a textured, a somewhat existing love life?

But your books were about more than romance; you tackled body-image, grief, self-love, friendship, and family dynamics. Each of your characters exhibited a form of strength in their own unique ways that were inspiring and relatable.

Though it’s hard to choose, my favorite book is Let’s Get Lost.

let's get lost

Isabel’s defense mechanism was one that resonated with me. She was so layered and the structure of the novel kept you guessing about what was fact and what was fiction. You handled grief in such a delicate yet poignant way that made me revaluate the way I treated my mother. Isabel was a mess and watching her crumble was as painful as it was cathartic. I felt like I was looking in a reflection at  girl who was so coded, guarded, and hidden by defenses that no one–not even the people who cared–could get in. You beautifully and realistically showed that none of those defenses can fight the true source behind them. You managed to create a dynamic character arch and enriching plot without leaving me feeling manipulated. It inspired me and intimidated me, as a writer, I’ve always admired the honesty in your work.

There is a vulnerability in each of your female characters that my teenaged self could relate to. They were not perfect, but then again who is. They were a mess the way that I was as a teenager and still am in my twenties, but they were actively trying to cope and grow and learn (a painful process that no one has a more acute skill for illustrating than yourself). You are the absolute queen of Teen Lit because you see the experience for the visceral and life-altering journey that it is.

Thank you for understanding, thank you for writing.