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The Making of “Precious” pt.7


Sapphire, who helped to set up these children, the way that she and her cynical backers like Sarah Siegel, whose depiction of black men is worst than those found in American Renaissance magazine, have set up black men. In Precious the out of control ghetto mama whom they market is played by Monique. Carl, her husband, who commits the unspeakable, is Sapphire and Sarah Siegel’s “Wild Thing.”

I asked D. Scott Miller, a writer for the San Francisco Bay Guardian his take on the different biographies of Ramona Lofton. He said,

“I would say that her bio has been shortened and extended when it’s convenient.

“Here’s the opening of her Amazon Bio:

‘Sapphire was born in 1950 and spent her first twelve years on army bases in California and Texas. As a teenager she lived in South Philadelphia and Los Angeles. She graduated from City College in New York and received an MFA from Brooklyn College. From 1983 to 1993 she lived in Harlem, where she taught reading and writing to teenagers and adults. She lives in New York City.’

“Here’s the opening of her bio post-push, but pre-Precious:

‘Ramona Lofton, better known to her readers as Sapphire, was born in 1950 in Fort Ord California. On the surface, her family was characterized as normal and middle class. Her father was an army sergeant and her mother was a member of the Women’s Army Corps. As a child, Sapphire’s family relocated several time to various cities, states, and countries. When she was only 13 years old, Sapphire’s mother became the victim of “alcoholism and eventually departed from her life. Her mother died in 1983. In that same year, her brother, who was then homeless was killed in a public park.’

“I would not say that she is lying, or even stretching the truth. But I see a difference. Don’t know which one she’s using right now.”

I wasn’t surprised that NPR’s Terry Gross would become part of the film’s promotion. I stopped listening to her years ago because she seemed to have a thing about casting all black men as sexual predators.

She once maneuvered a famous black writer into directing her wrath against her father toward all black men and when a woman from South Africa was brought on to discuss the rapes occurring in that country, Gross asked whether rape in that country was interracial. The woman answered that white men rape too, which seemed to come as a surprise to Ms. Gross. When whatever is bothering Ms. Gross about black men gains entry in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, maybe the editors will name it after her. Gross’s Syndrome. Or maybe she and Ms. Brownmiller can flip a coin.

I only tuned into Ms. Gross’s interview with Daniels because poet Al Young called and asked me to do so. It was instructive. The NPR airwaves were full of giggles as they carried on their dialogue. At one point, she asked whether violence among blacks is cultural. He said that it was hereditary, thereby signing on to about two centuries of quack race “science” and a Neo-Nazi line promoted by the Times’ Sam Robert’s who once wrote that blacks were “prone” to violence and by the Op Ed pages’ token black contributor, Orlando Patterson, who wrote recently as though violence is black.

This in a country where the National Rifle Association owns or intimidates every politician but Michael Bloomberg; where one hundred million guns are available and where accidental deaths by gunshots in white homes dwarfs those occurring in the inner city, which is not to excuse such deaths, which lead to high homicide rates.

One of the reasons is that the police, white and suburban, have a poor record of solving urban crimes and as a result of NAFTA, thousands have joined the underground economy (in Oakland ,where I live, only 37% of homicides are solved; in nearby Danville, an affluent city, when a white youth’s murder resulted from a drug transaction gone wrong, 11 detectives were assigned to the case, and the killer was caught the next day).

Daniels and Gross’s discussion about the black violence gene occurred at a time when The National Association of Black Journalists was criticizing NPR for its firing of black personnel. And so when the Times and the producers of Precious are profiting from stereotypes that reach back to the Enlightenment, they receive an endorsement from NPR whose “Ghetto 101,” produced by the late Ellen Willis, was one of the most offensive of black pathology ratings boosters and money makers. Violence?

The white majority has given mandates to policies that have resulted in the murders of millions of people since World War II.

Ishmael Reed is an award-winning novelist, author & essayist. He was born in Tennesse & raised in Buffalo NY and is a former journalist for the Buffalo Challenger. His next book “Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media: the Return of the Nigger Breakers” will be published in the Spring by Baraka publishers of Quebec. He is the editor of Konch. He can be reached at:

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