Gentlewoman: Etiquette for a Lady, From a Gentleman: A Review

gentlewoman-resize“Gentlewoman” is a non-fiction—not quite self-help, but “self-love” book that takes readers on a journey of uncovering the raw beauty of womanhood with etiquette rules. The author, Enitan O. Bereola II, has set out to inform, educate, and empower women through his research and insight. He wrote this book for women in all stages of life, for young women who might be looking for a husband as well as women who might be struggling through their marriages. “Gentlewoman” is a book for every woman with a story.

In preparation for writing this book, Bereola received help from a wide range of celebrities. In a section titled “Inner Views” (interviews), well-known actors such as Meagan Good, authors such as Hill Harper, artist Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child), and Pastor Jamal Bryant, shared their perspective on women.

So you might be wondering, “How can a man tell me how to be a woman?” In the introduction, Bereola shares that one of the lessons he learned through one of his childhood experiences was to, “Drown out the noise. Shatter your bias. If the advice is applicable, the source is irrelevant.” Bereola writes,

“Don’t allow your ears to be impervious to my words because I’m a man…If a fellow handed you a million dollars, would you refuse it because it came from a bloke? A million dollars is still a million dollars, no matter who hands it to you. Its value won’t change because a man delivered it.”

But why Gentlewoman? If there are guidelines for what it means to be a gentleman; such as, holding the door open, pulling out a woman’s chair, paying for the first date – then perhaps there are characteristics involved for carrying oneself as a ‘lady.’ In the opening chapter, Bereola says, “Men in a group are commonly referred to as “gentlemen” regardless of their manners. But there’s no equal term for women. God made us equal. Man made us unequal.”

Ultimately, Bereola sees an undeniable beauty in both men and women that society has seemingly brushed under the rug. Through “Gentlewoman,” Bereola attempts to completely remove that rug. Society has depicted us – mainly black women – as women who do not care about our appearance. We are portrayed as women who can’t control our attitudes, are fed up with our baby-daddies or absent fathers, and as those who willingly display ourselves as animals on “reality” television with shows like “Basketball Wives” and “Love and Hip Hop.” Therefore, for some women, there is a burning desire to set the record straight. However, we might need some help in doing so. Bereola has a passion for us. He wants us to thrive and succeed in the world. He sees our struggles and pains, and desires to help with our healing process, on a holistic level.

Society has taken the meaning of true self-worth from woman. She cannot quite see her full potential because it is so foggy with society’s expectations. The first section, “Lost Crown,” implies that woman has forgotten who God made her to be. Through 21 short sections and 7 ‘interludes,’ Bereola dissects every aspect of life that women deal with and how to handle them: relationships, spirituality, health/beauty, finances, marriage, divorce, and etiquette subjects that we don’t spend much time discussing such as tipping, laughing, text, gift-giving, and even restroom and flatulence etiquette. Each chapter plays a part in removing the fog. After uncovering hurt, pain, a heavy heart, an unsure mind, a woman can now take her throne back after reading this book. Any woman who has forgotten her self-worth, or never knew her self-worth in the first place, might now have a chance to do so through Bereola’s writing.

It is clear that Bereola possesses both a sincere passion and compassion for women. “Gentlewoman brings to our attention many issues among women that he believes do have solutions, and the first step is to address the issues. Without forcing this advice on his readers, Bereola simply states, “This book is a suggestion. This book is about honesty. Utilize this literature as a reflective piece to reveal what you want to improve upon and what you want to celebrate.”

So, invest in this piece of literature, take the time to read, and feel like the queen you were created to be. Even if you already view yourself as a queen, be reminded of why you are just that.

Jackie Robinson West: A Beacon of Light for Southside Chicago

Mo’Ne Davis and her team, the Philadelphia Taney Dragons, were not the only force in this year’s Little League World Series. Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West team has given Chicago the hope that it’s been waiting for.

JRW-resizeSouthside Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West has returned home from playing in the World Series. Although the games are over, the celebration still continues. JRW defied the odds as the first little league team from Chicago to make it to the World Series in 31 years. ABC has referred to them as “beacons of hope for one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country.”

Cedric Watson, 43, a Chicago native says, “We get so much negative publicity with gangs and shootings that you have no idea how much fun it is to see the attention this has created all over,” and to Chicago citizens, Jackie Robinson West winning the World Series would be like the Bulls winning it all.

During a time of racial injustice, and unfair judgment toward African-American youth, amid an angry Ferguson, Missouri, this achievement shows the stereotypical inner-city black kids in a different light. A substitute teacher admits to there being a handful of bad that graces the streets of Chicago, but she also believes there’s a lot of good, too, and it’s just not broadcasted nor acknowledged. (Chicago Tribune)

This dynamic team has proven that youth can produce positivity from a city that, for many years, has been known for its negativity. Although JRW did not win the entire World Series, they still hold the U.S. champion title for this year. The chance to play internationally against South Korea probably surpassed what these young boys ever believed they could achieve. JRW now stands on the principle that regardless of where you come from, you are capable of exuding positivity and most of all, achieving your goals. Let’s hear it for the boys of Jackie Robinson West!

For those of you in the Chicago area, click here for information about Wednesday’s parade.

Mo’ne Davis Pitching Inspiration


Mo’ne Davis (Photo Credit: People Magazine)

Mo’ne Davis has reached national prominence on the baseball field this summer. While most boys pitch in the high 50s or low 60s, she throws at 70 mph. Her skills have helped her team, the Philadelphia Taney Dragons, go undefeated thus far in the World Series in Williamsport, PA. Although she is currently recognized as the best in the little league, Davis says she doesn’t really like when the media places all of its attention on her. “I wouldn’t have made it this far without my teammates,” she says. According to WSJ, when asked post-game by ESPN how she handles excessive media fascination, she said, “I can always say no.”

As one of two girls in the World Series this year, Davis dominates the score boards. On Friday night, she became the first female pitcher to throw a shutout (the act by which a single pitcher pitches a complete game and does not allow the opposing team to score a run) in the Little League post season, and struck out 8 batters on Sunday. Her stepfather says, “She was pitching one day and someone hit a home run off of her, so she felt she needed to work on it more. And from there, it got to this point.” (NPR)

ESPN interviewed parents about how they view girls in baseball and most parents found it empowering for girls to be seen as just as good as boys on the playing field. One skeptical father of a middle school girl said that girls can get hurt by playing with boys. Yolanda Washington, two seats down from him, disagreed and said if her daughter “had the skills,” she would support her in baseball. “I’m excited that as an African-American girl, (my daughter) sees another African-American girl doing something so unique and positive.

If Davis continues down this path, she could definitely wind up in the actual World Series, having been compared to Philadelphia Phillies Jonathan Papelbon and Atlanta’s Ervin Santana. However, Davis plays other sports and has dreams of playing point guard at the University of Connecticut and of making it to the WNBA.

Regardless of the opinions of parents, and whatever she decides to play in the future, it is evident that Mo’ne is a role model for her generation and other little girls that might want to pursue a career in a sport that is normally considered a “male” sport.

An 11-year-old gymnast and Phillies fan who traveled from New Jersey to Philadelphia with her father to watch Davis play says she doesn’t seem stuck up, but just a girl with great confidence. “Mo’ne would be my role model if I was on a baseball team. She would be my role model even in general.” (ESPNW)

The Brief History of Black Jesus in Hollywood

“Black Jesus,” Aaron McGruder’s new live-action comedy series premieres tonight on Adult Swim and there has been no shortage of complaints, critiques, and petitions launched because of the show’s controversial Jesus figure, but is this really new when it comes to depictions of black Jesus? Historically, black Jesus figures haven’t been well received in Hollywood and/or among critics and viewers whether he was satirical or serious. His peer, White Jesus–or as some know him “Pop Culture Jesus,” has enjoyed a better reception. From Seth McFarlane’s “Family Guy” to Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” depictions of Jesus as more White or European have had their time in the sun as both serious and satirical. I searched all over to find black Jesus’s in cinema and on television and I couldn’t find nobody – to be more accurate, I could find many black Jesus figures, but here’s what I did discover:


The Black Jesus portrait as featured on season one, episode two of “Good Times”

In 1974, the first season of “Good Times” featured an episode with a ‘Black Jesus’ portrait that brought sudden luck to the Evans family. The portrait, painted by JJ with Ned the Wino posing as the Christ figure, had money flowing and prayers answered as soon as JJ hung it on the wall of the family’s apartment. This concept was entertaining, but it also implied that the historical Jesus, as we’ve known him, doesn’t have concern for black people, because if he did, then the prayers of this black family and others would be answered.


Family Guy’s Black Jesus

Nearly 30 years later, “Family Guy” introduced another black Jesus. The episode includes black Jesus telling a crowd in Jerusalem that he rode into the city on an ass… “Yo momma’s a**.” Although this was for entertainment purposes only, it also perpetuated the stereotypes of black people as a slick-talking, “dozens” throwing bunch.
On the contrary, there were two films that took Black Jesus more seriously.

Black_Jesus_FilmPosterIn 1968, seven years before “Good Times” aired, Valerio Zurlini directed “Black Jesus” an Italian film based on the life of the first democratically-elected prime minister of The Republic of Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Patrice Lumumba. Woody Strode played Lumumba, who was famous for his fight to save his imprisoned people. Lalubi, as Lumumba was called in the film, was thrown into prison with two white felons and the three endured torture while their fate was decided by a military regime. This context, Lalubi’s method of passive resistance, and his messianic complex  brought the Black Jesus concept to life but the film never made it to the 1968 Cannes Film Festival because of the civil unrest in France that started in May of 1968.


Jean Claude LaMarre as Jesus

Nearly four decades after “Black Jesus” was produced in Italy, and just two years after “The Passion of the Christ,” “Color of the Cross” was produced in the United States. Jean Claude LaMarre wrote, directed, and starred in this 2006 film, which he calls the “first black Jesus movie ever made.” In an interview with MTV, Lamarre said – in reference to Mel Gibson – “he was a little off with the casting. Jesus should have been a little darker. So we felt we should help him in correcting that minor detail.” The independently-produced film starred Debbi Morgan (“Love and Basketball”) and David Gianopoulos (“Air Force One”) and was similar to “Passion of the Christ,” in that it sought to portray Christ’s final days on Earth in a graphically realistic way. However, “The Passion of the Christ” received much praise for Jim Caviezel’s portrayal of Jesus, and the June 2006 issue of Entertainment Weekly (2 years after the film’s release), called “Passion” the most controversial film of all time. On the other hand, “Color of the Cross” received a negative reaction overall due its low budget and poor quality. A reviewer from New York Times, said “Color of the Cross, a low-budget re-imaging of Christ’s final days, makes a big deal out of the relatively tame suggestion that Jesus was black.” Not to mention, not once has “Color of the Cross” been discussed in any circle I frequent. So, the one time a black Jesus was portrayed just as Jesus is seen in the Bible, the feedback is negative and no one discusses it – ever. This is what McGruder’s “Black Jesus” is up against.

Tonight, McGruder’s Black Jesus will grace our television screens. He’s a streetwise, trash-talking, foul-mouth son of “The Man” with a ministry that is more hip-hop than ecclesial according to DeWayne Wickham, dean of Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication. Wickham is in favor of keeping “Black Jesus” on the air with the hopes that Black Jesus might convert more than he has confused over the past few weeks. Only time will tell if “Black Jesus” bears fruit.

‘Black Jesus’ Is Coming, But How Should We Feel?


Aaron McGruder’s “Black Jesus” played by Gerald ‘Slink’ Johnson

Aaron McGruder is back with “Black Jesus,” a live-action comedy series involving—you guessed it—a black Jesus, played by Gerald “Slink” Johnson. In the show, Jesus walks the streets of present-day Compton, and living out the modern-day gospel.

If you’re familiar with McGruder’s previous works, this work embodies his trademark radical perspective that raises many questions that conflict with society. The Huffington Post says that it seems this show might not do theology justice – meaning it does not exemplify the role that a non-white Jesus has played in black liberation theology. What exactly does that mean? In response to the featured trailer, Princeton religion professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr. says that the show represents many racial stereotypes and fails to give a sense of what the nature of Black Jesus’ ministry is. But we want to know what you think.

Could McGruder’s new show be accurate, especially in light of modernity? Is doing theology justice a fair thing to ask given McGruder’s previous work and what his current aims might be? Can we just be entertained by this satirical black Jesus or must everything be critiqued when it comes to Jesus?

Check out the trailer and let us know your thoughts.

“Black Jesus” will premiere on the Adult Swim network on August 7, 2014.