Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thinking About The Invention of Wings and Eddie Murphy... huh?!

Recently the book The Invention of Wings was recommended to me by my internship supervisor. She receives credit in the book for assisting Kidd with her research. I'm not much of a fiction fan but since this was historical fiction I decided to give it a shot. The book was very good! I highly recommend it. Kidd spent an enormous amount of time researching her characters and was careful to be historically accurate. However, my favorite part of the book was the epilogue where she describes her research and what and where she had to fabricate in the book. 

The book revolves around the life of Sarah Grimke, a real historical person, and her family's enslaved person Hetty/Handful. Both women are real people but in reality Hetty died as a young girl. 

Sarah Grimke

I didn't know anything about Sarah Grimke, had never even heard her name but it is because of her and the steps she took in abolition as well as women's rights that I have the education and opportunities I have today. 

Angelina Grimke

Her sister Angelina was also a powerful force in abolition and women's rights. 

Harriet Powers
Bible Quilt
National Museum of American History

In the book Kidd bases her character Charlotte's story quilt off the work of enslaved person Harriet Powers. I'm ashamed as an art historian that I had never heard of nor seen her work. Two of her story quilts survive, one here in DC and one in Boston.

This powerful appliqu├ęd quilt tells stories from the bible and acts as a form of literacy and expression for the enslaved Powers. 

Harriet Powers
Photo Courtesy of the MFA in Boston
And here's where I take my leap in thoughts. I recently re-watched Eddie Murphy's Delirious with my husband. I finished the book a few days after re-watching Delirious. The combination of events has struck a cord with me. 

I had first seen Delirious when I was about 17 and I thought it was hilarious! However re-watching as an adult, having had more experiences and being the mother to a daughter and a teacher to children, I was extremely bothered by the act. 

Murphy was only 22 when it was filmed and although there are elements of hilarity I was extremely bothered and put off by his misogyny. Over and over he ridicules women, talks about slapping a former girlfriend, and engages the audience in mocking a female audience member. 

What the Grimke girls did in the 19th-century has helped give women so many opportunities, but sadly, misogyny and pushing women down instead of giving them a hand up still exists. 


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