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So have you heard of Snoop Dogg's Lion's new documentary, released earlier this year? Well, it's on Netflix now, and being both a fan of Snoop's, and a descendant of Jamaica who respects Rastafarianism (I actually reviewed a book about the religion here,) I had to watch it. (I also just came back from a trip to Jamaica, where I went on a Bob Marley tour, led by a group of Rastas). While it's true that Snoop has nothing to prove to me or you, I must say, I'm not convinced.

According to the film, his reasons for converting to Rasta (actually, I'm not even clear if he's actually converted), seems to have stemmed from experiencing the violent deaths of some of his closest friends, and realizing that some of his music perpetuated this kind of violence. He says he decided to make music that focused on love and the struggle, which was akin to the type of music Bob Marley created back in the day. Oh, and let's not forget that he's a heavy weed smoker, which is something Rastas engage in, as well, so I guess that equals a perfect fit? Not quite.

Snoop's doc is so heavily focused on the deaths he's seen, and the weed he likes to smoke, that I was left with a bunch of questions at the end. What else about Rastafarianism attracted him? Has he embraced the ital (all natural) food that Rastas eat? Has his family converted too? If not, how do they feel about it? All we really hear from his family in the film is that his daughter, Cori, feels like her dad is a happier person. Most importantly, and most integral to the religion, has he embraced Jah Rastafari as his god? AND, how was he able to smuggle all of that weed from LA to Kingston on the plane? LOL

Not to tear the doc apart, but I can't say it was enlightening, or particularly thorough with respect to the religion. Weed smokers might love it. On the plus side, it does sound like he's come up with some great reggae-inspired music through this "reincarnation" process.

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Are any of you all Snoop Dogg Lion (I keep forgetting) fans? What do you think about his reincarnation? Have you been able to catch this doc on Netflix?
Signing Off,

Booker's Place

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"Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story", is a 2012 follow up documentary to an NBC special that aired in 1965 entitled, "Mississippi: A Self-Portrait". The man who directed the 1965 documentary, Frank De Felitta is the father of the man who directed the follow up, Raymond De Felitta. The original film focused on interviews with White and Black residents of Mississippi, who talked about how they view relations with their counterparts of another color. While the Whites made comments like, "the negroes love living here", a Black man named Booker, a waiter at a Whites-only restaurant by day, and an entrepreneur who owned his own resturant (Booker's Place) by night, honestly shared his experience. His assessment seemed fair: some of his White customers were nice, some weren't, but he confessed that he took it all in with a smile, because this was something he had to endure in order to make money to pay for his daughters' education (I honestly got emotional when he said this. He shared that he basically had to sing and laugh and overlook insult in order to keep his job, all to make sure that his children had a bright future. I guess alot of our grandparents had to do this). It was also notable how Booker put on his act when the camera man asked him to do his typical routine in which he sang the menu to customers. Essentially, he had to put on the mask of the stereotypical jolly Black man for his customers, but when he spoke in a regular tone to the interviewer, the viewer can tell that he was quite intelligent, with goals and aspirations like any other human being (clearly, since he was a business owner, himself). Other Blacks who took part in the film withheld their opinions on life in Mississippi, which was probably wise.

Imagine the uproar when the special aired on television, and the Whites in Greenwood, Mississippi saw good ole Booker complaining about the way some of his customers treated him. It seems that they felt that he was making the town look bad, and so he became a target. He was attacked and his restaurant was ransacked. He survived all of the above until several years later, a Black man shot him. Did the town's powers that be pay this man to shoot Booker? Was it all a conspiracy? Or was it pure coicidence that someone had finally "taken care" of him?

While this is just one man's story, it definitely represents the experiences of many people during this era. What bothered me most is that this is a reminder that this kind of blatant racism and mistreatment occurred in a time not so long ago. What I liked best, though, was to see that his dream came true, post-mortem, in that both of his
daughters grew up to be educated and successful.

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Are you interested in documentaries that take place in the civil rights era? Did you even know about the original documentary about Mississippi that aired in the 1960s?


A Walk to Beautiful

Director: Mary Olive Smith
Executive Producer: Steven Engel
Co Producer: Allison Shigo
Field Director and Producer: Amy Buchner
Editor: Andrew Ford
Cinematographer: Tony Hardmon
HD Cinematographer: Jerry Risius
Awards: Audience Award for Best Documentary, Best Human Rights Documentary

This summer, I was blessed enough to visit Africa, and now, I just can’t learn enough about the continent, its history, and its many cultures. So, when I came across the 2007 documentary, A Walk to Beautiful, I was glued to the screen! The film follows several young women from Ethiopia who are suffering from obstetric fistula, which is essentially a condition, typically caused by prolonged labor (more common when the mom’s pelvis is small or the baby isn’t positioned correctly) that creates a hole in either the rectal area or the bladder area. This leads to consistent and uncontrollable urinary and/or fecal leakage.

It’s bad enough that many of the women in developing countries who suffer from this don’t have proper access to the medical care they need for reconstructive surgery, but they also face rejection and marginalization from their husbands and extended family. The film shows one woman whose family banished her to a hut behind the family home because they did not want her to leak in their house! I couldn’t even imagine that kind of rejection from my loved ones.

Some are fortunate enough to learn about the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital’s free services, and so they make the long journey from the Ethiopian country side to the capital (on foot, on buses, however they can), where they hope to be cured and start a new chapter in their lives. Many of them have been dealing with the constant flow, and its accompanying odor, for years with no recourse, so they understandably have high hopes for the surgery. Imagine how crushing it would be if the surgery doesn’t correct the problem, though.

While watching the film, I was in awe of the Ethiopian women’s natural beauty (there was no need for them to "walk to" it, although I'm sure they weren't feeling beautiful), but I also felt blessed that I do have access to the proper healthcare here in the US. I don’t know anyone, personally, who has had to deal with this embarrassing condition, but I had heard of the condition before…

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Ever read Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese? This novel, released in 2009, focused on twin brothers Marion and Shiva Stone, who were adopted and raised in a family of doctors. While the story was more so about romantic love and brotherly love, a large portion of it took place at Mission Hospital in Ethiopia, where Shiva performed surgeries to correct obstetric fistula.

I highly recommend both “A Walk to Beautiful” and Cutting for Stone if you’ve never heard of them. Both are honest, eye-opening, and interesting all the way through.

If you’ve already watched this film or read this book, what did you think?

On another note, whenever watching, reading or talking about Ethiopia, does anyone else start craving tibs? (Ethiopian food is delicious! And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you're missing out!)

Your Friend,

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