Looking for a Slightly Oldie But Goodie Flick: Check out “Brown Sugar” with Sanaa Lathan & Taye Diggs

As you can guess, graduation has gotten me a little behind on the blogging. No worries. I’m still here. And I’ve got several movie reviews coming down the pike. But instead of looking forward, I decided to do a little reminiscing on some of the best (and often overlooked) movies of the past. Check out my review of the 2001 flick Brown Sugar.

“Hip-Hop: You are the Love of My Life.”

It’s rare to find a movie that mixes music, culture, humor and love in an artistic and intelligent manner. Brown Sugar (2002) starring Sanaa Lathan and Taye Diggs does just that. It’s a refreshing romantic comedy that features the unsung love between two old friends and their love affair with the tie that bonds them – hip-hop.

Pete Rock, De La Soul, Method Man, Jermaine Dupre, Common and Russell Simmons. These are just a few of hip-hop music‘s greats. Brown Sugar opens with their honest and revealing responses to the question: “So when did you fall in love with hip-hop?”

This is the question that Sidney Shaw (Sanaa Lathan), a music journalist, has asked of her interviewees for the past 10 years. It is also the question of her life. In the beginning, her answer was simple. “I remember the very first day I fell in love with hip hop. It was July 18, 1984.”

It’s no coincidence that this day was also the day she met Dre Ellis (Taye Diggs) on a New York brownstone stoop 15 years ago. (The film was one of the first productions to shoot on location in New York after 9/11.) Both of them stopped to stare at a lyrical battle in the Bronx between rappers Doug E. Fresh, Dana Dane, and Slick Rick the Ruler. This moment was their initiation into the hip-hop culture and forever defined their love for the genre.

The two impressionable youngsters let music be their life’s guide. Dre became a well-known record producer and executive for a major record label. And Sidney has succeeded in her career as a film critic, working first for the Los Angeles Times and then as editor of hip-hop magazine, XXL. She is also authoring a book on her love affair with rap music.  Her discussion of hip-hop for the manuscript serves as the poetic thread and shining star that guides the story along.

Although Sidney and Dre seem to be perfect for one another and have a lot in common like music and childhood experiences, they’ve never pursued a relationship. Instead, they’ve kept it platonic and remained close — just like their rapport with hip-hop.

“For many people, hip-hop was that first friend. The first to talk to us. The first to understand. Hip-hop has always been that kind of friend to me. Like any relationship, I’ve watched it grow. I’ve watched it change,” said Sidney as she typed her manuscript.

Somewhat of a workaholic, Sidney hasn’t made much time for romance. On the other hand, smooth and suave Dre is quite the player who has had his choice of women. However after dating one special woman for a couple of months, a beautiful entertainment attorney Reese (Nicole Ari Parker of TV’s “Soul Food”), who he calls “brown sugar” because she is “wifey material” – smart and fine, he decides to pop the question.  Reese, who doesn’t yet realize the strong connection between Sidney and Dre, joyfully accepts.

As Dre’s best friend, Sidney does her best to fight her feelings and support his upcoming nuptials and relationship with Reese, who quickly learns that their relationship comes second to his friendship with Sid.  Dre’s impending marriage to Reese only continues to stirs up Sidney’s emotions that she’s trying her best to ignore. Her cousin and friend, Francine (Queen Latifah), tells her she should fight for her man. In Francine’s words, Sidney could get the best of both worlds – “the buddy and the booty.”

Although there are a couple of bumps along the walk down the aisle, Dre and now jealous Reese manage to get married. And maybe, just maybe, the two old chums are better of as friends?

The Holiday Wish List Tradition

I realized today after talking with a couple of friends that my hubby and I have a unique holiday tradition. Sometime before December 25, we exchange “holiday wish lists” – complete with items we would love to have for Christmas. They’re akin to the “Dear Santa letters” we wrote as a child but not as formal. And we definitely know that Santa doesn’t exist. In our case, Santa is our joint banking account. Yet, we still delight (at least I do) in exchanging lists. Now before you assume that our lists only include material gifts, I’d have to say “whoa!” “Slow down.” Intermixed in the gift ideas are wishes for our relationship, our families and sometimes the world (dare we get so lofty).

Here is a brief snippet of some of the items on my holiday wish list.

  • New bike
  • More time to spend together
  • Yoga class passes
  • Spiritual peace for myself and others

The list becomes yet another way of expressing our hope for the holidays, our passions and our vision for the next year. It is a way to listen to the other person’s dreams (be they socks or an electric toothbrush). It’s a way of checking in with your spouse on items both big and small… Boy can they reveal the small things. And in actuality, the list is always just a “work-in-progress.”

Try it with your spouse or significant other this season. You may learn a couple of things about each other. Happy Holidays!


The Caramel Bella

Gay Marriage Supporter: It’s Not Too Late For Civil Rights

Cabrera at San Francisco City Hall Protesting Prop. 8

Although the United States made history on Nov. 4 by electing its first African-American president, supporters of California’s No on Proposition 8 (a ban on gay marriage) suggest that American prejudice and discrimination still run deep.

After the ban on gay marriage was passed, members of the gay community have come out in cities across the country to protest. (Meanwhile, gay marriages were legally passed in Connecticut last week.) They seek respect, dignity and their civil rights, which to them means the ability to marry who they love regardless of gender. Since the election results on the measure were released, members of the gay community are troubled by the fact that blacks and Latinos voted disproportionately against the measure. And the No on 8 supporters also “estimate that members of the Mormon Church gave more than $20 million to the effort to pass the measure, though that is difficult to confirm because records of campaign donations do not include religious affiliation.”

Pop + Politics caught up with No on Proposition 8 supporter Carlos Cabrera, 26, of San Francisco, Calif. Cabrera is a single gay man who is openly concerned about the future of gay marriage in California and across the nation. Although the measure passed on Nov. 4, Cabrera and others have spent their time protesting its passage at rallies, including one this past Saturday at San Francisco’s City Hall. He has also talked to numerous family members and friends about the issue.

There are several reasons why proponents of Prop 8 don’t want gay marriage or condone homosexuality. For some people, homosexuality goes against God and other religious beliefs. While religious groups continue to question whether homosexuality is genetic or if it is a chosen lifestyle, Cabrera says that he was born this way.

“I knew I was different from the time I was a little boy around five years old. I remember having dreams (non-sexual) about men, and feeling something about them. I couldn’t place a label on it until I was a teenager, and even then, only reluctantly. Growing up in a Catholic, Latino household I was very repressed growing up. We never talked about gays.  And whenever the topic was mentioned it was either quickly dismissed or my parents would ridicule them. As a result, when I was about 14 and knew for a fact that I was “gay” it was very traumatic for me, internally. I couldn’t face this reality, nor could I accept myself as gay until I was nearly 19. That was when I started college, and I met other gay people who showed me that the stereotypes that existed on television (i.e., extremely effeminate gay men who got AIDS and were rejected by their families) weren’t reflected in their lives. In fact, they all seemed “normal” to me by most societal standards; they just happened to be gay. Later on, I gained the courage to join my school’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual people) club, where I later became president and found it much more comfortable identifying openly as gay.”

P+P continued the conversation with Cabrera about his thoughts on Prop. 8.

Why is Prop 8 so important to you?
Well, it’s important to me because I believe that everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love. It’s an issue of civil equity, not of privilege. And the passage of Proposition 8 saddened me because it’s discriminatory against a certain group of people who are doing nothing wrong. Moreover, it troubles me that Prop 8 was such a “wedge” issue for the religious right. Their adamant support for the measure imposes their religious beliefs on others, which I think is just plain wrong and offensive.


Mixed Praise for Tyler Perry’s “The Family that Preys” Movie

Tyler Perry, the one-man writer-producer-director, has done it again with his latest weekend box office hit. In his recent movie “The Family that Preys,” he created an entertaining and funny film with a with an easy-to-follow, and sometimes a bit too predictable storyline. And true to Perry fashion, no matter whether the tale turned sad or sweet, humor was present at every step.

“The Family that Preys” is about two southern families that are tied together by the interracial friendship between the matriarchs, Alice Pratt (Alfre Woodard) and Charlotte Cartwright (Kathy Bates). The issues of race, class, adultery and interracial relationships are played out mostly through the lives of their children.

Perry’s characters were a bit one-dimensional. They were either good or bad; likeable or not. Andrea, played by Sanaa Latham, was a successful, Harvard-educated financial professional who lands a high-paying job at Charlotte Cartwright’s development company. Although Andrea had the good job, education and money, she ended up being the classless sister who talked down to her hard-working mother, Alice, and sister Pam (Taraji P. Henson) who both worked in her mother’s diner. Depicted as the ingrate, Andrea’s character became super un-likeable after the audience realized that her big paychecks were the result of her affair with Charlotte’s son, William (Cole Hauser) instead of her Ivy League education.


Bad relationship signs

How do you know if your relationship has gone wrong?

If you go to buy your loved one a store bought card and none of the messages (even the most simple) would fit!

Finding an ideal husband

Hola Caramel Bellas,
Happy Friday to you all. Don’t you just love Fridays! I do. Anyway, I have a little treat for all the single bellas or those of you that have not tied the knot yet.

One of my favorite columnists, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, has an interesting piece today called “An Ideal Husband.” The article quotes a Catholic priest’s advice to young bellas, just like you. Please check out the full article. It’s worth reading single bellas.

Here are some highlights – all of which are common sense but many of us fail to think about when the love bug strikes.

1. Don’t marry a man without any friends.
2. Does he use money responsibly?
3. Don’t marry a doormat.
4. Don’t marry a momma’s boy.
5. Don’t marry anyone that doesn’t have a sense of humor.
6. Don’t marry the silent type. (I would extend the wisdom to marry someone that can communicate. As a married bella, I know how important communication is to a marriage.)
7. Don’t marry someone you think you can change. (In other words, don’t marry a project.)
8. Don’t marry a heavy drinker or some kind of addict. (I thought this one deserved its own line.)
9. Take a hard look at the man’s family. Don’t marry into a crazy family full of divorces, racism, sexism, prejudice, etc. You know the deal. If his family can’t get along, chances are he doesn’t have the interrelationship skills either.
10. Take a hard look at someone’s religion. Don’t marry someone intolerant of your religion.
11. Don’t marry someone with a bad character. Bellas, if he is a liar, womanizer, throws temper tantrums, control freak, secretive and unwilling to apologize or compromise – throw him back. You will thank yourself later.

I hope this tips help prevent a couple of unnecessary marriages and heartaches.


The Caramel Bella



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my luvs

My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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Bad drivers, cranky and moody people, lack of sleep, crime, filth

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.



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