Daughters of the Dust and To Sleep with Anger

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Daughtersof the Dust and To Sleep with Anger

TheMovie, Daughtersof the Dust,is about the story of a Peazant family following several membersmigrating from Dawtuh Island to the North. The result of this splitbecomes told in a story of two cousins, Amelia and Elizabeth. Fromthe movie, Amelia emerges as the granddaughter of Haagar Peazant, whoinstigated the move to the North. Contemptuous of the islandlifestyle, it is the desire of Haagar to have Amelia succeed in theearly 20s as a black woman (Daughtersof the Dust Film).Haagar lets Amelia go to prestigious institutions and worksexceedingly hard in ensuring that Amelia has access to contacts withthe blacks in the upper-class. These efforts are not enough sinceHaagar also tries to eliminate any influence of the blacks that fallin the lower-class as well as any influence of Gullah. This makesAmelia wish to escape the heavy hand of her grandmother and thiscomes to pass when she gets an opportunity of documenting DawtuhIsland (Daughtersof the Dust Film).

Whenshe returns to her ancestral land, Amelia encounters Elizabeth, whogrew up in the island. Elizabeth has knowledge that is beyond theknowledge that can be offered by the land, despite her enjoying theold ways. This provides her with an opportunity of becoming the onlyschool-teacher in the island however, her students seem to lackvision and this frustrates her. Upon Elizabeth and Amelia meeting,they get along very well and Elizabeth helps her cousin in showingher the lifestyle in the Dawtuh Island. The information that Ameliacollects for her thesis from the inhabitants of the island emerges asvital in helping her discover her past. It is through thisinformation that she comes to learn more about her own culture.

Thefilm ToSleep with Angertries to show issues related to the past and memory (Pressman et al96). In the movie, ToSleep with Anger,Harry visits Gideon and Suzie (Gideon’s wife) who are happy seeinghim since it is a long time since they met. Gideon and Suzie offersHarry a warm welcome and indicate that harry should stay with them aslong as he wishes. Although Gideon and Suzie reside in Los Angeles,they seem to retain some of their rural lifestyles since they raisechicken in their backyard and have a vegetable garden that they tend.The stay of Harry with the Gideon’s family brings problemsespecially with Baby Brother, younger son of Gideon in regards to therelationship with his wife, parents, and older brother. The influenceof Harry threatens to breaking up of Baby Brother’s marriage andputs Gideon in bed for several weeks in a serious condition (ToSleep with AngerFilm).However, the extended family of Gideon becomes more cohesivefollowing the visit of Harry. Eventually, the anger that Harrybrought to the family dissipates as harry dies before the conclusionof the drama.

Comparisonof the Movies

Daughtersof the Dustby Julie Dash and ToSleep with Angerby Charles Burnett are two films that show some similarities. One ofthe similarities amid the two films is the clear depiction of theAfrican culture. In the Daughtersof the Dust, JulieDash clearly shows that most of the African Americans have a strongdesire in holding to their traditions or culture (Pressman et al 54).In this film, despite Amelia being protected by her grandmother fromlearning about her tradition, she seems so much interested indiscovering the origin of her culture and embraces it as she obtainsan opportunity of doing so through her studies. The film showsclearly that even Elizabeth does not leave her traditions or hercultural practices, despite her being taught the Western ways such aslearning French from the Whites (Pressman et al 78). Alternatively,in the ToSleep with Anger film,the cultural practices of the Africans are clearly depicted throughGideon and Suzie. Despite living in the South-Central Los Angeles,they seem not to have forgotten their rural practices since they areinvolved in practices such as vegetable gardening and raising ofchicken (Pressman et al 85). This shows that they have not desertedtheir traditional way of living.

Anothersimilarity between the two films is the depiction of the theme ofmigration. In both films, African Americans are involved in the filmswhere they are shown to have moved from their rural residence tourban residence (Eagan 26). Being Africans, the characters areindicated to mingle with the Whites. Therefore, characters in thefilms are depicted to have migrated from one region to another.Furthermore, in both films, the theme of the past is apparent. In theDaughtersof the Dust, thetheme of the past emerges through Amelia, where she connects with hercousin Elizabeth and meets other people that provide more informationconcerning her own culture and traditions that her grandmother didnot want her to learn (Eagan 64). Alternatively, in the Tosleep with Angerfilm, the theme of the past emerges through Harry reconnecting withHarry.

Despitethe similarities amid the two films, there exists a difference.Stereotyping of the black woman seems to be rejected in the Daughtersof the Dusthowever, it seems to have a place in the film ToSleep with Anger. Stereotypingof the black woman is rejected in the Daughtersof the Dust sinceHaagar seems to try in every way that as a black woman she wascapable of doing what she desire doing without any limitation (Eagan102). Also, this is shown through Elizabeth and Amelia since they arewell-fashioned with the traditions as well as modern ways of lifesuch as having education. On the other hand, stereotyping of theblack woman is evident in the ToSleep with Anger filmfor instance, Baby Brother used his parents as baby sitters (Eagan86).

Fromthe two films, it can be argued that Africa has helped in theprovision of skills to America. As Africans move to America, theyengage in different aspects using their skills, which can be sharedto the Americans. For instance, in the ToSleep with Anger, Suzieis indicated to teach midwifery to mobile couples irrespective ofwhether they are black or white. This shows the transfer of skillsfrom Africa to America, which is a critical aspect in the integrationof these two distinct cultures. Another thing that Africa has givenAmerica is labor. As Africans move to America, they become part ofthe American labor force. Through the different practices of theAfricans when they migrate to America, they help in providing labor.For instance, in the Daughtersof the Dust,Haagar is trying very much to fit in the American middle class. Theprovision of labor to America by the Africans is evident from the twofilms. For instance, through the working of the characters such asHaagar, it can be indicated that Africa has given labor to America.

Interms of culture, it can be argued that Africans has given Africanculture to America. Through Suzie training both Africans andAmericans the art of midwifery, she helped in spreading the Africanculture to the Americans. Also, through vegetable gardening andraising of chicken practiced by Suzie and her husband, it can beargued that Africans have given to America the farming culture.Language is another cultural aspect that the Africans brought toAmerica. Furthermore, in terms of culture, Africans also broughtrituals to America this can be depicted through Daughtersof the Dustfilm where Nana conducted a ritual that made Eli realize he is thefather to the unborn daughter.


Charles,Burnett. ToSleep with AngerFilm.

Dash,Julie. Daughtersof the Dust Film.

Dash,Julie. Daughtersof the Dust: The Making of an African American Woman`s Film.New York: New Press, 1992. Print.

Eagan,Daniel. America`sFilm Legacy: The Authoritative Guide to the Landmark Movies in theNational Film Registry.New York: Continuum, 2010. Print.

Pressman,Edward R, Charles Burnett, Caldecot Chubb, Thomas S. Byrnes, DarinScott, Danny Glover, Paul Butler, Mary Alice, Carl Lumbly, VonettaMcGee, Richard Brooks, and Sheryl L. Ralph. ToSleep with Anger.New York: SVS, 1990. Print.