Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sidney Poitier uses the "F" word, or my review of "The Measure of Man"

"The Measure of A Man" by Sidney Poitier

Okay first off the man in the movies always seemed so refined and classy, well he is that good of an actor. After a lifetime of having to deal with racism and poverty, Sidney Poitier found his way. And the way he did it and maintained his dignity is the true measure of a man.

Growing up on Cat Island in the Bahamas the Poitier family were poor tomato farmers. But one thing about being poor is the situation. A person can be poor on an island and not even know they're poor, however bring that same person into a city and with the urban sprawl and communities in neglect the being poor smacks you right in the face. On Cat Island there were numerous plants and trees that bore fruit that anyone could go and pick and spend an afternoon munching. Also fishing can create a nice bounty of food. Another aspect of Poitier's life on the island is that the community would help each other.
When young Sidney's family was affected by the tomato embargo of the Bahamas, they had to relocate to Nassau. This is where the young Sidney discovered racism and exactly how poor he was.

The life in Nassau was still nothing compared to moving to the racist country of the United States. After having to move to Miami to live with his brother, Mr. Poitier took on a job as a delivery boy. He soon discovered that the southern racism affected him. All blacks were to use the back doors to houses. When one delivery, he didn't realize this "Jim Crow" law would affect him until he tried to deliver to a rich white woman at her front door and later the KKK would threaten his family.

The book then goes on to explore the life of Sidney Poitier's career in movies and theatre and the boundaries he had to overcome to be where he is. Many parts of this book are great explorations of an actor and his craft while at other times a glance at how backwards a racist society can be.

My favorite quote from the book is the one that shows that Mr. Poitier is just as human as you and I.

While "expectations" meant "the sky's the limit" for those favored, that interpretation should never be expected to apply in cases like mine. I listened intently until each point had been driven home. Then I said "Fuck You," in the nicest way I could.

That quote pretty much sums up how he overcame all obstacles in his life. I think this book really can help a person to realize that life is not handed to them. It only comes about from what you CHOOSE to do.

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