For Immediate Release
October 16, 2008
Contacts: David Ottalini, 301 405 4076 or email@example.com
The Secret Life of Bees: Birth, Death and Rebirth
by Assoc. Prof. Sheri Parks
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Secret Life of Bees, opening in theatres this week, is the story of Lily, a young, white girl with a dead mother and an abusive father, and the black women who save her. The storyline is rich with representatives of the Strong Black Woman - Rosaleen, the nanny who is damaged herself but the only adult whom Lily can trust; the three black Boatwright sisters, each strong and wise in her own way, where Lily and Rosaleen find trust and healing; and the Black Madonna figure around whom the sisters' private worship is centered.
The only item that Lily has from her dead mother is a tin, with the image of a Black Madonna and the name of a town. She and Noreen, who was beaten for trying to vote, take off to find the town.
Sue Monk Kidd, author of the best selling novel adapted for the film, studied the role of Black Madonnas around the world, particularly in Catholic Churches in East and West Europe and Central and South America. The Madonnas are a version of the Sacred Dark Feminine, found in different religious and folk traditions on every continent. The best sellers, The DaVinci Code and The Shack also explore different elements of the Sacred Dark Feminine.
The Dark Feminine is the oldest archetype in human history present in the oldest known creation stories and associated transformations, birth, death and rebirth. She is the patron of social justice and all-but-lost causes. There are hundreds in Europe alone. Some immigrant groups such as Italians who came to the US in the early 20th century and more recent black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean brought formal religious practices that revered her. But more prominent in the US is the secular version, the Strong Black Woman of popular culture.
A question that has been commonly asked but not adequately answered: What is the connection to bees? In mythology the Dark Feminine and bees are both associated with birth, death and rebirth.
Sheri Parks, Ph.D. is an associate professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and author of the forthcoming book, Fierce Angels: The Strong Black Woman in American Life and Culture (Random House). Her interests revolve around popular American aesthetics with a special focus on culture, family, and gender. Dr. Parks hosts "Clear Reception," a radio show featured on public radio stations.
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