‘Zora Neale Hurston: Claiming a Space’— an Intelligent Piece of Work on PBS

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by Toter 14 Views comments

One of the best documentaries that I’ve screened so far this year is “Zora Neale Hurston: Claiming a Space” directed by Tracy Heather Strain (“Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart”). At first glance, perhaps you might think this is all academic and no heart, and you would be wrong.& Strain made it clear in telling the story of Zora Neale Hurston that her journey reflects how the world works now. It’s rather heartbreaking, to be frank, to realize that not much has changed since the 1930s for African Americans and other non-white people. To say that Hurston was a trailblazer is not getting to the deepest part of her roots. She was a bigger-than-life figure who accomplished amazing things despite the gigantic obstacles that were part of being a female and African American.& Hurston believed that by studying anthropology, she could fight the stereotypes and celebrate the richness of Black culture. The leading experts in that field (all white and mostly male) didn’t care about learning about our strengths. They wanted to use evidence to suggest that our people were less than and inferior. Hurston knew better and worked with a slim safety net to prove the truth. What Hurston learned,...