For children’s month here in Brazil – including child and teen protection – professors and even horror, I Hekate, believe that the movie Precious fits perfectly in all categories.
This post might contain triggers, talking about sexual and psychological abuse – to the most sensitive, beware!
The movie, which is an adapted script from the book Push (1996) by Sapphire, tells the story of a girl – a child who’s only 16 years old, African-American, obese, poor and illiterate – who suffers psychological abuse not only from society – that attacks her shape, colour and financial condition – but from her own family – her mother, who lives in war with her for being pregnant for the second time of her own father, who, apart from the mental abuse, abuses her physically and sexually.
We know that many children and teens around the world suffer with this kind of situation. How many stories, documentaries and public/court records tell stories similar to Claireece “Precious” Jones‘, the main character on this plot?
On this story I bring to you today – on my day of the child protection week here in our blog – the salvation, or help, protection to this child came in the form of education – instide a classroom, with a person who didn’t give up on her and thaugt her not to give up too and guarantee a different future for her children.
Nesse enredo que trago até vocês hoje – no meu dia da semana de proteção à criança aqui do nosso blog – a salvação, ou a ajuda, a proteção à essa criança veio por meio do ensino – dentro de uma sala de aula, com uma pessoa que não desistiu dela e a ensinou a não desistir e garantir um futuro diferente para os filhos dela.
“Eu sou Precious ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
My baby is black
I’m a woman
I want a house to live”Translation from Portuguese version
This theme might be a trigger for some and it is a heavy subject, but it’s necessary. It was necessary for me as a human being – with a privileged life, a well rounded family – to see beyond my bubble. That made me want to change my actions as a human and maybe change the lives of children, teens and women with my voice – when, during many times, they are silenced or do not have the strength or courage to use their own.
PUSH (1996) – Precious (2010)
The movie is based on the book Push, from author Sapphire, published on June 11, 1996, by editor Alfred A. Knopf. I read it editions and years later – the book I read was the 8th edition, translated on Brazil by editor Record, by Alves Calado. On the Brazilian version of Push, it came with the name and movie poster of the movie, on 2010!
The movie adaptation of Push happened in 2009 and it got here to Brazil in 2010!
Before we go a little deeper on the story, I want to introduce you to Ramona Lofton, born in August 4, 1950, Fort Ord National Monument, California, USA – a writer, poet and performance artist, also known as Sapphire: the author that works in a wonderful and painful way on this book.
Sapphire also published a book which is a compilation of poems, called: Meditations on the Rainbow on 1987. Prior to that, she moved from California to New York in 1977. That’s when she got more envolved with poetry.
Between 1983 and 1993, she lived on Harlem (a district in Manhattan, on the city of New York, known for jazz clubs, soul food institutions and African-American heritage), where she taught teens and adults to read and write.
She took as inspiration to write Push her experience as a social worker on a shelter for women on the district. The book was acclaimed by critics and it was first place on lists of USA best sellers, including New York Times’ – it was translated to more than 11 languages, including Portuguese.
The Movie Adaptation
Thirteen years after publishing the book, in a Oprah Winfrey production, directed by Lee Daniels, Push became Precious – and brings the story of Claireece, who, at 16 years old, finds out she’s pregnant for the second time of her own father. He had already made her pregnant when she was only 12 years old.
This second pregnancy makes the director from her current school expell her, guiding her to a teaching instituition to young women in the conditions Precious found herself.
The sexual abuse from her own father wasn’t news on her life, and it didn’t even start at 12 years old – when she got pregnant for the first time. The abuse, with her mother’s knowledge, started when she was only 3 years old. Her mother did nothing to stop once she loved her husband and at any moment she wanted to contradict him, what – in my opinion – doesn’t justify her acceptance. Precious’ mother also suffered abuses in order to adopt such behaviour.
With years going by and the desire of her husband for his own daughter only growing, the mother started to treat Claireece in an even more inhuman way. Always ordering her to do domestic chores, cook every meal and not even allowing her to eat properly – getting to the point of forbidding her to eat. Even if the mother didn’t work or did something more than watching TV all day.
Those actions make our main character believe for such a long time that the fault for awekening her own father’s – sick – sexual desire was hers, and that she wouldn’t be loved or desired by anyone else besides him – since she was obese, black and illiterate.
Precious always wanted a different future for her daughter – who is 4 years old, when she finds out her second pregnancy, and was born with down syndrome. Precious liked having a place to go and to learn, even if in this environment she was constantly humiliated and a bullying victim and of arduous social exclusion. She was happy when people complimented her homeworks and achievements.
When she changed her learning routine, she met a person who was of great importance in her life and in her quest of who and how she wanted to be from that moment on. In my opinion, that’s the most “magical” moment of the whole story, be it in the book or the movie, when she finds this person – with a role so important in other peoples lives: they are the educators, the ultimate instructors, the teachers.
Miss Rain and the power of education, the power of empathy and welcoming! I don’t know about you, but I’ve already had someone in my life, outside my family circle, who inspired me and made me want the very best to myself – Professor João Baptista, this is for you.
It wasn’t just one in reality, but certainly my History teacher from the seventh grade instigated me to be someone different from who I was up until that moment, he made me see that even studying at a public school from a district in the outskirts of the main city, I could – no, I SHOULD – be my best, in order to not end up like many others that sat on those desks and, if they didn’t had their lives swallowed by crime, lived in a rather mediocre way and without aspiration of a brighter future.
“Please don’t love me! Love never did anything for me! Love hurts, it makes me feel worthless”Translated from Portuguese
Getting back to the movie – it was that – as it was and is for a lot of people – the base for chage in the world she lived in and she wanted to provide for her children. From that point on, Precious starts a journey from the opression that she lived her whole life, to self-determination.
Blue Rain – a young teacher, radical and a fighter – is the person who provides Precious the possibility to get back her voice – that for so long she didn’t even know she had – and the dignity that was stripped from her in such a harsh and premature way, by those who should love and protect her, presenting her a new world in which she can finally express herself and understand her own feelings in a manner she never had imagined before.
In my opinion, the end of all this plot is in a certain way comforting – but only in a certain way. Precious manages to free herself from her home and her mother, but finds out – with her father’s death from HIV – that she’s also HIV positive and has two children to care for.
I like to think that yes, even with all that, she managed to breathe for the firs time in her life, in a decent way, and not in a suffocating moment – she found the light at the end of the tunnel. And maybe what makes me even more shocked, is that yes, even with all that, Claireece, amid so many children and teens in abusive homes, is the exception, not the rule.
Of course movements in favor of children and teens we have around – as much as we can create – with our voices, so these people have strength to use their own, already help a lot in this scenario. So aunt Hekate tip: Use your voices, your privileges, your well rounded homes, to help the others – the next generation, the ones who are going to be the future of the world we want, with the certainty that it’s going to be better, always.
Get to Know and Advertise Protection Channels
I have talked many times during this post about using our voices and here are some tips I got from our friend UNICEF so we can use this tool to save lives and change worlds.
If you know a child or a teen that suffers some kind of domestic abuse – be it from a family member, close or not, a neighbour, an acquaintance, a student, someone from your work environment or wherever it is – don’t think twice! The best for this child will never be remaining on that place, that will only cause them harm. So, I’m going to list a few channels in which we can contact people in order to help the life of this little human being:
The first is the social support system from your town. Here in Brazil, we have something called Tutelary Council – which works with children and gives them support when their families can’t do the same. Check your country/town social support system and get in touch with them.
The second is anonymous report lines. Again, here in Brazil we have two numbers – like 911 – we can call and report anonymously any sort of abuse going on. Check your contry/town for support lines and get in touch.
The third is the police. Calling 911 can be of help in cases of violence and when immediate help is needed.
The fourth is online reports. Also, we have an online anonymous report system for cyberbullying here in Brazil. Check yours and make sure to contact them in cases of cyberbullying.
And remember: on the least sign of an abusive home, physical, sexual or psychologycal violence, risk situations, deprivation or any other indication that the child or teen has their rights violated, defend them, report it, save that existence.
Bonus: Watch Precious
Precious got many prizes and nominations, with a total of 113 wins and 98 nominations. Among the most important ones for movies, the piece received 6 nominations for the 2010’s Oscars, for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Edit, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, winning the last two categories.
For those who are interested in watching it, the movie is available in some streaming platforms, such as the ones in the link below (updated in October/2020):
Looke: Link Precious Looke
Amazon Prime Video: Link Precious Amazon Prime
Children Protection Week on Lune Station
If you’re interested on our week, we have to more posts to complete it: Selene’s, on the link below, and Artemis’, which will be posted on the weekend!