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Life Is Precious

Dec 10, 2009 — Categories:

Last week Carolyn Scott Brown, the Director of Educational Resources at FaithTrust Institute, and I went to see the new movie, Precious.

Last week Carolyn Scott Brown, the Director of Educational Resources at FaithTrust Institute, and I went to see the new movie, Precious. Afterwards we needed to discuss the film to work through the emotional messages shared in this painful “must-see” movie. We believe this story is particularly relevant to the work we do each day. I asked Carolyn to share her thoughts as my guest blogger.

Precious based on the novel Push by Sapphire. Produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. Directed by Lee Daniels. Starring Gabby Sidibe, Mo’Nique, and Mariah Carey. Rated R for child abuse including sexual assault and pervasive language.

Carolyn Scott Brown

The trailer for Precious says: “Life is hard, short, painful, rich and precious.” That’s the whole story . . . told with remarkable performances. There may be an Oscar lurking here.

Precious is an important movie that will inform you, move you and challenge you. It tells the heartbreaking story of a young girl who endures unthinkable acts of cruelty and degradation at the hands of her parents. It is difficult to find the right words to describe such a dark and disturbing movie. Although there are moments of laughter and comic relief, Precious stays with you as it gives a harsh reminder that innocent children are suffering in their homes.

Child abuse occurs in every community but as an African American woman, it was agonizing for me to see such a negative portrayal of an African American family. Experiencing this movie is not comfortable but it is necessary. It will move you to reach out to the child who walks alone and appears isolated and sullen. In my work I have counseled, taught and engaged with so called “youth at risk” in numerous settings including alternative schools, camps, detention centers and independent living programs but this movie shook me because it is a powerful visual display of what goes on behind the closed doors that my students often described.

Precious raises many questions: Why didn’t a teacher, spiritual leader, family member or neighbor recognize the agony of this child at a younger age? Why did it take so long? One thing we can all learn from this movie is that when we fail even one child, tremendous damage is done. If one local mosque or church had been known for being equipped to help abused kids perhaps Precious would have found her way there.

How can we ensure that our faith communities are prepared to reach out to the child that doesn’t know we exist? Eventually, Precious finds help and responds to the love of her peers and helpers. She begins to value herself and fight back. She utilizes her resiliency to move forward and achieve her goals and we see a transformation. This story of an indomitable human spirit is also the story of many children and young adults in our midst. How can we help insure that transformation is part of the story for other kids?

We know through our work that when someone is able to tell their story, the healing can begin. Don’t let the pain of this film immobilize you. Rather let it move you to action. See the movie, and tell your friends. Support the work of FaithTrust Institute as we provide the knowledge and tools that faith communities need to confront the challenges faced by victims of violence. Or if you know of a local program for teens that you care about, support their work in your community.

Don’t be afraid to hear when a kid is calling for help and then help her or him find support in the community so that the cycle of sexual and domestic violence can end with this generation.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute

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