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Biography
BIOGRAPHY

  • Ramona Lofton, better known to her readers as Sapphire, was born in 1950 in Fort Orr, California. On the surface, her family was characterized as the normal, middle class family. Her father was an army sergeant and her mother was a member of the Women's Army Corps. As a child, Sapphire's family relocated several time to various cities, states, and countries. When she was only 13 years old, Sapphire's mother became the victim of alcoholism and eventually departed from her life. Her mother eventually died in 1983. In that same year, her brother, who was then homeless was killed in a public park.

  • Sapphire attended San Francisco City College in the 1970's majoring first in chemistry and then switching to dance. She soon dropped out to become a hippie and moved to New York in 1977 taking several odd jobs, including topless dancing and housekeeping. It wasn't until the early 1980s that she began writing poetry and reading it aloud at various Village venues including the Nuyorican Cafe. Sapphire eventually returned to school and graduated with honors in 1993 with a degree in modern dance. Upon graduation, she taught reading to students in the Bronx and Harlem and also enrolled in graduate school at Brooklyn College.


Biography1
Biography

  • Vintage Publishing published her first book, American Dreams, in 1994. American Dreams is a combination of poetry and prose, and according to Publisher's Weekly it was "One of the strongest debut collections of the '90s". Each of the selections in this book tells the story of the cruel realities of inner city life in a brutally honest way. American Dreams contains one of her most controversial poems, "Wild Thing", told from the view of a 13 year-old rapist.


Biography2
Biography

  • Sapphire wrote a second book, a volume of poetry, entitled Black Wings & Blind Angels, which was published in 1999. In Black Wings & Blind Angels, Sapphire addresses a multitude of topics including police brutality, her relationship with her abusive father and alcoholic mother, and sexual identity. Sapphire has also had a number of works printed in several anthologies including High Risk 2: Writings on Sex, Death & Subversions, Critical Condition: Women on the Edge of Violence, and Women on Women: An Anthology of American Lesbian Short Fiction.


Summary
Summary

  • Pushis narrated by Claireece Precious Jones, a sixteen year old African‑American girl who, when the book begins, is carrying her father's second child. The victim of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at home, overweight and friendless, Precious has become lost in the traditional school system where she is in the ninth grade and always hides in the back of the room. She describes a scene in her math class when she acts out to escape admitting she can't read: "[But] I couldn't let him, anybody, know page 122 look like page 152, 22, 3, 6, 5‑all the pages look alike to me" (5).


Summary1
Summary

  • Her pregnancy leads to Precious's being assigned to Each One Teach One, an alternative school located in Harlem, and the beginning of a new life. With a dedicated teacher named Blue Rain, Precious and her small group of female classmates begin with the alphabet and progress to reading and writing their thoughts in daily journals as well as learning math and other subjects. Over the two years described in Precious's narrative, her life improves dramatically. She has her son and escapes her abusive mother by moving into a halfway house, which allows her to care for her son and continue school. We share Precious's joy in learning:


Summary2
Summary

  • I know I'm eighteen, magic number. And my reading score is 2.8. I ask Ms Rain what that mean. She says it's a number! And can't no numbers measure how far I done come in j us' two years. She say forget about the numbers and just keep working. The author has a message and the reader's job is to decode that message as thoroughly as possible. A good reader is like a detective, she say, looking for clues in the text. A good reader is like you Precious, she say. Passionate! Passionately involved with what they are reading. Don't worry about numbers and fill in the blank, just read and write! (110)


Summary3
Summary

  • Precious finds her own experiences reflected in Langston Hughes' poetry and Alice Walker's The Color Purple and eventually raises her reading level to 7.8 on the TABE test. Precious's teacher and her new friends also help her cope with the knowledge that she is HIV positive. The 150‑page book ends with Life Stories, the affecting essays and poems written by the girls in her class at the alternative school.


Summary4
Summary

  • Despite the cruelty and harshness evident in the lives of Precious and the other girls, the book's message is one of hope. Through friendship and the nurturing environment of the school, Precious is able to improve her life and come to feel that she is "precious," a unique and valuable human being.


Quotes
QUOTES

  • Miz Claireece Precious Jones for fucking my husband you nasty little slut! I feel like I’m gonna die, cant breathe, from where l have baby start to hurt. “ fat cunt bucket slut! Nigger pig bitch! He done quit me ! He done left me ’cause of you. What you tell them mutherfuckers at the damm hospital? I should kill you!” (19)


Quotes1
QUOTES

  • “Sometimes what I feel I is. I feel so stupid sometimes. So ugly, worh nuffin; I could just sit here wif my muver everyday wif the shades drawed, watching TV, eat, eat, watch TV” (34-5)


Quotes2
QUOTES

  • I was raised by a psycho maniac fool. He climb on me, you know. You understand? So he on me. Then he reach over to Precious! Start wif his finger between her legs. I say Carl what are you doing! He say shut your big ass up! This is good for her. Then he git off me, take off her pampers and try to stick his thing in Precious. You know what trip me out it is almost can go in Precious! I think she some kind freak baby then” (135-6)


Quotes3
QUOTES

  • “Carl come over fuck use’s. Go from room to room, slap me on my ass when he through, holler WHEE WHEE! Call me name Butter Ball, Big Mama Two Ton of Fun. I hate hear him talk more than I hate fuck. Sometimes fuck feel good. That confuse me, everything get swimming for me”(35


Quotes4
QUOTES

  • I go home. I'm so lonely there. I never notice before. I'm so busy getting beat, cooking, cleaning, pussy and asshole either hurting or popping. School I a joke black monster, Big Bertha, Blimp B54 where are you? 'N the TV's in my head always static on, flipping picture. So much pain, shame--I never feel the loneliness. It such a small thing compare to your daddy climb on you, your muver kick you, slave you, feel you up. But now since I been going to school I feel lonely. Now since I sit in circle I realize all my life, all my life I been outside of circle. Mama give me orders, Daddy porno talk me, school never did learn me.


Quote
Quote

  • “I don’t have nothing to write to day- maybe never. Hammer in my heart now, beating me, I feel like my blood a giant river swell up inside me and I’m drowning. My head all dark inside. Feel like giant river I never cross in front me now. Ms. Rain say, You not writing Precious. I say I drownin’ in river. She don’t look me like i’m crazy but say, If you just sit there the river gonna rise up and drown you! Writing could be the boat carry you to the other side.”(97)

    ‘“…… Open your notebook Precious.” “I’m tired,” I says. She says, “I know you are but you can’t stop now Precious, you gotta push.” And I do.”’ (96-97)


Quote1
QUOTE

  • “My muver don’t want no white shit like Mrs. Linchenstein social worker teacher ass nosing around here. My muver don’t want to get cut off, welfare that is. And that’s what white shit like Mrs. Linchenstein coming to visit result in. If I wasn’ pregnant and having trouble with the stairs, I run down and kick her ass. My muver say, ‘”Eighty-six that bitch.”’ I says in the intercom, Hasta la vista, baby.”(15)


Literature of social conscience
Literature of Social Conscience

  • Awareness: on AIDS

  • Awareness: on incest /rape

  • Awareness: on social class/economic class

  • Awareness: on child abuse ( emotional, physical and neglect)

  • Awareness: on illiteracy / among all ages

  • Awareness: Educational system

  • Awareness: racism



Child abuse
Child abuse

TYPES OF ABUSE & ABUSERS

  • In 2003, 48.3 percent of child victims were male; 51.7 percent of victims were female. 83.9 percent of victims were abused by a parent. 40.8% of child victims were maltreated by their mothers acting alone; another 18.8 percent were maltreated by their fathers acting alone; 16.9 percent were abused by both parents.1


Child abuse continued
Child Abuse, Continued

  • Men and women serving time in the nation's prisons and jails report a higher incidence of abuse as children than the general population.6

  • More than a third of women in the nation's prisons and jails reported abuse as children, compared with 12% to 17% for women in the general population. About 14% of male inmates reported abuse as children, compared with 5% to 8% of men in the general population.6


Works cited page
Works Cited Page

  • Biographical Information on Sapphire was taken from:

    • Voices from the Gap, website on multicultural American women writers, http://voices.cla.umn.edu

  • Child Abuse Statistics were taken from:

    • Child Help USA website, http://www.childhelpusa.org/abuseinfo_stats.htm