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Life Lessons from 'Precious'

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This is a movie that truly has changed the way that I look at life and its challenges.

Calvin Lowery: Before you embark upon this holiday season (or the rest of your life), do yourself and those around a favor and watch "Precious."

precious mo'nique

I must disagree with People Magazine Daily's subpar review of this movie and the unsubstantiated claim that the characters did not connect with the audience. If you watch/watched this movie and did not feel a connection with the characters, then you must be a member of the 0 percent of the population that has never faced adversity, never been helped by anyone, or never helped another.

Furthermore, the debate that is objectively reported on by the New York Times' Felicia R. Lee in "To Blacks, Precious Is 'Demeaned' or 'Angelic'" is a great example of the issue facing positive African-American efforts today. To look at a literary or entertainment piece and to reduce it to nothing more than a stereotype is disrespectful. This is not a YouTube clip, this is a movie with a message, and that message is not that "all black people are poor, on drugs and flunking out of school."

In Lee's article, Armond White is quoted as saying, "[N]ot since 'The Birth of a Nation' has a mainstream movie demeaned the idea of black American life as much as 'Precious.'" Lee's criticism of the movie is not only false, but also inaccurate. When was the last time that someone said, "Since all white people in 'Grey's Anatomy' sleep around, all white people sleep around"?

There are too many African-American figures on television, in the media, in sports, and in government for the age-old argument that these types of movies perpetuate black stereotypes. Honestly, we have a diversity of figures from Oprah Winfrey to Barack Obama to Lebron James. If Ms. Lee actually wants to know what is setting African-American progress backwards, it's not movies like "Precious," it is the countless number of ignorant individuals that are walking around not tackling issues like "Precious," or her teacher -- but refusing to help and consistently criticizing those who do.

More importantly, "Precious" encourages three lessons that we all need to remember: (1) how fortunate you are, and what is important this holiday season; (2) the impact you can have on another person (good/bad); and (3) why you should never give up. If you have seen the movie, you will understand why these lessons are relevant, and if you have not seen the movie -- GO SEE IT!

Lesson #1: See how fortunate you are -- and what is really important this holiday season?

There are times when I find myself or someone around me complaining about circumstances that others would love to complain about (a mentor I have calls these "high society issues"). For example, how many times have you heard someone complain about getting up in the morning and being forced to go to work? At a time when unemployment is at a nauseating high, you have to be kidding me.

In the movie, you watch anxiously as you see issue after issue hit Precious in the face -- issues that many of us never have and never will face. But, this young lady's story does not end with what happened to her, it ends with what she tried to do about it.

Lesson #2: The impact you can have on another (good/bad).

Precious demonstrates the impact that positive and negative people can have on someone else's situation. You can be responsible for contributing to another person's success or failure. Supporting characters (parents, educators, social workers, and health professionals) in this movie show that their dealings with Precious either assist or hinder Precious's attempts to overcome her issues. Some of the issues that a young Precious must face are even thrown upon her by the supporting characters -- who are supposed to care.

This behavior is consistent with our own situations. Many times we have the opportunity to assist someone, but we choose to hinder their progress as opposed to help in their success. After watching this movie, I realized that you never know what someone is going through, and I should do all that I can to provide a helping hand, when I can.

Lesson #3: Why you never give up ...

This movie reminds me of every come-from-behind win and every underdog success. Precious represents the individual in a situation that never had a chance, but shows that you do not have to accept what life deals you as your fate. With all-time highs for STDs, teen pregnancy, incarceration rates, high school dropout rates, unemployment, divorce, and crime, a movie that demonstrates you can accomplish anything is a much-welcomed change.

When you sit in the theater and watch this young lady encounter the most difficult and controversial issues imaginable, you sit there and reflect and ultimately decide that you must push on with whatever issues you are facing in your life.

The issues faced and whether Precious overcomes this adversity is intentionally kept out of this discussion. If you have seen the movie, let me know what you think, and if you haven't -- GO SEE IT.

It will be sad to see Oprah leave her talk show. But, if this departure means that I can expect more movies like this, then I am very excited about the next chapter of her life.

Despite what "the haters" say, this movie will change the way you look at life and life's challenges.

next: Tom Knows Baby's Gender, Gisele Doesn't
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