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Diary of A Mad, Black, Moral Imagination

Updated: Jul 21, 2022


Diary of A Mad, Black, Moral Imagination:

The Role of Hegelian Dialectics in the Gospel Performances in

Holiday Heart (2000) and Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)


My moral imagination was shaped on my living room floor. Every 2-3 weeks like clockwork, I would find myself sitting in between my grandmother’s knees as she braided my hair. Each time we would go through the same ritual. I would find the fluffiest pillow to use as a seat cushion, grab my grandmother’s ilarun[1], and we would watch a movie. From there, my mother would sit close by to offer a helping hand, or threatening voice when I wouldn’t sit still. With my mother, grandmother and I sitting in front of the TV, these moments were periods of discussion and reflection pertaining to the chosen movie at hand. We would discuss the resilience of the Von Trapp family as they flee to the hills of Austria, or the importance of education to the beat Principal Joe Clark supporting the students of East Side High. Two movies that we would regularly watch on BET[2] during my hair braiding sessions were Robert Townsend’s Holiday Heart (2000)[3]and my mom’s favorite, Darren Grant’s Diary of A Mad Black Woman (2005).[4] Holiday Heart follows the story of its titular protagonist Holiday Heart, a devout Christian pianist by day and successful drag queen by night. In the midst of grieving his deceased partner, Holiday unexpectedly meets a twelve-year-old girl named Nikki and her mother Wanda who struggles with substance abuse. Out of the kindness of his heart and extremely empathy for Nikki, Holiday takes them in and becomes a stable, loving parental figure for Nikki. Together the trio navigate their traumas and find a new sense of a family. On its face, Diary of a Mad Black Woman starkly contrasts Holiday Heart. Its titular character is Mad black[5] woman Helen McCarter. After being married to the extremely wealthy lawyer, Charles McCarter for 18 years, Charles gets fed up with the charade of their marriage and violently kicks her out of the house and moves in his mistress to whom he’s already had two children with behind Helen’s back. Needless to say, Helen is mad. But her anger is put to the test when Charles is rendered paralyzed after getting shot and Helen is the only one who cares enough to help. Helen is then guided by the wisdom of her devoutly Christian mother and the brashness of the famous Tyler Perry[6] character, Madea. Despite these differences