For Precious Girls Everywhere: Lamentations, HIV, and Precious
The book of Lamentations is one of the most visceral and disturbing narratives in the Hebrew Scriptures. Through the establishment of the literary metaphor, Daughter Zion, as well as the lamenting voices of the destroyed community of Jerusalem, the text addresses the intricacies of human life, loneliness, and experiences of loss, stigma, and gendered violence in the midst of war. These themes can serve as a vehicle to read Lamentations resistively in light of the continuing HIV pandemic in the United States, which disproportionally affects black and minority ethnic (BME) women. Using Sapphire’s 1996 novel Push and Lee Daniels’s film adaptation, Precious (2010), as intertexts to read Lamentations, Lu Skerratt explores how this biblical tradition gives a face and voice to the gender violence and intersectional oppressions experienced by BME women living with HIV and AIDS. They also argue, however, that Lamentations is a text of survival too; in voicing her own pain, Daughter Zion transforms the pain she has experienced into a moment of liberation from the inevitable finality and fragility of life.
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