Cover-Up, Colored Girl

Over the last week I’ve watched numerous videos surface in celebration of Fenty Beauty— pop-star Rihanna’s new makeup line. Black women dominated much of the uploads and commentary, which seemed overwhelmingly positive. Perhaps positive is an understatement. The feedback was not out only abundant but elated at the opportunity to now access Rihanna’s aesthetics. Interestingly, the excitement surrounding Miss 265aea78b16ccdcfd610f6cf36c71606--fenty-rihanna-rihanna-makeupFenty’s latest business venture surfaced at the same time of ESPN correspondent Jemele Hill’s contentious tweet that prompted many to call for her firing. These events shared more than just their involvement with black women, but a conflicting message.

On one hand, much of the black female collective celebrated Fenty’s product launch, or what may be construed as a means for black women to “cover up,” yet in the same week many black women spoke out about Hill’s coercion to “cover up” her views. Moreover,  while many black women nodded their head or even raised their fist in solidarity with Ms. Hill, and were offended at the demand for black women to mask their views, many did so while wearing a mask of their own.  The dichotomous reaction induced by both Hill and Fenty expose the cognitive dissonance to which the black female body is nurtured to encompass as systemized beings. jemele-hill-espn

Rihanna is the name and face of Fenty Beauty, but Fenty Beauty is not a black owned business.  This is not to say Miss Fenty is not intelligent or ambitious enough to start her own makeup line—she is—but  the brand is still overwhelmingly geared towards white women and non-black persons of color. A fact substantiated in the reality that more than half of the foundationshades target women of a lighter hue.

A core component of white supremacy is to use members of the black collective to deflect blacks from our collective greatness, and it seems Fenty Beauty is the latest manifestation of this approach. Fenty, as a woman revered for her beauty, is a perfect tool to enslave the black mind and convince the black collective that if they are not Rihanna, a figment of white creation exotified by the white male gaze as an African displaced outside the Americas, they are not worthy of visibility.

ph3a0osnsw2qbweCase in point, black women do not need makeup. Would you have to make-up a tutoring or exercise session that you were there to initially receive? Of course not. This same logic substantiates why makeup is superfluous to black women. Makeup does for black woman, what a makeup exam does for someone who has already taken and aced an exam—nothing.

Makeup items like foundation, mascara, bronzer, lip liner etc all function to enhance white women in their plight to possess what the black woman has naturally— the benefits of melanin. Black women are born with varying complexions with undertones that reflect the richness of our ancestry. White women, and fair-skinned women of other demographics, purchase makeup to compensate for the color contrast gifted to black women at birth. So while many purchase and wear the Fenty Beauty products believing that they are supporting the black female collective, it is imperative to note that to purchase these items is to comply to the belief that black beauty must be enhanced by something external.

Two years ago, I wore a full face of makeup every day. I countered and highlighted my face, lined my lips to “put on” a caricatured version of black beauty manufactured by white franchises. It was not until a random Saturday when I ventured to the mall with my natural hair and makeup free face, that I felt the freedom of natural beauty. I realized that makeup had not improved my appearance, but reduced my beauty to an approachable product of white supremacy that consequently made me look less youthful and appear less human.  23701123-portrait-of-a-woman-who-is-posing-covered-with-blue-and-gold-paint

To look in the mirror and love your reflection in its most pure state is just as important as speaking out about racism. It is to stand at the mountaintop and look down on all that exists to subjugate you. It was not until I made the decision to stop covering up my face, that I emerged in full form and became confident enough to eschew covering up my views, and feelings. I am no longer afraid of any aspect of my blackness, be it my face, my hair, or what’s on my mind. I am not afraid because my individual features and perspectives are a part a collective greatness that I will not apologize for or conceal.

I say this to say that blackness is something blacks are conditioned to apologize for in a variety of ways. From hiding black hair under weaves, wigs, color, or perms, to masking black faces with white products veiled by a black spokesperson—the black collective faces the incessant burden to cover-up and silently apologize for blackness in small strides to attain visibility and inclusion. Apologizing for blackness illustrates that most blacks are unaware of their majesty— an oblivion that paves the path to the gallows with a pseudo means to greatness.

To know our worth as a collective to is acknowledge the cognitive dissonant patterns that allow us to take two steps backwards for every step forward. If black is truly beautiful, and it is, then the black body must be celebrated in her pure state, whether this pure state is a makeup free face or uncensored speech.

To know our worth is to acknowledge that covering our faces, or banishing our perspectives to silence is to acquiesce to inferiority. It is to silently dig your own grave with a foundation or contour brush, to which the black female body, hollowed by white objectivity,  lies beat down by insecurities exploited by the white collective and worn as jewels on a stolen crown.

 

Black power ❤

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Maternalizing The Sexualized Black Body

Black female sexuality remains at the core of caricatured black female identity. Scandal’s Olivia Pope, the DC fixer by day and white male concubine at night, is easily the prototype for the black female roles that followed. Her hyper-sexuality quenched the western drought of the black female whore veiled in attributes like education, conventional success, and a costly wardrobe which appear overtly progressive. Pope’s hyper-sexuality mirrors the hyper-sexuality of the jezebel controlling image seen in Hallelujah (1929) and Carmen (1954), which both imply that African blood breeds an untamable sexuality.

Black female hyper-sexuality remains a means to “spice up” dull storylines at the expense of objectifying the black female body. An interesting twist of this portrayal is that this hyper-sexuality has evolved to anchor it’s portrayal at the root. Specifically, a recent evolution of this hyper sexuality depicts the mothers of the sexually sullied protagonists as sexual deviants.

rs_560x415-131105153119-1024.khandi-alexander-scandal-kerry.110513ABC’s Scandal originated this image, in depicting lead protagonist Olivia Pope’s mother Maya as not only a global assassin, but a philanderer. This not only added layers to Olivia’s parental foundation, but an additional dimension to the hyper- sexualized black female body.

Popular series Being Mary Jane and Greenleaf, birthed from the success of Scandal, also depict black female hyper-sexuality in mother-daughter relationships that anchor the series.

On season one of Greenleaf, Pastor Grace Greenleaf (Merle Dandridge) sleeps with an engaged Noah. Although chastised by her mother, viewers learn that Mae Greenleaf (Lynn Whitfield) also had an affair with a married man, as a married woman.  Greenleaf is of course written and produced by Craig Wright—a white man, who greenleaf-logo-2560x1440orchestrates a predominately black cast to perform in  caricatured images validated by sitcoms written and produced by black people.

Side bar. I often find myself wondering if Greenleaf creator joined a black church and created this series from the gossip—or is just a student of Tyler Perry. Probably the latter. Many will argue that the black collective is more interesting in its hidden truths and drama, but it’s not that the black collective has more secrets than its oppressive counterpart, but that the interworking of the white collective is far too wicked for prime-time television. The curators of the white media want blacks to catch the cold of white induced inferiority, not the spirit of self-determination.

600x600bb-85Being Mary Jane, intensifies its depiction of the hyper sexual black woman in revealing that Mary Jane’s mother (Margaret Avery)  Helen Patterson’s hyper sexuality resulted in the creation of her eldest son Patrick, who she stealthily raised as her husband Paul Patterson’s son. This depiction portrays the black woman as destructive to her own conjugal sanctity in presenting questionable paternity to offspring that provide a visual to  her indiscretions. Thus, the implication becomes the message conveyed in a Soho billboard painted around fie years ago  which read:

“the most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.”

article-1360125-0D564F14000005DC-265_306x423The billboard insultingly suggests that black females cause more harm to their children prior to birth than the world that awaits  black children. A world that hands them cyclical disenfranchisement, who torches four little girls in a church, or who murders black children who went to the store for a snack.

Yes, the soho billboard referenced black female abortions, but this media portrayal suggests that abortions are favorable in eschewing the identity crisis that awaits the product of black female sexuality. This portrayal of course displaces the idea of a severed black identity, onto the black female, and not the rightful assailant.

The billboard should read, that the most dangerous place for a black child is in the womb of white supremacy, as it is this womb that predetermines the oppressed state of black bodies. The sexualized black female body is a prevalent facet of this oppressed state.

Thus, depicting the black female matriarch as possessing a sexuality too bestial for marriage illustrates hyper- sexuality as a genetic mutation. The mother’s infidelity is visibly placed outside the scope of the black female protagonist—eliminating “learned behavior” as an explanation for this shared mother/daughter trait. grace-and-lady-mae

The result is that the black female viewer becomes incited to question herself and not the power structure that foments this hyper-sexual caricature. Namely, these portrayals induce the black female body to see herself and her collective as hyper-sexual, rather than hyper-sexualized— a mistake that allows white supremacy to prevail on networks black in name and affiliation only.

While  I do critique the analysis offered on the series, I do commend Being Mary Jane for offering an analysis of the black experience written by  black people. This reality makes the series far more appreciated and redeemable than series like Greenleaf who appropriate said narrative. With this said, the series still functions to layer black female behavior without acknowledging the very prevalent outside influences.

It is this carelessness and sheer oblivion that douses our collective identity for the sole benefit of our oppressors. Furthermore, while it may be tempting to clutch one’s pearls and bask in the drama of prim- time television, it is imperative that we as a collective realize that our fictive portrayals yield factual iniquity.

Black Power ❤

Disrespectful Moments from Insecure episode “Hella Disrespectful”

  • Molly’s Wig (s): Yvonne Orji is a beautiful woman. Yet her gorgeous African figures succumb to the unstated tragedy of unfla24-molly-2.w710.h473.2xttering wigs. This proves that inauthentic hair, be it a wig, weave, or unnatural hair color, is simply an injustice and insult to black beauty. FYI, I feel the same way about Issa’s dyed tresses, as it suggests that natural hair is more approachable or attractive if an unnatural color.
  • The Hyper-sexual Black Female:  Black women on prime time television function as an SOS that states WARNING  MARRIED WOMEN!! Black women will steal your man and have sex with him in bathrooms or AV closets (Scandal) when you are just steps away. aparna-1920
  • Lawrence and his non-black arm candy to an otherwise all black event: The series depicts the black man as driven away from the black woman due to her hyper-sexuality—a depiction that paints the black female body as a catalyst for black male emasculation. This of course veils the acts of a villainous white male patriarchal system as the misdeeds of black women.
  • The cantankerous,  heavy-set black woman: Kelli, the full-figured friend performs a familiar caricature. She’s the comedic relief, she’s comfortable in casual relationships to which many interpret as “winning.” However, an alternative kelli-1920interpretation may deem Kelli’s actions an acquiescence to an inferior position in the social hierarchy. Is Kelli funny? Yes! Is she beautiful? Yes. But her beauty is betrayed by way of humor, doing little to advance or challenge the way we as black people view big black women.
  • Light=Right: It is not accidental that Tiffany, the black female character with fair skin and a blonde weave appears the most conventional in the series. Tiffany, the Beyonce of the series, is married, whereas her tiffany-1920darker counterparts have issues keeping men and avoiding self-sabotage. She’s also sexually liberated. In the previous episode, Tiffany gloated about her willingness to perform fellatio, referencing her performance as instrumental in landing her a ring—illustrating the fairer skin woman as incurring opportunity where the darker skin woman incurs objectification.
  • Colorism Part 2: It is also worth mentioning that Dro, Molly’s fair-skinned, childhood friend  also bears a disturbing function on the series. Dro is married to a chocolate woman who he said proposed the idea of an open marriage. Molly finds herself within their arrangement, creating a love triangle where a lighter skin male sexually  Dro-S2-E7engages with two women of a darker hue in a manner that resembles their plantation use. Although he seems gentle and sweet to both his wife Candace and Molly, Dro devalues black women in a manner nurtured and encouraged by the white supremacy that dominates the globe. 
  • A convo isn’t a convo without the n-word: The n word is used freely and frequently—present in nearly every conversation and argument featured on the series. This implies that use of the n-word is a colloquialism or accepted norm between blacks. Are there some blacks who use the term frequently without explication or much thought? Yes. Is this everyone. No. 

    issa-rae-inscure-omondi-sweatshirt
    If you look closely you can see Issa is wearing a “n*ggas” sweatshirt–deeming this racial slur a fashion choice of “urban” youth.

            It seems in the series’ desire to be edgy and “urban” foments a caricatured   performance of blacks by blacks—an image that validates not challenges white perception.

  •  The White Savior Figure

A predominately black series is unapproachable to a white audience without a white savior figure. Insecure implements this figure through Issa’s coworker, whose name will be purposely omitted from this piece to eschew affording this character any more glory. When the black principal restricts resources to only black children, the white woman deems his actions racist and holds Issa— a black woman accountable in ensuring inclusivity. gallery-1481654683-insecure-2

Sure, this act seems noble—but in reality this white woman is the epitome of a contemporary feminist–implementing anti-racist initiatives by ignoring or oversimplyfing their own racism in naming the oppressed racists  in a distorted perception of global racism. As a result, she acknowledges that her approaching a black man on a racial issue as a white woman counters her attempt at appearing antiracist, so she appoints a black woman to do her dirty work. Because it is of course, this is not racist (side eye).

It would have been a step forward in black portrayal to see Issa have an enlightened Review: ‘Insecure’ remains funny and topical in Season 2exchange with  the vice-principal, but instead she does not understand or contemplate his behavior. Issa’s white coworker of course does not understand the Vice Principal’s behavior, but she does seem to contemplate said behavior due to her internalized need to emerge as a psuedo “savior.” The white female behavior illustrated in this episode depicts a commonly ignored reality with regards to the white gaze. Namely, that much of black behavior functions as an informal anthropological experiment to white people.

But, Issa is a good slave, I mean worker, and she confronts the black male principal demanding that he include those who in their adulthood will probably view themselves as above blacks, and assume opportunities blacks fought hundreds of years to obtain.

Closing Thoughts

If it sounds like I am disappointed in the series, I am. But at the same time, I tune in to the sole series that addresses my age bracket to support a melanated woman in her creative endeavor. I also watch in hopes for improvement. Yet instead, by the end of each episode I feel as the title of this latest episode reads: Hella Disrespected.

Black Power ❤ `

OWN’s Black Love Docu-Series, A Review of Episode One

If you watch Maury, black love is dysfunctional, careless, and rooted in lust. The same can be said for many other “reality” television shows from court series to VH1 shows that anchor themselves in portraying the black man and black woman as hyper-sexual entities incapable of functioning in their shared state of incivility.tenor

The black woman is often depicted is mentally unstable, hyper-sexual, and evil— a force that emasculates the black man and prompts his desire to crawl back into the womb via sexual promiscuity. The white media consistently portrays the black woman and man as two pieces of a puzzle that just cannot fit together.

Enter producers, and black power couple, Tommy and Codie Oliver and their docu-series Black Love. This OWN documentary does not function to extinguish the stereotypes of black love, but to prove its possibility and vitality–deeming the documentary a well-executed pro-black initiative.

The documentary surfaces at an interesting time time–a time where injustice is blatant and inevitably hard to ignore—prompting many to get involved in protests, organizations and other means to confront cultural conflict. As a result, the revolution is often over-simplified as focusing on a single issue and overlooking the power of who you choose to love.

black-love-matters-sportswear-trucker-capBlack love is an understated revolutionary act dismissed in the contemporary world’s colorblind initiative guised as the antidote to contemporary conflict. This initiative not only inevitably imbues black erasure, but reflects the mental bludgeoning of the black mind that proves a platform for systemic abuse of the black body.

In merging the black body together romantically, the black collective incurs dual conflict—but in turn becomes stronger as a unit.

To say yes to black love is to don the strongest armor in confronting racism. To embark on black love is to ignore all the self-hatred embedded in society and choose to love yourself. It is to see the best in blackness when every aspect of western culture prompts blacks to see the worst in themselves. To choose black love is to refuse to enter the white man’s house through the back door—to build your own house that is large enough to walk through the front door with your head held high.  black-love

Black love is an understated revolutionary act and for this reason the Codie’s documentary is not only greatly appreciated, but a cultural necessity.

The docu-series features multiple black couples—most of which have been together for at least a decade. This fact alone is a testament to the ability of black love to function despite the racial climate of North America.

The couples that proved the most resonant to me were Cory and Tia Hardrict, Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, and Meagan Good and Devon Franklin. Here’s why:

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Viola and Julius, like Tia and Cory illustrate the non-glamorous facet of black love. Viola’s recollection of informing her soon to be husband of her bad credit was comical but also very honest. Whether its “bad” credit, a “bad” romantic past, “bad” finances,  or a “bad” familial structure— the black body commonly has a severed relationship with conventionality—so “bad” is a given. It is often this “bad” that drives a wedge between blacks—due to an inability to conceptualize how American culture is designed to deteriorate both the black individual or the black collective with concepts like “bad.”

I similarly enjoyed how Tia and Cory shared their humble beginnings. Specifically, Cory shared that he did not have a lot of money when he and Tia got married or when they began dating. The black woman out-earning the black man is a cruel truth and strategic means to implement black female success to emasculate the black male. Therefore, Tia and Cory depict the ability of black love to unit despite circumstances the exist to divide them.

mgdftmchAlthough conventionally successful at the time of their initial meeting, Meagan Good and Devon Franklin illustrate the significance of stepping outside of your comfort zone as both had sworn off attributes that defined their future spouse.

Also, Meagan Good— as a black woman extolled for her beauty—illustrates that external beauty is not necessarily a gateway to finding love. Rather, love blossoms when an individual is valued for their inner beauty.

Good’s husband, Devon Franklin delivered the docu-series most resounding line with the following:

“As a single man I was good, but as a married man I’m great.”

devonmeganwed_23271dde43c7b3b3ac894006654bd890.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.pngHe also goes on to say that many men feel as though they must conquer the world prior to marriage, but dispels this idea by saying that men can conquer the world with the right woman. For black men this “right” woman is a black woman.

Furthermore, black love not only improves the individual, but elevates the black collective. Together we encompass the necessary strength to conquer the world.

For this reason, the black woman in an interracial relationship was the low of this docu-series, as it depicts weakness in an otherwise distinctive portrait of black strength.

Two other points of criticism, are colorism and the absence of the intersectional existence. Colorism is an obvious component in the series, in that a good portion of the couples feature a racially ambiguous woman, or a woman whose complexion is the binary opposite to her partner’s hue. This is a portrayal commonly seen on sitcoms, and films depicting black people—which embeds the ideology that lighter skin makes women more desirable. This colorism facet is perhaps most prevalent because the couples are products of Hollywood, where the paper bag test is alive and well–especially for black woman.  test-baf

Featuring Hollywood couples, or a facet of a Hollywood subgroup like producer, writer, etc functions to humanize couples that we as a collective have grown to love over the years. However, I do think the docu-series’ motif is perhaps best implemented by “every-day” couples of various professions and circumstances, as black hollywood couples, while bearing resonant and uplifting anecdotes, caricature blackness in a bubble of entertainment in a way that non-Hollywood couples do not.

It is also very important to note that while black on the outside, these Hollywood couples do not live a life common to the average black person, and may not even consider themselves black aside from going for roles designated for black people. Thus, this depiction, although surely well-intentioned, makes the docu-series depiction of actual black couples mannequin-like and less palpable.

The docu-series also omits same-sex black couples, disabled blacks, black couples crippled by poverty, and elderly couples—to name a few identity intersections absent from this portrait of black love.  Because blackness is all-encompassing, it is imperative that we include as much from our faction as possible to ensure that other subgroups do not seize those of our collective for their own selfish gain. Knowledge is also an essential component of black esteem. Cognizance of the many folds of blackness functions to enlighten the black collective to all that they are—it is said knowledge that thwarts the western idea that blacks have and are nothing.

6bfb6ac4f758512be8fb8115c9b08d22--african-american-art-african-artNevertheless, the docu-series elevates black love from obscurity to a seat at the the table of contemporary conversation, educating an eager audience to the value of black love. The series also prompts a discourse for determining what exactly black love is.

Defining black love is subject to interpretation, but it is of great significance that we as a collective understand that black love is far more than two black people in love.

Two melanated people in love merely breeds an assimilatory lifestyle in which blackness is a happenstance not a beloved marker of those destined to fulfill a higher purpose. Black love ensures that we as a collective not only physicaly survive, but mentally thrive.

Black love a beautiful struggle, a purposeful endeavor, an undervalued union.

How would you describe black love? And, do you have a black love story?

Black Power ❤

 

 

 

 

Thinking of Michael Jackson on his Birthday

In recent weeks, my mind has remained fixated on Frankie Lymon, the lead vocalist on “Why do Fools Fall in Love,” who died at only twenty-five. He joined a long list of black entertainers who also died prematurely—exploited for their talent then left frankiefor dead.

Young Michael Jackson, with his high- pitched voice and big smile proved reminiscent of a Young Frankie. Although exalted for successfully embarking on a solo career after achieving success as a child star, Jackson’s death was just as sudden and untimely as Lymon—a young black man that seemingly never quite got the chance to culminate his michael-jackson-child-star-raw time on earth.

Jackson teaches his black fanbase that love is far more significant than money. Namely, Jackson’s life illustrates that money is far too invaluable a resource to the black collective. Instead, as a collective lacking self-love, money is seldom a bridge to get over a burdens but a means to fester an open wound.

Jackson teaches the black collective that we all suffer, yet most of us suffer in the silence of familial and work environments, not in front of the world. Jackson was one of, if not the greatest of all time, but he was human.

His humanity, though sullied by racist gossip, was largely stripped in his larger than life status that seemingly emerged after the Thriller album.

DGUYk24UMAAM3a0Yet, Jackson was born to shine, not to entertain. As an entertainer, Jackson is a dehumanized entity that exists solely to entertain whites. As one who shines, Jackson shines a light of exposition on blackness—enabling the black collective to be better in the lessons he taught us in-between producing the soundtrack to our lives.

Nevertheless, contemplating the late and great Michael Jackson for any long period of time stirs up a hurt that only seems to hurt more, not less over time. His life functions to teach blacks that talent is a shared experience and a collective gift—but it is not enough. Jackson serves as a reminder that what should bring us together as “Americans” merely exposes who the true “Americans” are, and they aren’t us.   MI0003790739

The black genius in an American context must also exist in the shadow of degeneracy. So while hailed as a musical genius, Jackson’s legacy was also sullied by allegations that I refuse to articulate in this post due to the ugliness they surfaced to impose on the beauty of black greatness. Furthermore, Jackson illustrates that black greatness is never good enough to alleviate the burdens of a caricatured blackness.

So on what would have been Jackson’s 59th birthday, let us collectively remember Michael Jackson and not just as a tokenized facet of “American” greatness, but as a black man impeded with the same demons that burden us daily. In choosing to see the best in Jackson, may we also see the best in ourselves. He was handsome, soulful, talented, humble, and an inspiration.

So while his systemic lynching functioned to suggest that he was not “one of them,” it solidified that he was in fact one of us–and that’s alright with me.

To the man that rocked the world with his talent and ethereal aura, sleep in peace.

The Failed Anti-Racist Attempt of the 2017 VMA’s

As a child, I anticipated watching the Video Music Awards every year. As an adult, I anticipate that this award show will reflect the climate of America, and therefore be inevitably racist.

Yet, many insist on drinking the koolaid of popular culture and live vicariously through the inauthenticity that is Hollywood. Despite lacking sincerity, Hollywood provokes real interest–rendering many senselessly invested in the awful beauty of western media.  A prime example of this senseless inventestment occurred this Sunday evening when Twitter went insane following a descendant of late white supremacist Robert Lee’s appearance on MTVs most anticipated award show–the VMAs.  Robert Lee IV appeared to  speak out against racism, offering the following words to an eager crowd:

“We can find inspiration in the Black Lives Matter movement, the women who marched in the Women’s March in January, and especially Heather Heyer, who died fighting for her beliefs in Charlottesville,”

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The tweets in response to Lee’s speech, referenced both his presence and speech as “powerful” and the younger generation as “woke.” Many even deemed the catalysts for contemporary problems the older generations rather than a product of collaborative evils and ignorance. It was in reading these comments that it became quite obvious that MTV succeeded in their attempt to bamboozle their audience into thinking they were a part of change and not a facet of white supremacy.

In analyzing MTV’s approach let us examine the following points:

  1. MTV was integrated by Michael Jackson, which means that prior to Michael Jackson maxresdefault‘s Billie Jean the “music” on what used to me Music Television, was predominately white. This means that the racism MTV supposedly spoke out against today, is the same platform that launched this network.
  2. This image of “change” is racist and reactionary  at best given that MTV’s gesture only occurred after the death of a white woman. I do not remember Trayvon’s family being featured after his untimely murder in 2012. I also don’t remember hearing Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Freddy Graye, John Crawford III, Sandra Bland, or any other black victims of white supremacy mentioned on the network let alone the VMAs. Furthermore, it took the same fate that seized the lives of countless blacks to befall a white woman, before black lives truly mattered to MTV. sybrina-fulton-trayvon-martin_240x340_54
  3. Robert Lee’s descendant was also very strategic to mention black lives matter amongst other issues, because to mention black conflict alone is seemingly too contentious or too deserving for a demographic incessantly disrespected with base treatment.
  4. It is also understatedly insulting for someone who has benefited from the mistreatment of blacks to say one thing and support meaningless gestures of removing a statue, thinking that somehow this act removes years of cyclical disenfranchisement. Its far easier to remove a stature that it is to remove yourself from the line of privilege and wealth that enables your lifestyle and very existence by way of black oppression.
  5. It is also very hard, if not impossible to take MTV’s anti-racist gestures seriously, given that the network awarded DJ Khalid an award for “best new artist.” Khalid’s artistry remains under investigation, as the only “art” in which Khalid demonstrates mastery is appropriating the talent of blacks. To recognize Khalid is to deify cultural appropriation, a racist act-by a racist network whose antiracist attempt is a poorly veiled act of chicanery. rs_636x330-170827160459-source

So while it is tempting to fall into the allure of change presented at this year’s VMAs, it is imperative that the black gaze remembers that the VMAs exist to entertain not ennoble the black collective. Namely, this evening viewers watched MTV attempt to distance itself from Commander and Chief Donald Trump through a failed attempt of liberalism, while performing in his very image of white supremacy.

Black Power ❤

 

 

 

Remembering the Late and Great Dick Gregory

It is just over twenty-four hours after Mr. Dick Gregory’s family released a public statement informing the world of his passing. Just twenty-four hours, and Gregory has already faded into the background of a culture who pretended to mourn Gregory until a more prevalent white issue arose. In life, Gregory would have predicted this abjection by a culture who have, for decades, anticipated his demise.  The white world regards Gregory’s passing in the same way it recalls the black contribution to America in the history books. Thus, Gregory’s dissolvement, is not accidental but purposeful in mirroring the collective amnesia induced by white supremacists to maintain their fictive superiority.dick-gregory-onstage-nyc

Few live a long life entirely dedicated to overturning injustice. Often one endures the temptation of an enslaved mindset for a least a few decades before stumbling onto a journey to consciousness most fail to complete. The late civil rights activist Dick Gregory illustrated that fighting for injustice need not be separated from how members of a collective makes money. Perhaps this is why the phrasing ” A Comedian who found humor in the civil rights struggle” seems an oversimplification if not an insult of Gregory’s life.

Gregory, an outspoken and unafraid figure of black masculinity, illustrates in his tragedies, choices, a decision to chase greatness despite the circumstances handed to him by a purposely imbalanced system.

Gregory’s contentiously titled Autobiography Nigger, is a perfect depiction of human experience flawed by implicit and explicit racism– a masterpiece in its candid and analytical examination of the black experience. Gregory’s autobiography is a poignant piece, that makes readers cry out of sadness, pride, and familiarity. Gregory’s audio biography illustrates the essentiality of blacks narrating their own stories  to document a shared experience, and expose brethren throughout the diaspora to the many folds of blackness.

Dick-Gregory“Shame,” is a chapter of Gregory’s autobiography that I often teach in my writing classes. It’s a detailed excerpt that uses the personal to paint a collective portrait. Gregory writes, “I never learned hate at home, or shame. I had to go to school for that.” In the excerpt. Gregory illustrates a heart-less white female supremacist teaching a young impoverished black boy shame.

Covertly, Gregory’s anecdote illustrates how the white supremacist world teaches blacks to feel ugly feelings like shame as a facet of oppression. This story reminds blacks that inferiority was never innate but conjured by those who eat their dinners off our backs. While Shame is a formal narrative of black innocence stripped away by white evil, Gregory was an informal narrative–a beacon of knowledge who taught in how he lived his life.

Extracted from his autobiography, here are five lessons from the late Dick Gregory.

My dollar was bigger than his because nobody knew I had mine.

Poor is a state of mind you never grow out of, but being broke is just a temporary condition
Teachers were never interested in finding out that you couldn’t concentrate because you were so hungry, because you hadn’t had any breakfast.

The Negro church has always meant a lot to the Negro—it was his club, his social life, a place where he could forget about The Man downtown. For me, then, it was a place to get all wrapped up in a God who was stronger than any teacher, or social worker, or man who owned a second-story window. dick-gregory-60s-photo

Once you get a man to laugh with you, it’s hard for him to laugh at you.

A worn heel could break an arm, but I never heard of an arm could break a heel.

How could I explain how I felt the day a white history instructor wrote the word Negro on the blackboard and spelled it with a small n? At the end of the hour I went to the board and erased the letter and wrote in a capital N. Everybody stared and nobody said anything about it.

When white folks call you mister you know something is wrong.

When you’re a little kid you can press your nose against a plate-glass window and tell yourself you are going to grow up someday and be able to go inside. You can tell yourself you are going to grow up someday and be a man, and do all the things a man can do. These are nice dreams for kids. But when you walk down the street and see your track team friends on the other side of that plate-glass window, where you can’t go, you can’t even tell yourself to wait until you grow up. You are already a man, and knowing that there is no dream just strips your manhood away and brings you all the way back down to the gutter.

170124174153-dick-gregory-exlarge-169That piece of white paper isn’t enough unless they graduate you with a white face, too.

That’s why it’s so important to be nice and polite to people. You can never tell when you’re going to meet your future wife.

The harder that white man laughs, the harder he’s saying, “I’m all right, boy, it’s that Other Man downtown.”

I was learning that just being a Negro doesn’t qualify you to understand the race situation any more than being sick makes you an expert on medicine.

“Who you calling a monkey? Monkey’s got thin lips, monkey’s got blue eyes and straight hair.”

I was sitting on the stage, waiting to speak, when the bomb came flying through an open window. It hit a man on the head bounced off a lady’s hand, then rolled to the middle of the floor…We found out that the bomb had been a special US Army gas grenade, more powerful than tear gas, which could have killed the people nearby had it gone off…And people were surprised a few months later when they blew up that church in Birmingham.

And Whitey sat in his car and watched the funeral go by, the same Whitey who didn’t say a word when a man was fighting for right and truth and justice, who didn’t open his mouth when that man was shot in the back in front of his house. And Whitey in his car had to be scared that day when he saw that procession go by, scared to realize that when you shoot right and truth and justice down, more right and truth and justice will rise up.

Dick Gregory 1967, Chicago, USAJim asked me how I could be funny that night. I told him that when a man sells his talents he’s a prostitute, and when you’re a prostitute you lay like the customer wants you to lay. I was funny that night.

They told me there was very little racial prejudice in Hawaii. Like a woman is just a little bit pregnant.

In 1952 I was a welfare case, and in 1963 I was on a list of famous men. In America, with all of its evils and faults, you can still reach through the forest and see the sun. But we don’t know yet whether that sun is rising or setting for our country.

It always amazes me to see how the southern white folks will knock themselves out, pose all kinds of things to slip into a Negro meeting, and we haven’t gotten around to wanting to slip into a Klu Klux Klan meeting.

Every white man in America knows we are Americans, knows we are Negroes, and some of them know us by our names. So when he calls us a nigger, he’s calling us something we are not, something that exists only in his mind. So if nigger exists only in his mind, who’s the nigger? They laughed and they clapped. Now let’s take it one step farther. This is a Bible here. We know it’s a book. Now if I sat here and called it a bicycle, I have called it something it is not. So where does the bicycle exist? In my mind. I’m the sick one, right?

Those four kids who were killed in that church in Birmingham, they weren’t demonstrating. You don’t have to participate. Just be black.170820-usnews-dick-gregory-filer-0400_1671ddb0e376492e6c2fc2ddbf6a92b7.nbcnews-fp-360-360

A Negro is better off going to a foreign country fighting for America than he is coming to the South fighting for the Negro cause. When he’s in a foreign country, fighting to give those people rights he doesn’t even get, the whole of America is behind him. When he comes down here, there are only a few behind him.

You didn’t die a slave for nothing, Momma. You brought us up. You and all those Negro mothers who gave their kids the strength to go on, to take that thimble to the well while the whites were taking buckets. Those of us who weren’t destroyed got stronger, got calluses on our souls. And now we’re ready to change a system, a system where a white man can destroy a black man with a single word. When we’re through, Momma, there won’t be any niggers anymore.

Thank you seems far too weak a sentiment to compartmentalize such a paramount contribution to the black collective. But nevertheless, thank you Mr. Gregory. We will not forget you, for to do so would be to forget a formidable piece of ourselves.

Rest in Power.

Black is Beautiful… or is it? Examining Black Beauty as a Tool of Systemic Oppression

White men go after pretty black girls.

This is statement that I grudgingly used to believe to be true in comparison to the white women often pursued by black men. The truth is, black women are beautiful period. So whether paired with a white, mexican, asian, latino, or racially ambiguous man, the black woman man is bound to seem superior because her beauty is a fact not an anomaly.

The statement “White men go after pretty black girls” exists and functions on the belief that black is not beautiful. It implies that all black women are not beautiful, but the beautiful few are gorgeous enough to catch the eye of white man. In reality, it is the proximity to whiteness that functions to depict the conventionally unattractive black woman as beautiful.       halle-berry-aubry-nahla-flight-03

In evaluating the ever-present force-feeding of interracial relationships to black women. It is interesting to note the role of aesthetics. This analysis come to me in thinking of Halle Berry, the famous actress praised for her beauty. Despite garnering extensive acclaim for her beauty, Berry seemingly lost esteem after selecting a white mate who would ultimately father her child. Notably, these decisions predate the contemporary fixation of black women in relationships with white men.

Berry’s relationship with Olivier Martinez did occur during this time, but failed to garner the attention of Serena Williams, Tika Sumpter, and Youtube stars Nikki Perkins of Jaime and Nikki, Gabe Flowers of Gabe and Babe TV and Ami McClure, black mother to the biracial McClure Twins. The black woman- white male dynamic dominates much of the modern depictions afforded to black women. This dynamic culminates careers and raises black women from obscurity to the height of fame and fortune. For example, Gabe Flowers went from a regular job to starring in Walmart commercials, Ami McClure went from amateur modeling to the morning news and Nikki Perkins went from a resigned model to the BET red carpet. Commonly, all women are paid to live their life on camera–as black women married to a white men  Commenters on message boards are often rebuked for questioning whether or not these women would garner a second glance if not one half of an interracial relationship.

786fc31354a0f00e40693907c8b15231The answer is of course no. Their visibility and conventional accolades exist because of the general belief that black is not beautiful.

These interracial couples, illustrate that unconventional black beauty can however be beautiful when issues increased proximity to  whiteness. This only works when the black female is not conventionally beautiful i.e. not bearing long hair, a looser curl pattern, fair skin, svelte body, or an extensive education,  because when she is—soliciting a white man betrays the “beauty” of blackness as co-existing with the superiority of whiteness, and thus appears pretentious not proactive in fomenting the myth of black inferiority.

 

The conventionally beautiful black woman, an aberration to those plagued with the 44th NAACP Image Awards - Backstage And Audiencemental illness of white ideology, is viewed as a traitor to blackness in soliciting a white or non black mate. In order to properly engage a black demographic to platform her portrayal of Olivia Pope on ABC’s Scandal, actress Kerry Washington had to marry a black man and have black children. Revered for her beauty, poise and intelligence, Washington possesses the conventionality that when paired with a white man actually enforces the idea that black is beautiful and therefore deserving the connotation of white superiority as their presumed equal. We do this dynamic as true in Washington’s first relationship before she was revered as a beauty icon, and on Scandal–a fictive series. The relationships between black women and white men function to illustrate white men as “forgiving” the curse of blackness as ugly and overall inferior. Thus, this dynamic does not function when the black woman possesses conventionally superior qualities.

beyonces-even-more-beautiful-in-leaked-unphotoshopped-picturesThe black woman is of course a superior being regardless of how she looks, how much she makes, or any other attribute enforced by the white world. However, the belief of white superiority anchors the popularized black female white man dynamic. This dynamic, to the gaze hypnotized by white supremacy, illustrates the black woman as resurrected from undesirability to an ethereal being who can conquer the world with the beauty granted to her by her by the white male gaze.

david-bowie-wedding-435

Some will contest my argument and point to Iman and David Bowie. But Man, a model imported from Africa is as tokenized in her marriage to Bowie as she was as a model. Iman’s image surfaces to paint black abduction from African to America as positive and their sexual relationships with white men as reflective of black female desire not coercion. Iman’s popularity stems from a distorted appropriation of the term “black is beautiful,” illustrating that black is beautiful when tokenized by the white gaze.

Others will reference senator Kamala Harris as an example of a conventional attractive Senate Supreme Courtblack (ish) women who is married to a white man. To this I say that Harris’ interracial union  performs another function–to deem her blackness approachable and non-threatening. Harris could have never been a Gabe Flowers or Nikki Perkins, simply because her presence functions to illustrate the black female as just as womanly if not more so than a white woman—a factor that is counterproductive to preserving the fictive superiority of white people. Kamala Harris illustrates that black is beautiful when the black body does not derive from a black woman, and must “forsake all others” to uphold her contractual bond to her white husband.

Black women like Meagan Good, Gabrielle Union, Kelly Rowland, Beyonce, Angela Basset who are alsoKelly-Rowland revered for their beauty, prove that black is indeed beautiful and therefore must have a black spouse to not challenge ideas of white superiority. While all women of a darker hue compared to their white female counterparts, all women due to their “safe-brown” complexions, and relatively small features are able to appease conventional standards with or without enhancement, which proves dichotomies to their swirling counterparts.

In contrast, singer Janet Jackson, although a beautiful woman, wears her conventional “ugliness” in a face that has been sliced and diced. She is beautiful, but her image functions to discount the inability of beautiful black women to see their own beauty and therefore places her in the same boat as those presumed to lack conventional beauty. She bears the sickness of self-hatred that functions to illustrate fictive white superiority as fact. 160505112440-janet-jackson-2010-super-tease

Yes, the conscious gaze knows that black love is revolutionary, but in a global white supremacist context, black love is a union between two base beings, kissing in the presumed corruption and curse of their blackness.

I can imagine that this post probably comes off superficial if not frivolous, and if I amJane-goodal-habitat honest its perhaps more alarming if it did not. To this I ask you to reacquaint yourself with Jane Goodall, the white woman who garnered fame and fortune for demonstrating that chimpanzees could be tamed. Goodall symbolizes the intentions of whites, or non-blacks in interracial relationships with blacks–to illustrate their ability bring out the beauty in a beast. Let us not forget that it was the chimpanzee’s openness to Goodall’s touch that supposedly showed their ability to be tamed. Had the chimpanzee been praised for its aesthetics and behavior, Goodall’s exploitation would not have been successful. The same can be said of whites (and non-blacks) in their relationship with members of the black diaspora.

To most, art imitates life, and certainly there are number of instances where this is indeed true. However, as targets of systemic racism, it is imperative for blacks to note that life imitates art as a form of control. We are presented with images to which we subconsciously or consciously emulate and use as a fictive measuring stick for our lives.  The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 29 Jan 2017

It is also prevalent to implement what WEB Dubois labeled double consciousness. To assess portrayals of black bodies in popular culture, or white media is an essential form of double consciousness because as Carter B Woodson once said “if you control a man’s thinking you know what he’ll do..” Analyzing black portrayal betrays white thought and can better predict white behavior. Perhaps most importantly, critically contemplating popular culture unveils the extent and strategy of white evil—an attribute that continues to be vastly disputed and overlooked by those most wounded by its wrath.

Take notes and beware my people.

Furthermore, interracial relationships silently re-appropriate the 70s term “black is beautiful.” This re-appropiation does not suggests that black is beautiful. In fact the opposite is true. These relationships illustrate that little to no one truly believes that black is beautiful. The truth is most people didn’t believe the phrase when it first surfaced, a fact relished in those utterly clueless about their origins and therefore inevitably confused about the beauty of their people.

The cure to this issue lies in denouncing individual beauty. By this I mean ignoring the significance of mirrors and knowing the collective beauty of black beauty without a mirror. In assuming a collective beauty, any and every woman of African origin will know her beauty without a mirror and not see personal idiosyncrasies as flaws but as necessary to complete a masterpiece. 2EAoEgP1

In reasserting beauty it is also important that we as black women decide who our beauties are. The commonality between Halle Berry, Beyonce, Gabrielle Union, Kerry Washington is that they were black beauties designated by the white world and used to lure the black female collective to concert venues, movies, and sitcoms that reek of anti-blackness. By allowing the white world to determine black beauty, beauty becomes a weapon used against black women. These tokens of beauty exists to prove that black beauty is an aberration, an anomaly only countered when the white world opts to recognize black beauty. In implementing black beauty as a universal truth, all black women, not some, are beautiful. Therefore, there are no such thing as “black beauties” as blacks in their entirety are beautiful.

Furthermore, we, the black collective, must refrain from behavior that is unassumingly anti-black. Veiled anti-black terms or phrases yield anti- black behavior that prove counter-productive to the advancement of black people.  So I am asking that we denounce individual beauty, and replace it with an ideology that perceives the black female body as collectively beautiful.

If black is truly beautiful, then let  we as a collective must allow this be to true. This phrase in pro-black form is inclusive for all those who identify as black, not exclusive to blacks who bear conventional traits. There is power in redefining how we use this assimilatory language. No, beauty may not be a kemetian term, but it reflects a shared kemetian trait.

Black is beautiful. Let us not only say it, but believe it.

Black Power.

Now, Tell Me that Ain’t Insecure…

Tis been a rough weekend ( I will further divulge the details of this in a post I hope to have up by Wednesday the latest).

I purchase vegetable patties from a black-owned bakery near my home, and often have to park creatively in order to patronize this business and depart without colliding with other cars. On Saturday afternoon, I parked my car and as I turned off my air conditioning and assembled my belongings, a grey sedan pulls up and out jumps a young black man with who I perceive was his Asian girlfriend. They emerge from the vehicle and begin kissing while leaning on the trunk of the car. He is a chocolate brown and she is porcelain white with long dark hair. They kiss in-between her a-0113puffs on a cigarette.

While certainly off-putting and inappropriate, these actions posed a collective disturbance in that it took place in the public-sphere of a predominately black neighborhood. A number of blacks walked by in this vulgar act between the two young people—  a public act of defacing blackness. The true violence in this behavior lies in the blatant fact that this dynamic  would have never occurred peacefully in Flushing, Bayside, or any of the other neighborhoods in Queens that are dominated by Asians and Whites. The young black boy used the pseudo safety of his community to engage in anti-black behavior an act reflective of the collective detrimental state that we are in presently.

This layers of this young man’s behavior implemented a deep upset that lingers in my bones three days later. I had a  similar feeling upon watching Sunday night’s episode of the HBO series Insecure.   jayellisissa

If you have read any of my prior posts about the series Insecure, you know that I have had my share of conflict with the show. From the hyper sexualized black female bodies, to the oversimplified depiction of black “prejudice,” the series attempts to depict blackness by simply casting melanated actors. I consider myself to be very much like others in my collective, who although not in complete accordance with every depiction on the series, still support a black (ish) series (kind of) authored by a melanated woman.

This belief was viscously exposed to be false during last night’s episode. As confirmed by a twitter picture posted by Issa herself, Episode 4 Season 2 of Insecure was authored by a white woman.

The subject of the episode?

Sex.

The sexual turn of the series follows Lawrence (Jay Ellis) encounter with a white cop for doing what countless other cars before him did to escape traffic—make a U-turn. This depiction reflects a white woman’s attempt to seem knowledgeable about the plights of black men. This attempt is of course provincial and adds no layers to the depictions to come.

Lawrence overlooks a similar compartmentalization of his black body by two seemingly friendly white women who pick up the tab when he misplaces his debit card. But this seemingly random act of kindness is neither random nor kind, as the two women solely wish to pay for Lawrence’s phallus. Small talk quickly turns to a threesome, to which the white women are disappointed in Lawrence’s sexual performance and begin plotting their next sexcapade with another black man before Lawrence has even dressed. This scene is a replica of the image in Jordan Peele’s Get Out, where the protagonist’s fictive girlfriend is already researching her next victim before the operation of her present victim was complete.

inseucre.w710.h473Both depictions depict the evilness of white female privilege, but also douse these evil bodies in a presumed desirability.

Up until this point, I believed that the target audience for this show was black women in their late twenties or early thirties. To this I say, depicting a graphic sex scene between a black man and two white woman is an assault on any conscious gaze, but is especially insulting to the black female gaze.

Although the episode eventually exposes the white women as coked out promiscuous women who “hunt” black men for an “elevated” sexual experience—the episode still paints white women as desirable and demonized solely for rejecting Lawrence—not for objectifying him. Had Lawrence performed to their liking, the episode would have bore a different connotation to most, but would betray the same black male hyper- sexualization as the depicted scenario.

The episode also fails to afford any depth to the black male/white woman relationships. Instead, Lawrence’s objectification and sexual rendezvous with these loose white women all appear a side effect of the sexual indecency Issa, a black woman.

Such superficiality is what is to be expected from a white female writer who even in her anti-racists attempts cannot be expected to not allot white females a collective compliment in her portrayal. But with my soul stirred and my eyes burned by the visual assault issued by a white female supremacists is far small for my journey to the prodigious state of consciousness. In short, while the series seems a means to explore the insecurities of being young, black, and unsure, it seems the series demands a level of insecurity from their viewers. An insecurity that the series will manipulate to ease with anti-black images and language.

Let me state that see this post does not function to portray a personal upset with  interracial sex or intimacy. I gifwould argue that anyone on a journey to consciousness is not bothered by the actions of individuals. Rather, individuals on a journey to consciousness are much more concerned about what these actions reveal about the collective. Seeing these depictions convey that we are in a collective state of confusion. The only means to counter this state would be for their to be a collective outage in response to such sightings, but as usual there are not enough angered by what should collectively disturb us.

This post also does not function to discount the reality of interracial relationships with the black collective. The conscious demand for pro-blackness calls for blacks to focus on blackness. By including whites in an attempt to compose our narrative in part or whole, whites cannot comment on blackness without including themselves. Thus, a predominately black show becomes gentrified in the white female need to for inclusion, and to prevent Insecure from being “too black” despite its HBO encasement and the fact that all its black characters speak the language of their oppressors.

Nevertheless, like the young man who likely drove his Asian girlfriend across Queens to have some very public private time, Issa’s success is largely based on those within the black community who view her series as pages in a shared narrative. Yet, rather than use the support from the black collective to implement pro-black images and dialogue, Issa extends an olive branch to a white woman and Insecure blossoms into a complete portrait of anti-blackness.

Now, tell me that ain’t insecure…

Kidnap, A Contemporary Narrative of Black Motherhood

Kidnap appears to be yet another action-adventure.suspense film starring a household name. Yet, Kidnap mirrors historical slave narrative in capturing the maternal stress of black mothers. Namely, much like Harriet Jacobs in The Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Frederick’s Douglas’ mother who traveled by foot in the dark of night to see her son, Berry (Carla in the film) proves that she will stop at nothing to save her child. Therefore, black maternity is the portrait of conditional love, as this love strives to overcome a lifetime of hells and high waters.

To be a black mother is to struggle to be a parent, a provider and protector in a world where you are not even thought of as human. To be a black mother is to bear cyclical disenfranchisement as an individual and as a mother of offspring thrust into this system the moment they emerged from the black female womb. It is the sub-story, or what the film fails to verbally articulate that makes Kidnap worthy of conversation. The film itself is utterly unoriginal, lacks development, and performs in the contemporary pattern of colorblind-casting that visibly implements blackness but fails to acknowledge race beyond superficiality. kidnap

When the credits rolled, I found myself asking:

“That’s it?”

and waiting for that moment that would allot clarity to the previous ninety minutes.

Senselessly displaying a Senseless Crime

 This moment of clarity never came. But as I contemplated the film on the ride home, it occurred to me that while unintentional, this senseless ending was exactly the point. Black child abduction is senseless. In traditional and contemporary settings, the abducted black child occurred for no real reason, other than a means to exercise power. Enslaved black children were abducted by white settlers and transformed into laborers, and breeders for the white man’s plantation. Once transported to the states, children were often abducted from their mothers and sold like dogs to families seeking domestic servants and concubines. Contemporary black children continue to go missing, and if found their bodies are often hollowed out—their organs sold to what I’m sure is the highest bidder.

Axing the White Savior Figure

 The film succeeds in deviating from the white savior halleberrykidnapfigure that dominates much of black portrayal. At the end of the film, Berry attempts to remove her child from a locked attic and a white man walks in pretending to be the neighbor. He puts on a convincing show, pretending to be surprised that his “neighbors” are child abductors. But it is his seemingly omniscient knowledge of the gender and quantity of the abducted children reveals that he is not a savior but a villain. This is probably the most suspenseful part of the film, and it functions because of the positive connotation of whiteness. Globally whites are viewed as a savior figures, despite direct and indirect evils that populate their history. In alleviating the white savior figure, the black woman emerges as her own hero— a depiction generally withheld from black female protagonists.
Accidental Hero

 What is unstated and noteworthy in Kidnap’s portrayal of a black mother searching for her child, is that Berry becomes an accidental hero for two abducted white female children. Does my assertion suggest that the two white children do not deserve to be saved? Absolutely not. My assertion does function to state that far too often when working to elevate the black collective, blacks become accidental heroes to others who benefit from our efforts. For example, many of the shows and movies authored by black women to supposedly narrate the black experience, become opportunities for white actors and actresses, producers and artists, proving once again that nothing is done for blacks that does not benefit another demographic—whether directly or indirectly.

Kidnap-1
Solitary Mission

An image that dominates the film is Berry’s singularity. Namely, much of the film is Berry alone searching for her son. Interestingly, this solitary dynamic is also depicted when Berry does go to a police station for help. When Berry arrives, there is a single black woman answering the phones and managing the office. This depicts the black female body as habitually made to juggle with multiple responsibilities, with the systemic implication that she will drop one or two to her detriment.

Yet, a critic referenced Berry as a vehicle operating on “four flat tires,” overlooking that black motherhood is an imperfect solitary dynamic not intended to entertain the white male gaze. Separated from spouses and children as enslaved Africans, black motherhood began its tenure in this country as a complicated product of white evil. The contemporary environment is not much different, as the surging amount of black males incarcerated, dead, underemployed, or under-educated leaves many black women alone, and many black mothers inevitably single in one form or another.

Furthermore, although an imperfect film, Kindap is a perfect illustration of contemporary black motherhood as a nuanced manifestation of a historical dynamic plaguing the black collective. So despite figures like Michelle Obama, Maxine Waters, Kamala Harris, Beyonce, etc that seemingly symbolize black female potential, to the critical gaze, Kidnap illustrates the black woman as still fighting to save her children, her dignity, and her sanity from a systemized abduction orchestrated by white evil.

Black Power ❤