I cringed when I heard Mary J Blige was going to play the brilliantBetty Shabazzin a lifetime film. I cringed when I saw pictures of Zoe Saldana in blackface for her portrayal of the high priestess of soul—Nina Simone. I cringed when I learned that Jennifer Hudson’s next role would be that of activist Winnie Mandela. It always seems to me that our black women icons aren’t taken seriously by Hollyweird. I can’t imagine someone like Britney Spears playing one of their beloved icons, like Janis Joplin. But I guess any old body can be ours. I have nothing against the women I mentioned (well Zoe should know better), heck I’m a Mary J groupie!! But her as Betty Shabazz? Eh…
The trailer for the upcoming “Winnie” film makes me less nervous, but praying the film truly represents the amazing Mandelas.
I have never understood why Ciara has struggled so much in the music industry. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors, but what I do know, the black female soul singer has been pushed out (with a few exceptions, folks like Fantasia). Ciara would seemingly fit in with today’s requirement of having video ready looks/body and barely there vocals. I mean Rihanna, Ashanti, Keri Hilson, Cassie, etc., have all fared well. This is not a diss to these women, but rather an observation on how black women singers must sell looks/sex, rather than vocal ability. Thank goodness Aretha, Chaka, Whitney, and em came out back in the day. We would probably never get to hear their soaring voices now.
While Ciara isn’t the best singer, she can tear up a dance floor. After Aaliyah’s death, it seemed Ciara would continue on her legacy, as the next r&b/dance/pop star. I think every generation of black girls deserves to have their own Janet Jackson. But as I noted, Ciara has struggled. She started off well with cuts like “Goodies” and “1,2 step” but seemed to lose her mojo. It was confusing, because Ciara’s natural dance abilities, should have put her on the map. If I’m forced to know about Miley Cryus, I should see/hear Ciara!
I’m glad Ciara has rebounded with her new singles “Body Party” and “I’m Out.” While I find both videos problematic (just for a change, I would like to see a man strip tease/crawl for a woman and Nicki Minaj should’ve been more clever than using the n-word/b-word), it’s good to see Ciara back. There’s something womanish about Ciara this time around. And I mean that in a good way. She’s getting her grown woman on. I ain’t mad at her. I hope she continues to evolve in her music/image.
The other day I went grocery shopping. As I strolled the aisles, I noticed a store employee wheeling out a cart loaded with watermelons. I licked my lips. I realized I hadn’t had a slice of watermelon all summer. How could that be?! It’s a summer thing to do, munch on a hunk of watermelon with a little salt sprinkled on the top, but y’all wouldn’t know nothing about that 😉 I waited until the employee emptied his cart and casually walked over to display. All of a sudden, I felt strange. I looked up and down the aisle. I hesitated before picking up the huge piece of watermelon, wrapped nicely in cellophane. What was going on? Why couldn’t I just pick up the watermelon and place it into my cart, as I had done the other food items?
As a black person, it’s hard not to shake out this stereotypical image of black folks and watermelon from my mind:
In her blog article titled “Why I don’t Eat Watermelon in Public,” Keisha discusses this old (and as she puts it, played out) stereotype:
This racial weapon has been around since the days of slavery. Watermelon was one of the foods masters deigned to feed their captives. Slavery has ended, this black chick is free, happily riffing on racists. So why does the watermelon obsession persist? Why are some racists so fixated on black people eating watermelon? Are their hoards of black people across America buying up all the watermelon, keeping them from melon-loving racists?
LOL! But it’s true. There seems to be an obsession with racists of this imagery of black folks spitting out watermelon seeds and eating fried chicken. Just like some cops don’t want to be seen eating donuts, some black folks don’t want to eat watermelon around non-black folks. It’s not that we are ashamed, but it can make you pause..I did go ahead and buy the watermelon. Stereotypes, be damned. One thing I have learned as a black feminist, white folks going to believe what they want about you. It doesn’t matter if you eat watermelon or not, if folks are racist/prejudiced they cling to those stereotypes. It feeds into their white supremacist thought. It isn’t my problem, it’s theirs. Matter of fact, I think I will go have a slice right now 🙂
The “My Black is Beautiful (MBIB)/Imagine a Future” documentary aired on BET (Black Entertainment Television), last week. The documentary looked at how white/black beauty standards affect the self-esteem of some black girls/women. The documentary is now available in full on YouTube.
I enjoyed the program, although I did have a few problems with it: (1) The irony that the documentary was shown on BET. If ya ask me, BET has contributed to the distorted images of black womanhood. I wouldn’t be surprised if BET played a music video filled with ambiguous looking booty shaking women, right after the documentary ended (2) I have mixed feelings that a blonde haired black woman showed the young woman around Africa. It seemed contradictory to me, but then again she was a hairdresser. I understand they like to experiment with different hairstyles. (3) Once again, black men/boys were left out of the conversation. It’s interesting how gendered this issue has become. I mean I get that women tend to be judged more harshly for our looks, but it’s hard to believe that black men have not been affected by beauty standards, as well. Whether it’s their own struggle with embracing their skin tone/hair texture, or how they interact with black girls/women who do/don’t live up to these oppressive standards (4) The program was wayyyy too short.
Hey folks! I only have one chapter left to read from “Sister Citizen.” I thought I would go ahead and post the next book on my reading list. In the novel “Ghana Must Go,” by Taiye Selasie an African family must deal with the sudden death of their father: “Kwaku Sai is dead. A renowned surgeon and failed husband, he succumbs suddenly at dawn outside the home he shares in Ghana with his second wife. The news of Kwaku’s death sends a ripple around the world, bringing together the family he abandoned years before. Ghana Must Go is their story.“http://penguindebutauthors.earlyword.com/ghana-must-go/#fulltext
There has been a lot written about Rachel Jeantel, the friend of Trayvon Martin. So much so, that I feel it isn’t necessary for me to write my own post. Many writers have articulated my disgust of the treatment of Jeantel. This is a young woman who heard her friend get murdered. I can only imagine the trauma it has caused her. Yet, ignorant folks bashed the teenager’s looks and dialect.
One of my favorite posts written about Jeantel, comes courtesy of the Blog Snob website:
Jeantel made some uncomfortable because she was too much like how some black people are. We all have relatives or have known someone like this or perhaps have even been Rachel Jeantel ourselves. And the self-loathing that is instilled in most of us to dislike ourselves — especially those who are darker and heavyset and remind us of the stereotypes we are running from — is real and it was on display in real time on Twitter. It wasn’t surprising, but it was disappointing that those commenting, often with spelling errors and poor grammar of their own, were allowing their fear of “the white folks are going to think we’re all like this” cloud the fact that Jeantel was simply being herself.