Dear Black People Going To See Black Panther

Black Panther World Premiere
HOLLYWOOD, CA – JANUARY 29: Actor Angela Bassett at the Los Angeles World Premiere of Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER at Dolby Theatre on January 29, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Angela Bassett

Negative Nancys are out here trying to shame folks for being excited about the film Black Panther.

Well, I’m here to say this loudly:

It’s fine to wear African clothing, dance, relax and have fun.

All of this is perfectly normal and human. Furthermore, it’s beautiful to see all of this melanin on my timeline adorned in African inspired clothing, with positive Black messages.

Trust me, the ancestors are pleased.

It is testament to our legacy that despite all of the negative images that Eurocentric idealism has tried to throw on us – we continue to love who we are and love ourselves.

We are a unique, talented and creative people. And yes, this should be celebrated.

Black people deserve to have joy! I’m tired of people shaming us for exuding happiness, during what is definitely a defining moment in Black cinema.

No, Black Panther is not our key to freedom. No, Black Panther is not our liberation. I don’t think anyone thought we would suddenly be free from oppression based off of a movie. That’s not the point.

This film highlights the essence of Black cultural awareness, heritage and pride. It promotes positive and beautiful African imagery, with a compelling story line and an all Black cast. Additionally, the film promotes strong Black female voices in leadership positions. This is seriously impactful.

Furthermore, we don’t have to be 100% serious all the time. It’s actually healing for us to enjoy the moment.

So, dress how you want to dress. Act how you want to act. Have fun this weekend.

And I co-sign the message below by Kev On Stage: Let people live!

See y’all in Wakanda!

HOLLYWOOD, CA – JANUARY 29: (L-R) Actors Sterling K. Brown, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman, Angela Bassett, Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Andy Serkis, and Forest Whitaker; writer/director Ryan Coogler; Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige; producers Louis D’Esposito and Victoria Alonso, and executive producer Nate Moore at the Los Angeles World Premiere of Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER at Dolby Theatre on January 29, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Sterling K. Brown; Letitia Wright; Winston Duke; Martin Freeman; Angela Bassett; Daniel Kaluuya; Lupita Nyong’o; Chadwick Boseman; Michael B. Jordan; Danai Gurira; Andy Serkis; Forest Whitaker; Ryan Coogler; Kevin Feige; Louis D’Esposito; Victoria Alonso; Nate Moore

Also, read my article Black Americans Wearing African Clothing Is NOT Cultural Appropriation.

Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor is the founder of Our Legaci Press. To reach Jessica, email her at OurLegaci@gmail.com. Follow her on Facebook at Facebook.com/JAMAiwuyor.

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Watch “The Tale of Four” Gabourey Sidibe’s New Short Film

Gabourey Sidibe makes her directorial debut with ‘Four Women’ a film based on the song by Nina Simone. The short film follows four women that are facing life’s crossroads. The women ultimately embrace their truths and work towards healing.

Read the film’s description below as published by Refinery29:

“Inspired by Nina Simone’s ‘Four Women,’ Gabourey Sidibe’s directorial debut is a multi-layered story that spans one day in the life of four different women who are connected through their quest for love, agency and redemption. This 20-minute film interweaves four stories of race-based violence and fatal encounters with the police through a female’s perspective.

As a director, Sidibe touches on the importance of bringing black females on screen, at a poignant time where people are demanding a dialogue on race relations in our country.”

Tale of Four Pic 1

The Tale of Four Pic 2

 

 

Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor is the founder of OurLegaci.com. To reach Jessica, email her at OurLegaci@gmail.com. Follow her on Facebook at Facebook.com/JAMAiwuyor.

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Assism Is Not Feminism

Assism-Feminism-OurLegaci

People need to understand that women who present provocative images of themselves are not automatically making a feminist statement. This isn’t to say that a woman can’t express herself, but when this self expression is deeply hinged upon supporting oppressive systems it is not a liberation moment. This is why Nicki Minaj can express herself and still glorify Nazi propaganda. Kim Kardashian can express herself #ALLDAY and still glorify the hypersexualization of women’s bodies. Provocative imagery does not automatically equate to activism or empowerment.

feministtheoryThis point of confusion was described by bell hooks in Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center:

“A central problem within feminist discourse has been our inability to either arrive at a consensus of opinion about what feminism is or accept definition(s) that could serve as points of unification. (p. 18)”

This statement feels even more relevant in 2014 as it did in 1984, especially with the emergence of what some are calling “Millennial Feminism.” Across the digital sphere conversations are constantly springing up around feminism. Still, few are actually producing or referring to a substantial definition of feminism.

The fixation on women’s butts, I’ll call it “assism” is a well documented form of objectification, deeply rooted in the commodification of Black women’s bodies. Kim Kardashian accentuates this fixation, layering it with the benefits of whiteness to score on monetary profits. Though Nicki Minaj is Black she comes as close as she can to Kim K by combining anti-black sentiments with the commodification of Black phenotypes to yet again benefit monetarily. Additionally neither of them are bothered by classism as a form of oppression. They are not feminists. Stop trying to make fetch happen.

ButSomeOfUsFeminism is hinged upon an awareness of oppression in conjunction with working towards ending all forms of it. In All the Women Are White, All The Blacks Are Men: But Some Of Us Are Brave, Barbara Smith explains:

“Feminism is the political theory and practice that struggles to free all women: women of color, working-class women, poor women, disabled women, lesbians, old women–as well as white, economically privileged, heterosexual women. Anything less than this vision of total freedom is not feminism, but merely female self-aggrandizement. (p. 49)”

To refer to Nicki Minaj or Kim Kardashian as de facto feminist icons is to minimize the anti-oppressive backbone of feminism. It’s reductionist thinking. Neither of these women have exhibited any substantial work towards ending sexist, racial, or economic oppression.

While some may point to their open display of sexuality as a liberation moment, this thought process over looks the fact that their displays are based more on the history of women’s commodified bodies under the patriarchal gaze. Yes, they make a lot of money doing this but that does not necessarily translate into freedom. They are riding the constant wave of hypersexualized images of Black women’s bodies with no intention of challenging the status quo. In fact it becomes a competition of who can promote sexual commercial objectification more, who can more closely embody the mainstreamed fantasy of women in sexualized positions.

Yet none of this is new or shocking. It’s actually pretty underwhelming. Another day another booty. Where is the triumph in that? It’s an attention getting tactic but it is not a feminist manifesto or challenge to oppression. The recurring statement is that they were “free” enough to show themselves. However if the only way for them to gain the public’s attention is through a constant stream of butt shots what does that say about society? That’s a far cry from freedom or liberation.

Nicki-Between-Women

Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda was an act of desperation used to counter the emergence of Iggy Azalea. Iggy then responded by appearing alongside JLo in a video for a song literally called, “Booty.”

Booty1

Since the emergence of her sex tape with Ray J, Kim Kardashian has been profiting from racialized butt adoration for years.

Kim-Kardashian-Jean-Paul-Goude-1stdibs

The sentiment has been, “You want to see more? Here you go!”

Oprah-Booty-Meme-Ourlegaci

Perhaps for her that’s winning. But is it winning for women overall? It doesn’t challenge the realities that women face everyday as constantly sexualized beings. This imagery plays up the dehumanization and never dares to deconstruct or even acknowledge it. This article is not suggesting a policing of women’s bodies. It’s about recognizing a thing for what it is. Nakedness can be a political empowering statement  but Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj are not examples of that. This may be provocative but it is not feminism.

We already have a plethora of mistruths floating around about feminism. Why add to the list? It’s very dangerous for feminists to automatically embrace commodified sexual images as feminist modules. There are levels to this. Where are the discussions about about intentions and context? It is a teachable moment. But it is not a grand moment in Women’s History.

Sorry folks but assism is not feminism.

JamAllen2-nb-smallJessica Ann Mitchell is the founder of OurLegaci.com & BlackBloggersConnect.com. To reach JAM, email her at OurLegaci@gmail.com.

Follow Jessica @TweetingJAM.
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