Sunday, December 6, 2009


In the headlines

Black women are going to jail for selling their children for sex or killing their children or allowing low-life predators (boyfriends??) to kill their children or abandoning their children because they failed to make sufficient plans to have someone take care of their children before deployment or……..

At your local cinema

Then there’s the movie featuring black female pathology. Oh and the movie about black women and their tortured, insane hair pathology……

Alright, alright………… Hey, there is finally a Disney movie with a black princess!!! But why is she a frog? And how come the prince isn’t black?!!!!

Okay fine, but then there’s the movie……hmmmm, well there’s got to be something coming to a theater near you. Hopefully something that does not feature……oh…… you know……some sort of pathology.

It’s hard out there for the image of black women!

Historically black women have been described and depicted as: mammy, sapphire, or tragic mulatto. More recently we have: welfare queen, crack/drug addicted prostitute, gold digger,
hoochie mama/stripper, etc. Within in each stereotype lurks the specter of black women as licentious, insatiable, bereft of morals and unwilling/unable to care for their children.

A lot of black women are disturbed by ‘Precious’ because it is simply one more depiction of black women as pathologically abused and abusing. Further, it is not just the subject matter of the movie that concern black women, it’s this troubling fact: what other images or stories are being told about black women? BTW, I am invoking the FLOTUS/Condi Rice/Claire Huxtable exclusionary rule.

Some black women were also taken aback by the blatant colorism. Why, in this supposed post-racial country, is black skin color, especially dark black skin color, continually associated with ugliness, brutality, violence, ignorance, and immorality while, lighter skin color is associated with beauty, intellect, kindness, and compassion. That this reprehensible lie is perpetrated by people of color neither diminishes the sting nor excuses the purveyor’s attempt to connote inferiority through the intra-racial shorthand of colorism.

In the realm of movies, how were black women represented in 2009? I’m interested in movies featuring black women, not just where a black woman was the secretary, assistant, housekeeper, or best friend. Can you think of a rom-com or a sci-fi or even quirky indy film where the black woman was the spunky ingénue, or self-absorbed heart-breaker, endearing widow gamely dealing with the loss of her husband, I’d even settle for the evil boss bent on sabotaging the spunky ingénue!!!???

You see this is the point. There is no balance. Just pathology. One movie cannot do justice to the vast mosaic, potpourri, melting pot, fractal image comprising black womanhood. And I’m just referencing black women in America (well the U.S. to be specific).

And just like all those horrid ‘In-the-Hood’ movies only told one story over and over and over again, I fear a wave of ‘black women pathology’ will be the only lens through which Hollywood or the rest of the nation views black women.

This is not good for the Black Woman Brand.


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