The Root posted an article April 9, 2019 headlined, “Beautycon 2019 Put Black Women Front and Center.” This shows the progress of NYC to make a conscious effort to recognize how many of the popular culture’s beauty trends stem from black culture. Historically black people have been ridiculed for their natural features and taste in fashion. Normally these facets of our culture and buried until a “whiter skinned person ‘endorses’ the look.”
For example long nails, eyelashes, bold oppositions to make-up choice were used as ammunition to shoot down the self-esteem of the black women for years. Their skin color has been deemed a threat and less sexy, yet tanning salons became a multi-million dollar industry for the unmelaninated to darken their skin. And for those that cannot benefit from this treatment created something better… spray skin (spray tan). They are so desperate to endorse our look they will literally spray paint their bodies “professionally.” This blog is not saying that the others want to be black but I am saying that the envious ridicule of Black Americans normally find its way into Popular American Culture.
NYC using their 5th ever Beautycon to put black women as the main attraction show the progression that the beauty industry has made in the last couple of years. To me it seem like ever since the introduction of Fenty Beauty products by Rihanna the world has come aware of how all their fashion choices are dependent on Black Culture. I am glad to see that envy is turning into appreciation and this shows progress.
P.S. BeautyCon LA better not retract the progress! BeautyCon LA is June.
Candace Owens is a popular black conservative who often makes very radical comments about racism, white supremacy, and is now being called out about her comments on Adolf Hitler. During a conference in London, Owens made a comment about Hitler basically saying that he wasn’t really all that bad because he wanted to make Germany a better place. She then goes on to say that Hitler was okay until he wanted to globalize. Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu plays this clip during a hearing that took place during white nationalism, where Owens was invited as a conservative representative. Owens claimed that the Southern Strategy does not exist and that white nationalism is not an issue in America at the moment.
White conservatives need black people, but specifically black women like Candace Owens to invalidate every struggle poor people, people of color, and women of color go through. “Well Candace Owens is black and she doesn’t think racism exists anymore so racism doesn’t exist anymore.” “Candace Owens is a woman and she doesn’t think sexism exists anymore so sexism doesn’t exist anymore.” Black people like Candace Owens who say white supremacy does not exist in our society today just further allow it to run rampant. In the left movements we have learned about in class, black women were vital to the cause and still are today. But unfortunately in radical right movement we see today, Black women hold just as much strength. Black women are a powerful force for whatever cause they are fighting for. It is vital and important that we use our voice, at the very least, to uplift and protect ourselves and our people instead of defending the very people who want to see us fail.
Lupita Nyong’o starred in Us playing Adelaide and Red, the tethered version of her character Adelaide. When describing her inspiration for her character Red, she said she was inspired by spasmodic dysphonia, a disorder where vocal muscle spasm causing interruptions in the person’s voice, making them difficult to understand. Many different organizations that represent people with various disabilities repremanded Nyong’o for demonizing the disorder. Nyong’o promptly came out apologizing for doing so and explaining that demonizing the disorder was not her intention. My question is why we did not reprimand Leonardo DiCaprio for his portrayal of Arnie, who had Autism, in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Why didn’t we accuse Tom Hanks of insensitivity for his portrayal of Forrest Grump, who had Asperger’s and Polio? In both of these cases, these white men were praised for their portrayal of these characters they played with disabilities. The difference between these characters and Nyong’o’s character, Red, is that the characters were explicit written to have these specific disabilities, while Jordan Peele didn’t explicitly write that the character Red had a certain disability. Why aren’t we shaming the writers that made characters with disabilities and not hiring actors with these disabilities? I believe that picking and choosing to be outraged with certain situations like this is fruitless. There is no consistency in being outraged with actors and actresses who portray disabilities. It seems like the outraged is being saved for people like Lupita Nyong’o, who are up and coming, just reaching fame. Society has these unrealistic, holier than thou expectations for minorities and women of color while not holding white men to these same standards. White men can do whatever they want and receive little to no outrage from the majority, but let a black women mess up and it’s the end of the world.
If you watched the movie, you would understand that Red actually was not the bad guy so claiming that Nyong’o was being offensive and demonizing spasmodic dysphoria does not work. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that. All you have to do is watch the movie.
But I also do believe that portrayals of disabilities in the film industry is a touchy subject. Are we primarily portraying disabilities in a negative light? Are we primarily portraying disabilities in a stereotypical manner that harms the differences in each person who suffers from that certain disability? I think conversation needs to be had on this and we should question how people with disabilities are portrayed, but it starts by calling everyone out and holding everyone to the same standards.
I recently came across Feminista Jones’ 2014 New York Times article (Why Black Women Struggle More With Domestic Violence). The article begins by describing domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, as a “family secret” in Black Communities. Jones’ piece uses the case of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his then-fiancée Janay. Jones elaborates on the lack of support and compassion shown to Black women who choose to stay with their abusers. Reading her piece one can be shocked by the alarming statistics surrounding the issue. (Please keep in mind these statistics were from nearly 5 years ago, domestic violence still remains a major concern for many).
“According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an estimated 1.3 million American women experience DV/IPV each year. Women make up 85% of the victims of DV/IPV. For Black women, it’s an even bigger problem: Black women are almost three times as likely to experience death as a result of DV/IPV than White women. And while Black women only make up 8% of the population, 22% of homicides that result from DV/IPV happen to Black Women and 29% of all victimized women, making it one of the leading causes of death for Black women ages 15 to 35.” Jones believes the major reasons why Black women are disproportionately represented in domestic violence is because of racism and sexism. Because racism is seen as a bigger issue than sexism, some Black women tend to put racial issues ahead of sex-based ones. For some Black women speaking up against Black men would be like surrendering them to a brutal system that is already against them. Others experience domestic violence from the backlash Black men feel from unequal and frustrating economic obstacles. Not to mention how economically limited the Black women has been for such a long time in America, seemingly forcing some to remain in abusive relationships for financial security. I saw that this tied very well with what we’ve been talking about in class these past couple of weeks, on the rights of domestic workers. Because Black women face multiple facets of oppressions, their representation is not equal to any other group. Racism and sexism has too often neglected or silenced the voices of Black women. To change this, we must start within our own communities. By providing Black women more agencies and a platform to fight against sexism, capitalism, racism, etc. we can individually play our parts in pushing for justice for all.
The article, Black Women in Black Power, by PhD Professor Ashley Farmer is an interesting read. The article starts with mention of the limited recognition Black women experience in the fight against contemporary issues. Farmer sees the political and social activism of Black Women as historically rooted within the Black Power. Her piece analyzes the role Black Women played in (micro)mobilizing, organizing and agatized the 1950s and 1960s Black Power Movement. Much similar to the Civil Rights, the Black Power Movement played a major role in the advancements of Black people on an international dimension, political spectrum and psychological level. The heroics of these memorable moments are often associated to significant Black male leaders. In doing so we often forget the role Black women played in the movement. “Some joined national organizations and served in both rank-and-file and leadership roles. Others found a way to enact ideals like community control and self-determination through local neighborhood or welfare rights organizations.” The efforts of Black Women in the movement allowed for greater inclusivity within the movement by challenging “many organizations to adopt a more radical critique of racism, sexism, and capitalism.”
Farmer’s article does a great job of illustrating the important roles women such as Tarika Lewis (the first female Panther), Ericka Huggins and Elaine Brown. “As they organized, they challenged their male counterparts to rethink their commitment to patriarchal ideas of leadership, activism, and revolution, openly debating sexism within the movement and developing artwork and articles that framed black women as the consummate political actors.” The article then goes into discussion of the Third World Women’s Alliance (TWWA) as part of the “Black Power Feminists.” Rather than fighting equality on one front, the incorporation of women in the movement helped fight oppression on all fronts. The author ultimately makes the argument that these grassroot female activists are who paved the way for Black women activists today. In doing so, Farmer encourages readers to refrain from seeing the contemporary political activism of Black Women as a new phenomenon. Instead she shows readers how their efforts are in fact rooted to common activism practices conducted by Black women throughout American history.
OneUnited Bank is the largest black-owned bank. This bank has been empowering black people by placing black images on all the cards they issue to their customers. Their motto is “Join the Movement.” Last month they released the Queen Visa Debit Card as a part of their royalty collection. The bank stated that the campaign is celebrating, ” a new generation of Queens in America who are claiming their thrones.” This mentality is important for all black Americans to understand the power the black communities posses. The card was purposely released during Women’s History Month hence, “reclaiming the throne.” OneUnited Bank President and COO Teri William is stated that the bank was created to encourage the black community to celebrate themselves and their past. Black women have been contributing greatly to the growing of Black Owned Businesses, women firms have grown percent since 2007.
OneUnited is the greatest bank in America to be a part of regardless of race. This bank promotes and assists its community with financial literacy and offer affordable services with unique banking options such as simple interest-checking.
Jordan Peele’s Us debuted in 2019, a previous post covers the nuances about the film. Other critiques focused on the duality of individual people created by society, or in the movies case “the government”. The golden rule of looking into ones self in times of fear is a major theme throughout the film. I’m not trying to spoil the film too much, but in this post I will discuss the particular parts of the film that relates to black women and their narrative in their own freedom struggle movement.
The leading lady(ladies) of the film was played by non-other than oscar winning Lupita Nyong’o. In one of the first few opening scenes, the family links up with another family that happens to be white. When Lupita’s character Adelaide is talking to the other wife there, Kitty, the dialogue seems forced and strange. Kitty tells Lupita how she’s got a few new operations done to her face and after she spitefully adds that Lupita Nyong’o’s character would never need work done. Flashing forward to the part of the film where Kitty’s doppelgänger has tied Adelaide to a table. Kitty traces Adelaide’s face with a pair of scissors and runs to her mirror to mimic Adelaide’s face. Peele has a tendency to nod towards social issues and this part of the film definitely dances around the topic of beauty standards in the US. In regards to the black women freedom struggle movement, the movie could be seen as an aid in that it showcases and represents a black female leader as the face of a revolutionary movement. While engaging in the beauty of Lupita’s character, Peele does not take away from the strength of Adelaide’s role. What do you guys think?
I read an article titled “Birthing while black: African American women face disproportinate risks during pregnancy.” In this article, the writer mentions how in Virginia, black women are three times more likely to suffer a pregnancy-related death. The writer interviewed Courtney Glenn, who is the co-founder of a group that helps provide culturally-centered support in Virginia. Glenn said that the reason for this could be due to a lack of care and racism by doctors. She said that often doctors do not take African American pregnant women seriously when they complain about pain during their pregnancy. The writer also includes a study from the University of Virginia in 2016 that showed that racial bias played a role in how soon-to-be doctors treated patient pain.
It is disappointing that someone could receive different treatment by their doctor just because of their race. People in the hospital for their pregnancy deserve to be treated well and supported throughout the process. If doctors are knowingly not providing the best care they can, they are endangering the mother and also the baby. The fact that the statistics show such a disparity between the treatment received by a pregnant woman based on their race shows that there is discrimination involved. Groups like Glenn’s and also other groups are working hard to fix this problem, but it needs to be addressed quickly to prevent unnecessary health problems and even deaths.
I recently read an article about Lori Lightfoot, who became the first gay and black mayor in the history of Chicago. The article mentioned how Chicago is the largest city to elect an African American woman as the mayor. The article later describes how even though Chicago has had a large African American population for much of its history, only two out of the 55 mayors in the city’s history have been African American. Lightfoot won with almost 75 percent of the vote, and won in all 50 of the cities wards.
This was surprising to me. I know about the lack of diversity in politics, but I did not know that a city as big as Chicago had never elected an African American woman or gay mayor. Growing up in Cleveland, I often read about former mayor Carl Stokes, who was the first African American mayor of a major United States city in 1968. It is disappointing that it took over 50 years after that for a major city like Chicago to elect an African American woman as mayor. This shows that there is still much progress that needs to be made. Hopefully this will help the country realize the importance of diversity in politics, and cities will continue to elect diverse mayors. Congress also has started to become more diverse in recent years, but there is also much work that still has to be done. If work is done to continue this at the local level, then it is possible that it will happen at the national level as well.
Within the first discussion of African American female domestic workers, the idea of mammy; a black nursemaid or nanny in charge of white children, was brought up. Gone With The Wind, a movie released on January 19, 1940 displayed a character played by Hattie McDaniel during the post civil war era who continued to serve and raise the family that were formerly her slave owners. Hattie McDaniel – was the first African American woman to win an Oscar for her performance as Mammy.
Within this role, McDaniel, portrayed what many African American domestic workers were going through at the time. Her character catered to the family, she raised the main character Scarlet since she was a child. Mammy acts as an intelligent bacon of southern respect, hospitality, and manners. Often times when mammy has something to say, the characters surrounding her find meaning, truth, and wisdom in what she says. Upon watching the film it was clear that despite her intellect she was nameless. Mammy had no mention of family, love, aspirations, and or hopes of her own. Much like how black domestic workers felt during the era in which the film came out, Mammy was left leading a life that put the lives of her former slave owners before her own at all times. Within the film her ‘Mammy archetype’ positions her as finding more value in being loyal to her masters than freedom. This goes as far to depict her fighting a couple black soldiers that she felt could harm her masters. She is praised for her obedience. This position that she is in as Mammy depicts the racist narrative that black women value their servitude more than they could anything els within their own lives.