Category Archives: black women

The Becoming Michelle Interview: What I loved…

I was on a brief but much needed getaway this past weekend with my husband. We were in upstate New York and dining at a favorite spot, but I made sure we got back in time for Michelle Obama being interviewed by Robin Roberts as part of her “Becoming Michelle” book launch tour. I was so excited for it, so excited to see and hear from her. And the interview really delivered on many points.

I was most open for the parts where she talked about feeling like a failure because she and Barack were challenged when first trying to conceive naturally. She didn’t expect it to be so hard and had I believe at least one or two miscarriages.

I didn’t know how common miscarriages were, because we don’t talk about them…

I was really moved by her candor on this subject. She eventually had Sasha and Malia through IVF. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard this story from women I know. But I just never imagined I’d hear it from the Flotus!

I think it’s one of the worst things we do to each other as women; not sharing how our bodies work, how they don’t work…

She then went on to talk about how damaging it is when women don’t share things with one another because of shame and a sense of failure and hopelessness. It made me think about how Khalilah was always so adamant about Black women sharing with one another and how she would always get on me for not sharing enough purposefully. This was one of the reasons we would share our blog entries out to Soul Sistah Series. Spaces created for and by Black women for the purpose of sharing and learning from one another are invaluable and a dire necessity if we wish to break the curse of habits and rituals handed down through generations which do not serve to connect us to our power.

I also loved when Michelle talked about her relationship with her husband Barack, how they met, where the attraction began. I’ve been married to my husband for 4 years and have been dedicating myself to re-examining my marriage lately and  really thinking about what it means to me to be married and what makes relationships work in general. I’ve learned a lot so far from studying the work by Esther Perel, a relationship psychologist, who introduced me to the term “erotic intelligence.”

Much of what is rarely a part of a mainstream discussion is how sexuality and arousal are maintained in a long term marriage, particularly in couples who are also parents. I have always always always loved the ways in which the Obamas allowed us to witness us the powerful spark of their initial attraction to one another when in public. I can only imagine that a love that real cannot be hidden. And why would you? Their love and sexiness have inspired so many of us. In the interview, when addressing Michelle’s initial attraction to her man, she  was like, you see that cocky confident way he walks? “He has always walked like that…”

GURL!!!!

 

I would never have though it could be done in the White House of all places! LOL!!

What I know now is that this attraction and eroticism is not maintained without self love, dedication, and work.

It’s hard to deny that Obama was one of those presidential candidates with charm, charisma and attractiveness in his corner and a lot of that came from being partnered with someone who wasn’t afraid to really be Black. And Blackness is sexy af.  Who doesn’t remember pictures of the Obamas like these where just watching them, we could all only imagine they had to be getting it in on the regular? I have never in my entire lifetime been compelled to even imagine the erotic life of a first family until the Obamas.

Obamas Collage

Obama was clean and classy in presentation as was Michelle but she was the one with the most don’t give a fuck in her practices, doing and saying what she did without apology because she knew who she was and where she was coming from. She showed her arms (oooohhhh!!!!) called out threats and injustice where she saw them and kept it moving dedicating herself to programs she believed in that were in service to communities in need.

Though she admits in the interview to being scared and nervous and unsure, she knew as a Black woman that she couldn’t let that show while she was in office. Some people saw her as a threat. I saw her as strong and beautiful, fun, humorous and dignified. It’s not to say that I agreed with everything either her or her husband did or said but as a Black woman married to a Black man, whenever I saw them I just felt like I was seeing Black excellence with regard to the work it takes to keep both a marriage and a family not only in tact but thriving, let alone through a two term presidency!

 

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Don’t Freeze: Love and Vulnerability in Black Panther

I remember in the trailer for Black Panther watching the scene over and over again where Okoye tells T’challa before he descends to from the ship, not to “freeze.” And of course he says, “I never freeze” before putting on his helmet falling through a hatch release into the night.

I kept wondering it meant. In what situation would a superhero freeze or let his guard down? I couldn’t imagine the scenario and I really wanted to know.

As a bonafide movie lover, I have a collection of moments in films that I love and adore and among them is the moment when a man looks at the woman he loves, the moment when he is just openly gazing at her and time stops no matter what is happening. I love to see his openness, his vulnerability, his total surrender. But then of course he needs to be equally capable of getting it together again and carrying on his duties. LOL!

When Black Panther descends on a van of girls captured by the Boko Haram in order to save Nakia who is embedded among them on an undercover rescue mission, the aforementioned freezing begins. But not before he and Nakia stealthily dispatch of the armed men.  Then, thinking they are no longer under threat he faces her and says…hi. His mask is on so you can’t see his eyes but you can tell that he’s no longer in Black Panther mode. Okoye then appears and kills a man that neither or aware of because they’re too busy sharing a moment. LOL!

To be immediately engaged with both the vulnerability and strength of Black Panther in this initial and pivotal scene was just one of hundreds of ways in which the movie has shattered previous notions about what it has meant to be a “superhero.”

There is also no Clark Kent/Superman identity crisis conflict to deal with here. Among his people, T’challa does not hide as the Black Panther. Black Panther is not his secret identity. It is who he is. So when he looks at Nakia and freezes as Black Panther in the midst of battle or as King T’challa walking leisurely through the marketplace with her, it’s all the same man.

With Nakia, T’Challa is able to safely express his doubts about being the kind of king he feels he should be and he entrusts all the women around him, his mother, sister, general with the responsibility to support, inform, guide, strategist, and help him protect and defend Wakanda. They are all uniquely necessary and equally committed to this mission.

T’Challa’s vulnerability is his strength and he never seems to be at odds with it. I have never seen that treated with such balance and normative reverence in a superhero movie before. To feel the burden of so many of the oppressive and conditioned narratives we’re used to in movies; Whiteness, the male gaze, hyper sexuality, and more,  lift away for just a few hours is indescribably liberating. When I first saw Black Panther, I froze as well. And after the third time, time still stopped for me. And each time I see it, I come back to the world slightly different.

Wakanda Needs You…

We just came home. My husband has already turned the television on in the living room. But I can’t let the world in just yet.

I still feel that feeling of the world of Wakanda surrounding me. I’m still. I’m mesmerized but I’m also focused and sure about something.

It doesn’t matter that the Magic Johnson Staff showed up late to open up the theater for the 9am showing of Black Panther. My husband was upset and I was irritated myself but we got there at 8:27am, got on line at 8:30am and whenever I looked behind me as we waited, I saw the line get longer and longer. And that’s what mattered to me. I was like, we’re gonna get it together, it’s gonna be fine. Nothing is going to get me to hate on my people.

And it didn’t matter that there was a little boy next to me with his mom next to him and his brother on the other side of her who hardly stopped moving for more than a few minutes because didn’t I just say to my husband as we were walking up to the theater how cool it would be if we were taking our kids (we have none yet) along with us and how we would take them even if they were as young as five? I’m pretty sure the little boy next to me was around that age. Kids squirm and can’t sit still in theaters for a myriad of reasons. I think he was having a hard time understanding what was happening because he kept leaning over to mom on his right to ask questions and she answered every one. She also clapped, laughed, had a good time and was physically affectionate with him as she gently tried to get him to sit as still. .

It didn’t matter that at a very pinnacle and violent point in the film, one of the audience members popped up and let rip a stream of angry curses. I was upset and startled but mostly because he was disturbing the movie. My instinct made me get up, go outside and let staff know what was happening so they could regain order. I learned later on from my husband that a few other sistas had done the same at that time.

It certainly didn’t matter that I was the only movie goer I saw with my face painted like Shuri, T’Challa’s sister and one of the three iconic women that carried the film impeccably along with all the other stellar cast members into history. I’m no stranger to being in the minority with what I will wear on my body and face in public. I get that from my mom.

Up until now, I had been so caught up with a lot of the façade, the imagery, the fantastic visuals that the Black Panther film has inspired all over the country, all exploding with pride, imagination, social impact and love on social media. These are all so very important. Human beings take into our minds what we take in with our eyes. And hearts often remember what minds forget.

In this way, Black Panther is so much more than just a movie. It gets everything right in that it shows the flaws and complexities of Wakanda as much as it does the ideals of what it means to be a great nation. The pros and cons of nationhood vs globalization from a centralized African perspective is among one of its greatest strengths.

But a five-year old child may not see those themes right away. They just want to see a fun movie. They want to identify a good guy and a bad guy, a great hero, and a great foe. And if you’re a Black child and you see all of these things plus a great nation, a proud, beautiful and diverse Black people who are the wielders and developers of a futuristic, highly advanced technology, warriors, ritual, tradition a reverence to nature as a well as an inextricable tie in to Black life and culture in America and much more from a completely decolonized lens, you are seeing something which will have the potential to shape your self identity in ways we can only begin to imagine at this present time. It shouldn’t be a privilege or a special thing for a Black child to see these things in a movie. But it is. Because we are a powerful people. And we live in a world where that power is systematically ground out.

Shuri

No, I understand that tribal face paint or markings whether we understand their true meaning or not are about much more than what you or I can see. If I was apart of a tribe on the continent that participated in ritual face scarring what would matter is how the symbols identified me to others, both to those in my tribe and to outsiders. Colonizers turn all of that into commodity. And because of that, our minds often consume only the surface of our own origins.

No, what matters is that we as Black people all over the world see the ways in which we can exchange, share, maintain, reinterpret, support, inform and build with one another by utilizing the ways in which Diasporic people have always connected to what is most powerful about our Blackness.

I will be seeing this movie as many times as I can with as many Black people I love as I can. But that’s just a drop in the bucket, something that I can do with great joy and enthusiasm. It is the obstacles we struggle with and transcend in our evolution as human beings, which will help to get us farther in our minds and in our spirits as Black people. The actual work of dismantling colonized thinking starts there with that work. And a film like Black Panther is a watershed moment that grinds forward like a surgical strike with an idea for the future of Blackness which conceives a Black nation never touched by evil White ideologies yet still struggles with it’s own growing pains as ruler ships and traditions are questioned, challenged and overthrown.

Wakanda is no utopia. Where does the idea of utopia come from anyway? If we were in one, we certainly wouldn’t need the idea. And so it is with Wakanda. No Black person could have ever imagined such a place could exist nor need it to if not for nature of our grossly understated predicament in this country since being stolen from the continent in which all of humanity was conceived. Wakanda reaches out to us because we conceived of it and we conceive at our highest frequencies only that from which we emerge. Wakanda needs us as much we need Wakanda. We are all family and “nobody wins when the family feuds.”

#wakandaforever

Sean Carter Confessionals: Family Feud

The wretched of the earth do not decide to become extinct, they resolve, on the contrary, to multiply; life is their weapon against life, life is all that they have.

-James Baldwin

A man who don’t take care of his family can’t be rich. I watched Godfather, I missed that whole shit…

-Jay-Z

 

The year is 2444 The home is rich and lavish. The setting is coldness, anger and betrayal. Michael B. Jordan storms angrily into the bedroom of Thandie Newtown’s characteron a particularly “important day” loudly berating her capacity to be the head of a clearly powerful family only to find her in bed with a dude played by Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes. I notice immediately how pale Thandie, Michael B. Jordan and X are. The only colors you see are like pale blues and yellows. But the paleness of their skin tone makes me think of sickness, deficiency, greed heartlessness and death. Sure enough, before the scene is done, both men are killed, Mark by Trevante and then Trevante by Thandie’s character, Game of Thrones style, because she wants the family “Throne” for herself.

2444

Both Anthony and Trevante are both wearing clothing at the waist inspired by garb worn by men in ancient Khemit. Thandie wears a scant bandage outfit nearly identical to the one Milla Jojovich wore in the “The Fifth Element” a film set in a future that opens in an Egyptian temple and where the planet is under threat of total destruction if an essential element, which is embodied by a woman is not recovered.

Jay Z Family Feud screen grab Credit: Tidal

In the year 2148 an indigenous woman, Bird and Jacob played by Irene Bedard and Omari Hardwick are joint world leaders hailing from two great families. They respond to questions from a citizenry council about violent events that have lead to Jacob’s rise in power. Jacob recounts the legacy of his family and their struggle to uphold and maintain law and justice throughout generations. He talks about how one of his ancestors who played a major role as one of the founding mothers.

Founding Mothers

She was the primary architect of something called “The Confessional Papers” in 2050 and revised the constitution with a group of amazing women, played by Janet Mock, Neicy Nash, Mindy Khaling, Rosario Dawson and Rashida Jones just to name a few.

His ancestor, played by Susan Kelechi Watson in the year 2050 by is none other than Blue Ivy Carter.

Now we’re in Blue Ivy’s  narrational 2050 memory as she recalls her father’s words, “Nobody wins when the family feuds.”

Beyonce-family-feud

Cut to 2018 which is basically now, where there the musical narrative of the video for Jay Z’s “Family Feud” begins. Jay-Z walks a present day Blue Ivy to sit in a church pew and then walks the front to start rapping before Beyonce who Amens at him from the pulpit in royal Blue, looking like a sanctified and sexy ass Popestress. She also appears in a black mini dress and billowy white sleeves behind the screen of a confessional as Jay speaks to her from the other side. The metaphor is plain to see now. And there is still so much left to unpack. I want this to be movie or a television series!

Blu ivy FF

I’m still on the floor!

I don’t know about you but I’ve already watched this video about five times now. I know I will lose count of how many times I watch it again and of how many other pieces of symbolism I pick out of this brilliant work of art and revolution made explicitly for the culture. I also know that 4:44 is a fierce, proud and unapologetically Black call to action to each of us who are about that life if there ever was one and I couldn’t have asked for anything better to arrive as 2017 comes to an end and 2018 kicks the door and our asses in.

Here’s to a Black Ass, Woke Ass 2018!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Only Reason I Can Never a Watch White Person’s Make-up Tutorial

This will be short.

 

BECAUSE BARBIE

BECAUSE BECKY

BECAUSE AMERICA

 

The only reason I started watching youtube beauty tutorials, reviews, GRWM (Get ready with me if you didn’t know) or style vlogs was to see Black women doing it. I mean, initially, I started watching to find my shade twins and see how certain colors, foundations, lipsticks I like, might look on me. But I ended up watching and following Black women across the Diaspora with a broad range of skin colors because we are so gotdamn beautiful and the range of our skin tones is NO LIMIT!!!!!

And I LOOOOOOOOVE watching Black women put on make-up. I just do. I love all the different ways, the reasons, the looks, the attitudes, the approaches.

I clicked on a White chick’s video once but

NAH

NOPE

WHY?

Nothing for me to learn there that I haven’t been working on the daily to unlearn. And I mean personally, it’s just not attractive to me. That’s not what I’m checking for. I’m checking for me. And it’s not to say that White supremacy is not still alive in complex and dangerous ways on the Black channels but at least there I feel like I care about what’s happening. I’m invested, because I am represented.

And I can work from there.

 

 

Time Stopping Thursdays: My Favorite video of the month

35 Bday

I viewed this amazing video posted on Facebook by Angela Laketa Tanksley for the first time several weeks ago but so far, no matter how many times I view it, it always gives me life. I mean it’s not just that she was bold and brave enough to take on creating a remake of one the best Beyonce videos ever, “Grown Woman” but also that she did it to commemorate her 35th birthday. And even more than that, she didn’t try to be Beyonce. She emulated some of the best things about the energy of Beyonce and Destiny’s child videos, like friendship, Black women together, beauty, motherhood, marriage, strength, sexiness, fun and laughter and she used the resources that applied to her life, like the baby carriages (oh God I loved the women dancing next to their baby carriages!!!!!!! I loved it!!) and her husband opening his door to see his wife and her friends raising a ruckus in the hallway inspired by Beyonce’s “7/11” video. The look on his face and the shake of his head was pure husbandness. LOLOL!!! He was like, I don’t want any part of this. Back to my X-Box. Omigod, I just loved it. It made me feel like I could actually make a video like this one day!

Duoble Baby
“Betcha I run this!”

Angela did do some literal depictions of her favorite parts of Beyonce’s “Grown Woman” in ways that I loved. She had her husband on the couch and was rubbing his knee, showing her pride in marriage and then had her kids on her bed all around her while she laughed and smiled as her son kissed her and then there’s a bit where her and friends are dressed in sexy black outfits doing the dance routine that Beyonce does with two back up dancers near the end of “Grown Woman.” Angela shot her choreographed piece in a neighborhood that looked like a suburb somewhere outside in natural light. They killed it.

It was like fun sleep over/dance party at a hair salon mixed with grown sexiness defined by some of the best things about being a grown Black woman, and just showing how versatile, how dynamic, how sexy, how fun, how beautiful it is. I think I’m gonna go watch it again right now!

Viola Davis: Redefining Classical Soul Sistah

37a8bac1c4efae9e872b1d2beb2e3fde

The first film I remember seeing Viola Davis in was “Antoine Fisher” in 2002 where she played Fisher’s long sought after mother, Eva May. She was only in the film near the end for about ten minutes or so and was completely silent for most of it but in my opinion she stole the entire scene.  Her performance was so indelible that it’s what I remember most about the film. That same year she also played a supporting role in one of my favorite films, “Solaris.” She played Dr. Gordon, the only Black person on a space ship crew, or actor for that matter in an all white cast. There was no missing her talent here. She was fully committed to the role, self-possessed, passionate, intense and powerful; another unforgettable performance that could have easily been underplayed by a lesser performer.

Since then she has played supporting roles in a string of hugely successful and critically acclaimed films leading up to her starring role in Shonda Rhimes hit television series, “How to Get away with Murder” as Annalise Keating, the headstrong  and controversial lawyer.  From taking on ignorant and insensitive comments about her dark skin and allegedly “non-classical” beauty to her decision to remove her wig and all of her make-up in one of the most talked about episodes of HTGAWM, we have been fascinated with Viola’s ability to strategically expose America to the ways in which real women, women of color particularly, negotiate public appearance and a sense of inherent value in a world designed to marginalize, fragment and fetishize our entire beings.

Remaining poised, elegant and confident in both her strengths as a formidable actress and a Black woman, we look forward to seeing Viola Davis continue to tear down these reductive standards in ways that challenge, disturb and engage as well as speak authentically to the parts of ourselves we rarely get to see on screen.

soulsistahseries

Visions of Oshun

Oshun Collage
We’re all here for Oshun so I equate that with Oshun being here.

-PBS Documentary on the Nigerian Oshun Festival

So I’ve been working on this project lately that has required a study of different illustrations of the goddess Oshun. Oshun is one of hundreds of Yoroba Orishas, a Goddess who embodies, beauty, sensuality, healing, abundance, harmony, divination and the feminine archetype. I am discovering that there are many different interpretations of what Oshun represents but essentially she is in some ways to ancient African religions what the Virgin Mary is to Catholicism, what Venus or Aphrodite was to Romans and Greeks. But unlike those latter mentioned, Oshun, to my unending delight, is represented primarily as a very dark skinned Black woman. Her colors are represented as a constant spectrum of gold, amber, yellow and orange. She can be found near bodies of water and always carries a mirror. She likes sweet things and is often shown wearing a veil which allows her to see the world eternally as a sweet heavenly vision of beauty. Doesn’t that sound dope?

It hit me yesterday as I looked at all the googled images of her, how powerful the symbols of her identity are with regard to visual interpretations. With all the different versions out there, there are those basic elements that never change. Like the Virgin Mary, Venus or Aphrodite, artists understand that key colors, elements in nature and symbolic objetcs are what communicate to the viewer who and what this woman represents. This is art 101 obviously but I never really even understood this even in art history class. I wish it had been taught to me in this way. A Picasso version of the Virgin Mary will not look like Carravagio’s, but the basic symbolical indicators will be there somewhere whether literal, obscure, abstracted or minimized.

Blue, white, rays of natural light. Yellow, gold, mirror water nature. When we wear these colors, spend time in specific natural spaces, we can recognize that certain religions and cultures would see us as invoking saints, goddesses, gods, spirits that are represented by these things. We attribute powers to elements based on both ancient practice and natural metaphysical laws.

Why do the colors deep blue and purple represent royalty? Why does yellow invoke joy and lightness? Most of us have been conditioned to an unconscious reflexive knowledge of white as representing purity. The color black however has had the worst rap ever. Buried in decades of negative association with death, evil, abyss, black actually symbolizes the highest seat of wisdom as seen in clergymen and ministers who wear all black or martial arts masters who acquire the Black belt in the various disciplines of Martial Arts. We all know that a Black Belt can only be acquired with intense hard work and commands great respect. For me, seeing so many versions of Oshun with this dark black skin is even more of a validation and praise of the color black. It sends the message to my heart that blackness is beautiful, is sacred, is virtuous. And every version of Oshun must be dark skinned in order for me to understand that she is Oshun.

It is said that in the Vatican, there is a black version of the Virgin Mary hidden somewhere and that this is the one the Pope worships behind closed doors. Oooh! My google search of Black Virgin Mary has produced such a range of beautiful renditions! The darker Goddesses are stepping out into the light.
We make it so.
-Team Urban Eve

Who Run the World?

My commute to work is not very long at all. Twenty minutes, maybe thirty if there are service delays. So this morning while I was immersed in the world of “Americanah” I got a little sad when I looked up and saw that I was already at my stop.

I had been listening to “Run the World” and “Superpower” on my phone while reading Ifemelu’s blog post on “Why Dark-Shinned Black Women–Both American and Non-American–Love Barack Obama.” I was still remembering the amazing time I had last night at Open Expression in Harlem. The feature, a powerful and giving woman, Naa Akua who was accompanied by two others, “Royalty” and “A Lyric” who sang a song about beautiful dark and cinnamon skin and invited us all to join in was still coursing through my memory. The second to last Thursday of every month for over two years now, we have come together to share and create and be inspired by our own worlds.

I remember raging against Beyonce’s audacity with everyone else when “Run the World” came out. I was tired of hearing women referred to as girls. Plus which, I thought it strange to assert something that to me was obviously a lie when we know who really runs the world.

But…ahem

I had never really listened to the song.

I ADMIT IT! OKAY? This was before my full on Beyonce love and appreciation.

But one evening this week I was playing Pandora on my stereo (I don’t listen to the radio anymore) and when “Run the World” came blasting on I stood at full attention. And I was up and dancing and totally elated, a reaction that has become very familiar to me with regard to many Beyonce songs. I don’t even think about it. I’m just up! When it was done, I bought it on iTunes. Heard it, believed in it, needed it on my life.

Needed it in my life!

And I thought to myself while listening to it, aren’t we supposed to act as if in this world if it’s not the way we need it to be?White people create their own realities constantly, without even being aware of it. They play their reality like a perpetual number one hit song, pumping it into the veins of the masses, which is how indoctrination works. It is not the sharing of any truth with the sacred intent of enlightenment and movement but a force feeding of falsities, and fabrications for the purpose of control.

In “Run The World” Beyonce is celebrating achievements made and yet to be made by girls and saying, fuck a day when! We run this now! How else will little Black and Brown babies believe if there isn’t someone out there powerful enough to sing their praises so everyone can hear it the way A Lyric did last night? My mom ran my world. And damned if mothers don’t run our worlds as children period! I mean, what if Beyonce is right? I think she is. I think that perhaps the reason why it’s so hard for us as women to believe it when someone tells us we run shit is because we don’t even understand our own power. We say it’s a man’s world because that’s what patriarchy requires us to do in order to reap empty promises. And we fall in line.

You know that old “Behind every great man…” line right? Everybody does. It’s meant to make women feel revered and recognized about being behind the scenes and never really being seen. “Yes, he was a great man but he would not have been anything without this great woman behind him.”

Well if women are so powerful behind the scenes, what would happen if we stepped out front? Oh that’s right. We would get torn down and ripped to shreds by other women, the women who still behave unconsciously on behalf of white male, patriarchy that is. That little white man dancing invisibly in our heads will never give us what we need. We have to create what we need for ourselves. But first we have to know what that need truly is. Figuring out what we need as women of color in this world is a journey, a work in progress which is changing the world with every passing minute.

The Real Scandal

JOE-USE4
Joe Morton

I don’t know that I ever understood who Olivia Pope was outside of a fixer/handler/help who wears the “White hat” quivers in the presence of power, aka Fitz and hires people to kill people but is shocked when she realizes her intimate proximity to killers. If Joe Morton, who plays her father had not joined the cast when he did, I doubt I could have continued to watch the show, particularly after they killed off Harrison and gave him that wack ass funeral. If Poppa Pope hadn’t already been around by then, I just don’t see what other reason there would have been for me to stick around. Don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy the other story lines. But Olivia’s is meant to be the one we watch for and frankly it’s making me nauseous.

Look. I realize that interracial relationships happen. I’ve been in a few myself. But I look around on television and all I see is white couple TV shows and in Shondaland where Black women are the main characters of two hit shows, for some reason, they can’t be seen with a positively portrayed Black man! WTF?

My good friend at Life as I Know It and I were having our Court Street Car chat last weekend after attending a lecture at the Brooklyn Museum about unpacking the definition of the Diva. We were discussing the reasons why we felt Olivia and Annalise were not only in exclusive relationships with white men but the fact that the little bit of Black men in both shows have been portrayed as either untrustworthy, dead or monstrous. All the powerful white men in Scandal are evil, murderous and selfish but it’s clear that whoever has Olivia’s heart is the hero. And it ain’t her daddy. I can’t get into “How to Get Away with Murder” right now but that story line is starting to go downhill for me as well. She’s doing everything she can for her asshole husband while the only Black man we’ve seen her with is running around in the shadows trying to avenge himself against her.

Let’s  talk about Olivia’s father, Rowan, played expertly by veteran actor, Joe Morton. Every time he starts talking, I’m on the edge of my seat.  I need to know why, when they write for Rowan, the language he uses clearly subverts a truth about race relations that is never fully brought to light in the racial dynamics of the rest of the show.

“Those people are not your people.”

“Don’t you ever leave me for one of them.”

“Twice as good as them to get half of what they have.”

“Those boys..”

I could go on.

HE-GIVES-ME-LIFE

And I know he’s supposed to be an asshole but I need Olivia to give a shit about her family. I need her to put family before these dudes no matter how dysfunctional it is. Why is it that the obvious dysfunction, crime and perversion that is inherent in both Jake and Fitz is seen as the lesser evil for Olivia when compared with her father?  It’s hard for me to believe that she was actually going to sit across from her father at dinner and while “those people” blew his head off. I wasn’t feeling her method of betrayal at all. To pretend she actually believed what her father was telling her to lure him into a trap rather than understand that what he was saying was the God’s truth. Now I don’t know where Shonda is trying to take this, but if it doesn’t pan out or make any sense to me, I can’t continue to watch “Scandal” any longer. I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal to have a Black man and woman in a couple on tv who are loving and supportive of one another, but it’s starting to bug me that this is what stands in for someone’s idea of progress or a “post racial” reality. I mean I could see if we had just experienced decades of positive Black images in relationships and families and influential figures in film and television and THEN Scandal came along. MAYBE.  But that hasn’t happened.

I remember that before it was cancelled, my husband used to watch the show “Happy Endings,” a comedy with an all white cast of couples and friends except for Damon Wayons Jr. whose character was married to a white woman. I peeped just enough of it when he watched to see that the show was funny and well written but I refused to watch it. I am not familiar with this reality. What world is that they were living in? No one outside of that circle ever addressed the situation of Damon’s character being the only Black person in his social circle with any seriousness, I’m assuming because it was a comedy? I couldn’t get past it. I couldn’t accept it, because there was never any equal or opposing representation to compare it with.

What television has done effectively is to say, forget about seeing Black people together and loving one another! Lets just skip to situations where they are represented in the minority again! Let’s get over all this racism stuff! There’s not racism anymore! There’s also not one single new show on prime time television (besides “Black-Ish”) where loving, supportive couples, relationships and or families are played by BLACK PEOPLE!

Erm….but we’re so over race right? We’re all equally represented right?

In addition to myself, I know Black people who are married to, dating and in relationships with other Black people and people of color. But I have NEVER seen this reflected on television in any but the most occasional and exceptional of ways. The Cosby Show was great but can we move on?

My main concern is with the message that audiences of color are being fed. I can’t be bothered with what white people may or may not think and I can’t say that I really care. All I know is, I finally get why a lot of Black men hate both of Shonda’s shows. They can’t see themselves portrayed in them in any but a negative light. They continue to be either made to look like terrible people who are violent and manipulative in ways that do not earn them either status, power or love or they are removed altogether, as if they were never important, never needed and never remembered.