There is a Difference Between Allowing a Black Woman to Entertain You, and Listening to Her Story.

There is a difference between allowing a Black woman to entertain you, and listening to her story.

Have you noticed that five Black women played the most highly rated Super Bowl (three of which are household names), but Black women filmmakers have a terrible time getting their stories out into the mainstream with mainstream backing?

This is the idea that came to mind when I watched the Super Bowl last weekend. While there where three Black women in the Super Bowl who are house hold names, and by house hold names I mean that the person’s profile is high enough that they are known in houses outside of Black homes, across social class. Of course I am referring to Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé Knowles Carter, and Destiny’s Child (which is a single entity in and of it self in some ways).

Of course Bibi McGill’s spotlight was fresh, in all the Quirky Black Girl ways possible (Peace to Lex y Moya), but I think that we need to be careful about over determining the symbolic importance of having our faces represented in mainstream media.

There is a difference between allowing a Black woman to entertain you, and listening to her story.

Less faces. More stories.

I have always said that a barometer of Black women’s freedom will be their ability to write, control, produce and disseminate their stories in both marginalized spaces and in  mainstream spaces, and get paid to do it.

In talking about the reception to” Daughters of the Dust”, Julie Dash once stated, and I paraphrase her here, that many people don’t want to watch a film directed by a Black woman because they don’t think that there is anything to learn from a Black women. Implicitly, I read her to mean that sitting down for ninety minutes to watch a film means that you are making a tactic agreement with the director to be taught about life for ninety minutes.

What is it about stories by Black women that are so threatening? Why is it easier to watch Black women perform, rather than to watch their stories. Notice I said by Black women and not ABOUT.

Will it always be the case that Black women in the US can perform for the world, but they cannot share, amongst each other, how they see each other within mainstream spaces?

 

Given the fact that I have had my historical critique of how patriarchy plays out in a set a songs within Mrs. Carter’s catalog, did you know that I find the ways in which she controls her OWN narrative to be fascinating and inspiring? From Amy Wallace’s interview in GQ,

Before you get to see Beyoncé, you must first agree to live forever in her archive, too.

And this issue of ownership and narrative/story/image control is further illustrated in another article in GQ where Ann Powers  writes,

Here’s the way it works now: If MTV or Access Hollywood or anyone else wants some footage of Beyoncé and Beyoncé thinks it’s a good idea, Burke shoots it and lets them borrow it. “It’s a win-win,” Burke says. “They get better access—that’s what we tell them—because I’m in the dressing room, where they would never be,” he says. But Beyoncé owns the footage. Same with still photos.

So, what do you think about the politics of Black women’s storytelling 2013?

Did you notice the contrast between Black women as performers and Black women as producers and distributors of beginning to ending narratives?

h/t Champagne Candy for the link.

*Peace to @DD re our #IveGottoOwnAllmyMasters conversation. Who knew Busta Rhymes would offer a Black Feminist framework for ownership of cultural productions.

Renina

Renina is a cultural critic, author, instructor and a blogger. She is also the founder of Black Girl Everything, New Model Minority. She is book "Black Girls Are From the Future: Essays on Race, Digital Creativity and Pop Culture".

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebook

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
  • http://www.dylandigits.com dylan digits

    “What is it about stories by Black women that are so threatening?”

    Messes up the narrative that we’ve been sold and grown comfortable with. Once that leap happens from face/prop/stereotype/object to a complex person with agency, then we’re forced to reckon with the humanity of that person. That’s a scary thing, because recognizing humanity in someone means you can see yourself in them and vice-versa. And if you can feel that sense of empathy, you can’t tell yourself you’re completely separate from and better than Black women. And if you can’t tell yourself that, then the whole system starts shaking a bit as all that poison you’ve ingested and internalized starts to lose its hold. Who knows what a person who is seen and treated as a whole human being is capable of?

    And that’s the truth.

    • Reninaj

      @DD

      I quit blogging FOR EVARRR.

      WOW.

      !!That’s a scary thing, because recognizing humanity in someone means you
      can see yourself in them and vice-versa. And if you can feel that sense
      of empathy, you can’t tell yourself you’re completely separate from and
      better than Black women. And if you can’t tell yourself that, then the
      whole system starts shaking a bit as all that poison you’ve ingested and
      internalized starts to lose its hold.
      ======
      This is it. I mean your statement is Baldwinian and pretty daggumit straight forward.

      I think between this comment from you and the conversation I just had with Lex, I am kinda done.

  • Pingback: Why Do Black Women’s Mags Struggle in The Marketplace and Other Questions of Ownership For Futuristic Black Girls |