Sigh. I have been doing that a lot more lately, sighing. Every time I log onto one of my social media accounts or read the comments on any article (I still haven’t learned to avoid that mind trap) the sighs are inevitable. And world forbid I enter the space of a fellow Black Feminist… The misogyny intertwined inside of the racism in those spaces is nothing short of mind-blowing. However, the real trap is on these ‘frivolous’ sites that details the current goings on in Hollywood and whatnot. It is on those sites that we can really gauge just how much progress is still needed in this post-racial society.
Most people see their favorite movies or songs as nothing more than something that entertains them, but it goes so much deeper than just a fun distraction. Yes, your favorite movie is always there when you need that smile. Or you can turn on your favorite song because it’s the only thing that understands you. Most people don’t want to think of entertainment as anything but just that, entertainment, and I get that, I really do. But art imitates life and the same can be said if you turn that statement around. When an artist creates their work they have an agenda. Whether it is to make you feel something, think, or just simply forget and have a good time, there is an objective. This is what escapes some people when they want to toss a movie to the side as nothing serious when it offends or upsets others. This happens all the time with minority groups. Whether we are getting stepped on or over in stories or getting side stepped in our own creations in music, it’s something that is still very common.
So common that when we get the same recycled story lines in movies, we become defensive and protective of the straps that we have been given from the table. Or we simply drown out the little voices in our heads to get a quick groove on to a hot beat. We have become numb to the erasure.
We have been getting a gang of period pieces that deal with slavery and servitude. Now, those stories are important but it’s been basically the only thing that mainstream Hollywood wants to show. What about the movies that that speak directly to the Black experience of today? Black history seems to be getting erased more and more by the day from the history books and the fact that this history isn’t taught properly in school but used as entertainment is insulting. The message sent is that it isn’t important enough to get the serious examination, but we’ll hire someone else to tell your story so that it interests us enough to profit. And the headlines that are yielding white artists as the saviors of R&B are just plain ridiculous, because R&B never left. There are hundreds of artist still doing the genre justice but for obvious reasons they are overlooked. It raises the question; do we expect more from Black R&B artists? Are they held above the minimum requirements it seems to take for other groups doing the genre?
But unlike racism, Don Lemon, this is something that we can help. In other words, money talks and we like to spend. Stop supporting your stories that are always told from another’s mouth. Support those of us who are coming up and putting quality into our work. With that being said, here’s what’s really good
Chances need to be given and created to those voices that are being erased. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay is such a gift to the creative world. Her pieces deal with Black life in the present. We are not paintings of a stereotype drawn to explain to other groups. We are simple people in the world, dealing with problems in the most human way possible. It’s so sad to say that work like DuVernay’s is so refreshing in the 21st century but the truth is that there are more voices out there like DuVernay’s; but because they don’t fit the imagination of how Hollywood thinks or wants them to be, they are ignored. We can change that by simply putting our money where our mouths are and hit them it where it hurts, their third house in Maui.