Just a quick note (“quick” is a bold faced lie and I know it) to show you that we Racialicious denizens leave the roost sometimes and branch out!
Yesterday, we celebrated the swearing in of our first African American president, for the second time (woo!) We also celebrated the confirmation of four more years of Michelle Obama looking ferosh all the time in the public eye, so I was asked to participate in a Huffington Post Live hangout where a few people would talk about the highlights of the inauguration ceremony from various angles. The guests were:
Reverend Deborah L. Johnson, Founder of Inner Light Ministries, Santa Cruz, CA
Molly Darden, Managing Editor of Azizah Magazine, Atlanta, GA
Dr. Christopher House, Dir., African American Worship Service at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Tim Byrnes, Professor of Political Science at Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
J.J. Colagrande, Professor at Miami-Dade Wolfson and HuffPost Blogger, Miami, FL
Joseph Lamour, Fashion & Entertainment Editor at Racialicious.com, Washington, DC
C’est moi! The drawing behind me is by yours truly as well. Cross promotion!
Let me just tell you: I did not expect to be seated amongst tenured professors and ministers. I was taken aback (and feel honored to be even thought of for the same discussion as the above people). I was so taken aback that I forgot my opening line! I had dubbed yesterday African American Awesomeness Day, and it really was. I promise I’m not talking about myself, either. I’m being humble (for once). To have Martin Luther King’s birthday fall on the same day as the re-inauguration of an African American President with his African American First Lady at his side was truly, truly, awesome. Continue reading →
During our November 9th, 2009 show at Port Ghalib in Egypt, something happened that inspired some of my writing for my album 4 (arriving in a few weeks). I was in the middle of performing “Irreplaceable,” and as the audience started singing “to the left, to the left” there was a woman sitting on top of a man’s shoulders in her full, traditional burka. Only her eyes and hands were visible.
She was waving her hands to the left, to the left, and singing every word – which I could see because the veil around her mouth was moving. Although the venue was at capacity, I could see her clearly in the audience. I was shocked she was even there, that she’d even been allowed to go to a concert, because after it gets dark, you don’t see any women in burkas on the street. So her presence alone was so moving. Witnessing the power, beauty, and strength of women – especially those living in places where their liberty is limited – is what moved me the most. I felt she had her beliefs, and they were important to her, but music also had a place in her life and she made a choice to be there.
—Beyonce, “Eat, Play Love,” published in Essence, July 2011
Beyonce might not completely run the world, but she’s certainly dominated the blogosphere news cycle since the release of the video for “Run The World (Girls).” Rather than each of us having a go at analyzing the song and the video, we decided it best to get together online and talk about not just the message Beyonce’s song is promoting, but how it fits in with other representations of Girl Power, as well as the song’s problematic backstory. Continue reading →
While some critics are rightly noting the confusing and inaccurate message of Beyoncé’s new single “Run The World (Girls)” in the context of a world controlled by patriarchy, her song/video also raises the issue of how peoples, artists, and cultures from the global south are referenced and represented by artists from the first world. Several layers of referencing go on within this song/video, which makes this discussion a lot more complicated, lengthy and, at the same time, all the more necessary.
Please bear with me. This is an important conversation to have because of the ways in which this kind of sampling reinforces disparities of privilege and power. Furthermore, its important to note the ways that the profits and opportunities produced from this referencing are disproportionately transferred to people with white privilege or benefiting from larger structures of white supremacy.
I want to be upfront about my position as a white man from the United States. Recognizing my own privileges in this dialogue, I welcome critique and debate and I’m writing this in large part because I want to see what kind of conversation these issues can generate.
By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, cross-posted from Televisual
The “black actress” stepped into the spotlight last year, as Nia Long called out Beyoncé Knowles and other singers for taking roles; Tyler Perry released yet another film starring newcomer Taraji P. Henson; and Precious gave its stars, especially Mo’Nique, a chance to shine.
The November 5 release of Perry’s For Colored Girls puts the issue of black women in cinema back into the national conversation — even if it fails to redeem Tyler Perry. So I decided to posit an answer to the question: where are all the black leading ladies? Below: 1) why this question?, 2) a list, 3) the state of the black leading lady, and 4) how I came up with the current crop.
I. Where is the Black Julia Roberts? One Route to an Answer
Easier asked than answered! The question is really more provocation than anything. At a certain point, comparison between races is irrelevant: is Will Smith the “white” anyone? He’s Will Smith! The question, however, does open up an interesting discussion. Julia Roberts, like Meryl Streep, can do a lot: from Duplicityand Eat Pray Love to, now, August: Osage County. Roberts can choose her roles and she almost always plays the lead. What black actress could do the same, now or in the near future? The real issue leads us to ask: of the potential black leading ladies today, who is on top, who isn’t panning out, and why?
Recently, Beyonce released the video for her single “Video Phone.”
M. Dot took the opportunity to look at Beyoncé’s lyrics in the context of the societal position of African American men and women. In the comments to her post, commenter Luna put up a link to theory friction practice, a blog that is definitely being added to my must read list. With the tagline “queering everything” the unnamed blogger (who I will refer to as TFP) throws a wrench into existing feminist narratives surrounding Beyoncé by pointing out subversive elements in “Video Phone.” As a refresher, here’s the video:
There are two reasons why I live for this video. 1) it’s totally self-aware and 2) it has this weird feminist politic which bothers me because it’s also really conservative.
For anybody aware of the film reservoir dogs (trailer here, at 0:30) the video references it in that Beyonce leads this group of suited people past a wall, which on its face isn’t very interesting, but that the video calls to itself as a video is important. It also says that “I am aware of my place in film history” which lets us know, that we are part of a historically situated audience who has prior visual experience. In the context of her last few videos, this is an aesthetic break in that she’s not dancing with two female people: she walks and leads a group of males who aren’t gawking at her sexually, but following her lead. This is where I first noticing this weird queer/feminist politic: Beyonce is costumed in a way that presents her as a sort of sex object, but the male people here have zero interest in her sexually and are walking all sterile and dignified. When this is added to the Reservoir Dogs reference, the crime plotting gets foregrounded and the sexuality gets somehow deadened. In this way—and throughout the whole video—the camera handles its gender politic conservatively, but the content works to subvert that conservatism. [...] Continue reading →
I am working on a paper titled, “How Beyonce and Capitalism Undermined R&B’s Ability to Normalize Black Love.”
The title may change to Beyonce Incorporated, as that is more focused and more appropriate for academia.
My professor wants me to l shift my focus to the media’s investment in what I have called the Beyonce Beauty Aesthetic – light skinned, size 4/6, curvy, blond hair.
But I am not interested in just talking about the media, I am interested in how Beyonce is a tool for maintaining US hegemony and the ways in which she normalizes really fucked up, patriarchal, Black heterosexual relationships.
I am fascinated by a light skinned, middle class Black woman from the Houston suburbs who sings about needing a soldier, who she could upgrade, so that he can put a ring on it, and if he likes her he can put her in his video phone.
by Guest Contributor SLB, originally published at Postbourgie
“Breathe,” Derek Charles says, as he vigorously shakes the leggy blonde psychotic in his hotel bed. “Bitch, breathe!”
And with this line, another awesomely campy stalker flick is born.
Trust me. You already know the plot of the newest Beyonce vehicle, Obsessed: naive married corporate exec (Elba) runs afoul of the wrong temp. You’ve seen it all before: things start off innocently enough (benign flirtation in the break room), then before long, the crazy chick can’t hide her crazy anymore and out come the crocodile tears, the trench coats covering presumed nakedness, and those ridiculous IM windows with the super-stupid, super-obvious screen names (here, Ali Larter’s Lisa calls herself TEMPGIRL).
The ending is telegraphed before the opening credits finish flashing (over a too-loud soundtrack of really crappy music). All the characters are pat and underwritten. The budget’s clearly low (The lace-front on Beyonce’s curly wig is visible in almost every scene), despite the truckload of “executive producers, including Magic Johnson, Mathew Knowles, and Beyonce (which would explain the laborious, overlong caress of the camera on the latter as she emotes). The dialogue is appropriately cliche-ridden. And, like most of the stalker flicks that came before it, Obsessed relies on a great deal of doltish behavior on the part of its protagonist in order to build its plot. (That is to say: with just a few more realistic, practical choices, there wouldn’t be a movie.) Continue reading →
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World