Literally nothing lately has been giving me more RAGE than this subject, so take a seat- this is an opinion piece.
Over the last couple of years, there has been a massive increase in the acceptance and dare we say it’s become a trend to “embrace” your “Blackness”. I have 0 issue with this, we have blogged previously on our own journey to embracing what it means for us to be Black and getting to know ourselves and culture on a deeper level (What The Race). My rage stems from the fact that certain FEATURES which are somehow associated with “blackness” have become popularized when promoted by a non-black person, while being Black itself hasn’t. Better yet it will award you millions of Instagram likes if your skin is on the pale scale, but deemed trashy if you’re on the darker scale. They say our lips are too big, yet pay money to increase theirs, they say our skin colour is unattractive, yet pays for products or use machines to darken theirs… Why is the “black aesthetic’ deemed more attractive on a white body?
Joke’s On Us:
We claim to have come so far and to have moved the movement past milestones, yet the critique within our own culture on how we view and celebrate our “blackness” needs to come into question. If you haven’t heard of Sarah Baartman, look her up- she was taken from her country and ended up “touring” England and Ireland as part of a “Freak Show” performance, due to the size of her butt. Let me roll out the history…
“After her slave owner’s death in 1814, a man called Henry Taylor brought Baartman to Paris. He sold her to an animal trainer, S. Reaux, who made her amuse onlookers who frequented the Palais-Royal. Georges Cuvier, founder and professor of comparative anatomy at the Museum of Natural History examined Baartman as he searched for proof of a so-called missing link between animals and human beings. Baartman’s body became the foundation for racist science. Baartman lived in poverty, and died in Paris of an undetermined inflammatory disease in December 1815. After her death, Cuvier dissected her body, and displayed her remains. For more than a century and a half, visitors to the Museum of Man in Paris could view her brain, skeleton and genitalia as well as a plaster cast of her body.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Baartman
Imagine the irony when Nicki Manaj gets attacked for “flaunting” her butt and boobs, but Jenifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian don’t seem to get half of the visceral aggression with it. Seeing people like KK celebrated for “exploiting” the very thing a Black female would be vilified for, boils my blood. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that KK gets her full share of haters, but I don’t feel the negativity is ever because of her constant thieving from the “Black Aesthetic”. Zendaya wears dreads to an award show and people look down on her, KK and others like her wear cornrows and they’re “trendsetters”. The level of superficiality is dripping off of her social media accounts; where is her fight? Where is the actual CULTURE. Where is her voice and FIGHT for the injustices and mass incarcerations? Where is the celebration of Black beauty? I accept that there was general mass celebration and excitement over the cast of Black Panther’s attire at their premiere, but what I know for sure is that this wouldn’t be the case if the same thing were to occur for a different movie genre.
Reining in my rant slightly, what I mean to say is that we come from so much history, culture and traditions which never seem to be featured or celebrated. It’s completely obvious from Black Panther’s success that we have been CRAVING the celebration of Black culture projected in a positive light. Slavery isn’t our culture or history- it’s only a dark piece in massive tapestry of our rich history and culture. I always feel like the Black body and particularly the Black female body, gets dissected so much to the point where we are no longer people, but merely objects. I don’t believe you can pick and choose what parts of my culture you’d like to exploit and in the same breath, fully ice out and ignore the massive injustices in the societal structures which both affect and hinder its progress. It doesn’t work like that. Not on my watch.
We are not the sum of our body parts. We are not exotic or mythical. We are not caricatures, we are not tools. My Blackness doesn’t exist for your viewing pleasure. I am NOT an “other’. What irks you about what you see regarding Black beauty on social media? Let us know what you think!