Author: chefdoyardee18e

Power Transformations Through Color | Chi-Raq

“Chi-Raq” locates female power squarely within the body: specifically, the vagina. Distraught by the masculine gang violence of their community, Lysistrata brings women together to combat this problem, and the only way they imagine doing so is by denying men sexual access to their bodies. Their assumption of power and control over their bodies, and distancing from masculine violence, can be traced by the colors they wear.

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In the beginning they wear only the orange or purple colors of their men’s gangs exhibiting their dependence on and engagement with masculine violence.

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As they further assert themselves and take over the armory, they transition to camo – signifying group affiliation not reliant on men.

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When their sex strike succeeds in ending violence and bringing resources to the community, men and women come together to wear a pure, non-confrontational, unifying white (with the exception of one, who gets removed from the communal space).

Co-Authored With: Sasha, Julia, Lauren, Greg 

School Daze | Whiteness and Wanna-bes

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This post includes personal poetry.

“Well you’re a wanna-be, wanna be better than me!”

Wanna-be

Imitations.

Imitations of whiteness and deletion of blackness you say?

But how must one move forward

Move up

Move out

Without degrading one’s self to attain things

Things we

Did not have

Can not want

Were not inherently given

I don’t mind being black, I really don’t

but I do mind what comes with being black

The blackness that is all consuming without control

I straighten my hair

Not because of the hate I have for the

tight,

stubborn,

unyielding curls that restrict my social mobility

Their strength will be my downfall

The curls grow upwards and outwards towards the sun, towards God

But God doesn’t rule here

Man rules and mans feet are planted on the ground

An infertile obstinate ground stronger than that of my hair

But for the love of ease that is spread through my veins from the root of my hair as the heat consumes every breath of resilience and opposition

My curls loosen and weaken to welcome my new found domination

Domination of my definition

The heat

The heat is inescapable

But it shatters me, everything within me

And puts me back together in a different order

An order of my favor

I don’t mind being black, I still am aren’t I?

But my blackness is now palatable, smooth, silky

White

Restrained, subdued, refracted

Black

I don’t mind being black

But I do mind

 

The wanna-be and jigaboo conflict has been deemed one of superficial themes whose depth is skin-deep. The action of being a wanna-be or a jigaboo is done irrespective of skin color, nor is this decision one of inconsequential repercussions. The hair the and the clothes they wear are the physical manifestation of a predetermined, postcolonial political identity in which one must decide to adhere to a specific portrayal of blackness, and specifically black femininity.  The wanna-bes specifically become one of intense judgment and scrutiny due to the initial indications of aspiring to whiteness and white ideals. Because Spike Lee makes a conscious decision to include women of multiple skin tones within both groups and therefore disproving the simplicity of that theory.

Fact: The wanna-bes don’t want to be white.

Fact: They just want to be better than the jigaboos.

But what does that mean within the context of blackness? The wanna-bes are very concerned with attaining the highest social level possible. They straighten their hair, wear what some would say are “quieter, more pleasing to the eye” colors. But they aren’t trying to please white people. They are attending an HBCU so its not as if they are ashamed on their blackness. The wanna-bes have realized that because whiteness has come to be defined through the lens of power and domination, they have chosen to use that same structure within the black community to redefine themselves in order to evoke that same response from others. Is this perpetuating a very dangerous culture? Can social mobility interpersonally and intrapersonally be attained only through the imitation of whiteness?

Blackface

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This scene really struck me because of the subtle and gradual progression of the theme regarding the ciclical nature of media representation and the reality of said representation. In the beginning of “the new age minstrel show” the audience members, both black and white are told how to behave and react to what they are being shown. As the movie progresses the audience takes a more active role in the response to the show and begin to perpetuate the culture themselves by this clip because of the fact that they have chosen to all wear blackface while watching the show.

This begs the question of the role of media representation and reality, somewhat the same as the chicken and the egg. Which one came first? If media and pop culture are the reflection of a reality and reality then perpetuates what media portrays then which one is has a larger influence on the other and which one contains more of reality and less of altered representation? This scene especially exemplifies the fact that by the end of the movie there is no sharp distiction between reality and representation and what was one a one sided command and response communication was now an effortless two way street mode of communication. What struck me the most was that the black members of the audience we just as complicit as the white audience when the show had a historical narrative of which they were connected to. How were they not aware of their own oppression when it was literally presented to them? Is media representation so powerful that it hides the prejudicial and oppressive nature of institutional racism in plain sight? Does this power stem from the inseperable essence of media representation or reality?