When the black and brown women take the armory, they set themselves up in formation. It is as if they are preparing for warfare, but their goal is peace. The alternating wide angle and close-up shots of the unified ritual gives the perception that there are more women in the room than there are, giving them a sense of grandiosity in the viewers’ eyes. The women stand in a large room where every sound (slapping their butts, snapping) is heard loudly. This amplifies each move that they do, creating a loud booming sound. Form informs content in this instance because their bodies become the mechanism for sound and communication, and their bodies physically are what gives them power over the men and society at large, hence why their sexualization can be read as empowerment and reclamation. The women make themselves the subject, not the object.
-rebeccah18, graceanjela, ssy, mattbuon
The above link is an article that showed up on my newsfeed a few weeks ago. It highlights something that myself and I’m sure many other black women have talk about, felt, heard about, and discussed, which is the lack of awareness of the male privilege that black men enjoy. The machismo among the black men that I have been around is all-consuming and in most venues, accepted. It affects every part of the black men I know’s lives from dating to academics to sports- its evident. The article above notes that though black men undoubtedly face structural barriers, it should not be lost on them that they too possess privilege that they can either ignore or use to help black women who do not enjoy the same advantages. Even at Amherst, it is clear (to me at least) that black women struggle to fit into the dominant culture more than black men. I tried to pick just one line to quote, but I think the whole article says what I (having an older brother and being in the presence of black men often) have wanted to say for a long time. And perhaps the men on that bus should read it as well.
I’d love to hear thoughts on this!
Perhaps the aspect of Crooklyn that made me love the movie so much was the family’s vibes, and how much I related to it. During Troy and her brother’s scenes of arguing and fighting, I laughed and thought back to the numerous fights that myself and my siblings have had. The love that he portrays on screen is comforting and, thankfully, familiar.
I particularly related to Troy’s relationship with her mother. There is a special bond between the two. Though Carolyn is a strict disciplinarian who is responsible primarily for keeping the house afloat, she is more sensitive with Troy, her only daughter. This is portrayed in the scene when Carolyn and the family drop Troy off at her aunt’s house, and in the proceeding letters the two exchange. In the letters, Carolyn has a soft tone. She is understanding and loving and shares family updates. The way Carolyn recounts the family’s doings is almost the opposite of the screaming Carolyn that we see trying got get her kids to go to bed at normal hour or get them to turn off the TV. When Carolyn whispers in Troy’s ear, it gives the viewers the feeling that though we are getting a glimpse into this family, there are still some things that are for family only. Though there are scenes where she disciplines Troy, like when she makes Troy to a boy for calling him and his mother mean names, she and Troy clearly share a bond that is facilitated by their femaleness. In many ways, as seen after Carolyn’s death, their relationship is meant to be teach Troy, so that she may assume Carolyn’s position.
West Indian Archie is one of Malcolm’s first mentors and father figures portrayed in the movie. Malcolm’s father died when he was six and up until when he meets West Indian Archie, he is fatherless. When we first see Archie, the power that he holds is evident in the scene. He is in a private booth, dressed nicely with his two right-hand men sitting on either side of him. His name is West Indian Archie, which distinguish’s his ethnic identity form his racial identity, something that some black immigrants do to further distance themselves from their black American counterparts. It is also indicative of their location as New York holds a substantial West Indian population. His name could also be parallel to his economic status. Caribbean immigrants tend to come to America with an economic goal, meaning Archie’s success could be a result of this ideology. Archie’s power (more…)
One scene that was particularly interesting to me was the scene where Dap and his friends go to KFC and encounter the three men sitting across from them who won’t let them have the salt. The men ask Dap and his friends is they are “Mission Men” and mocks them. The men then follows Dap and his friends outside and expresses discontent with the way that college educated black people supposedly look down on non-college educated black men. The men proclaim, “You ain’t no kin to me,” and “We ain’t your brothers.” He accuses college black men of thinking higher of themselves and stealing jobs from other black men. Dap fires back at the man, calling him a “bama,” a derogatory name originally for blacks who migrate to the North, but kept their Southern mannerisms, and asking why the man has a jerri curl. The man the retorts, “Y’all niggas, and you gon be niggas forever.” Dap continues by stating, “You’re not niggas, none of us are.” The confrontation represents a larger conversation about the role of education in black life. Education functions as a vehicle of social mobility and as well as a symbol of elitism. The black people who go to college as seen as leaving behind their roots, opting for the “white way.” The black people who don’t resent this sentiment. Education provides upward economic mobility, creating a divide- a sort of have and have nots is created. It is reminiscent of something I’ve seen amongst black people who identify with Jack and Jill and those who do not. Jack and Jill is often referred to as an organization for upper middle class to upper class black people. The members are often seen as “bougie” and thought of as elitist and “uppity.” The separation that ensues causes a ripple in the brotherhood that is supposed to exist between black men. The man seeks to put Dap and his friends back in their place by reminding him that the world sees them the same as any of other black person. The ending lines, “You’re not niggas..” is Dap’s way of encouraging the man to sees himself as more than the way the world sees him. Dap fails to realize that his education is probably part of the reason that he can say that and see himself that way.
In this scene, Pierre and Manray are discussing Sloan, whom in the previous scene, Pierre has fired. Manray tells Pierre that he has made a mistake, and Pierre responds by telling Manray that Sloan got the assistant job by sleeping with Pierre. Pierre calls Sloan an “opportunist,” which is ironic considering that Pierre himself uses the minstrel show as an opportunity for fame and Hollywood success. Manray is visibly upset by the news and in the next scene confronts her about the situation.
The scene takes place in a corporate boardroom and features two cut outs- one of Manray and one of Womack, who has quit the show. The screenshot of the scene (1:40:08), portrays the cutouts as a sort of out-of-body extension of the two men. The two cutouts run opposite to the tone and setting of the scene. Manray is very serious throughout the scene (as one usually is in a corporate boardroom) but every shot of him includes his cutout. It acts as a looming reminder of his appearance to the world as solely entertainment, and highlights the dehumanizing aspect of minstrelsy. The viewer cannot see him without seeing Mantan, and it influences the way we interpret what he’s saying. Pierre is placed next to Womack’s cutout, as if to say that Pierre has taken Womack’s place. Womack quit as an act of protest as he realized that he was being exploited- something that Manray had yet to realize and Pierre will not accept. Every shot of Pierre in this scene includes the cutout as well. It creates a similar effect as Manray’s cutout. It presents both men, though they are stern, as if they have a permanent “joke” attached to them, which they both cannot escape. The background of the skyline highlights that they have both “made it” and are successful but the other aspects of the scene stress the cost of that success.