black women

Celebrating Black Women


One of the more frustrating things about Lee’s filmography this semester has been his treatment of black women. Going from film to film, he often reifies and reinforces the kinds of negative stereotypes about black women that plague the media and the popular American social imagination: hypersexual black women, angry black women, deviant black women. Rarely do the women in his films get to be at the center of attention for anything other than their bodies, and when they do, rarely do they get to push back against the limited and limiting spaces Lee puts them in. Chi-Raq promised so much, putting Lysistrata front and center on posters, on-screen, and in the plot, and then fell so far: Strata’s body and sexuality were featured as her most important attributes for a long time, the site of her power only her vagina and the denial of access to it.

Crooklyn was, in this respect, a breath of fresh air – focusing on Troy and her childhood, her subjectivity, her girlhood – and I can’t help but wonder how much of that was influenced by Joie Lee being one of the co-writers of the script, and Spike Lee a producer. I would say more, but Dani over on Blog 4 has written a beautiful post on why Troy and Crooklyn matter, and I encourage everyone to read it.

I also encourage everyone – and here I come to my main goal in this post – go to watch Lemonade. If, like me, you have grown frustrated about Lee’s portrayal of black women, or if you’re curious about what a raw, powerful, redemptive, honest, urgent, reclaiming, and human look at black women would be like, please go look at Lemonade. I could go on and on, but frankly I am not the person to speak about Lemonade – please click on any of the articles I linked to in the previous sentence, where amazing black women have written highly important pieces about it (thoughtful, potent engagements and critiques) – and please, if you can, go watch it (on Tidal’s free trial, because I know we’re all broke college students) for yourselves.

Get On The Bus: Black Male Discussions

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!