Black Girls be Announcing the Winner: “Hidden Fences” and the bounds of white imagination

And the Winner is…: “Hidden Fences” and the bounds of white imagination

Last night the Golden Globes aired and amidst the normal red carpet couture conversations there was a sense of expectancy, no, the arrival of something different. Maybe it was the way the paparazzi’s flashes bounced off their skin; the Black and brown bodies dripping in shimmering metallics like they had floated in from an intergalactic cocktail party in a universe far, far away–but it felt like no matter who got a golden trophy, they had already won.

But then whiteness showed up, as it always does, a tether pulling us away from the Afrofuture, back even from this moment and to a not so distant past. With one “innocent” mistake whiteness reminded us that we are interchangeable, frivolous and indiscernible. When “Hidden Fences” fell from one white mouth after another, it was supposed to be a sign that our stories don’t matter, no one cares and we can be invited and still unwelcome. At least, it was supposed to be: But instead it showed the limitations of the white imagination.

An imagination that cannot tell the difference between a screenplay based on a play by one of the greatest and most prolific playwrights in American history and a movie based on the true story of the Black women who were pivotal in NASA’s moon mission. Black imagination propelled us to space. White imagination couldn’t get the names right.

But what’s ironic about this “unintentional” snub is that “Hidden Fences” is exactly why the Black bodies are in the room. These Black artists can see the truth, beauty, pain, complexity and fullness of Black life and experiences. With this vision, they can tell the stories that white imagination doesn’t believe exists. White imagination can’t fathom an awkward Black girl because that would mean acknowledging the full humanity of Black women and girls, and yet there sat Issa Rae with a Kanekalon crown, donned in white. White imagination is struggling to solve a very simple equation that has been stumping it for centuries; if bodies have souls and Black men have bodies, how then? To which Moonlight replies, then Black men have souls. And as America prepares to send its first Black woman to the International Space Station, white imagination cant find the space in its mouth to admit and affirm that Black women got us to space in the first place.

There were indeed hidden fences at the Golden Globes last night. However it was not a nominated film about a baseball game on the moon featuring Denzel Washington and Janelle Monae. It was formed by boards of ancestral lies and fortified by indifference that makes it impossible for white imagination to dream Black characters beyond caricatures. So Donald and Viola and Tracee and Mahershala and Janelle and Issa and Octavia and Courtney hopped the fence. A fence that is coming down, whether whiteness can imagine it or not.


Black Girls Be Thinking: Ms. Badu, Fetishes and Sexual Freedom

I dont know how much you keep up with pop culture but I try to maintain a balance of detachment myself.  Because I find that so much of the pop “news” is dribble that does not enhance my life, grow my mind or touch my heart. So I avoid it.  But every once in a while something happens that actually does something to me.  And this is one such instance.

The Flaming Lips did a song featuring Erykah Badu called First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.  I had never heard it until the video was released.  I follow Ms. Badu on twitter because she is awesome (Ok let’s be clear I am an Erykah fan but this will not affect this post).  I saw her tweeting a lot and retweeting a lot of tweets and I wondered what it was all about.  I then remembered that some had folks had tweeted that Erykah had lost her mind because of some crazy video but I still had not watched it.  Again, being a fan I respect her artistry and just thought these people didnt get her.  But then I read this:

For those that dont like to click or read lol, the highlights are, “You showed me a concept of beautiful tasteful imagery( by way of vid text messages) .  I trusted that. I was mistaken. Then u release an unedited, unapproved version within the next few days” and “Consequently, brother, As a human I am disgusted with your what appears to be desperation and poor execution. And disregard for others . As a director I am unimpressed . As a sociologist I understand your type. As your fellow artist I am uninspired. As a woman I feel violated and underestimated. ”  So not wanting to be biased I checked out his Twitter.  He released this photo and said:

“here’s @fatbellybella and me.. You can’t see but I’m actually holding a gun to her head making her look at the camera”

After reading that I was like What Happened!!?!? And I just knew I had to see this video even though people were describing it as graphic, perverse and disturbing.  So I watched at work because I was too scared to watch it before bed because I am a self-proclaimed scaredy cat.

I waited until everyone in the office was gone and I watched it.

I am posting a link to the video here BUT


(Just copy and paste the link in a new tab because its acting up right now)

For those of you that watched, it was intense right?  Some were calling it beautiful others were calling it soft porn.  I remain conflicted.  I believe that a woman’s body is beautiful; the softness, the form, the strength. Its all very balanced and beautiful.  But as Americans we are taught that nudity always equals erotic, which it doesnt.  Why cant we look at a nude human body and see it as we see a butterfly or a hummingbird, just truly in awe of another creature’s aesthetic appeal.  And as a Black woman I am even more confounded because my body has been turned into so many things by so many people; Sexual, Menial, Unattractive, Mysterious. What am I supposed to be and what am I supposed to do?

This is a question of art vs. porn and sexual fetish vs sexual freedom.  And thats what makes Ms. Badu so unique and so important in this conversation.  Not too long ago I read a statement that Ms. Badu wrote in response to people calling her all kinds of ridiculous names because she has three children by three different men.  In a nutshell she replied that she is raising strong, respectful human beings, that she loved each man she conceived a child with and that she’s fine. In other words, Mind Yours! I respected her so much because who are these people to tell her how to use her body and how to raise her children.  This all goes back to freedom of choice and sexual freedom.

I also went down an internet rabbit hole (you know where you click one link on lolcats and 5 hours later you are on a site about illegal prostitution) and I came across a Tumblr called F*** Yeah, Feminists! and they were criticizing another Tumblr because its “fetishizes” women of color. So I checked out the blog and I was wondering if there was something wrong with me because I found the images beautiful.  Yes some of the women were nude but it was tasteful and the women were so beautiful.  And these are photos they either took, posed for or posted so they must have wanted them to be seen.  Was I missing something I asked myself.

So I ask where is that line between being fetishes and sexual freedoms? What if I make a sexual choice and someone else makes it their fetish? Should that even matter to me?  If I find me in my nudeness glorious but someone else makes it dirty whose to blame? Should I even care?

Yes, that’s the ultimate question. Should I even care?