What “Black Panther” Means to Me

 

Black Panther has now passed the $1 billion mark globally. It is one of the highest grossest films of all time. I saw this movie a few weeks ago with my family and we all loved it. I honestly felt like tearing up. The movie was great, but the representation was even better. It meant a lot to me.


When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being an actress. As I got older, I outgrew that dream because I considered it impossible. Not only is it hard for aspiring actors, it’s hard pursuing that career as a black woman. I didn’t see many people who looked like me on television or in movies. It honestly broke my heart as a child. Seeing this blockbuster film with a majorly black cast touched me. It gave me hope now as a black creative. I know that there’s a little black girl out there who watched “Black Panther” with dreams of being in movies.


It took me years to be fully comfortable with my natural hair and dark skinned tone. That was something else I didn’t see much of on television or movies. Even with many black tv shows and movies now, I still don’t see a lot of dark skinned women. Seeing “Black Panther” where a majority of the actors were dark skinned made me so happy. I felt so much joy seeing Lupita’s Bantu knots and Letitia’s braids. The other hairstyles shown in the movie were beautiful as well. I know there are little black girls out there right now who are struggling with loving their hair and their skin tone because I had that struggle too. I hope that seeing “Black Panther” helps them love their skin tones and hair more.


“Black Panther” portrayed black people in a positive light instead of one-dimensional stereotypes. There were black scientists, kings, queens, and warriors. The film also included various African customs and fashions. We don’t learn much about African cultures in America and they are often portrayed in a negative light. It is important for black children to see positive representation. Teach them that they can be more than the negative stereotypes used to describe us.


The cultural references were also important. There was a huge focus on the oppression black people have and still continue to face globally. King T’Challa realizes that he cannot take back what black peoples have suffered through over the years, but he does his part to help. He invests in a science program with his sister, Shuri, to help black kids in Oakland, California. T’Challa buying the old apartment building, where Erik once lived at, is a reference to gentrification. He explains that the building was going to be torn down, meaning that the low-income residents would have been displaced.


Some people don’t understand why this movie was so important to us and that’s fine. Everyone does not have the same struggles in life. All I know is that I’m proud that this movie is breaking records because it is well deserved. Thank you to everyone who worked on “Black Panther”. It was an amazing movie. The movie meant a lot to me as a black woman. I hope it has that same affect on the black kids who see it. They need it the most.

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Black Victims Matter



Why do I have to say that black girls matter? Why do I have to make a separate hashtag? It’s the fact that black women’s lives are disregarded even in our own community. It’s the fact that a boycott against R. Kelly and wanting to hold him accountable for the twenty years (and still going) worth of allegations against him has received backlash from other black people. It’s the fact that Kenneka Jenkins was raped and murdered but the first thing other black people did was harass her friends but not the men suspected of raping her. It’s the fact that black people made jokes and memes about her death. It’s the fact that pictures of her dead body were passed around all over social media like it was entertainment by other black people. 


Black girls are sexualized from a young age. We call little girls “fast” for their bodies developing as if they have any control over it. I remember my first time being stared down by grown men was around the age of ten or eleven. I didn’t ask for that. We call little girls “grown” for receiving attention from grown men while never confronting those grown men about it. I knew girls in school who had relationships with adults, no one batted an eye. My mother grew up with girls who had relationships with adults, no one batted an eye. There were boys in our school who were sexually assaulting and harassing girls. Explicit videos and pictures of girls were often distributed. Nothing was done about it. We figured it had to be the girl’s fault. She probably deserved it. And when things like that happened to me, I got the same response.


Another example, Chris Brown. Chris has abused Rihanna and he has been accused of abusing his ex-girlfriend, Karreuche. She even has a restraining order against him. But, he’s still making music and he’s still touring. Black people defend him. I’ve heard, “oh well, Rihanna hit him first.”. “Well that was back in 2009.”, ignoring the fact that he was accused of abusing Karreuche. The rapper, XX (I don’t care about him enough to type out his whole name) was accused of beating up his girlfriend. Everyone’s defense is that she lied on him and some other people did it, but who really knows? All I know is people were quick to make memes about her being beat up, the same way people made jokes about Rihanna. Because it’s a big joke to people for some reason.


We’ve conditioned ourselves to coddle and protect black men even when they hurt black women. We know that racism is a real issue that affects many of them, but misogyny is an issue that affects many black women. Misogyny is dangerous and it has hurt black women. It’s time to start calling it out. 

Offset and homophobia in the black community

Recently, YFN Lucci and Offset released a song called, “Boss Life”. The song featured a line from Offset where he says, “I cannot vibe with queers”. This sparked a debate about homophobia in the black community. I’d like to share my opinion on this topic. Some people may view it as the least of our problems in the black community. But I see it as a big problem. I’m apart of the LGBT community and I know black people who apart of the LGBT community. This is an important issue to me.

Black people are a marginalized group. What sense does it make for a marginalized group to discriminate against another marginalized group? Especially when those groups can intertwine. Black LGBT people are apart of the black community. We cannot preach about pro-blackness and liberation while discriminating against each other. That is not liberation, that is another form of oppression. Can you imagine how that feels? Being discriminated against because of your race and sexuality? Feeling isolated from your own people?

I’m tired of black people justifying homophobia. We can’t understand why someone hates us because of our skin color, but it’s acceptable to hate someone because of their sexuality? When it comes to sexuality, we can turn into the same bigots we complain about. Some black people use Christianity as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people. But Christianity was the same religion that was used to justify enslaving black people. Hypermasculinity also plays apart in the homophobia. Some view being gay as being “unmanly”. Some will go to the extreme to denounce anything that’s deemed “feminine” to prove their masculinity. It’s dangerous. People have lost their lives because of it.

Homophobia has become so embedded in our culture that some of us can’t understand why it’s an issue. It’s been normalized in our community for years. This is why rappers feel comfortable enough to include it in their music. This is why there is a lack of outrage when a black LGBT individual is murdered. They are treated like outsiders in our community. We shout “Black Lives Matter” but do we mean all black lives or just straight cis ones? We definitely need to do better when it comes to supporting eachother. Our community will never be strong if we’re constantly dividing eachother and discriminating eachother. No, homophobia is not exclusive to the black community. I’d appreciate it if other groups would call out homophobic behavior in their own communities, while black people focus on theirs.

Relationships and Validation 


If you’re on social media as much as I am, you’ll notice that a lot of things revolve around love and relationships. Pictures on Instagram of couples with captions that read: Relationship goals, tweets about craving love and doubts about finding it, and statuses on Facebook about finding the right one. What is this obsession with relationships? Why is this seen as one of the most important things for a young person? We’re supposed to be finding ourselves but instead we’re more worried about finding a significant other! Why is that?
I’ve been boy crazy since I was a little girl. My mother told me I couldn’t have a boyfriend until I was around sixteen, but that didn’t stop me from wishing. I started suffering with low self esteem around sixth grade. I would constantly seek validation from other people. I fantasized about having a boyfriend to make me feel beautiful and loved. I looked at couples from television and movies as my inspiration. I’d listen to love songs and wish that I could relate. Other girls had boyfriends in middle school. I thought if I had a boyfriend too, I’d be so happy. This caused me to desperately chase after boys who obviously had no interest me. I was delusional and would tell myself that they liked me because I needed validation from them. 


This constant need for validation from other people has caused me to be involved in toxic relationships and with people I wasn’t necessarily interested in. I enjoyed having someone there to tell me how attractive I was and how much they loved me. I depended on these relationships to make me happy. It wasn’t healthy at all. 


A few months ago, I finally realized that it was toxic for me. I broke up with someone I loved because I didn’t want to continue teaching myself that I needed a relationship to be happy. I suffered emotionally in some relationships because I didn’t want to let go. I felt safe. I realized that I needed to find that happiness and validation within myself. I do not need a boyfriend to tell me how pretty I am, I know I’m pretty. I do not need a boyfriend to tell me how smart I am, I know I’m smart. And I do not need a boyfriend to tell me he loves me, I love myself. Sure, companionship is nice. But it’s not necessary. Plus, I’m only nineteen. I’m still learning about myself and trying to become who I want to be. There’s no rush to be committed to anyone. 

My Experience with Misogynoir

Misogynoir is the combination of racism and sexism directed towards black women. This term was coined by Moya Bailey, a black queer feminist scholar.

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I didn’t learn about the term until about a year ago, but I’ve experienced it all of my life. Recently, I’ve been feeling more emotional about it. Sometimes I have to avoid social media apps like Twitter because it’s filled with misogynoir. I constantly see tweets bashing black women, even by black men. I’ve even seen other black women do it. Some of those tweets get tons of retweets and likes. They get a lot of people in their mentions agreeing with them while black women are left defending themselves. There’s a post I see often where it says “seeing a guy and wondering if he’s into black girls, even if he’s black” or something like that. That is too relatable.

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I don’t see a lot of dark skinned women getting representation in the media. Girls like Amandla Stenberg and Zendaya often get the lead roles. Darker skinned women can be cast in roles like being the sassy sidekick or the desperate single woman. Examples would be Nikki Parker from The Parkers or Pam from Martin. Black women are also portrayed as caricatures by black men like Eddie Murphy and Tyler Perry. Even black women who are regarded as sex symbols tend to be lighter skinned or biracial. Examples would be Rihanna and Beyoncé. I will admit that I am starting to see more darker skinned black women in the media now. We still have a long way to go but I am happy that progress is being made. I want little dark skinned girls to see more women that look like them on television.

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For years, I would hear rap lyrics of men stating their preferences for light skinned women or “foreign women”. I remember being in seventh grade and hearing “Right Above It” by Lil Wayne. Hearing that line, “Beautiful black woman, I bet that bitch look better red”, still bothers me to this day. Even at school, a lot of boys would state their preferences for lighter skinned girls. I’ve had a few friends say that to me also. I remember a guy telling me that I needed to stay out of the sun because I was already getting “too dark”. Imagine how many black girls grew up feeling like they were “too dark”.

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The lack of outrage that black female victims of sexual assault and violence upsets me. Sometimes they don’t even get support from other black women. The first example that comes to mind is R. Kelly. Black women go hard for that man and all of his known victims are black women. While other entertainers are getting called out for their predatory behavior and being blacklisted, R. Kelly is untouched. There is a lack of outrage for the things he’s done and I know that his victims being black plays a part in it. People even make jokes about the things he’s been accused of doing to those women. Another example would be Kenneka  Jenkins, a girl from Chicago who had been raped, murdered, and found in a freezer. Her story only received outrage from black people on social media. But there were also people who joked about her death and victim blamed her. Memes were even made about her and pictures of her dead body went viral. The investigation of Jenkins’ murder was closed a few months ago.

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Black women are constantly accused of being angry and bitter even when our anger is justified. There are numerous stereotypes about black women. We’re baby mamas, promiscuous, welfare queens, single mothers, hood rats, have no hair, aggressive, and that’s just some of them. Those aren’t just words. They affect how people view us. It affects how we view each other and ourselves. We’re also  expected to have big breasts and big butts which can cause body image issues. That body standard also had an affect on me when I was younger.

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I try to rise above misogynoir and to not let it affect me. There’s so much negativity in this world that sometimes it’s hard to avoid it. I am much stronger than I used to be. Misogynoir used to make me feel bad about myself. It still gets me upset sometimes, but I will not allow it to make me hate myself. I am not ashamed to be a black woman.

Stop Slut Shaming

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It’s 2017 and women’s bodies are still offending people. This is getting really old. A woman has the right to cover up her body and she has just as much of the right to show it off. We can have sex or we can choose not to. That is no one else’s business.

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Men post pictures of their bulges and abs all over social media. Not a problem. Men can send unsolicited pictures to women. Not a problem. But as soon as a girl posts a picture showing off her body, there’s a problem. I always hear this word “self respect”. If a woman shows off her body then that means she has no self respect. That’s not true at all. The word is pretty self-explanatory. It means you have respect for yourself. You can’t judge self-respect by a picture. But if that was the case, men who take half naked pictures and dick pics also have no self respect. If you’re gonna shame the women for posting pictures, shame the guys in the comments thirsting after them. Sometimes they’re the same ones bashing those women.

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A woman showing off her body does not mean she’s asking for it. Not only is that victim blaming, that’s just a creepy thing to say. The way a woman’s dressed justifies her being harassed or raped? You have no right to anyone’s body no matter what they’re wearing.

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We assume when a woman’s half naked it means she wants attention. I mean most people want attention. No one wants to be ignored. Anyone who posts pictures on social media clearly wants to be seen. That’s kind of the point of social media. So why do we shame those women for something everyone in social media does?

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What’s up with some dudes shaming women for having sex? There are even guys that will shame a woman for having sex with them. What sense does that make? You want women to have sex with you but you want to bash them after they do it? There are even men out there who want a woman who’s a virgin while they sleep with whoever they choose. Also guys, stop expecting women to be virgins and experts at sex at the same time. And the whole “exposing” women for having sex is not only immature and cruel, it is a crime. You can end up on the sex offender’s list for that.

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Stop shaming women like Cardi B and Nicki Minaj who aren’t afraid to express their sexuality. Stop pressuring them to be “good role models” while rappers like Kodak Black and XXXTentacion are never called out.  Stop shaming sex workers for doing what they can to make a living. Especially if you’re not going to shame the men that keep their business thriving. And if you’re one of those men, you definitely have no right to shame them.

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Don’t even get me started on the women who participate in slut shaming. Bashing other women gets us nowhere as a whole. What works for one woman, might not work for the other woman. We are all different and we need to support each other instead of tearing each other down.

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The point of this post was that slut shaming is annoying and it makes no sense. Women are shamed for not showing enough and not wanting to have sex. Then women are shamed for having sex and showing “too much”. It’s misogyny and it needs to die.

Women Don’t Owe You Anything

(If this offends you, it’s probably because you are guilty of these beliefs. Get over yourself and do better.)
Women are not here for your satisfaction, to make you feel like a “man”, or to turn you on. We should be able to reject a man without fearing for our lives. Stop invalidating our feelings by calling us crazy, bitchy, emotional, and overdramatic. Our emotions are just as valid as yours.

Women are allowed to call you out when you’re wrong .

We are allowed to not accept your apology.

We are allowed to break up with you.

We are allowed to not want your attention.

We are allowed to say no.

We are allowed to not smile at you or accept your “compliments”.

We are allowed to not want to be around you.

We are allowed to only want to be friends.
One of my friends always makes me feel like I’m a “mean” girl because I don’t find attention from creeps flattering. My ex would say things that I disagreed with and when I called it out I was just being “argumentative”. I grew up thinking that the most important thing was for men to find me attractive. I used to feel that I had to be nice to men even when they made me uncomfortable. I thought that I should be flattered whenever I got attention from men. I believed that I should settle for any man that was interested in me, even if I didn’t feel the same way.
A woman who talks about sex or dresses “revealing” does not owe you sex. She does not owe you a response.

You are not entitled to sex from a woman just because you are nice. It doesn’t make you a good guy. It makes you a creep.

Just because a woman wants a relationship doesn’t mean that she has to want one with you.

Women are not required to do anything because you like it. We do not have to be submissive. We don’t have to be “natural” or wear makeup for you. We don’t have to dress “revealing” or “conservative” for you. We do not have to lose weight or gain weight for you. We do not have to dumb ourselves down or be quiet because it makes you feel more confident. Women do not exist to make men happy.