So I just finished watching this clip from Roland Martin which was a pretty heated debate surrounding whether or not Black people should see the movie The Birth Of A Nation…
I get it, some Black people don’t want to support Nate Parker because they are 100% convinced he’s a rapist, regardless of any of the facts that allowed for him to be acquitted (insert “B-b-but George Zimmerman was acquitted toooooooo!!” see the first few 6 minutes or so of this video HERE.) I get it, the movie is not 100% historically accurate…neither was the tv series Roots (Alex Haley actually plagiarized a white dude btw), but I didn’t hear people complaining about that. Come to think about it, the movie 300 wasn’t historically accurate either, yet I personally can’t recall any white people complaining about that aspect. I get it, some Black women want to highlight Black female freedom fighters & the abuse forced upon Black women during those times. Cool…except this movie was about Nat Turner & his decision to take a stand against slavery. As in, that was the main point of the movie from the inception of the idea. As in, Nate Parker & his investors sought to tell the story about Nat Turner only. As in, this movie isn’t about the abuse of just Black women, never mind the fact that Black women being abused was highlighted in the film. Bottom line, this movie was about Nat Turner. That’s it. Sure, it may not be 100% historically accurate, but guess what, it doesn’t have to be. The primary objective of movie makers is to first & foremost make a film that’s entertaining in order to keep viewer’s attention even if that means “filling in the blanks” or making up bits & pieces here & there in order to make an entertaining film that can do numbers in the theaters. That’s it. If you are looking for 100% historical “accuracy”, then you should turn your attention to a history book or a documentary in the Netflix catalogue.
To all of the Black women who feel like they are once again being shut out of Hollywood from having their stories told about our great Black female freedom fighters (or just great Black women period) & the abuse Black women suffered during slavery, Jim Crow, to the present, my advice to you is: go to film school or financially back a filmmaker (independent or not) to tell the stories that you believe need to be told. Seriously.
I would love to see a movie about Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Madam C.J. Walker, Shirley Chisholm, Ida B. Wells, Bessie Coleman, etc. But the sad reality is, I don’t know about much of an interest beyond people writing blog articles about most of these women in order to keep their legacies alive. I never seem to see any article expressing the need to raise money to financially back projects that are specifically dedicated to historical Black women and their contributions to Black society. I don’t ever seem to hear about any prominent Black female filmmakers or producers in Hollywood who are established wanting to possibly do films of this nature…you know, people like Jada Pinkett Smith, Angela Bassett, etc. Maybe there are some people doing the things I listed that I stated, but if they are, then why are they so silent? It seems like the volume only gets turned all the way up in regards to Black women feeling left out or misrepresented only when some type of historical project comes out highlighting a Black man, like Nat Turner. It’s kind of hard to take Black women seriously at times when they would rather put more energy into complaining on blogs & Twitter versus doing the necessary things they know they need to do in order to raise capital so that projects highlighting the struggle of Black women can come to life whether they are on the big screen or go straight to DVD. This is very similar to a conversation I had a few months ago in regards to the Nina Simone movie and the controversy surrounding Zoe Saldana portraying Nina Simone in literal blackface. I asked Black people, how come it took 13 years after the death of Nina Simone for a WHITE WOMAN to bring Nina Simone’s story to the big screen? Where were all of the Black filmmakers putting out the call to make this movie the right way as to where they could have hired an actress like Lupita Nyong’o to beautifully portray a dark skin historical icon without the need for black makeup & a fake nose? Never really got an answer to that, just more social media complaining about how the media & Hollywood misrepresent Black women.
So here’s my thing Black women, if you honestly feel like Black women are misrepresented and left out when it comes to telling Black American history on film, then Black women need to go to film school to become directors, Black women need to start crowdfunding projects to raise the necessary capital to put together quality projects to bring these stories to life, Black women need support aspiring filmmakers financially, Black women need to hold the Black Hollywood directors & producers accountable in trying to encourage them to get these films made THEN supporting the film with your wallets & purses. Getting online month after month to complain about Black women not being completely represented or every angle that deals specifically with Black women not being properly told on film is not about to fix the problem any time soon. I guarantee that if Black women put more energy & money into fixing the problems they see by bringing these stories to the big screen, DVD, or the internet somehow…I don’t know of any sane Black person who would not support these projects.
I’m laying the responsibility of this all on Black women on purpose because who better to properly tell the many facets of the struggles that Black women have & continue to endure than…Black women? You all properly put the wheels in motion to get a quality project started, I personally wouldn’t have an issue opening up my wallet to support it.
PS: The woman in the header image is Jessie Maple, an Black cinematographer & film director most noted as a pioneer for the civil rights of Black people and women in the film industry.