As a black woman who loves entertainment in the form of books and televisoin I try to seek out images that are fairly close to my own. Mainstream media has adapted to the times and movements orchestrated by my ancestors and current people still fighting for justice and incluison.
No matter how advanced technology starts to become black woman are still trying to find themselves in broadcasted images on t.v and in books. Most times I find myself having to use my intersectionality to enjoy what I am reading or watching, but to not see diversity can be taxing on my self esteem, I believe others feel the same way.
Hattie Mc Daniel was one of the very frist black woman to be seen on television in the film “Gone with the Wind” in 1939. I tried to build my installation to represent the first time a black woman was seen on t.v but she was casted as a maid. Our current times have done us justice by providing us with more diverse roles, so to speak but for this woman to come into the industry with such a controversial role raises concerns, especially with how black woman view themselves in relation.
I try to understand myself and how I am connected with the world not only through media but also through my social interactions with people and found myself invested in a book called, “The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity”. In this book there are so many examples in how we seek validation through others. Our exclusion from groups births a new genre but when we don't have the necessary resources we fit in where we can, “When we are accompanied by another dissenter, we are no longer an individual but part of a new group…if we feel isolated and powerless, then we submit more readily to authority and are less likely to resist” (Hood, 197).
Zora Neale Hurston was one of the first to resist, she is a notable anthropologist that dedicated her research to black woman in South Florida, a region she felt didn’t have much of a platform. She wrote a book called, “Of Mules and Men” where she describes the relations between men and women. She allows her informants to speak for themselves in her book, giving them a voice to be able to exchange stories/folklore.
The women in her book have struggled with authority from the direction of men and they are constantly revising stories to validate themselves with these men, “You see in de very first days, God made a man and a woman and put ‘em in a house together to live. Way back in them days de woman was just as strong as de man and both of em did de same things. They useter get to fussin ‘bout who gointer do this and that and sometime they’d fight, but they was even balanced and nether one could whip de other one” (Hurston, 31). As a major in anthropology it was heart warming to see her give a platform for people she knows that goes unnoticed, this prompted me to complete my installation and bring awareness not only to myself but of the phenomenons that are surrounding me.
Black women are continuously reinventing themselves through their stories whether in books or movies, we will always progress and create platforms for our inclusion
My point is, we are living in a world that can be Eurocentric especially in mainstream media and it is up to us to create platforms for ourselves to be recognized. To be aware of our resources is the first step and being true to your values should be applied continuously through any endeavour.
Hurston, Zora Neale. Mules and Men. New York: Harper & Row, 2008.
Hood, Bruce M. The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.