Yesterday on twitter I came across this tweet and article:
(You should definitely read this article before you continue reading this post.)
When I was watching #Blackaf I didn’t know how I felt about it. To me it felt like a PG-13 version of Black-ish. When I read the article it summed up how I felt into words.
What I pulled from it is that Kenya writes stories about blackness more so than he writes black stories. When I say this I don’t mean that the characters or story arcs in his work are unrealistic. Every black experience is valid, but most of his work is explaining black people to white people. I’d rather watch a black story about a black family.
I dropped Black-ish, grown-ish and never started mixed-ish. I loved black-ish in the beginning. I like the Actors of Grown-ish but the story didn’t really stick for me. None of it felt real. It felt like the Ned’s declassified school survival guide, but black edition for white people.
I just want a black story. Story about black people or even a story that has black people in it. By a “story that has black people in it” I mean what if a story/movie like The Note Book was played by black actors. I don’t mean I want the black version of everything. I want black original stories that aren’t tied to black struggle, pain or made for the purpose for non-black people to “learn” blackness. I want a story that happens to be told with black people.
Now I fully understand that slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, Systematic oppression and racism all shaped the black experience in America, but show me that through plot and character arcs. Don’t center the story on the discussion about it.
Sidenote: I think the “ish-universe” does so well because the core audience feels that having the “conversation” on race is all that needs to be done. The conversation is a good STARTING POINT not an endpoint.
I’ve been black my whole life and I will be black the rest of my life. Telling me the black struggle feels like a person with a Phd in Mathmatics sitting through a pre-algebra class. I don’t want it nor do I need it.
It sucks that the default in storytelling is white, but the worst thing is that the default black story is pain and struggle. I’d like a story when the black man isn’t getting killed. A story when the black woman isn’t being abused. A story when black children (especially black girls) aren’t forced to grow up way too early. A story when the black queer character isn’t just the humorist best friend that ends up with the only other random black queer character.
Im sure black stories like that are out there, but I feel that aren’t being given a chance. Shout out to all of the black writers and creatives trying to convey black stories and art accurately.
What show, movie, book and or character did you feel told or had a real black story?