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Writer. Speaker. Founder. She/her #TinuSpeaks #DisabledBlackTalk @tinu@mastodon.social Back but not reading DMs/mutual aid tags.

Feb 6, 2018, 23 tweets

It's taken me all the time between the original tweet and right now to answer this question in a way anyone who doesn't get it could comprehend.


I mean if you're used to seeing yourself glorified, to you it's the norm that black people are commonly portrayed the way we are.

And you might believe that *we are how we are portrayed* on film.

When we say #RepresentationMatters we don't mean just to us. Black people are shown as stereotyped and it is believed widely that us all we are.

Then some of us internalized this and become what we see.

And then give birth to children raised on this wrong imagery that is more pervasive than those presented underfunded schools.

But it's even deeper than that.

My senior project in college in the 90s was on what I then called Latent Racism.

It was an examination of racism as if it were a treatable disease akin to alcoholism, looking specifically at the denial stage.

By the time I was done I wished I had done the other project.

We're living in an era so racist that we can't even say black lives matter.

Because they think we mean what they mean when they say "white lives matter."

Namely "only white lives matter."

The other project? An examination of the portrayal of Black people in culture and media. I've tried to complete this project many times but it puts me in a deep depression.

To understand why you must see the wider timeline & cycle of how black people are depicted in media.

Our revolution always starts in the arts & often picks up from where the previous resurgence ended.

So there I was in the 90s. Hip-hop had widened its scope. Public Enemy and De La Soul, Queen Latifah and MC Lyte.

The revolutionary idea that we were at least as varied as white people. Hip hop, to paraphrase @MrChuckD, was our CNN. goo.gl/oA7HDV

Instead of one mainstream tone at the top and everything else underground, we had this wide spectrum of expression and affirmation *on the airwaves* simultaneously. Musical heaven.

To have that as my norm?

& then choose to document how often the most popular or top grossing films were bursting at the seams with black culture, yet killing us off as people before the credits were done rolling?

It hurt me in a way I hadn't been wounded before. Because I had a different foundation. Not just in American black culture.

Spending years of my childhood in modern cities where black people ran everything by default, too.

Seeing black people gunned/sliced down early in action pictures...

And having us completely erased from the future while our culture is simultaneously used as backdrop...

Or our culture co-opted entirely on-screen... In our physical absence...

That isn't done to any other culture as systematically as it is to us except the indigenous people of this and other cultures that are all but wiped out now.

Seeing that reflected in American art?

It embeds the subconscious message "everything you create we will wrest from you. It belongs to us before you create it. And we'll kill you to take it if you won't submit to tokenism."

Is that intended? Perhaps not.

But bad intentions are not a necessary precursor to racism.

Until you have been treated that way your entire life, you can't know what it's like to have most third party input about you be both false & negative.

You can't know the effect it has. Instead you talk about why there isn't a white history month in a world where black and native american inventions were co-opted routinely.

Where white history, even in false or harmful versions, are celebrated ceaselessly every day.

So the question #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe has a simple answer. It means Everything, in a literal sense.

Literally everything negatively depicted on film about black people is refuted in this one film. Everything affirming about black people is maximized, in this one film. #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe

For weeks I wondered if I should take my nieces and nephews out of school to spend the day watching it repeatedly. Only practical concerns stopped me.

It's that important to see ourselves. It's that important to feel at home in a country you were born and raised.

We all need this. America needs this.

please unroll

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