Bodies on the Line: The Streets vs. Pop Culture

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Like so many others, I have been distressed by news coverage about Ferguson, Missouri, where protests broke out following the murder on August 9 of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager who was shot six times by a police officer. Whether following it on TV or Twitter, there was no escaping the chilling fact that black […]

Nicki Minaj: A Brown Sugar Sphinx Riddle

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Who knew that after the demolition of Kara Walker’s wildly popular “Marvelous Sugar Baby” art installation (see photo at left) at the old Domino sugar refinery in Brooklyn, the giant-sized booty of her 35-foot-high and 75-foot-long Sphinx would cast a long shadow this summer? At least that seems to be the case with the uproar […]

Chimamanda to Ms.: “I’m Very Feminist in the Way I Look at the World.”

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It would be an understatement to say that 36-year-old Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has had an impressive year. Her third novel, Americanah, a tri-continental love story, won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun—centered on the Nigeria-Biafra War of 1967–1970—was made into a film. And she delivered […]

The Political Romance of Belle

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Before making the film Belle, screenwriter Misan Sagay  first saw the painting—an 18th-century portrait of Lady Elizabeth Murray with Dido Elizabeth Belle alongside her—and noticed a striking difference from other paintings of the era depicting black subjects. In this painting, the woman of color, Belle, is positioned somewhat as an equal, not bowed or stooping […]

Have You “Seen” the Kidnapped Girls of Nigeria?

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As many of us now know, more than 200 Nigerian girls were kidnapped from their dorms on April 15 in the northeastern part of Nigeria. The terrorist Islamist group, Boko Haram—possibly tied to Al Qaeda—has been linked to this brazen abduction, as well as to the mass murder of other school children (29 school boys in February). On […]

The Fantasy of Mammy, the Truth of Patsey

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It was not lost on some that, 75 years after Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, the beautiful, poised and talented Lupita Nyong’o would become the sixth black woman to win that same Oscar—and for playing the same type of role, a slave. If we count Halle […]

Beyoncé: The Grown Woman Album

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This has been quite the year for Beyoncé: singing the national anthem at President Obama’s second-term inauguration, electrifying the Super Bowl’s halftime show (to the point of a blackout!), headlining a world tour and solidifying her feminist credentials by gracing the cover of Ms. magazine’s Spring 2013 issue (recognized by Huffington Post as one of […]

Black Women, White Women and the Solidarity Question

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If [Lily Allen] cannot employ women of color in her obvious attempt to call attention to the system by amplifying its absurdity, and she can’t ever critique women of color in any way via satire with legitimacy or without horizontal hostility presented as feminist criticism, we as feminists have a problem. So wrote a former […]

Healing from Historic Trauma: “12 Years a Slave”

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It never looked as terrible as it was and it made her wonder if hell was a pretty place too. Fire and brimstone all right, but hidden in lacy groves. Such is the “rememory” of Sethe, the main character in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, who recalls the glorious splendor of the trees on the farm where […]

The Rape of Harriet Tubman

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This year marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of Harriet Tubman. I had the opportunity to celebrate that fact when organizing a special symposium back in March, resulting in some thought-provoking critical papers on her legacy of resistance, which I’m currently guest-editing for Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism. One of the more interesting conversations that […]