February 13, 2018

About that thing with the Obama's portraits...listen

Portrait by Kehinde Boykin

So ever since the unveiling of former President Barack and former First Lady Michelle's portrait there have been some mixed opinions. Some people like them while others are thinking what in the entire hell...

For me I will say that I instantly fell in love with President Barack because I was familiar with the artist's previous work. Yet on the other hand I wasn't loving Michelle's immediately but once I saw the artist's (Amy Sherald) previous work, I could see that this style was nothing new. Furthermore when I found out that Barack and Michelle had picked the artists themselves I knew that the surprise was going to be on us and not them.

Not to mention with these two artist they are the first African American artists to present Presidential and First Lady portraits to be hung in the Smithsonian. I applaud both artists because their styles are different from the norm. The beauty of art is there isn't a clear way to do something. It's all in the eyes of the creator. It doesn't have to make sense, but if it challenges you to think, then it has done its job.

Now of course there are those who have their panties up their cracks because of some of Kehinde Boykin's previous work. Specifically the following two pictures.

The folks that are complaining are on Facebook and twitter with opinions such as these:

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While there were others who still were in disagreement but did a bit more research. Yet even though I find their opinions questionable. Such as the following article.

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Kehinde Wiley based both of those portraits on the following below:

Judith Beheading Holofernes (Caravaggio) (1602)

Judith Beheading Holofernes (Gentileschi) (1614)

Now what is interesting to me is that both of these original paintings were done in the 1600's. Mind you Kehinde did put his own interpretation on them. Instead of a man getting his head cut off, he is depicting white women being beheaded by black women.

I want you to see the next three clips from the movie "The Color Purple".

When I saw Kehinde's portraits I honestly thought of this movie and those scenes from it.  That was real life for black women back then. That was REALITY. Yet these people are pissed off because of someone's interpretation of a painting. Women during slavery times were nothing but labor, to work the fields and reproduce more labor force by any means necessary. The ladies (and I use the term loosely) of those plantations turned a blind eye to their husbands roving eyes and abuse of power. Not to mention those ladies would punish the women that were being raped by their husbands!

Black women in general have been showcased in such a negative light for such a fucking long time. Yet when anything shows us as strong beings that we know (or might not know) in a natural light all of a sudden it's a problem. Perfect example with the Black Panther movie. There is an actual Facebook page calling to boycott the movie because these dumb asses think it is in relation to the Black Panther Organization. Which I'm pretty sure they didn't do their homework on either fronts.

So for those too damn lazy to do the research I will share what Eric Ross said on Facebook about the movie:

I got three inbox messages encouraging me to post this again. I had no idea that people are actually confusing the revolutionary Black Panther Party (formed in October 1966) with the upcoming Marvel film. We are doing ourselves and our youth a disservice if we do not distinguish the difference between the two for education purposes. Please read, repost, & share:
So why is Marvel's "Black Panther" really such an important film?
* As of today, the movie has pre-sold more tickets than any other superhero film in history.
* It currently carries a critics rating of 95% positive, which is almost unheard of.
* It is also the first big-budget superhero film to feature black heroes (Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o), black villains (Michael B. Jordan, Winston Duke), a black filmmaker (Coogler also gave us the brilliant film "Fruitvale Station" and the electrifying "Creed") black screenwriters (Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, of American Crime Story), a black executive producer (Captain America: Civil War‘s Nate Moore) and an overwhelmingly black supporting cast and crew.
* 90% of advance ticket buyers, regardless of race, said they are looking forward to a "different kind of superhero film" and to the movies "positive imagery and messages" (source: Fandango)
I've had recent conversations with a number of people who, though willing and excited to support the movie, really don't have much idea about it aside from the pre-release hype and information.
So, being that I am a Black Panther and comic book fan (cool nerd), here is an abbreviated cheat sheet for those who may need it:
1) The Black Panther (real name:T'Challa) is the first mainstream black superhero ever. He was created by Marvel Comics and the team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the same two responsible for heroes like Thor, the Fantastic Four, and Captain America.
2) Created in 1966 during the turbulent Civil Rights era, he is the first black superhero not created as an "token", a dependent, or a sidekick. This was considered extremely controversial for the time period. He predates Captain America's Falcon (1969) and Luke Cage (1971). He also preceded the revolutionary activist group the Black Panther Party by 3 months (he was introduced in July of 1966, and the Black Panther Party in October of 1966. They were not connected)
3) T'challa ( his real name), is also the ruler of a fictional african kingdom called Wakanda (population 6,000,000). Wakanda is considered one of the wealthiest nations on Earth as well as one of the most technologically- advanced. Imagine if Disney World's Tomorrowland and the Rainforest Cafe merged.
4) Wakanda's wealth is the result of a meteorite that crashed on to the continent 10,000 years ago. Composed of a rare alien material called Vibranium, the metal is sought by many in the world for its scientific applications and its military capabilities. It is only available in Wakanda, thus the country keeps itself closed and shielded from the outside world. IVibranium basically absorbs any energy directed towards it and holds it like a sponge. Imagine buildings that wouldn't crumble under the force of an earthquake, or soldiers protected against explosions from grenades and other explosive devices. Wakanda does export other commodities such as coal, diamonds, and technology, which contributes to its worth.
5) Wakanda has tons of vibranium in underground storage. One gram of vibranium is worth $10,000. That means Captain America's 12-pound shield, which is composed of the material, is worth just over $54 million dollars.
6) Being the monarch of the world's richest nation also makes you rich. T'Challa's net worth is $90.7 trillion dollars, which makes him richer than Batman's Bruce Wayne (9.2 billion) or fellow Marvel running mate Tony "Iron Man" Stark (12.4 billion). By a lot.
7) In the comics, the Black Panther is also one of the most well-respected men in the world. He is a combination of nobility (Thor), patriotism (Captain America), and superior intellect (Iron Man). He is also an Oxford graduate with a PhD in physics and is considered one of the top- 15 minds on the planet.
8) The Black Panther is more than the special costume he wears. He is also a world-class athlete who was trained in martial arts, judo, wresling (a popular Wakandan sport), and all forms of hand-to-hand combat. He also has enhanced healing properties, strength, speed, agility, and tracking senses. This is the result of ingesting a special heart-shaped herb that grows only around the site of the crashed vibranium meteorite. The radiation from the meteorite produces the plant which, once ingested, gives the recipient the aforementioned special abilities. Only those in the royal hierarchy and heirs to the panther mantle are eligible to use it. This means that the Black Panther has absolutely no problem going toe-to-toe with Captain America, who is considered the world's best hand-to-hand combatant and fighter.
9) Steeped deep in African tradition, Wakandans worship Bast, a female deity known also as the Panther God. The symbolic mythology here is also directly connected to ancient Egypt. She is revered as a protector and defender of the nation. This makes the Black Panther her agent outside the spirit realm, and thus more than a hero, but a true mythical figure. Imagine if the Pope wore a costume, had superhuman abilities, and defended the Vatican from its enemies both foreign and domestic.
10) Because of Bast, Wakandan women are highly- respected. The king's personal guard, the Dora Milaje, are an elite female fighting force. T'Challa's younger sister Shuri is a genius level intellect and considered one of the smartest women on the planet. Not only did she invent the Black Panthers technologically-advanced suit, but also other inventions to help further her country's technological dominance. While Tony Stark, who is considered one of the smartest men on the planet, graduated from MIT at age 17, he did not invent the Iron Man suit until age 42. By contrast, Shuri is only 16 years old.
11) In the comic books, the Black Panther was briefly married to Storm of the X-Men (remember Halle Berry?). Storm was from Wakanda's african neighbor Kenya.
Enjoy, and see you on February 16th 
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If they want to get up in arms about something, be upset about THIS:

Bodies of three men lynched in Georgia, May 1892.

Body of a lynched black male, propped up in a rocking chair for a photograph, circa 1900. Paint has been applied to his face, circular disks glued to his cheeks, cotton glued to his face and head, while a rod props up the victim's head.

The lynching of Laura Nelson in OkemahOklahoma, on May 25, 1911[

Those are not paintings...those are photographs. Most likely taken by the white men who murdered them and wanted a keepsake of the occasion. They also MIGHT have brought along their wives/girlfriends and kids to make it a family event. Yet you want to convince me that a painting is more detrimental to the fabric of this society? Black women have been shitted on by this country and so disrespected but you want to be up in your feelings about his paintings. When it comes to the social ladder, we unfortunately are on the lowest bar.

If people don't like something being positively attributed to black people they either try to wash it out to make it their own or just ignore it.


If you feel slighted by this particular artwork and not concerned by WHY he made them and what it can be interpreted from, then all I have to say is, 

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