The Black Community Needs More Representation Of Unapologetic Black Women

The Black Community Needs More Representation Of Unapologetic Black Women

Characters like Issa Dee and Nola Darling are liberating black women across the country and we want more.
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Last year was filled with disappointing news for the Black community. The multiple police shootings, Black Lives Matter, and All Lives Matter have left a bitter aftertaste in our mouths. It is as if 2016 was picked up and placed in the early 1960's where police brutality was served with your morning breakfast. This left Black America in a negative space as to their stance in society. Just when we thought the shooting was limited to Black men, the officers involved in the Sandra Bland case were not indicted. Boom! What a blow to the Black community. However 2017 was, in light, a better year. Especially, for Black women.

For decades, Black women have been reminded that they were not good enough or ostracized because of our wide noses, large behinds, ample breasts, wide hips, and full lips. In the recent years, this has changed but, has not been recognized as our own and handed to women And now, with #Blackgirlmagic, we are being celebrated for mentioned characteristics and our many identities in a worldview way, on many screens across the country. Theater and television actress Tonya Pinkins mentioned, "when Black bodies are on stage, Black perspectives must be reflected. This is not simply a matter of 'artistic interpretation'; race and sex play a pivotal role in determining who holds the power to shape representation." In order to do this, Black women need roles other than the quiet sidekick, the ratchet home-wrecking side chick, or the obnoxious, angry, Black woman. Hollywood needs to change the narrative and stop fitting all Black women into a mold and recognize the diverse form of Black women.

Needless to say, Black women across the country are celebrating the current representations of Black women in Hollywood today, however, we need more. We love the risqué Black, female character taking over lead actress roles. There's our Oliva Popes, our Annalise Keating's, our Issa Dee's, our Nola Darling's and all the many roles carried by black women. Their stories are liberating Black women to be their unapologetic selves. Alongside these representations, let's continue to promote the uniqueness of Black women and the mere idea that they can be whoever they want to be. Let's keep telling the broad, rich, bold, and multifaceted stories of the diverse women in the Black community.

Go ahead Hollywood, I am loving the exhilarating image of Black women on the big screen this year. Unapologetically Black, unapologetically loud, unapologetically fierce, unapologetic Black women, we need more of you. We want to be seen and we want more representation of the Black female experience displayed across our TV screens.

Cover Image Credit: HBO's Insecure

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Stop Praising Demi While Judging Every Other Addict Around You

Addiction doesn't discriminate and neither should we.

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Tonight, my Twitter is topped with thoughts to Demi Lovato. My Facebook is flooded with friends posting about how much their heart breaks for her.

But yesterday, nothing. As if Demi wasn't struggling with her addiction yesterday; as if nobody overdosed yesterday.

In reality, around 115 people overdose on opioids in the United States alone every single day. In reality, Demi Lovato needed your thoughts and prayers yesterday, just as much as she did today.

So tonight, after reading of Demi's hospitalization from an apparent drug overdose, I scanned through the comments. It was filled with lots of thoughts and prayers sent her way, lots of broken hearts, and lots of people saying that we should care because addiction is awful. Lots of truth, sympathy, and love for the addict were found in those comments.

But two posts down, I ran across an article about an actor from an old MTV show called "Wanna Be a VJ." VJ Jess Camp's mugshot filled the page of an article about him being missing, and then luckily, found. The comments in this article were drastically different.

"Probably overdosed in some gutter," one comment said. This mentality followed through the comment section; bashing him for looking like he's been on drugs for years, cracking jokes about how "this is what drugs do to you, kids," and as one person said, "This isn't news. He did it to himself. Who even noticed that he was missing?" The comments went on, so on and so forth about his apparent drug addiction (which I can't confirm).

The difference? No sympathy. Some thoughts and prayers were sent his ways and some happiness over him being found, but nothing compared to the love that Demi has been shown. Why? Because we don't know his name? Because he's not a celebrity? Because he's just an average guy?

Am I mad that Demi has been shown lots of love and support? Absolutely not. She needs it. We all need it. Am I mad that we're only sending thoughts and prayers to those with the glory, or even the fact that we needed a near-death experience to notice that people are struggling and need love and support? Absolutely.

You see, I've always been a fan of Demi. As a recovering addict myself, I love how open and honest she has been about addiction, sobriety, and the struggles of it all. We need that message to get out there, and I praise her for that.

About a month ago, when she openly expressed that she had relapsed, there wasn't much talk. Not once did I see someone on my timeline speak about it. She was struggling yesterday, she was struggling last week, she was struggling last month — yet the public turned a blind eye until today when the news broke that she overdosed.

DO WE REALLY NEED SOMEONE DYING (OR NEARLY DYING) FOR US TO SHOW SOME SUPPORT?

At that point, it's too late. You help as fast and as soon as you can.

But this isn't what I'm most mad about. In the Valley here, we have a big drug problem that most turn a blind eye to. Meth is abundant up here. Addicts are everywhere. In the United States, an opioid epidemic is sweeping the nation. But do I see love and support and prayers for them on the daily? No — not unless a friend of their's has died. It takes someone DYING.

What I see is mocking, I see disgust, I see people tagging their friends in mugshots saying, "Haha, what a loser. I'm not surprised." I see addicts being treated less than. I see addicts being made out to be worthless people. I see addicts being shamed. Over and over again.

Yet, when a celebrity overdoses, an outcry occurs.

Where was that when the woman in the hospital parking lot overdosed? Where was that when the addict froze to death near the river last winter? Where is that EVERY SINGLE DAY?

Where is that for the nearly 7 million Americans suffering from addiction? Where is that for nearly 115 people who overdose every single day who are being scoffed at for being "loser drug addicts?"

She's not the first addict. She won't be the last addict. And she certainly isn't the only addict that matters — that deserves love, support, encouragement, and a community rallying behind her.

Am I bashing the world for showing love to Demi? No. Am I bashing the world for praising Demi while scuffing at the addicts in their town, at their school, on their streets, in their families? Yes.

My heart goes out to Demi Lovato. My heart breaks for her. My prayers are sent her way. But they're sent to everyone else struggling too, everyone else who has lost their battle, everyone else who is hanging on by a thread, and to everyone who loves or has loved an addict.

Addiction is a disease. It takes family, friends, idols, and loved ones. It doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care if you've never touched a drug before then or if you have six years of sobriety under your belt; it does not care: who you are, what your social status is, how much money you have — it does not care.

Sober or active, the battle is real. Recovering or using, addicts need your support and your love.

Every. Single. Day.

Every. Single. Hour.

So tonight, when you send your prayers to Demi, when you wonder to yourself, "How could this happen? I can't believe it," I ask you to think of and to pray for those who are struggling right around you. In your town, down your block, in your school, in your state, across the nation. Send prayers and love and support to those around you, those who don't have a nation to help them feel loved or worthy.

Help, stand up, fight with them.

Addiction doesn't discriminate, and neither should we.

Cover Image Credit:

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Poetry On Odyssey: Backseat Thoughts

How do I wake up and tell myself everything will be OK when it has not been for so long?

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I'm sitting in the backseat on the way back from the beach with my parents and younger sister. Night Beds playing in my ears and Van Morrison playing through the speaker. All I can think is I cannot wait to be home.

This was the first time I'd ever been to the beach, so why was I ready to be back in a college town in Northwest Alabama, where all I would do is sleep and catch up on YouTube videos?

I glance at the cars beside me, passing, going faster than us. Most of them are older couples — maybe 50s to 60s — not talking, not laughing, not smiling. I cannot see into their cars to know if the radio is playing, but I come to the assumption it probably is not. There's no singing.

I'm only 20, but I often wonder when that time in my life will come. The time where I'll no longer be talking, laughing, smiling or singing along in the moments I share with others. And it terrifies me.

The past 20 years have been held with fits of crying, bits of madness, pulling out knives wherever they may fall. And I just accept it.

But deep down, I can feel myself crying out for more. For more than what I've had, more of what I want to be. I feel trapped inside of a body that does not even feel like my own most of the time.

I want to live before I no longer can. But how do I live if I've never known how? How do I let go of all the worries, if people will like the person I want to be, the person I think I am. How do I wake up and tell myself everything will be OK when it has not been for so long?

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