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My Black people, y’all be blowing me sometimes with this misdirected boycott outrage. I’m talking about this Twitter trend to boycott the new blockbuster film, The Woman King.
I know that public schools across the country have been failing people for generations so maybe some of y’all didn’t learn the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Because if you did – and actually saw The Woman King rather than basing your gripe off of someone else’s review – you’d know that this movie has a fictional storyline that incorporates real life characters and events. And in storytelling, the artist has the autonomy to imprint their creativity and imagination onto the plot. This story is no different.
In a review last week, I talked about how this film could’ve gone in an entirely different direction and served us trauma porn like a lot of stories chronicling African and African American history. And if that were the case, as Producer Julius Tennon noted, then it would’ve been a documentary.
The Woman King is fictional
I think the movies’ writers, producers and directors wanted to give us a “what if” experience–what if a nation led by African women rebuked slavery and colonialism, changing history as we know it? They wanted to entertain us while also delivering an overall message of hope and power.
This clearly went over the people’s heads that are still upset or feel that the movie underplayed the Dahomey Kingdom’s role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Meanwhile, states across the country are doing the actual work of suppressing and dishing out alternative facts to history by banning over 2,500 books with 1,648 of those specifically discussing race and sexuality. This is the real assault on our culture and children but the outrage in our community is seemingly nonexistent.
Because Twitter is unfortunately where activism resides, I did a quick search with the words “banned books” and most of the profiles tweeting about it were of white faces and groups–crickets from Black folks. In fact, I bet money not many of us knew that this week is Banned Books Week.
Our outrage should be toward banned books, not a boycott of The Woman King
Books like The Hate U Give, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Color Purple, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, and the 1619 Project are currently inaccessible in some places to kids and adults in states like Georgia, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee–places where the most grave oppression and injustice took and still takes place.
I’m also willing to bet money that like me, many of the people hating on The Woman King didn’t even learn about the Dahomey Kingdom or any other African dynasties in school. Because the most they taught us was Harriet freed some slaves and Martin had a dream.
The Woman King is a dope movie and did its job in entertaining us and piquing our interest about our history. The inability to celebrate this film as a display of Black women leading as warriors in every sense of the word, a rare portrayal of Africa in American cinema and the rising presence of Black Hollywood in our storytelling is disappointing.
Lastly and the realest talk, the energy spent to boycott and drag issues that are minute compared to challenging the erasure and racism we’re currently dealing with in real life is irresponsible and negligent. So my dear Black people, if we put half the energy into real life advocacy that we put into social media grandstanding, we’d be way better off. Let’s be outraged about things that matter.