Media Watch: Black Women and The Blind Side

I sorta liked this movie. Yet, I was also disturbed by it.

I happen to like Sandra Bullock, even though her taste in men is dreadful. πŸ™‚ So my criticism is of the film itself, and not her as an actress.

Also, I’ve learned not to expect anything meaningful from Hollywood, especially with movies including black women. For these people, it’s about, “Which stereotypes shall I use today?” Quality drama is reserved for “special” white men, white women and a favored ethnic token or two. The writers, producers and directors will probably never evolve meaningfully or intelligently into viewing non-white women as human beings. Hollywood is composed of limited, talentless, shortsighted creatures – no matter how many Oscars they hand out to themselves as examples of excellence.

They only wish they knew better.

And I know people mean well, but enough with the, “That’s why we gotta make our own films,” mantra. I have no bloody frigging interest in making films. Seriously. I just don’t watch anything they put out if I’m not satisfied. Plenty of Korean dramas, foreign films, and classics to watch, or books to read. End of story.

But I’ll criticize the crap if I want to.

A Familiar Theme

The Blind Side tapped into a familiar storyline that I’ve seen (or heard about) in a number of films or TV shows. Guess what Six Degrees of Separation, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,Β Antwone Fisher and The Blind Side have in common? A young black male gets taken in or is saved by someone. Admirable stories, of course. I applaud those efforts.

I’ve watched a lot of movies – I’ve been searching my frazzled brain – have there been any versions where young black females, alone, no siblings, have been helped? Maybe I missed those nice Lifetime flicks. I’m sure there have been some. How about TV shows? Any major film releases in the last decade? Someone lemme know if you’ve found any. And Precious doesn’t count.

Is it because people have this notion that no one would see a film where a young black girl / woman is taken in and assisted by a wealthy white family? Is it because people realize a white women would see the young black girl / woman as a threat to her stable white family? Maybe she’d end up in the sack with the husband, grandfather, uncles or Gawd Ferbid, her studly sons?

Or is that no one thinks a black girl / woman is worth saving in the first place? Do folks think she will land on her feet like a cat falling off a highrise balcony?

No One Is Coming To Rescue You

The message from those films, and TV shows, I’ve mentioned – like the elimination of black women from history (a la Red Tails) – is that you’ve already been sacrificed. You shouldn’t wait to be rescued, like Antwone Fisher, or any other black male, or white woman, or favorite token ethnic, because no one cares. Those groups are established and recognized “victims”. Black girls / women are not.

Remember that each and every time someone starts a project, foundation, scholarship, or organization to solely benefit black girls / young black women, the inevitable whining begins. But what about my boys? What about black boys? And it needs to be asked, “What about them?” Why is everyone so stingy, mealy mouth, about something just for the girls? If the whiners want change, they can start an organization for their boys, although gazillions of them already exist.

I wonder why there has not been any TV shows, movies or media stories celebrating the taking in and uplifting of a black girl / young black woman? We had The Secret Life of Bees, a story where black women take in a little white girl. Would the movie have been made if she was a black girl? Even in stories where a young black girl is given a home, like in I Can Do Bad All By Myself, it’s done with her male sibling. And predictably someone tries to rape the child. Would the movie have been made if the siblings were girls?

If the young girl is always at threat of being sexually abused, why is she regarded as the problem?

Boys Are Preferred

The reason why movies, TV shows, and media stories focus on the rescued boys is this: they’re “endangered”, more vulnerable than girls, don’t get pregnant, wont seduce your male family members (heh), aren’t a hassle (no worries about sassiness), and at least with the boy, his saviors can get a decent return on their investment if he excels at sports.

Who said it wasn’t a man’s world? Those things right there prove that if a young black male pulled himself together, with plenty of the “right” assistance, he could step higher into mainstream America by virtue of having a penis. There is a support structure in place. Those who whine about, “What about my boy?” miss this fact entirely. His color matters less than if his head(s) is in the right place. Black mothers (and plenty of fathers) seem blind to this opportunity.

Black Girls Be Gone

See how everyone misses the sexism and racism against black girls? No one is thinking of them. It’s always about saving the “brothas”, save the endangered black male, or save our black boys. Worthwhile efforts. Yet, all children need help. Not just one gender.

People ignore the plight of black girls, because they are regarded the same as stray feral cats: able to take care of herself (even at ages as young as 8 years old) and it’s not a topic worth bothering about.

Blindsided Opportunities

Every movie that pretends to be uplifting, is also in danger of spreading another message that isn’t as compassionate or endearing as they’ve imagined. Some people are likely smeared in the process. Like black women.

The Blind Side was about a “good white Christian” family, specifically a southern woman, taking in a homeless black boy, Michael Oher, (who’s really big, seems mentally slow, but he’s really a gentle giant – think Michael Clarke Duncan in the Green Mile). Throughout the film, I had this imagine of a family seeing a big stray dog by the road, taking it home and not realizing it’s a wolf.

Sandra Bullock’s character had that irritating “white woman’s moxie” that worked my last nerve throughout the film. That whole pushy, obnoxious, y’all gonna do what I say because I am sooooo special routine was so annoying…. But hey, she was doing it for the boy. That po’ boy. She was gonna save him. ‘Cause if he was a homeless she, well, um, things would sort themselves for the girl. Couldn’t bring that home. A black boy, yes. A black girl? Nevah.

Two Sides of the Same Negative Coin

There were two black women in this film. Neither one served in a good light.

Oftentimes on TV shows, or movies, we get the tough talkin’ ball bustin’ black chick who comes in and runs game. Rarely likeable. Rarely attractive. If she is good looking, it’s guaranteed that by time her acting is done, her performance has drained her femininity away. And that’s done on purpose. Some of us are fooled into thinking that’s a power position or a positive thing. Trust me on this one: you’re not being served when presented as the tough talkin’ ball bustin’ black chick who comes in and runs game. That character always has a black woman’s face.

Remember now, it’s called, “Othering”. Don’t ever forget that.

Both Equally Bad: Dark and Light

Michael Oher’s mother was shown in a dark, dank and dilapidated apartment. Of course, she was a shamed-faced crack addict, who had her children taken away. When Sandra Bullock’s character came for him, she passively accepts the “purchase”, oh sorry, releasing of her child to this “good Christian white woman” (GCWW).

The GCWW may have listened to the sorry story of Michael Oher’s momma, but did nothing to offer her help. Hey, we all know by now that a (poor, black) drug addict is a lost cause. And no one is supposed to help a black woman anyway. You’re on your own, pardner.

However, the son is worth something. He could be used for sports. His mother? She done served her purpose. She popped out big boy!

Remember back when the last saving grace of a black mother was that she’d do everything for her children? Now, that’s even been taken away. A GCWW makes a far superior mother as well.

The image of black motherhood, black womanhood and self-sufficiency has been completely tarnished.

On the flip side, we get a light and bright black woman who’s brought in, by the NCAA, to interrogate Michael Oher’s decision to attend good ole Miss (segregation history). I believe he was interrogated, but by a black woman? Pshaw. Gimme a break.

But the movie required that an evil tough talkin’ ball bustin’ black chick comes in and runs game. Hate those characters. Hate ’em all. These mannish black women roles have to end. Let white women keep them.

Oh, and that “mean black woman” is edjumacated, articulate, smart and very bitchy.

They put her and Oher in a nice bright room. And she attacks him like a hungry feral cat. She’s cold, offers no comfort, and doesn’t behave like an ally. The assumption is that a man (white, black or other) would have some sympathy for Michael. But by having that “mean black woman” we see how they are presented as being in the way of this young black man.

Did You Get The Message? Black Women Are in the Way of Black Male Progress

Michael Oher’s first impediment in life was his mother. I’m sure if the movie had time for more they would have tossed in more black women who get in his way. The last hurdle was the NCAA interrogator. If she stops him – his ability to play football and his new life would be hampered.

Way to go black women!

And who showed the black male the way forward? Those GCWW. Showing him what a real mother is like, what a real wife is like, what a real sister is like, what a real nurturing spirit is like, what a real woman is like, and what real femininity is like. So good, that women like her would make an excellent wife.

Lemme recap real quick: this movie made a deep comparison between two sets of women. The GCWW and white “sister” versus the crack head black “mother” and black corporate ball buster.

Guess what black women: you lost. And I bet you weren’t even paying attention, because Michael’s story was so “uplifting” and “wonderful”.

In Summary: Separate Shouldn’t Require Elimination

We have, in theory, talked about black women (who are “free”) moving out of the regressive, dwindling, faux or non-existent “black community” to integrate with the rest of society to improve their lives and explore it to the fullest extent.

I’d say black men have been freely doing it for years. However, the media has made it quite clear you, black women, were dumped curbside quite a while ago. The message is that it is the black male who is better off without you. Somehow, if he’s not succeeding, it’s your fault, whether he’s family or a stranger.

I don’t know about you, but I find that to be a dangerous message. I hope it wont be repeated.

It’s different to want to disengage and live the way you see fit – as a black woman. That’s different than messages sent via film that black males aren’t succeeding, because black women (family or not) are crippling or denying him access to a better life.

And we often hesitate to push back against any message that seems anti-black woman, due to not wanting to be viewed as hampering black male achievement. But it doesn’t have to be an either or situation. Black menΒ  aren’t the least bit worried about the well being of black women. Frankly, they’re running full tilt somewhere else. Try visiting an all white “hipster” club and watch the usual 2-4 negroes freak out. How dare you intrude into their special space and have a social life? They’ve made it clear that they don’t respect you.

Besides, other folks will take care of him, which takes a load off your back….

So, let’s not be blindsided anymore, black women. Be an advocate for yourself. Be an advocate for young black girls.


30 thoughts on “Media Watch: Black Women and The Blind Side”

  1. @ Patricia Kayden

    Thanks for the link about the lost girls of Sudan. It is really scary how people can just ignore the suffering of girls while playing (s)hero who rescued the suffering black boy.

    Just scary. I feel so bad for those girls.

  2. I didnt want to see and havent seen TBS. It reminds of the same old meme. Black folks cant get it done on their own so here comes the tough white woman to save the day. She truly, really loves them, not their families. If its been done once its been done 1000 times:

    Dangerous Minds
    Sunset Park
    The Blind Side
    Freedom Writers

    The strong yet wildly feminine and gorgeous(not really) white woman will save all the wayward Negro boys and no one else. She will scream and yell and tell them they are nothing until they realize, shes only handing out tough love. She needs them to do well, she wont stop until they will.

    Enough. I dont care. Please white women, come and get them all. The more yall take the less Negroes are around to harass me and mine who want absolutely nothing to do with them anyhow. But if you take them you have to keep them, once you realize what they are, we dont want them back.

    Maybe Tiki Barber’s wife can make a real life Blind Side, cause she got blidsided for real.

    GoldenAh: I don’t know why, but your comments crack me up. πŸ™‚ Love the sarcasm.

    I forgot about those films. Although it wasn’t exactly the same, I remember Spike Lee’s He Got Game. I’m still mystified as to why black men present sports as their one and only option. How can anyone dismiss a college that’s offering a mostly free education, worth over $100k per year these days, just to play a few games of ball? Wow! What a deal. Getting the education should be priority, not the “hoop dreams”. Most wont make it to the pros anyway.

    Thanks for making me smile, Mikey. πŸ™‚

  3. Great post. If you google “lost girls of Sudan”, you will see that although there are movies and books about the lost boys of Sudan, you never hear about the girls who also left Sudan at the same time. The girls have lterally been left behind.

    GoldenAh: Thanks for the link, Patricia. πŸ™‚

  4. Faith,

    You really hit the nail on the head by highlighting how a certain group effectively campaigned to be seen as ‘normal’ Americans by exploiting the least politically empowered ie bw. I have taken interest in the media’s potrayal of bw and actually researched it. I came away with the same conclusion, the utterly demeaning and reprehensible movie roles reserved for bw is a calculated move. And the studio heads are actively involved in keeping the depiction of bw as putrid as possible. Yes, they are greatly aided by the self-sabotaging behavior of the overwhelming majority of black people. However, based on things I’ve read and heard from well-informed people, studio heads routinely demand that any bw starring in their movie must play any one of the 2 unflattering stereotypes.
    I am simply at the point where I no longer care to see anything out of Hollywood no matter what role a bw is playing in the movie. Thankfully, this is an internet age and there are countless non-hollywood affiliated entertainment available.

  5. I saw a clip from the Blindside and it was of Sandra telling the big black guy that he had better protect all of these white people on the field. It made me cringe.

    GoldenAh: Yeah, his interactions with her … indescribable. And it made so much money. It was such a bit hit, not just domestically but around the world. And I think of these images of us black women that stick in people’s heads. If our image was as well balanced as that of white women, I wouldn’t be concerned. But we get 2-4 stereotypes and Hollywood rarely deviates from them.

    Thanks for stopping by, Carly. πŸ˜€

  6. To Lisa’s comment ;

    Oh yeah, no one bothered to take in the sister. Guess because she couldn’t make money playing sports.

    I say..EXACTAMUNDO. You called it. And Betty your examination of this cinematic phenomenon in terms of college sports and the reality it it leads to the NFL and pro sports was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed this post immensely.

    GoldenAh: Thank you, MsMellody. I appreciate the compliment. I wrote this around 1:00am and wondered if I was coherent. πŸ˜€

  7. The movie poster alone would have alerted anyone familiar with how stereotypes are disseminated it was going to be a problem. Of course nobody bothered to ask where Oher’s DADDY was and why he had abandoned his child. As we’ve discussed women who are indoctrinated to chose any random black male over a quality mate is going to suffer.

    There’s a distinction we need to discuss about the negative portrayal of BW in films and tv from a historical perspective. Pre-70’s the Jewish studio/network heads, producers and writers blatantly mis-portrayed BW when they were engaged in their fight to be included as part of the “white” population. There were many white-skinned Europeans placed at the bottom of the social pecking order when they first emigrated to the US. They were considered the “other”.

    This was also a huge motivation in those others “uplifting” the coloreds via running the NAACP and assisting in Civil Rights. Singling out those who are noticeably different is an easy strategy. While it used to piss me off, I realized from a larger context it’s part of inherent destructive human nature but it was also a strategy for social climbing.

    There were other ‘white’ groups involved as well, but I still see a large amount of Jewish involvement. Does it all go back to the so-called Lost Tribes? And are people still trying to ignore Jesus, Mary, Joseph and them were black? If you look at who the behind the scenes folks in charge are – and even who’s put in front they’re looking out for their best interests. Then there are all of the black/Jewish couples and families. Roxie Rocker. Lena Horne. Quincy Jones. After Julia, Good Times, What’s Happening, etc there was a gap. Then Bill Cosby gave us our best representation of BW but black people like Jesse Jackson were the loudest objectors. Considering the historical denigration we should have been rejoicing, but even in the ‘positive’ portrayals black men were insisting on including half-white women to eventually replace us.

    So the push for hip-hop and its lyrics with the videos pushed the greatest anti-BW racist propaganda in existence. When you look at a movie like TBS it’s purpose is to uphold WW and white dominance as well as some faux liberal take on anti-racism. Blacks would also reject the narrative even if it was about a black girl because as we see even amongst those claiming to be advocates for BW still view themselves and other BW as not worthy.

    I don’t expect an outsider to do more than what the ‘group’ would internally. We all know if blacks didn’t hold so much fascination for every other ‘racial’ group in the world no one would care. If BW would find a group based on solidarity and reciprocity and stopped supporting the blacks who denigrate us, we would be able to police the outsiders.

    Everyone doesn’t want to make movies – nor should they. We see the anti-BW h behavior from BW. We can support things that elevate us and start policing our image.

    What happens after we’re completely erased?

    GoldenAh: You mentioned a number of black women who were married to powerful men or portrayed as married to powerful men. And they were on TV or had strong entertainment roles – rather dignified too. Star Trek had Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), because Gene Rodenberry had to have her on the show. He adored her, although he was married. Evidently, with the roles we see black women get now (or don’t get at all), there’s mostly no like, love or admiration present. Hip Hop made disrespect (and the elimination mindset) acceptable.

    You are absolutely right about supporting those that elevate us. I sometimes wonder why some young black girls, although their heads and hearts seem to be in the right place, spend so much time on the brain farts of negative black male entertainers. There just needs to be a bad negro wikipedia or something. Put the offending party’s name there and leave the rest to take care of itself. Or maybe I’m naive. Maybe some of them love the negativity.

    I prefer to be ignored as opposed to being marked as a “beast” that’s keeping all these “special” and “wonderful” people from living a fulfilling life. That’s chilling to the bone.

    We cannot be advocates for everybody else, especially when they don’t even “see” us. We cannot be subordinate to anyone. People like to pretend we’re talking about some kind of “black woman superiority”, classism or setting up a new hierarchy, yet as you say, this is human nature. Either we advocate for black women only first and foremost, or find ourselves tossed overboard to the sharks.

    Awesome commentary, Faith.

  8. Stories like The Blind Side are actually very common in the sports world… a wealthy white family takes in their son’s teammate (a poor black boy from the wrong side of the tracks). I read an article — can’t find it now — where people were asking various college coaches if they had a story like that on their teams and the reporter was ultimately surprised how MANY stories like that he had heard.

    I don’t have a problem with the general concept of white families taking in young black men and raising them if the mother isn’t able… however, I’ve often found it very interesting that when you read the stories of these young men with crack-addict, abusive black mothers, you learn they have a sister or sisters… and then you ask, “Well, what happened to the sister???”

    Oh yeah, no one bothered to take in the sister. Guess because she couldn’t make money playing sports.

    GoldenAh: The Fresh Prince was based on Bennie Medina. In the past, I had read that he had moved into a white family’s 2nd home atop a garage in order to attend the school that Barry Gordy sent his kids to. The wiki mentions only some of these details. Nevertheless, he too found someone to take him in.

    The sister(s), if not “rescued”, will produce the next generation of impoverished and destitute children. It’s funny how people in this country know that the key to ending poverty around the world is to help the women, but turn ignorant when it comes to dealing with this same issue with black women in America.

    Great points you’ve made, Lisa. πŸ™‚

  9. The blind side came from a true story i saw in readers digest. OTOHI believe though, the reason they wont show a rescued black girl, is that they want her to be the ‘mule’ cause ‘GAWD FORBID’ what would happen if the blood son fell in love with her & wanted to marry her etc. An author, Ms Mckenzie wrote a book called THE GOVENORS sON would be a beginning if someone would take the offer…BTW, there are white christian couples adopting little black girls and (gasp) even learning how to do their hair..even the WM daddy gets involved i know such a couple. I bet she wont have hair issues when she grows up..i notice when MEN acknowedge the worth and beauty of daughters, they have higher self esteem..the NABSW in the past were overreacting

    GoldenAh: Yeah, it’s a “true story” – Hollywood style. Governors Son sounds intriguing.

    On BGLH (black girl with long hair website) there was a story about a white man who braids his adopted black daughter’s hair. He does an awesome job of it. Dude got skills. There’s a white woman on YouTube who does amazing hairstyles on her 2 adopted black daughter’s hairs. She’s really good.

    If people expect stable families to come out of black neighborhoods, all the children need to thrive. But the girls need to be protected so that the vicious cycle doesn’t continue. They are literally the sole caretakers and supporters of the next generation of black children. Odd how no one sees it benefits everybody if black girls do well too.

    Wikipedia link – Michael Oher Bio

    Wikipedia link – NABSW Interracial Adoption

    Thanks for the input, Zipporah. πŸ™‚

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