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Saturday, April 22, 2017


In case you haven't heard, John Ridley, the award-winning writer of 12 YEARS A SLAVE, was dragged last week by black women in the U.S. and the U.K. 

--and deservedly so.

His new production, GUERRILLA, is a new mini-series about the Black Power Movement in London that uses a love story as the lynch pin of the story. Before even seeing the film, most people assumed the two lead characters would both be black.
Well, like the old saying goes:
When you ASSUME
you make an ASS out of U and ME

Two lead actors in GUERRILLA:  Frieda Pinto and Babou Ceesay

Not only did John Ridley fail to choose a black woman to be a main character and love interest, in the first episode the only black female character that really has any dialogue is a traitor / informant sleeping with "the man."

This represents the core of every hotep's wet dream.

When confronted about this during a panel Idris Elba, also a producer of this mess, had sense enough to keep his mouth shut -- though this isn't his first time at the very same rodeo. 

His time out as producer, Elba made a movie about a black male character trying to piece his life back together. Trying to support black film and black stories (and having an adult crush on Idris) I watched it as soon as I could. Twenty to thirty minutes in to the film, Elba --who was also the lead actor-- broke down over his pale non-black female love interest. I turned it off. 
Since then, I've kinda taken notice that the only time I see Elba with a black female love interest is if the subject he's playing is a real black man who was married to a real black woman.  
This is why I say, "Elba had enough sense to keep his mouth shut" when the subject of black female e-race-sure came up in regards to his production of GUERRILLA

John Ridley, showed no common sense at all when caught with his hotep-pery showing.

John Ridley got so defensive when questioned about the e-race-sure of black women in GUERILLA he looked like he wanted to cry...for himself ala Nate Parker  --if reports are accurate. And when Ridley got upset, the Asian actress actually did cry.

As usual, when the pale woman cries, the angry black woman is blamed if she happens to be anywhere nearby. 

Let this sink in: Black women who supported 12 Years A Slave and cheered John Ridley's win got upset about John Ridley's betrayal, got upset about John Ridley's e-race-sure of black women from what should have been a black history series with a black love story at the center of it --- and the light woman is the one that gets to cry.

In this case, the white folk running various "news" outlets blamed black women via deliberate(?) mis-identification, calling them "black activists" and "Black Lives Matter."

All it took to get this anti-black-woman ball rolling was a quasi colorblind defense from John Ridley. Nothing he said was inaccurate, per se. Different demographics supported the Black Power Movement....because they wanted to help black people and because they wanted to help their OWN demographic

We shall hang together or hang separately, as they use to say.

Ridley's accurate description of history had nothing to do with the question he was being asked. And the question he was being asked was: 

Why did you remove black women from the center of your story?

Ridley's Mixed Race Relationship Defense Of GUERRILLA 
From Shadow And Act.
  • One questioner addressed Ridley directly with her concerns: “My parents were a part of that movement [black power]. I want to understand why you decided [to make] an Asian woman the main protagonist.”
  • The audience member noted that the only prominent black female character in episode one is an informer against the movement for a racist, white police officer.
  • “I understand the contribution of Asians to this, but having an Asian protagonist making all the big decisions… does that get explained in subsequent episodes? We can’t ignore that,” she continued.
  • Ridley attempted to engage with the question: “To me, everything that you’re saying is exactly why that decision is so important. The fact that it’s difficult to accept someone, even though they are of colour, of being with us…”
  • “I don’t find it difficult to accept, I’m just trying to understand,” interrupted the questioner....
  • [Someone else asked,] “I’m not sure you quite answered the question – why are there no black women at the forefront of the struggle? That doesn’t necessarily accurately reflect what happened in the 70s in the UK,” [another audience member asked]
  • Babou Ceesay, who plays one of the male leads in the show alongside Idris Elba, was taken aback by the suggestion: “Wow, really? You know this because you read about it?”

    “No, we know this because our parents were a part of it,” responded the second questioner.
  • RIDELY'S RESPONSE “I don’t want to make this overly personal, but part of why I chose to have a mixed race couple at the centre of this is that I’m in a mixed race relationship. The things that are being said here, and how we are often received, is very equivalent to what’s going on right now [in the wider world]. My wife is a fighter, my wife is an activist, and yet because our races our different there are a lot of things we have to still put up with.” he said, visibly holding back tears...
 Black Women Need Men Like John Ridley To Do Better
If this record of events is accurate, it is in line with what typically happens when Black men are held accountable for the way they choose to engage Black women. Too often, the response is a cocktail of defensiveness, avoidance, gaslighting, condescension and/or denial. It continues to break my heart that Black men like John Ridley can invest so much in being on the right side of understanding when it comes to Black history and representation — Ridley is responsible for the racially-driven anthology series American Crime, and wrote the screenplay for the 2013 film adaptation of 12 Years a Slave — but still come up so short when Black women are the focal point.
The writer of the excerpt above is lamenting the sexism of black men, if I read between the lines correctly. And that's a major problem. But what I'm thinking about now as I read about Ridley's tears for self, I'm thinking about all the credit Ridley got for 12 YEARS A SLAVE...and also, in the back of my mind, helping make Lupita Nyongo a star.

But now it occurs to me that Ridley didn't do the casting.  Given a choice, had he been the executive producer instead of the writer, he would NOT have been able to choose a non-black actress as he did in GUERILLA. But he most definitely could have chosen Zendaya instead of Lupita.

I really don't know what John Ridley's story is. But because that his personal life choice and the choices of dozens and dozens and dozens of other black men in Hollywood and professional sports are "coincidences." I see Ridley's life choice of partner as part of a pattern.

And if your life choice is part of a pattern, then it's not quite an individual choice independent of the pressures of society.

Some of the pressures of society leaning on black men are internalized racism, colorism, and sexism too. It would be naive for black women to not notice that some of the black men that fit this pattern of choosing toward whiteness aren't ALSO choosing toward whiteness when they cast movies, have ideas about what it SHOULD mean to be black. 

Please don't hear me questioning anybody's ability to love outside their race. I, myself, have dated outside the black race. What I am questioning is the initial attraction.

Before there is love, there is what you see on the outside of a person 

And black men with money, in sports and in Hollywood, are attracted to a lot of pale women -- in disproportionate numbers as compared to the "regular" not-famous, not-rich black male population.    

Read More tomorrow