Kehinde Wiley
Judith Beheading Holofernes, 2012, Kehinde Wiley

After watching the VMA’s I was reminded of this work by Kehinde Wiley that I thought was hella #relevant.

Much of Kehinde’s work is recognizable from the hit television Series on Fox, “Empire”

such as Le Roi a La Chasse pictured below. 

Le Roi a La Chasse in Empire

But on to the discussions that need to happen:

This art piece “Judith Beheading Holofernes,” 2012, Kehinde Wiley, places Women of Color, specifically a Black woman in a position of power (and majesty). This is so important because of the racism and sexism that Women of Color have historically and continue to face today. (Not to mention other WOC who face marginalization because of other facets of their identity; SES, Queerness, Ability, trauma(s) in addition to this- the list goes on).

But anyway, this image stuck out to me because I feel that engages with some ideas that I’m passionate about. [No not the perpetuation of violence or violence against White women] that’s not what I’m talking about; I’m talking about something that I often talk about: Art as Healing, Resistance, and Love. I am not saying that White women or White people in general aren’t entitled to pain, anger, fear or healing. They are, that’s just not the conversation I’m trying to have: 1) because it’s not always about them contrary to how many people think and 2) because I’m not White, never have I been White and because I’m not going to speak on or invalidate certain experiences that are not my lived reality. 🙂

I believe that often, People of Color and people who hold other identities that are made to be marginal in our society use humor, to deal with the pain. I like to refer to it as Laugh, heal, resist – (shouts to the incredible people that are a part of Native Americans at Brown (NAB) that I was able to help organize the Ivy Native Conference at Brown with surrounding that very theme) last fall…

Humor, and laughing and healing as resistance in response to this image is hella relevant based on the things I touched on before, [history of oppression, Poc’s themselves resisting and healing through humor]. I find this image incredibly real, truthful, but also funny given the context of the VMA’s because in the moment when Nicki addressed Miley– about what Miley initially said about Nicki [being rude and self-centered, about needing to mind her tone] in regards to an issue that Minaj herself, and other Black women are affected by she was real. Her comments were true to her feelings; her anger, and that of so many Black women and People of Color and these feelings are so valid. Especially given the context of Miley Cyrus, the daughter of a famous country singer, and repeat cultural appropriation offender… #thosefauxlockstho. She’s someone who hasn’t used her public power and fame to stand up to racism/anti-blackness/the Black Lives Matter Movement or at least lift up Black voices in a positive light on their terms regardless of how many “Black friends” Black male rappers she “hangs out” makes music with.

It was so important for Nicki to address Miley because of the way Miley as a Non-Poc – a white person was dictating how Nicki should talk about race & her lived experience. I think this is unacceptable and while people have opinions of what’s right, wrong, polite and acceptable, I don’t think it makes sense for people to attack and criticize others especially if they don’t have that experience. I think that’s rude. People have many different ways of expressing themselves and if it isn’t evident by all of the hashtags, People of Color die regardless of whether they’re being polite or merely existing as a Black/Brown person in the world.

So, after that ridiculous Police Brutality joke by Rebel Wilson and Nicki winning the award

when this happened:

And then this!

and then this…

tl;dr- I was pleased and that’s totally okay.


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