Kola Boof, author and womanist, has an interesting story to tell. One that is filled with the immigrant experience, marriage, motherhood, love affairs, and a well-known terrorist It maybe easy to dismiss her when you come across some of her tweets, Facebook status and essays which are sometimes strewn with offensive language and controversial statements . But I have discovered through her writing that Kola Boof is passionate about how black women are portrayed and treated by the media and the larger society. The following illustrates some of the reasons why we like Kola Boof and why her voice should be heard.
1. Kola Boof recognizes how the portrayal of black women in magazines, movies and music videos shapes societal perception of black women.
Filmed and projected images almost always socialize the eyes beholding the images. Whether they be movies, magazines or music videos; the repetition of these visual images socially condition the watching eye as to what that particular society considers good and bad; what is to be loved and valued; what is to be valued as beautiful and impressive; what is to be coveted—and; and—gazed at from the tower of one’s own status in America—what is to be pitied and felt sorry for; no matter how noble and courageously it is presented on screen.
Kola Boof believes that films like The Help, Precious etc. always portray dark-skinned black women as being denigrated,abused or living out a particular black pathology. Or she [ the black woman] is pushed to the fringes of the narrative as the best friend, maid, back up singer or wallflower. This leads the audience to feel sympathy for the dark skinned black woman or completely ignore her all together. But here in lies the problem. Kola states:
We get to “feel sorry” for her station in life…and in doing so…we mistake feeling sorry as delivering justice. It lets us off the hook, because after “feeling sorry” for her—what else does she want, change? No. We did that while watching the film. Now as we leave the theatre—we’re done with her.
2. Kola Boof has a deep appreciation for black beauty. Too often we join the chorus, “Black is beautiful.” But what does that mean? How is black beautiful? Kola has developed strong metaphors that vividly convey the beauty of black women.
I am awestruck by the description of her female heroine in her book, The Sexy Part of the Bible.
My look, mind you, is not chocolate like Lauryn Hill, Whoopi Goldberg, or Naomi Campbell–it is pitch black and shimmering like the purple outer space of the universe. I am the charcoal that creates diamonds. I am the blackest black woman.
In one of her essays about her decision not to watch The Help, she vividly describes the beauty of an African Woman:
…there is nothing in creation–like an African Woman. Her bee-stung Goddessa lips, dunken cake (booty), ocean-stirring voice, salt jagged hair and root beer dark celestial eyed gaze…
3. Although Kola would love to see black women portrayed in a more flattering light in movies and music videos, her sense of beauty is not dependent on any man, woman, the media or the larger society. She affirms her own beauty:
I Kola am not a raving Beauty by American standards. But the thing is…I look like myself, I am an African Mother whose womb produced TWO BLACK MEN and I look like Africa. I decided; I decided…that I am beautiful.
Kola Boof issues a challenge to black women to establish a “Black Beauty Standard”. She believes that the power to change how we [black women] are portrayed by the media is in the hands of black women:
If Black Women want Black Men to start thinking that Black is beautiful…then Black MOTHERS are going to have to start creating that reality in the heads of their sons early and stop claiming they think Black is beautiful while talking out the side oftheir mouth about “bring me some good hair grandbabies!” or “get your nappy blackself over here!”…or all the other ways that BLACK MOTHERS systematically and “accidentally” raise their boys to accept the Dominant Culture’s view about us.
4. Finally, Kola challenges our construct of beauty. Specifically she advocates for the celebration of the blackest black woman.
As Womb-bearers; as American citizens, we deserve an upgrade in the images presented over here. And I mean specifically the darkest women—the ones whose charcoal, blue and chocolate wombs actually brought civilization and mankind into being. They deserve a better and more authentically presented image; a damn sure more flattering one.
She describes these women as authentic black women since they bear the image of an unmixed black woman. Kola believes that the beginning of loving and appreciating black beauty begins with the appreciation of the blackest woman.