We Heart Kola

Kola Boof

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 Helpshe 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.

Images: Image 1Image 2

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4 thoughts on “We Heart Kola

  1. …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…
    -LOVE IT!

    and while i get what she’s saying about being “full blooded black” lighter shades and mixed races including black are still considered black. believe me, as light as i may look a white person will still aknowledge me as a black person and be just as quick to call me the N-word. (it has happened countless times)

    black babies in the womb cannot choose what color/shade they want to be from within and i do think its unfair when light brown and lighter shades get crap for being a different skin tone when in fact many of them are actually black and have 2 black parents. its nothing but God’s creation.
    dont hate on the mochas or yellow girls or the red etc. when they did nothing wrong. and once upon a time were being praised and embraced by other cultures; once again where she was not at fault, only to later turn around and feel “betrayed by her darker sisters because something she has no control over (her skin complexion) is not “the darkest black.” im not sure whos kolas argument really is with? is it the poor innocent girls who are in fact black but not her same skin tone or the crowd who embrace women of such types?

    i hate these skin wars and it seems black people will never overcome this because it still seems to bother darker women to this day

    black is beautiful and the diversities and ranges of all shades of black should be embraced i believe!

    thanks for sharing esther!

    • Hey Jassmen,

      Definitely, I consider all black women black irregardless of their shade. But I think Kola is concerned about the dark-skinned woman and her portrayal in the media as well as how they are treated by the larger society.

      I don’t think the skin wars exist because of how dark-skinned black women feel. The skin wars exist because of the value society ascribes to black skin and to the various shades of black skin.

      Although, I don’t agree with everything Kola says, my interpretation of her writing is that if we can see beauty in the woman with the blackest skin and kinkiest hair, then maybe skin wars would end. We would stop putting one shade above the other. We would stop picking at our features. We would embrace our kinky hair, flat noses and black skin.

      But we ‘heart’ Kola because we really believe she has a love for black women. If you read her descriptions, they are breath-taking and she purposefully seeks to turn the beauty ideal on its head.

      Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      • no problem and i see what youre saying. i agree with u too i do like kola because shes bold enough to say what most black women want to say at times.

  2. It is not about color wars. It is about recognizing the woman who is invisible, who is not seen in the movies, and the media. It is about validating and celebrating her beauty. 🙂

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