On performing Blackness + why Mambu Badu exists

On the ride back to D.C. from Saturday’s amazing Black Portrait Symposium at NYU, I checked Twitter to help the time go by. After scrolling through a few tweets about Charlie Sheen, basketball, and standard news updates, @afrolicious popped up talking about a Vietnamese classmate of hers performing Blackness—or rather, the warped view of Blackness that is currently exported through pop culture.

I was absolutely floored by the insights she offered on the commodification of Black culture, how Blackness is performed, and what we as artists, writers, scholars, coders, scientists, etc. need to do to counter those narratives. It was quite serendipitous to see someone on the west coast putting the exact same topics that were being debated and discussed in New York in a larger, global context.

Her tweets also helped me realize why it’s so important Mambu Badu exists. This space exists because we know there are so many stories out there that are being either ignored or distorted. We want to expose those stories. We want to show nuance where there are only broad strokes. And we hope that you, dear reader, wherever you are, will continue on this journey with us. Go here to read the rest of @afrolicious’ posts on the subject. And check out her great blog on arts and culture as well: www.afrolicious.com.

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One thought on “On performing Blackness + why Mambu Badu exists

  1. I couldn’t agree more however, I am the “choir,” so to speak:-) Either way, I second that We must not let outsiders of our culture dictate how we are “presented” to the public. We must use the power of words and images to export our OWN experiences to the world thus my appreciation for Mambu Badu!

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