Well, well, well! The devil not only finds work, but his work definitely becomes play. The devil works hard! And enjoys his work to a fault. Overtime ain’t a thing to the devil. Overtime gets clocked as recreation. The devil is so diligent he can work in his sleep. GENIUS, no less!
So, in today’s latest post I ask the reader to find Walda. A play on words of sorts. She may even be Waldo’s black sheep illegitimate sister who may or may not be the result of a creepin’ daddy or momma. But, the familial dynamics are not at the root of this post, let us not get sidetracked. The goal of this puzzle is to locate, in the photograph above, the colored woman. Sure, we can easily identify the, count’em: one, two, three, four Black males. But can you locate the Black female in this photograph? I’ll provide a hint: apply your focus to the edges of this photograph. Once you do, you’ll discover the tanned vixen.
Can you see her? Don’t blink too fast of hard because you might just miss her. So now that we’ve finally made her discovery her (phew…as you wipe sweat from your brow), there is no need for rejoice. I mean, we got the one Black woman and the 4 Black males, what other issues can be highlighted. I mean just look at the massive musculature of the Black males featured here; what qualms should be had, right? PLENTY! Let’s take another, closer look at this photo and analyze.
The fact that the pretty brown woman is practically out of the photograph is a mammoth sign of white supremacist practice, often excluding and making Black femininity invisible…diminishing it to the outer edges (no pun intended) of society. If one pays close attention to most advertisements and commercials today, this is the prevailing trend. What is seen however, if you happen to see Blackness represented in the media (print or screen), the presence of Blackness is often comprised of a Black male (or males), flanked and/or swamped in white. It’s quite a disconcerting sight to see. And my theory is evident right here with the above photograph. Take a look! Sure, the Black males are displayed prominently in the foreground, but how these 4 bodies are displayed tells the true story of representations [of Blackness in the media].
Umm-hmm! This is a devilish scene for sure. The photo itself is entitled, “Dirty Sunset Disco” and it lives up to it’s caption. If you call your eyes’ attention to the left of the photography, you will find the first Black male on his knees with his gaze acutely fixed on a white man brandishing a machine gun (FYI: guns are often used to simulate the phallus, or rather the penis. Take into consideration that the gun is extra-large and black — kind of making a “mine is bigger than you” subliminal statement). But, the subordinate posture that this Black male takes is not just one of surrender, but it appears that he is begging for the attention of this white man with this big, black gun. Also take notice that the white guy with the gun is paying absolutely no attention to this Black male. He actually looks disinterested. It appears that this is nothing new to this white guy; and quite frankly he’s bored at this point.
Then once you pick your gaze up the page, you will immediately see another Black male however this time, he is gripped in the clutches of a white woman. Coincidence? Allow me to bring your attention back down just for a second. Peep how the two Black males relate to one another. The seated Black male has his foot between the legs of the “knelt and begging” Black male. This knelt Black guy appears to be a plaything or pet of sort. Not only does he crave the attention of the white guy with the Black gun, you can surmise that the Black male seated on the sparkly disco ball utilizes his “brother” as a playmate. This poor, needy Black male is portrayed in such a very exploitative position. This is displays another example of white supremacist practices that often delight in depicting Blackness not just as inferior, but in this display, literally down-and-out (total double entendre here: down for oppression and out as in queer). Also notice, that the Black male seated on the disco ball has a silver gun, which is a commensurate substitute for the white phallus. When you apply psychology to this, the image of this Black male with the silver gun strapped by the white woman makes the subconsciously commands that this Black male has officially become white by proxy, achieving the heights of masculinity, as prescribed by the status quo. He’s got his white female and a white penis to defend and in turn, sex her with.
Now, we turn our gaze to the bottom center of this photo. You see the third Black male seated on the ground with his gaze positioned to his left and his feet ajar with a white male’s foot in between. To begin, let’s point out the obvious: the gaze of the Black male is once again directed toward whiteness; this time a white female. Take notice, she too has not interest in his attention, evidenced by her gazing into a space above his head. In fact, take notice of the dimensions of their heads; her’s is at a higher angle than his. The white female’s gaze is angled upward; although he’s looking in her direction he still happens to be looking down. Not only is this once again a blatant sign of invisibility on her part, it clearly illustrates dominance and inferiority. This is another tactic of white supremacy at play particularly in the visual arts. Just imagine what this image would connote if the Black male’s gaze was positioned upward and the white female’s stare was positioned downward; it would tell a completely different story, which may impute racial sequestering. But let’s not forget to touch on the fact that the white male’s foot is lodged between this Black males feet. What this can signify is attachment; the need to belong to something or someone–equivalent to the ball and chain of Medieval times. But this could also be looked at as a sadistic relationship…slaver and enslaved…Stockholm syndrome; where the oppressed refuses to escape the grip of the oppressor. Deep stuff, huh?
And now finally, the Black male to the far right of the photograph. Just take a good look at how he is posed. With his hands behind his head, in typical braggadocio stance. Typical of Black masculinity, aye? The true definition of Black cool. And notice, how in all of his “Black cool” he still succumbs to so-called irresistible sensuality and wiles of the white female. Here, the Black male flexes his physicality all for the endearment of this white female that he has fixated his ogling on. But she could care less, flipping her hair, damn near bumping his shoulder with hers. So much for regard! In addition to the white female flipping her hair, she’s not just looking straight ahead (which the Black male’s body is nowhere in range), she seems to be posed herself, showcasing her own fabulosity.
From examining this photo, you will find that their is a trend of the Black presence being blatantly and outright disregarded…whiteness apparently reigns supreme. One thing that should always be considered when looking at advertisements and commercials is that it is all orchestrated. That means, that the people and bodies displayed are props, first and foremost. Photographers, stylists, assistants and other personnel involved in the construction of a photo shoot determine the look, and therefore convey the message of the photograph. As history has shown us, none of this stuff is incidental. People get paid plenty dollars to disseminate a particular message, point of view. It can become a bit impossible to imagine that there are insidious motives attached to mass media images, but there are. What often needs to be consider is 1) who is behind the image, 2) what is the message that this person wants to convey, and 3) how does this person, behind the image, interact with the subjects of the images they product. None of this is unconscious or innocent, and if you think so apply the concepts that were used here to other ads and photos featuring non-white and white peoples. Examine the numbers of non-whites compared to the number of whites. Which should also be applied to this photography. We’ve often heard that there is strength in numbers, an axiom that could no truer.
This is why colleges and universities have Media Studies programs and disciplines, and thousands of books have been written on media images and representations, whether it be print, television or film. It’s all media manipulation used to shape popular opinion and provide us all with ideas of how to behave, interact with others and how to see ourselves. But what happens when you don’t see yourself, or rather are invisible? How should you feel? How should you behave? I know what it is supposed to incite, thoughts of inferiority, lack of coercion between Black males and females, idol worship, self-loathing, desperation and all the other detrimental things that cultivate destructive thoughts, habits, behaviors and practices that are contrary to nation sustenance and building.
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