I’ll start by writing that this is not an attack on the actors and actresses in the movie ” The Woman King.” I was one of those people who initially were apprehensive about seeing the film. It seemed to celebrate the brutality of the Agojie and their role in the transatlantic slave trade.
A Jewish person would not tout ” Woman Power” watching a romanticized film about Women in the Third Reich in Hitler’s regime. I didn’t think it empowering to do so for the Agojie of Da’Homemy However, my timeline began to light up with rave reviews about the movie and how excellent it was.
On a crisp Saturday Morning, my husband and I grabbed some popcorn at a local theatre to watch The Woman King. I am sure the theatrics and superb performances proved to be a great movie, but about 20 minutes in, we looked at each other and, in unison, said, ” we out.”
A little background on me. I am a 40-something African American descendant of enslaved Africans brought to America. I would still carry the name of the South Carolina mega Slavers, ” The Wanamakers,” hundreds of years later if my father had not converted to Islam in the 70s, subsequently dropping the name Wanamaker. Seeing a movie that celebrated this brutal history already had me in my feelings. I also was raised to understand that entertainment marketed in our community often has an underlying purpose, which is usually not positive. This generational programming is often to forge a disconnect between Black women and men.
So let’s undress some of the imagery that was unsettling for me.
The opening scene is of African Women and Men brutally killing each other. Knives to throats, nails gouging eyes out, close combat killing. To be honest, I find nothing entertaining about seeing Black men and women kill each other. It hurt my heart and bruised my soul. Additionally, we have enough fodder presently of the pitting of Black Women against Black Men.
Then there was the clip of a husband embracing his wife after she returned home after being saved by the woman warriors and the man standing on the sidelines with his son watching as the women returned from battle. Enforcing the Strong Black Woman stereotype of “physically” protecting Black men while the men folk are home tending to the children instead of forging ahead together.
A few more scenes followed of Black men either being villainized or emasculated.
I am told the movie got better. But for me, it wasn’t “just a movie” My DNA was rejecting these images. I just couldn’t handle it. I also did not want to be desensitized by a Hollywood film written by two liberal white women who thought the Agojie were simply “badass women with a problematic role” in the capture and sale of Africans for European profit. That is not my King, and there are better ways to spend a Saturday morning.