After writing an article about Sunday’s Super Bowl game, I started reflecting on a pretty awesome thing that happened that day. For the first time ever (I haven’t researched that but I assume) every single headliner who performed at the big game was a black woman. There was Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, and her gang (aka Destiny’s Child). And, what was so cool about it was that no one seemed to think that those women were out of place or somehow not fitting for the all-American event of the year. But, this new trend is not relegated only to the Super Bowl. We have got a black First Lady who is more popular than her husband, several hit TV shows led by black female actresses, new movies, which focus on the Black Experience, receiving major accolades, and a host of new marketing campaigns from major companies targeting black women and interracial families. So, are black women ‘in’ right now?
Yes, I know my question seems weird. But, when you really think about it, it is totally valid. Here are my four theories about this new phenomenon listed in order of importance.
1. Michelle Obama has changed the world. Literally and figuratively, her persona has totally transformed the world view on black women. Here she is, this educated, beautiful, and demure black woman. She is tall and thin. She is sexy even after having two children and taking care of a home and career. And yet, she is 100% a black woman. Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, she has never been shy or secretive about her humble beginnings. Michelle O is a class act. No one can deny this fact. So, she takes the top spot in this new black woman popularity phenomenon. I definitely see a “Michelle O” movie somewhere in our near futures.
2. Black female actresses like Kerry Washington, Zoe Saldana, Viola Davis, and Paula Patton are absolutely bringing it right now. Kerry Washington is THE lead actress on ABC’s hit show Scandal. And, regardless of the fact that everyone who watches it is mildly addicted (including myself), she is also kicking butt on the big screen. Her performance in Django Unchained last year was the first time we saw a REAL black woman as a damsel in distress. And, Washington’s name has become ubiquitous in black cinema and entertainment. Same goes for Zoe Saldana, Viola Davis, and Paula Patton. These women have all had box office hits and they continue to grace the screen in roles not previously available to black women. See a trend forming here?
3. Beyonce has single handedly redefined “DIVA.” Some of us may not love her and others of us may think she is the bee’s knees. But, no matter what we think, white, brown, Asian, Hispanic, and all groups of folks all over the universe are singing her songs. They are doing her dances. Heck, even grown men know how to twist their wrists like some single ladies. Beyonce is no longer just a person. She is a brand, a product, and a fixture. When you think of Beyonce, you think of a very specific image. And, she has done a spectacular job at getting that image chiseled on the frontal lobes of people throughout the world.
4. Major companies and marketers have no choice but to acknowledge the impact these powerful women and others like them have on the perception of the rest of the world. I mean, what would you do? Serena and Venus Williams are powerful images in black female athelticism. It just makes sense to affiliate with them right? Jennifer Hudson is an amazing talent and example of overcoming adversity. Why not add her to the Weight Watchers campaign?
The truth is, if the appetite for a specific brand or product changes then the supply has to meet the new demand. That is why we see a host of ad campaigns highlighting black women, interracial love, and black culture. People’s desire to see more black women is driving the continued success of new black female actresses, singers, models, and political figures. It is a beneficial cycle which promotes positive imagery in the black community.
So, I think I actually answered my own question. Yes, black women are ‘in’ right now. The question is: will we stay that way? Because I, for one, certainly hope so. It is pretty darn awesome.
Featured image credit AP/Annie Leibovitz/Vogue