Written by Nicole
The latest hit against black women’s image has been circling the usual outlets in the last few days. Football player Colin Kaepernick, the wealthy biracial son of a white woman and a black man, who can afford to hire private security, and live in the best neighborhoods, but to-may-to, to-mah-to, posted the cover of his upcoming anthology, which has been met with much contention.
Today, I’m excited to share that we at @KaepernickPub will be releasing our first title, ABOLITION FOR THE PEOPLE: THE MOVEMENT FOR A FUTURE WITHOUT POLICING & PRISONS, on 10/12/21. This anthology builds on decades of organizing and writing against policing & prisons… pic.twitter.com/84nUD3v4r2
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) May 11, 2021
How interesting that when it comes to be the face of a movement, a movement that stands to further jeopardize our lives and safety, no less, there will always be a black woman to be found. Black women, who face the highest domestic violence rates. Black women, who face molestation rates at 60%+ before turning 18. And black women, who are never the first choice for anything but how much labor we can do and how much struggle we can put up with.
I bet if this was an anthology all about luxury and love and light, the illustration on the cover would feature a woman closer to the archetype of Colin’s mother or girlfriend/wife. But since black women, and in particular, dark skinned black women, are only seen as worthy by how much pain, trauma, and abuse we can endure, this is what we get.
And if you can’t find one in real life, you can draw one in the form of an illustration! The cartoon depiction features a dark-skinned woman with an afro (and a cowrie shell!), mouth open and a flyer in the air demanding the police be abolished (not defunded, abolished), and prisons closed. Alternatives are not mentioned in the image or caption. This image, not the image of Colin’s racially ambiguous partner, or his white mother, or even his black father, was the chosen image. Even in cartoon form, it’s the image and archetype of the unambiguous black woman set up to take the hits. Black women, who live at the intersection of attacks for not just being female, but being black and female, have yet another target placed on our backs, from someone far removed from our plight in the first place. Yet again, we get to be the scapegoat. The martyr.
Even with a blank canvas and infinite crayons to choose from, a dark skinned black woman was the choice of illustration. The illustrator, Emory Douglas, is responsible for creating this image. Why put a black woman there and not our male counterparts? They unironically call themselves kings, why not illustrate them on the cover instead? If you have ever quoted Malcolm X when he said black women were the least protected, most disrespected group in America, but have no problem with this image, just know you are a part of the problem.
Even though this image is just awful, there was something positive out of it. The comment section under the post on Twitter and Instagram was filled with black women voicing their severe distaste for this imagery. I would wager that even just two years ago, this image wouldn’t have had nearly as much criticism as it got. It might have even been seen as flattery. Black women are paying attention, and are becoming more and more vocal in speaking out when our likeness and image is portrayed in poor light such as this one. Hopefully, slowly but surely, black women stop marching and muling for everyone else, and practice ruthless self-preservation instead. Gone are the days where real life black women take to the streets for a collective that would not reciprocate.Here are a few comments that minced no words:
“WHY IS A BLACK WOMAN ON THE COVER?? Why are we the face of the “movement” when we’re the ones who can benefit from the extra protection?? Check the stats. Black MEN need to be the face since they’re …. MEN! We are not the strong “warriors” y’all try to make us out to be. We’re women!”
“Ya’ll feel ya’ll slick. Whenever it’s time to portray Black women as foot soldiers, mules and beasts of burden for these movements ya’ll always use dark skin unambiguous Black women often with natural type 4 hair but when it’s time for a Black woman to be portrayed as beautiful, desired and feminine ya’ll always use lightskin mixed ambiguous women with loose curls. Why is that???”
“Of course a dark skin black woman’s image is being used to push this shit. All this does is put an even bigger target on our backs. Who exactly will we call when we’re being attacked by the men in our community? Because men like you certainly aren’t doing anything to protect us 🤷🏾♀️”
“Why is a Black Woman the ONLY face on this cover?‽? 😲😒 This is soooo problematic for us on a large scale. Why OUR image?? Im sick of this”
“Why didn’t you put your image on the cover? Stop putting dark skin women at risk by making us the face of this. We’re already dealing with racism and colorism. Put your own image and leave DSW alone!”
“Why do y’all always use our image for such things? Why don’t you use your own image or another mans image when it comes to these things? Stop masculinizing black women! Put the image of the people y’all plan to call when you need help after y’all abolish the police!”
“I AM TIRED OF BLACK WOMEN (DARK SKIN) ALWAYS BEING THE IMAGE OF THIS MOVEMENT. You need to take down this image because it’s indicative of struggle for black women. You black pro athletes need to put up the women that you desire and marry. This picture needs to have a white woman, a Latina woman, an Asian Woman, or some racially ambiguous light skin or fair complected woman. These are the women that you deeply desire and marry. These are the women who should be fighting for you when you get shot down by the police. Always running behind some dark skinned black woman and then running to a white woman to marry when things are peaceful. TIRED OF IT. Put the face of a black man in this. YOU FIGHT THESE BATTLES YOUR DAMN SELVES. Dark skin black women are not mules. This is sickening and tiresome.”
Is there anything more to really say?
Additionally, there is a petition, started by YouTuber Paris Milan, that you can sign to get this taken down. Make your voice heard here.
I’m glad to see black women speaking out against this attack on our image. This does us no favors, especially as a vulnerable collective. This is not flattering, noble, useful, or safe. What do you think about this cover “art”? Who should be the face of this movement? Will you be purchasing this anthology? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Disclaimer: All thoughts my own, not necessarily reflective of Christelyn Karazin or other writers on this platform.