Is 2016 The Year Of Unapologetic Blackness?

February 8, 2016  |  

WENN/Corbis/YouTube/Fox Searchlight

If the first 39 days of The Year of Our Lord And Savior Or Whomever You Serve 2016 are any indication, it is on a fast track to becoming The Year of Unapologetic Blackness.

It started with the resounding Sundance success of Nate Parker’s film Birth of A Nation.  A journey more than seven years in the making, Parker wrote, produced, directed and starred in the film that chronicles Nat Turner’s life and the most significant slave rebellion this nation has ever seen.

Taking the directorial helm for the first time, turning down acting opportunities along the way to lay the groundwork for an environment in which Parker saw a void and fulfilled a need to eliminate injustice through the power of story and film is unapologetically Black.  Subverting the typical slave narrative with a lesser known and less talked about figure as far as the mainstream is concerned was a definitive, declarative and necessary statement.  Birth of A Nation reclaims the 1915 KKK propagandist film of the same name, still deemed one of the greatest movies of all time. But the fact that its relevance and mere appearance in search engines will be driven down in our consciousness by a film that puts front in center what the 1915 movie hoped to deride speaks to the true unapologetic blackness of both Parker and the film.

Said Parker in an interview with Vulture, he intentionally set out to confront a “subject matter that we as a country have hidden, have sanitized, have trivialized…so we couldn’t have to confront it.” Encouraging a country still cloaked in White supremacy to confront its horrendous, blood-stained past via a slave turned leader whose name is synonymous with revolt is unapologetically Black.  And the fact that Fox Searchlight acquired the film for $17.5 million, the largest Sundance acquisition to date, means that it’s already resonated with audiences and will do so on a large scale once it hits theaters nationwide.

Beyoncé, dropping the visual masterpiece that is “Formation,” her latest song, breaking the Internet all nonchalant, slaying and stealing the spotlight from a band headlining the Super Bowl the day before she was to appear on the world’s largest stage – for the second time – is unapologetically Black.  Afros.  Baby hair.  Hot sauce.  Big Freedia.  Singing ‘bout how she likes her Negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils (then wearing an MJ inspired outfit to Super Bowl 50).  Sitting, standing, stunting on a New Orleans police car before it’s drowned in gallons of murky water.  Going hard, dreaming hard, working hard.  “I grind ’til I own it.”  Beyoncé all but sings, “Welcome, haters.  I got something for dat a–.”  Bawse.

A young Black boy dressed in a black hoodie dancing in front of riot cops who throw their arms up at him presented before the words “Stop Killing Us” fill the screen = power.  Intention. Beauty.  The layers, son.  The layers!  An I Woke Up Like This call to arms with a Black Lives Matter affirmation.  This, during Black History Month. This, during the weekend that Trayvon Martin would have celebrated his 21st birthday.

Cam Newton, staying true to his confident, fun-having, charismatic, dab dancing, talented self, amidst an I’m-not-sure-what-to-make-of-him press, a White tear-inducing Tennessee mom who basically said she was insulted by his pelvic thrusts and his Black manhood all up in her (daughter’s) face, and a climate that would soon rather steal his joy because he doesn’t match his predecessors or contemporaries to a T, may not have won the Super Bowl, but was named the league’s MVP. And he deserves it. To deliver consistently and continue to dab while playing for a team called the Panthers, being called unsportsmanlike, unprofessional and even a thug?  No toning down, no adaptation, no conformity to please naysayers, haters or hatemongers. That’s beautifully, unapologetically Black.

All of this unapologetic, I belong here, I need no permission, middle finger to suppression and erasure blackness in The Year of Our Lord And Savior Or Whomever You Serve 2016, comes fresh off of the heels of a year that saw Kendrick Lamar, now nominated for 11 Grammys, sit down for a conversation with President Obama in the White House – a conversation that began with, “Can you believe we’re both sitting in this Oval Office?”  This from a hip-hop loving President who’s finishing up his second term as leader of the free world with zero effs left to give.

It’s only February, folks, and yet, I look forward to what the rest of 2016 has in store as we continue to gain ground on unapologetic blackness, decades in the making. *Fist in the air* Carry on.

Trending on MadameNoire

View Comments
Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN
  • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

    Yaaaaaas to everything this article was about! I hope this year is so unapologetically black that it makes any black person who has been afraid of being themselves or ashamed of who they are, come out and say, “You know what? F’ anyone who told me I can’t get into this school, or I’m too dark to be on a magazine cover, or that my hair isn’t appropriate! I’m black and I’m not going anywhere!”

  • Kory Green

    Some black people are finally beginning to realize that acquiescing isn’t getting us anywhere if we can’t be our true selves in public. I did find it odd, though, that Beyonce was strutting out there with the afro women while she rocked a long weave. She couldn’t rock her natural for just that one song? C’mon, let us see it. Like my man Butterfly said, “don’t cover up the nappy, be happy what you’re kinking.”

    • Manetric Douglas

      Can we please get passed her personal perogative (i.e. hair, clothes etc) and just accept what she’s saying/doing?

      • Kory Green

        Her appearance contradicts what she’s saying/doing, though… so it’s confusing… I have a right to comment on that.

  • Corey

    This whole article… yes.

  • redcan

    If somebody was unapologetically white, you’d probably think they where an a-hole. If we are truly equal…well, I’ll leave it to you to finish the thought.

    • Manetric Douglas

      But redcan in the eyes of the law and their (government) actions were not. So…..

    • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

      In a perfect world this would be relevant.

  • Lisa

    I just hope that this is the year that black people stop begging for acceptance and just go ahead and strive for excellence without considering what someone else of a different skin color or of the same skin color thinks of them.
    Oh, and I don’t understand why Beyoncé says that she like her “negro” nose. It’s obvious to everyone that she has a European nose just like her mother and at least 62% of the black people in America.

    • Guest

      The line is, I like my baby (Blue IV) hair, with baby hair and afros, And my Negro (Jay Z) nose like the Jackson 5 nostrils. She was speaking of Jay Z, not herself.

  • Ifuaskme2

    I’m sorry what exactly is ‘unapologetic blackness’? Was there an option on the birth certificate? You know, a ‘never mind how I LOOK I’m WHITE’? SMFH!

  • tiredofyouall

    I don’t get SOME of you folks : beyonce and jayz have, for the most part , kept their support on the dl – you called her white and called him MANY things, both unaffected by racial disparity . NOW she’s vocal and you “think” its phoney – what exactly can these two do to please the masses? answer: NOTHING and they don’t try – and don’t have to !
    how in hell can ANYONE tell them how Black they are ?!? how in hell can ANYONE tell them how to spend their money and on what?!?
    since SOME of you ” expect” them to do whatever you deem ” necessary” to prove their Blackness , what the hell are YOU doing – besides trash talking ?
    i’m not saying you have to support either one of them ; whom you like/dislike is your prerogative ; just afford them the SAME privilege of living their lives as you and stop with all the derogatory, denigrating comments – just because you don’t like her/them ! what does it do for you and what does it matter – they are STILL gonna live their life !
    I guess it makes you “feel” better somehow , putting others down ……….

  • catguy00

    With regards to Cam Newton. What about his demeanor is “unapologetically black”? Does that mean if he was an introvert he would be “apologetically black”?

  • DirtyDiana87

    I feel like this sudden ‘black pride’ thing is nothing but another prop for Beyonce. That song she released was garbage.

  • AnonymizedUser123

    Her “blackness” is hysterical. Compare childhood pictures of her with the bleached blonde look she sports at times. She stands out between all the afro wearing background singers.

  • TrueBlack

    So Cam Newton and Beyonce are symbols of blackness now?
    Black people have lost their way

    • Terietta M. Ingram

      EYE ROLL.

      • TrueBlack

        Not sure what you mean

    • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

      They aren’t symbols of blackness but they are role models who have a very public voice. Why not use it? Even though I think Beyonce could have done more but you get my point

      • TrueBlack

        Role models huh?

        • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

          Yes to some they are. Especially if they want to get into that career field. Problem with what I said?

  • Zaronica

    Beyonce unapologetically black while looking like a white barbie doll with a long blonde wig? Give ,me a break! Why doesn’t she wear her hair like Blue Ivy, unprocessed and nappy?

    • TrueBlack

      I completely agree

    • Terietta M. Ingram

      Bc she is grown and she can decide how she wants to wear her hair.

  • naturallyamom

    So Beyonce can finally become un-apologetically black in 2016? Oh how convenient… Listen I actually like the song Formation and enjoy many of her older songs, I appreciate and respect her as an entertainer… but what does afros have to do with Red Lobster? She had a real moment in this song to really SAY something and yes I acknowledge she said “some” things but the rest just seemed ratchet. Why is her song and video subliminal in many ways..like JUST say it. James Brown said “I’m black, I’m Proud” Marvin Gaye asked “What’s going on”? I mean shoot even Lebron and his teammates immediately stood in solidarity in the wake of the Trayvon M tragedy. There are many celebrities at the risk of being shunned and hated have spoken up about black issues BLUNTLY and in real time. In this situation I can not help but feel like she is deciding to say something because she has pretty much reached the pinnacle of her career and has “made it”

  • cecil toungsi

    That woman has been unapologetically everything else but black in the past. Now she tells us about her nose and we salute her with a raised fist? Really people? Really? Unlike hers, my blackness is not a mask I wear when it suits me and remove when things get harder. Before, I just unapologetically ignored her, now I genuinely dislike her. Unapologetically.

  • Taneesha Culture Clash Thomas

    i am absolutely dripping in blackness filled with it quenched by it & i love it…

  • Guest

    I don’t see it as riding the bandwagon, so to speak, like other posters said. I think she’s trying to show us that she sees and hears what’s going on with her/our community, and she’s not as “removed” as many think she is. She’s using her voice as one of the biggest stars in the world to shine light on these issues, the love for herself and her people.

  • Shadybootz

    I loved every bit of this article. I am so happy that as a people we are finally realizing our power and not apologizing for it anymore. A lot of people true feelings will come out and I think as a people we are too tired to care anymore. We are here and not going anywhere and the sooner people realize that, the better.

  • Every year is the year of unapologetic Blackness, some just haven’t caught up yet.

    • come on now, lets get real!

    • Guest

      I thinkg more are catching on now.

    • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

      Speak on it!

  • CDJ

    YES! Beyonce did that! The video surprised me. Never been a Fan fan, but love that…

  • Terietta M. Ingram

    I am looking forward to more of this unapologetic blackness!!! I dont care what form it comes in.

    • Guest

      Me too!!! Unapologetically black should be the theme for the year.

  • Black is Beautiful

    I know alot of people will not agree but I really don’t care. I am curious to see where this goes with Beyonce. She is the queen of capitalizing off of people and things to boost only herself. Also Solange is all over this as far as the artistry behind this. I hope this is her starting an effort shine a black issues, and not just creating hype for her new tour. Black people are so easily bought that its laughable. Her video had some things to stir black folks and make them hype and feel recognized. If Big Freedia, referencing if the D is good you taking him to red lobster and the hot sauce line is enough is black pride then that is scares me. I am sorry but the issues amongst black people are deeper than this. Beyonce announced her tour. That was her goal.
    I don’t think these artist are into the “unapologetic blackness”, I think its profitable at the moment in time. The hot sauce line is a ghetto cliche and stereotype. That’s not showing black pride. So the next time we have a major case in the news for police brutality or for racism I want to see who will give a get hype. Sorry I ride hard for black issues and see the work from many prominent black people in the community trying so I am not easily bought by cliches and an image or two.

    • Terietta M. Ingram

      I think you have 1 dimensional view of blackness. Its spectrum. I refuse to shame another black person for expressing who they are even if I dont mirror their reflection.

      • Black is Beautiful

        I disagree doesn’t mean I have a 1 dimensional view and won’t insult you in return because I can handle the difference of opinion. I hear you and respect your view. My point was the song and the images don’t go. She appears to be riding a wave of PRO BLACK right now cause its buzzing. The lines she dropped were black cliches and stereotypes have nothing to do with black issues or our culture. Hot sauce in a bag swag is cute but its not black culture. I am not shaming her, I loved the images, I simply stated I feel she may be capitalizing off the moment for her tour. The images in her video don’t match her words. Also blackness is a spectrum. True. But lets keep in mind the stereotypes we put out, we cannot get mad when Kylie Jenner is saying she put hot sauce in her purse is her embracing black culture. Its double edged sword.

        • Terietta M. Ingram

          If someone is black and they decide they want express their pro blackness that is wrong? Are we not allowed to express our identity and if that happens to give us financial gain how is that wrong? So the African women who make skirt and shoes and purses cant profit from their culture? So the Asain Americans who make these super dope Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese resturants can profit? If an Indian girl would like to teach a traditional Indian Dancing work out class she cant profit? We have to deal with both the plus and minus of a culture. The entire Kardashian/Jenner squad do not.

          • PeoplePlease7

            Unless an artist is 100% independent and finances, writes and produced their own works (similar to Prince), how much control do they have over their content and videos?

            • Terietta M. Ingram

              An Artist at Beyonce level? Way more than a newer artist. DO I think maybe she had a team? Absolutely. No one is saying that we need Yonce to become a leader in social Justice but to balk at her choosing to speak up? Why? to question her motives bc of her timing? Really?

              • PeoplePlease7

                Yes really. I don’t think most expect that of her, nor should they based off her career thus far, past music content and interviews (or lack thereof). Unless someone (hint hint MM) interviewed the director, videographer, writer of the song, producer or herself about her latest offerings, her resume suggests caution before celebrating her newfound “Black awakening”.

                Same as if rick ross, who promotes a crack dealing lifestyle, opened up a rehab clinic for drug addicts or jay z who attempted to ride the coattails of the occupy wallstreet movement or hustle simmons with his rush card shenanigans. We have seen this band wagon wave riding before, especially from the hollywood approved(controlled) crowd, so naturally folks should remain suspicious. There are numerous better examples outside of mainstream media who deserve accolades for changing/evolving for the better…

                • Black is Beautiful

                  You better say that. So on point. Jay-z did not expect to get called out for it due to his status. He even tried to sell shirts and maximize on it. Hilarious when they called him on it. Rush Card please don’t get me started. I wish I could like your comment a million times.

                  • caligirl

                    yes. that human filth (simmons) is taking advantage of the most vulnerable. and has the nerve to call himself a buddhist!!!

                • Terietta M. Ingram

                  I find it problematic that we arent willing to give black folks credit, especially when they are speaking out. The idea that black folks in the public eye must walk this perfect path or we cant get behind it. I feel in Beyonce career her music has always about black culture, but this is the first time it was socially aware. So I think we should applaud it the same way we applauded Missippi Goddamn. WHen Nina wrote that song it was one of the few times people were speaking about and it did lead to more conscious work. I wont fault someone when the decide to speak out.

          • Black is Beautiful

            I don’t think you get my point and that is super ok. I don’t argue in the comments, but I don’t mind giving clarity. I gave clarity. So I see no need to continue the responses. Have a good one. I think we both agree pro blackness is good. I will end it there.

            • Terietta M. Ingram

              I dont feel like our images need of blackness need to be restricted because of the impact on white America. I no longer buy into black respectability bc that isnt freedom. If Beyonce woke up this morning and decided she wants to embrace her blackness, I view that as no different then the day I decided I wasnt to flat iron my hair. She is entitled to bc the culture is hers. Just the same as it for you and I.

              Best of luck!

        • PeoplePlease7

          People conveniently forget mainstream artists are employees and their careers and images are engineered and controlled by other people. Producers, A&Rs, stylists, songwriters, directors, publicists make these decisions and have their own agendas. We have to be objective.

          • Black is Beautiful

            This is very true

    • LoveIsLove

      I agree 100%. I love Beyoncé…but I too feel like this is just her riding the Black Empowerment wave to capitalize on her tour profits and maybe reach an audience that otherwise wouldn’t be checking for her or her music because they’re “woke”. If you listen to the lyrics of the song, there’s nothing empowering about it. It’s another feel good, crunk track with a few “pro black” references (Jackson Five nostrils; afros…) but nothing really deep and awe inspiring. It’s definitely a shout out to bounce music and southern culture, but to say it’s empowering for Black folks is a reach. Coupled with the video that features powerful imagery of New Orleans, and I can see how people would confuse this with a deep track. But it’s not. It’s another club track. Let’s stop falling for the okie doke yall lol.

      • Black is Beautiful

        Exactly but people got so hype by it. Without the images the song would not have that impact.

        • LoveIsLove

          lol she could’ve put the song to the “feelin myself” video and it would’ve worked lol

      • DeeDee00

        You better tell it!!!!!!!

    • IntrovertedSE

      I agree. I think people are associating the music video with the song. Normally that would be fine but the music video and song seem so different.

      • Black is Beautiful

        Yes, I would be interested in hearing her album and the rest of the videos on it. Like I said we will see how this goes. The video was a reaction to what is buzzing is what it seems like to me.

    • Guest

      I have to agree with a lot of your points. This issues we face are much bigger than this and she just might be capitalizing off of it. I like the video, song and overall message, but still doesn’t mean that profit is not her end goal.

  • LogicalLeopard

    *LOLOLOLOL* I’m not a Beyoncé fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m sitting in front of my tv last night going….”Did she just say Jackson 5 nostrils?” *LOLOLOLOLOLOL* “Did she just say she had hotsauce in her bag?” *LOLOLOLOL*

  • Alinxz

    Is it just me but it seems blackness is being purely associated with entertainment in this article I think there is more to blackness than sports, films and music.

    • DA-BIG-D

      Good point. Our excellence in sports and entertainment is nothing new. We need to be making sure that we restore the black family, make sure our kids are keeping up with them Asian kids in science and math, taking back businesses in our communities instead of letting them middle-easterners and Asians own everything, etc. Maybe we are getting back to being un-apologetically black or trying to resurrect some black pride because the dream of the 0b0mma prezidency is just about over with. TIME TO WAKE BACK UP!

      • Marie Bano

        We do need to get our act together and it starts with our families. United we stand and we have to stop making excuses for not valuing marriage, being good parents and respecting ourselves. Talk is cheap we need action.

        • Terietta M. Ingram

          I would recomment a few things for you. Hidden colors and a PBS documentary American Denial. We need to understand our past and move forward with our future. It isnt as simple as stop making excuses.

          • amen power to you!

          • Guest

            I’ll definitely have to check those two sources out.

        • right on, spot on point, but first we must grow up and get out of this mental child like state.

        • usaf317undeleted9

          Feminism killed the American family.

          • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

            Cut it out.

    • Purple Sound

      Yes! They could have included that, no problem. But maybe something about Black lawyers, doctors, minority women in STEM fields, entrepreneurs, judges, and executives doing their thing and making moves in corporate America. Barring the inclusion of Obama, why is it always relegated to celebrities? The bulk of which won’t speak up about racism unless it’s affecting their own pockets?

      • PeoplePlease7

        Agreed. When the homicide rates in Baltimore and Chicago plummet to all time lows or a cosmic awakening happens to Brothers resulting in an explosion of marriages and stable two parent households, that would be progress. As of now this is just convenient (establishment approved) feel good symbolism.

      • Kory Green

        True, but I think “blackness” tends to be commodified for the media to properly process it for public consumption. “Blackness” in the real world is hidden from the mass public, unlike say a Cam Newton or Beyonce.

    • LogicalLeopard

      Profile is the key. Of course there’s more to blackness than sports, films, and music, but when you add the word “unapologetic” to it, they’re talking about the embracing of blackness among high profile people.

    • Terietta M. Ingram

      Her song never mentions. Its about getting what you want. I see that in myself as I work as an analyst in a cube. This shouldnt be a spot on reflection. Its an encouragement to apply this effort to your daily life.

    • Terietta M. Ingram

      Also Madame Noir is always up on posting Black folks crushing things in different fields. Always

    • no it’s not just you, me too and I feel you, we are mentally like children, we really haven’t matured and grown up yet.

      • caligirl

        wow. such a negative (not to mention INACCURATE) view of an entire people. and you’re black? how sad.

      • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

        I beg to differ. Yes there are things we have to work on but if we were so mentally like children, as you say, to this day we wouldn’t been seen as such a threat and there wouldn’t be an attack on our very existence. We have always been feared and our intellect and artistry is what scares them the most so they will do anything to try to keep us down and make sure we aren’t seen as anything but children who need their help (government assistance) to achieve some sort of life.

        • thank you, agreed, spot on point.

          • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

            🙂

    • princess.mindy

      Sheeit…Neil Tyson DeGrasse–resident saint/BAMF of all things scientific and BLACK didn’t even get ONE motherjumpin mention…bruh, that isht is giving me gastral pains.

      • Guest

        Now Cleatus you’s a betta get back in that trailer now for ya old lady/sister/cousin comesa lookin for ya ya hear.

        You lame a** white trolls stick out like a sore thumb. Hilar!!!

        • princess.mindy

          wat

          • Guest

            betcha!

    • Guest

      There is, but those things don’t sell as much as the entertainment does for now. We’ll get there though. This is a start.

  • Guest

    Beyonce Killed It!!!

    Yest to all of this.

    • DA-BIG-D

      Chile, please. She did the same ol isht! And for the life of me, I don’t know why she pics the superbowl halftime show to don the most unflattering color that she can wear: black. Beyonce is known for shimmer and glitters!: golds and metallics! I hate seeing her in that drab all black. Just doesn’t do her justice!

      • Guest

        “She did the same ol isht!”–Well yeah, and so did MJ and so does Madonna. I guess if it ain’t broke don’t fix it lol.

        • DA-BIG-D

          Naw. Now you know MJ and especially Madonna (the godmother of REINVENTION) did not do the same isht all the time. Madonna changed her look/hair EVERY TOUR/ALBUM RELEASE.

          • Guest

            Ummm no! MJ did the same routine in all of his tours. Sorry. He was brilliant, but repetitive. Didn’t matter because he blew people away everytime. As for Madonna, she ” reinvented” stuff that was already done–Vogue/ Marlene Deithtric/MM imagery/Changing hair colors and thensome. There’s a website (forgot the link) that breaks down her “reinventions” (they call it stolen) down and it mirrors exactly what Beyonce is accused of doing all the time. I’m a huge Madonna fan, but Voguing is forever linked to her although it’s from black and gay hispanic culture, the same way twerking is now linked to Miley Cyrus.

            Nothing is new under the sun, so doing the same old isht is unavoidable.

            • DA-BIG-D

              BUT MADONNA HAS ALWAYS GIVEN CRED IT TO HER INFLUENCES. I remember interviews where she raved on Marlene Dietrich and said that is what influenced her look at that time.

              • Guest

                Some of them she did, some of them she didn’t. The website was thorough on calling out her “rip-offs”, but still love her regardless.

                • DA-BIG-D

                  I still say Madonna credits other artists waaay more than Bey does. In her videos and documentaries she is always naming names: Keith Haring, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Paul Gauthier, Memoirs of a Geisha, etc. She will tell you what she bases her work off of. Bey is known for acting like she came up with that isht all by herself.

                  • Guest

                    I guess it depends on perspective then. I’ve not seen Madonna give credit to all of those, and I’ve seen Bey give credit to the ones she’s been accused of stealing from. *shrugs*

                    • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

                      “After” she has been accused.

                    • Guest

                      Lol! Ok.

      • sunni_daze

        You just didn’t get it. Beyonce paid homage to the Black Panthers 50th anniversary, Malcom X and told black women to love theirselves and unite.

      • Yom Thorke

        Don’t you be talking about how drab black is if you see Rick Owens around, just some friendly advice.

    • alim361

      Yaaaaasssssss