Africans Question The Portrayal Of The Continent In Beyoncé's Visual Album 'Black Is King'
The trailer for Beyoncé's new movie got praise from Black Americans but more than a few side-eyes from Africans.
July 29, 2020 at 5:38 pm
But the response from Africans has been less than enthusiastic, with many online questioning how the movie would portray the diversity and beauty of the modern African continent. Some criticized the short trailer for feeding into the cartoonish "Wakanda" version of Africa that has grown popular since the release of the widely acclaimed Marvel film Black Panther.
Others said the images of Black people in loin cloths and covered in animal pelts were not representative of what Africa looks like right now.
In an op-ed published by CNN this week, Moky Makura discussed these criticisms, writing that many were waiting to see what Beyoncé would produce when the film is released Friday, July 31.
Makura serves as executive director of Africa No Filter, a pan-African group that works to bolster a diverse range of African voices and take down stereotypes about the African continent.
"With its imagery of face and body paintings, feathers and animal fur, in celebrating our African traditions 'Black is King,' perhaps a little naively, missed the pulse of how many young, urban Africans — both on the continent and the diaspora — want to see themselves. They want to be presented in a more contemporary way, as global citizens representing a dynamic continent. Beyoncé picked the right story — but may have given it the wrong framing," Makura wrote.
"But why, some might reasonably ask, do chalk markings on black faces, naked male torsos and a preponderance of animal pelts provoke uncomfortable reactions from some Africans, when that is very much a part of our history and in some cases our existing cultures?" Makura added. "The trap that Beyoncé's trailers fell into is the stereotypical (albeit visually compelling) story of a primitive continent that hasn't advanced much, which frustratingly still dominates too many Western perceptions."
Makura goes on to say that while it is not as bad as the pessimistic, poverty and crime-stricken view of Africa generally propagated by news outlets, the trailer still was not representative of the realities of everyday Africans.