Happy Black History Month everyone! I hope your edges are extra laid and your chicken extra crispy.
More often than not, I find that Black History Month tends to turn into “explain standard historical references to white people who just never bothered to do their googles.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m learning things about Black history regularly - particularly Black American history, as that’s not information I was readily exposed to at home - but after the twentieth year in a row of “didn’t you know that Bayard Rustin was an important activist AND gay?” I think that it’s high time to shake things up. Let’s talk about some pivotal contextual moments that we all know and love - that real shit, shit that make you feel shit - but have probably let collect a little dust in the attic.
Without further ado I present…underrated moments in black history.
My first submission to this series is a scene from the seminal “oh no that nigga did NOT” classic, Waiting to Exhale. Namely, the moment when Bernadine Harris, played by “my triceps will always be fleekier than yours so stop trying” Angela Bassett, slaps the everloving mayonnaise-ridden existence out of that white woman.
It’s a five-second scene in a movie with an over 2 hour runtime, but it manages to pack in so much power. I mean that literally as well - can you imagine getting a hot one to the face from Angela Bassett? That woman eats pushups for breakfast. The left side of ole’ Becky’s face must’ve been redder than a Fuji apple with the force of that backhand.
But beyond the physical impact, that quick scene can run through a whole gamut of reactions through the lens of that incident.
First, you feel bewilderment: Did she just slap that white woman?? She really slapped that white woman! She slapped that white woman and kept on moving!”
After your brain processes that magnitude of what just happened, empathy follows: White women always just butting in when no one asked them too huh. That trifling woman knew she was doing the most but still had to be a nosy ass Nancy. Well girl that’s what ya get. You start meddling outside your lane you might just get slapped into the next time zone. Mmhm
Finally comes the envy: Mannnnn Carol gets on my nerves every damn DAY at the office. What I wouldn’t GIVE to introduce her to my black hand side one time. Just once!
Next thing you know you’re playing a ten second clip over and over and clapping with glee at Bernadine Harris’ fucks to give being more absent than contraceptives at Peter Gunz’ house.
This scene is truly a gem, and I call on it to lift me up and when times are hard and white women are trying it. Whether it is the one who was told by AppleCare, or the one who claims that Oscars are racist against Whites, or any one of the million and on times that so-called feminists pretend that black women don’t exist, I can live vicariously through Bernadine’s rage. Through Bernie, I can respond to the umpteenth passive aggressive email without losing my marble. That slap is the wind beneath my wings, and deserves its due praise in Black History.