Friday night, I finally had a chance to see the movie Precious. The acting was phenomenal! But something just didn’t sit right with me. I hesitated to comment and decided to sit with the discomfort until I could process it further. The next day, I read Black Feminist Thought in the Matrix of Domination by Patricia Hill Collins. When I came across this paragraph, I immediatly thought of the movie I had seen the night before:
African-American women have been victimized by race, gender, and class oppression. But portraying Black women soley as passive, unfortunate recipients of racial and sexual abuse stifles notions that Black women can actively work to change our circumstances and bring about changes in our lives. Similarly, presenting African-American women solely as heroic figures who easily engage in resisting oppression on all fronts minimizes the very real costs of oppression and can foster the perception that Black women need no help because we can “take it.”
I now understand the discomfort. Watching Precious seemed to replay the narrative I heard about Black women while growing up next to East St. Louis. In the movie, I clearly saw both narratives that are mentioned in the quote above. But do they exist separately, one after another, echoing stereotypes, or does the movie manage to transcend both of these in its combination of the two? Does it strike a balance? What do you think?