I have a confession to make: I’m a season behind on Orange is the New Black. Not as in I haven’t had a chance to sit down and binge watch season 4 yet, I mean it was a spoiler to me that Poussey and Soso are a couple.
Now I’m not upset by the spoilers. In fact like with most shows I tend to use spoilers to find out whether or not to continue to spend time on a series and while perusing Tumblr I found some folks talking about Daya’s character.
The gist of the spoiler is that Daya has some very nasty say about Afrolatinxs, which upset a lot of people since the actress Dascha Polanco identifies as Afrolatina.
Now ever since season one I’ve been confused by how the Latinas have been characterized on the show. To be honest, I’ve been confused about how almost all of the women of color on the show are characterized. The show seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to even acknowledge Blackness in some of them and when it did, the references seemed half-assed. In season two, they talk about how slaves in the Caribbean hid their magic in Catholicism as if it were an answer on TriviaCrack. So I’m not exactly shocked that the show may or may not portray race among Latinxs well.
I expressed my concern, hoping some folks would let me know if it was worth continuing the show or if I should let my memory of the show stay preserved in season two. I got a response from someone who posed a question: If we expected Women of Color to be perfect in every representation, would we have no Women of Color in media?
I know, this seems facetious, but it’s a valid question. There are plenty of things that I’ve passed on because of how terrible their representation of Black women was. And while there are plenty of shows that I watch that are problematic, just because I can enjoy them doesn’t mean they’re above critique.
So while I’m not sure yet if I’m going to keep watching OITNB I do hope that even if I don’t the show keeps being critiqued, because that’s how the representation gets better.
Two years ago was the first time I went to WisCon. My friend and podcast co-host Jamie had suggested I go after my first Arisia convention. I thought it would be a fun trip, especially because before and after I’d be able to hang out with my Chicago friends. It was an interesting experience and became a regular trip with me and my friends.
This year I’m paneling again! About what, you ask? Of course Black nerd culture as it pertains to Black women. I’m super excited and wanted to share with everyone what panels I’ll be on.
Podcasts for Beginners
- 8:30am – 9:45am
- So you want to start a podcast. You have a computer, a mic, and Skype. What else do you need? How much is good editing software? Where’s the best place to host? How do you get your podcast listed in all the right places? A panel of seasoned podcasters is ready to answer your questions, give great advice, and probably pop their Ps.
- Twitter: #PodcastsforBeginners
Just Say No to #DollarStoreThor: A Sleepy Hollow panel
- 2:30pm – 3:45pm
- The first half of Sleepy Hollow season 2 had much of the fandom asking: WTF happened! The first season was amazing and gave us all hope. The second season dismantled nearly everything that made it attractive to its viewers. Fans wondered why it was so hard for networks to consistently depict characters of color with complexity and respect. But then the second half of the season happened, and everything changed. And that finale was a blatant apology to every fan who abandoned the show. Is this the power of the audience made manifest? Should we give Sleepy Hollow another chance?
- Twitter: #NoDollarStoreThor
Is Anyone Listening? Black Women’s Experience in Podcasting
- 8:30am – 9:45am
- Podcasting has been around for more than a decade and has given access to different voices without access to commercial radio or television. Yet around 70 of the top 100 podcasts in Stitcher & iTunes are hosted exclusively by men, with only around 10 exclusively women-led. This number is drastically smaller for exclusively Black women hosts of podcasts. This panel invites Black women to share their experiences as a podcast host, challenges keeping an audience engaged, being relegated to “niche,” and combating sexism and racism in another media largely dominated by white, cis-gendered men.
- Twitter: #IsAnyoneListening
Standing In The Sun: How Shonda Rhimes Redirected Hollywood’s Spotlight Onto Intersectional Feminism
- Whether you love her, hate her, or are just absolutely annoyed with her, you cannot deny that Shonda Rhimes has significantly changed the course of American television and how members of marginalized groups are portrayed onscreen. Ms. Rhimes made her mark by challenging and redefining “The Norm”, and in return, she has under her belt over eleven years of acclaim, four wildly popular dramas, and a growing number of Emmy and Golden Globe awards and nominations. Get ready as some of Shondaland’s frequent guests take us on a tour of what Shonda got right, what Shonda could have done better, and what Shonda absolutely nailed!
Nerdgasm Noire Network Live At Wiscon!
- 4:00–5:15 pm
- Ladies of the podcast Nerdgasm Noire Network take over Wiscon to discuss various topics such as best sci-fi movies & books, fantasy versus sci-fi genres, terrible witches in Sleepy Hollow, increased representation of POC in network television, and more! Come hang out with us! Bring your nerd rants, corny jokes and guilty pleasures!
If you’re there, make sure you come see me! If not, make sure you check out the hashtags!
Sometimes I forget that sharing your thoughts on twitter make other people think your tweets are an invitation for a counter argument. I’m not going to lie, in my earlier Twitter days I’ve made that mistake myself, but have since learned to generally keep my opinions out of other people’s mentions. Unless the tweeter is my friend or if something really offensive has been said and needs to be addressed. This is a personal rule for me, but sometimes I get a little irritated when I open my Tweetdeck and see what seems like an aggressive counter argument that I didn’t ask for in the first place.
“I <3 Kate Graham but Storm is dark skinned. I know sommayall think Ororo was Hall[e] Berry shade but that’s a lie Fox told you.”
I made the mistake of putting that on twitter after reading about a casting rumor. I just typed it out and hit ctrl + Enter. I wasn’t really expecting much of it until I got a a few responses that ranged from “It’s no big deal!” to “Who cares?” Which really got under my skin because obviously, I care.
Growing up, one of the things that I searched for constantly in anything I consumed, whether it was books, tv or movies, was for characters that looked like me. Being that I’m both black and female, those representations were hard to come by. Even at a very young age I noticed that there was a particular shade of black that was acceptable when you went in movies and tv. Storm was a character that I, like many other young black girls, treasured because in both the comic and that cartoon series she was a medium brown to dark skin tone.
Now I know people will write this off as nerd rage, or try and convince me that the fact that Kat Graham is black should be enough; that may be ok for you, it’s not for me. Black people come in several different shades, and I think it’s lazy casting to ignore that. There are so many talented actresses out there that are mid-tone to dark skinned, it makes no sense not to cast her as such.
Representation is important for a myriad of reasons, but media shouldn’t take shortcuts and just represent one aspect of an entire people. Until it stops taking shortcuts, I’m going to continue speaking out when I feel like it’s failing. Why? Because I care, that’s why.