Sunday, April 20, 2014

Briana Whiteside's Mailbag #3

On April 16 and 17, we coordinated a presentation of Briana Whiteside's mixed media exhibit “Uncanny Black Women: Octavia Butler’s Mary and Shonda Rhimes’s Olivia Pope,” which was based on her research. Attendees completed note cards with questions for Briana about her project. What follows are select questions and her responses. 
What do you think about Olivia Pope and Mary Jane messing with married men?
I do not agree with infidelity within marriages, however that’s just my personal opinion. I realize that things do happen, and the people involved will just have to deal with their actions. The things shown on these shows are real life issues and they are situational.
 [Related: Briana Whiteside's mailbag #1 and mailbag #2]

How long did it take you to collect all the research for this project?
It took me 2 years to collect all the research for my project. I spent 1½ years reading and a ½ year formally writing.
Where did the word “uncanny” come from, and what made you decide to focus on it?
The term uncanny was originally a term coined by Ernst Jenst, later adopted by Sigmund Freud to mean homely and unhomely simultaneously. I repurposed the word to describe black women characters that may seem unusual. I focus on uncanny black women because I was searching for ways to describe black women characters as something other than strong.
What do you think people who are not black women think of these characters?
Well, I’m not sure what they would think of these characters. Whether audiences are black or white, if they are not into sci-fi or studying black characters then they would not be important to them.
How do those AA women’s characters have an effect on the way the world sees women in general?
The women portrayed on television do have an impact on how black women are viewed. Some shows do not paint us in the best light, but unfortunately, there is nothing we can really do. What black women can do is work diligently to discredit stereotypical views that may be cast towards them.
Uncanny Black Women: Octavia Butler’s Mary and Shonda Rhimes’s Olivia Pope

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