By Shirley Anne Tate (auth.)
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Additional resources for Black Women’s Bodies and The Nation: Race, Gender and Culture
Her black skin now becomes that of the big cat. Both the live performance and the image bring the audience face-to-face with their stereotypes of Black women’s alterity and excess through reproducing the stereotypes themselves as impossible. Their very impossibility points to the perseverance of primitivism, representing Black women as animals and the repulsion-desire for the Sable-Saffron Venus. It is her skin that we see, not Grace Jones nude. Her skin’s hyper-presence erases the absence of clothes, as Fanon’s historico-racial schema reduces her identity as racialized other to her body’s surface, her Black skin, itself a negative signifier (Pacteau, 1999).
In turning the tables on the would-be objectifier we see the becoming moment of new racial and gender identities through the relationality of skin(s). The skin ego (Anzieu, 1990) of the viewer undergoes change through ‘race’ performativity. Desire enables an affective flow from the body of Jones and Campbell which rewrites the skin ego of the viewer. Even though they are subject to racialization, fetishization, objectification, their racialized skin reasserts its agency as specifically Black and darker.
As that aspect of our epistemology of ignorance (Yancy, 2008; Mills, 1997; Sullivan and Tuana, 2007) ruptures, we need to ask what are we being oriented to see? We are being asked to see Naomi selling a product through replaying to us a particular coloniality of knowledge on the Black woman’s body via stereotypes of Sable-Saffron Venus as Amazon, superhuman. As we gaze, the stereotype revealed makes us question anew the known Black woman’s body of discourse within which she emerges. She alters our line of sight and disgust-contempt in that moment that we recognize that we view her through a stereotype which haunts her possibility of emergence – the Black Panther.
Black Women’s Bodies and The Nation: Race, Gender and Culture by Shirley Anne Tate (auth.)