How The Movie Belle Parallels Black Women Today

Painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle with her cousin Elizabeth depicts them at equal stations (attributed to Johan Zofanny).

 

I had the pleasure of seeing the movie Belle based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle an “illegitimate” biracial child born to the aristocratic Lindsay family. Her father, Admiral Sir John Lindsay, brought her to his uncle’s house to be raised as her birth right permitted. Her story is absolutely fascinating. She was a free woman born to a family of status yet she was not permitted to dine with her family in the presence of guests. When her cousin began her search for a suitable match (husband) Dido, as she is called in the movie, was left out of the process. In part this was due to the security granted to her by her father. The other part of it was as a Black woman she was not suitable for the White gentlemen from other prominent families. She was just as educated, beautiful, and accomplished as her cousin but still considered not good enough by society’s standards because of the color of her skin.

Her story is told against the backdrop of the pivotal and controversial real-life Zong massacre. The slave ship operators killed about 142 slaves claiming that it ran low on potable water and it was necessary to ensure the survival of the crew. The slaves, considered property and cargo, were claimed as a loss to the insurance company. The insurance company refused to pay sighting fraud. Dido finds herself torn between her family rights and her human rights in the wake of a court decision her uncle must render as Lord Chief Justice, the equivalent of our Supreme Court.

The movie itself boasts flawless performances by the entire cast complimented by the breathtaking cinematography and captivating dialogue. Amma Asante has created a masterpiece that deserved to be in far more markets in the US. Finally a period piece that tells the true story of a woman considered to be Black who was not a slave. I don’t recall any historical pieces from this time period that shows a Black woman in the lead as an aristocrat. At best, we have movies where a Black woman is a very beloved servant but still the help. As I watched the movie the question dawned on me, what has really changed? While slavery has been abolished and we’re of course all free under the law, what has changed in the circumstance for Black women.

While Black women are among the most educated, beautiful and accomplished in this country, they, we, are still not considered good enough based on the society’s standards because of the color of our skin. Belle’s story may have happened over 200 years ago but the story line from then to now is the same. 9.7% of Black women are enrolled in a college or graduate school program, far above the national average. Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs. The climb up the corporate ladder is incredibly slow but we now hold 2% of board seats for Fortune 500 companies. Today our freedom is granted under the Constitution of the United States of America and the family you’re born into is no longer an issue in terms of building wealth and getting married. Yet, Black women have the least amount of wealth, the worst health and are the least likely to get married.

Was Belle the angry Black woman of her age? Was her fight for her rights, freedom and her life considered to be a nuisance? We watch the movie now and look back on slavery as a deplorable scar on the face of humanity. Patrons watch the beautiful imagery of the movie and think to themselves what a brave woman she was, a fighter. But in her time she was the equivalent of today’s angry Black woman. Will it be 200 years before today’s “angry Black woman” is considered a pioneer, brave and a heroine? Will patrons be sitting in a movie theater 100 years from now and think what a shame that Black women were paid $0.64 for every $1 a White male earns thank goodness they fought for their rights? And if so, will things really be different? Here we are over 200 years later but the theme is the same. We are welcome to live in the house but when guests arrive we are relegated to eat alone in the parlor.

Dido asked her Uncle how is it she is too high to dine with the servants but too low to dine with her family. I pose the question how is it we are as as educated, as accomplished but not good enough to be promoted, to be paid a comparable wage, to be married, to receive excellent health care. Angry Black woman syndrome can’t be the answer for all of this. How does that explain the fact that Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than White women? Does this explain the study results that show Black women are more harshly judged for failures?

This question is not answerable in this post, frankly I don’t know the answer. As I watched Belle I saw me in her and her in me. My questions are the same as hers. My thoughts and feelings are the same as hers. Had there been computers then I like to think she would have started a blog focused on uplifting and empowering Black women and abolishing slavery. Society still judges us by the same means…media. The media then was word-of-mouth and newspapers, now it’s TV, movies, internet, etc. I would argue then it was a conscious and deliberate bias and now it’s more subconscious with a side of deliberate. The stereotypes of Black women have become our reality while the stereotypes of others remain just that. Simply looking past surface and getting to know a person is always the way to combat beliefs and stereotypes, yet I”m surprised at how rarely that happens outside of my own race.

I don’t speak for all Black women when I say what I want. I want to be considered fairly and equally. I want the same opportunities to win and fail. I want a world where I don’t need special groups and programs to ensure I’m considered fairly; a world where I am just beautiful not “beautiful for a Black woman (yes a White male co-worker said that to me in all seriousness). I also want world peace and an end to hunger. My wishlist is not an easy one to deliver. It takes bravery on the parts of everyone. It takes White and Black women reaching out;  White men to say “enough” and be sponsors and advocates recognizing that it’s not about pushing them out but pulling others up. It takes Black women joining forces with one another. There is plenty of light in the world for everyone to shine. 

I offer you no answer or solution other than to be like Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay and be an example, uplift each other and press forward. Lastly, thank you Amma Asante for making this film, Fox Searchlight for putting your name to it, Misan Sagay for the beautiful writing, and the cast for outstanding performances.

Nile Harris is an expert in the area of health care and the founder of the New Black Chick website focused on building health and wealth among Black women and beyond. Her mission is to help everyone realize and live in their mandated destiny and to perpetuate positive images of Black women in the media.

Share small business news, blogs and social media tips with Project Eve’s community of small business owners and entrepreneurs today. Our contributors come from a wide range of backgrounds; so whether you are a small business owner, social media strategist, financial adviser, serial entrepreneur, or write an amateur blog we urge you to contribute a blog to our 500,000+ community today. For more information, please refer to our Content Submissions Guidelines.

Add a Blog

46 COMMENTS

  1. 256248 537927Hello! I basically would wish to offer a huge thumbs up for that fantastic info youve here during this post. I is going to be returning to your internet site to get far more soon. 592507

  2. 315590 213954The Twitter application page will open. This is good if youve got several thousand followers, but as you get much more and far more the usefulness of this tool is downgraded. 936085

  3. 254582 151837Hello there! I could have sworn Ive been to this blog before but right after checking by means of some with the post I realized it is new to me. Anyhow, Im undoubtedly glad I found it and Ill be bookmarking and checking back often! 273513

  4. Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thanks, However I am encountering problems with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having identical RSS problems? Anybody who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanks!!

  5. Thank you for a very interesting web site. Where else may I get that kind of info written in such a perfect manner? I’ve a undertaking that I am just now operating on, and I’ve been on the look out for such info.

  6. What i don’t realize is actually how you are not actually much more well-liked than you might be right now. You’re very intelligent. You realize therefore significantly relating to this subject, made me personally consider it from so many varied angles. Its like women and men aren’t fascinated unless it’s one thing to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs excellent. Always maintain it up!

  7. Thanks for your interesting article. One other problem is that mesothelioma cancer is generally attributable to the inhalation of materials from asbestos fiber, which is a dangerous material. It truly is commonly noticed among laborers in the engineering industry who’ve long experience of asbestos. It can also be caused by living in asbestos insulated buildings for an extended time of time, Inherited genes plays an important role, and some folks are more vulnerable for the risk than others.

  8. A lot of what you mention happens to be supprisingly accurate and that makes me wonder the reason why I hadn’t looked at this in this light before. This particular piece truly did turn the light on for me as far as this specific issue goes. But at this time there is one particular issue I am not necessarily too cozy with so while I try to reconcile that with the actual main theme of your issue, allow me see what the rest of your visitors have to point out.Nicely done.

  9. I learned more new things on this weight-loss issue. Just one issue is that good nutrition is extremely vital if dieting. A big reduction in fast foods, sugary food items, fried foods, sweet foods, red meat, and bright flour products could be necessary. Retaining wastes parasites, and wastes may prevent aims for shedding fat. While certain drugs briefly solve the matter, the terrible side effects are certainly not worth it, and they never supply more than a short-lived solution. It is just a known undeniable fact that 95 of celebrity diets fail. Thank you for sharing your ideas on this blog.

  10. 449524 295733Hi. Cool post. Theres an problem with your web site in chrome, and you may want to test this The browser will be the marketplace chief and a excellent element of folks will omit your exceptional writing because of this dilemma. 446457

  11. hello there and thanks for your info – I have definitely picked up anything new from proper here. I did however experience several technical points using this site, as I skilled to reload the site lots of instances prior to I could get it to load correctly. I were considering if your web host is OK? No longer that I’m complaining, however slow loading cases times will sometimes impact your placement in google and can harm your high quality ranking if ads and ***********|advertising|advertising|advertising and *********** with Adwords. Well I’m including this RSS to my email and can glance out for much extra of your respective exciting content. Ensure that you update this again very soon..

  12. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thanks, However I am experiencing problems with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I cannot join it. Is there anybody having similar RSS issues? Anyone that knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanks!!

  13. This is the right blog for anybody who would like to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really would want to…HaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a subject which has been discussed for years. Wonderful stuff, just excellent!

  14. I think other web site proprietors should take this web site as an model, very clean and fantastic user friendly style and design, as well as the content. You’re an expert in this topic!

  15. whoah this weblog is fantastic i love studying your articles. Stay up the good work! You realize, a lot of individuals are searching around for this information, you could help them greatly.

  16. Good blog! I truly love how it is easy on my eyes it is. I’m wondering how I could be notified when a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your feed which may do the trick? Have a great day!

  17. Thanks a lot for the helpful content. It is also my belief that mesothelioma cancer has an incredibly long latency time, which means that indication of the disease might not emerge until finally 30 to 50 years after the 1st exposure to asbestos fiber. Pleural mesothelioma, and that is the most common sort and is affecting the area round the lungs, will cause shortness of breath, breasts pains, including a persistent cough, which may produce coughing up body.

  18. Next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not fail me just as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I actually thought you would have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you can fix if you weren’t too busy looking for attention.

  19. Thanks for another fantastic article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such info.

  20. Its such as you read my thoughts! You appear to grasp so much approximately this, such as you wrote the e-book in it or something. I believe that you just could do with a few percent to pressure the message house a little bit, however other than that, this is magnificent blog. A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.

  21. Have you ever considered about adding a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and all. But imagine if you added some great pictures or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with pics and videos, this blog could certainly be one of the very best in its field. Amazing blog!

  22. Thanks for sharing your ideas. I might also like to express that video games have been ever before evolving. Today’s technology and innovative developments have made it simpler to create genuine and interactive games. These types of entertainment video games were not really sensible when the concept was first being used. Just like other designs of technological know-how, video games too have had to advance by way of many generations. This itself is testimony on the fast continuing development of video games.

  23. Woah! I’m really digging the template/theme of this site. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s difficult to get that “perfect balance” between user friendliness and visual appeal. I must say that you’ve done a amazing job with this. Also, the blog loads super quick for me on Chrome. Superb Blog!

  24. I have discovered some points through your blog post post. One other thing I would like to say is that there are plenty of games available on the market designed especially for toddler age little ones. They incorporate pattern acceptance, colors, creatures, and designs. These normally focus on familiarization in lieu of memorization. This will keep little kids engaged without feeling like they are learning. Thanks

  25. Great blog right here! Additionally your web site quite a bit up fast! What host are you the usage of? Can I am getting your affiliate link on your host? I want my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol

  26. Thanks for your write-up on the vacation industry. I will also like to include that if you are one senior considering traveling, it’s absolutely essential that you buy traveling insurance for senior citizens. When traveling, elderly people are at biggest risk of getting a healthcare emergency. Getting the right insurance coverage package in your age group can safeguard your health and provide peace of mind.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here