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While the Dora Milaje are frequently referred to as the King’s bodyguards, they are much more than that.

By Faridah Gbadamosi The reviews for the very highly anticipated film "Black Panther" are up and they are glowing. Currently sporting a 99% Rotten Tomatoes score despite attempts to disrupt that, the film is well on its way to possibly being Marvel’s best film yet. The most gratifying thing in all these reviews filled with praises is that the Dora Milaje get to shine. Going into the film, the thing that gave me the most pause was how the Dora Milaje would be represented, how the women in general would be represented. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a mixed bag when it comes to female representation in their films, and even more frustrating is the lack of women characters of color up until recently (though Valkyrie was a truly fantastic character). With the Dora Milaje we get to see black women warriors — some of the best fighters in the comic book universe — brought to life. More than anything, I wanted them to be written and shown to be amazing. While the Dora Milaje are frequently referred to as the King’s bodyguards, they are much more than that. They were introduced in "Black Panther" Vol. 3 #1 by Christopher Priest as an elite squad that exists to protect Wakanda, its King and also serve as his ceremonial wives in training (an aspect that has been thankfully dropped from the film). Created in a bid to keep the peace, the Dora Milaje is composed of women chosen from the rival (and occasionally warring tribes) that surround Wakanda, each given an equal opportunity to be the King’s queen. The Dora Milaje are easily identified by their shaved heads and African tribal markings. They are highly trained in a specialized fighting style that makes them great at fighting in any environment and with just about any blade. Most of the Dora Milaje are not named but a few have been identified with storylines of their own. There is Ayo who is a part of the elite team within the elite Dora Milaje known as the Midnight Angels, there is Nakia, who eventually becomes the villain Malice, and of course there is Okoye, one of the most loyal of the Dora Milaje, a trusted confidant to the King. While the Dora Milaje have been prominent in the comic's run since their introduction, they were finally given the space to exist on their own in Roxane Gay’s recent, and unfortunately short-lived, series, "World of Wakanda".
Related: ROXANE GAY’S SNUB FROM THE “BLACK PANTHER” PREVIEW SPEAKS VOLUMES

Our collective healing, our resiliency, is power. Give life to that.

They say there’s a thin line between love and hate. Unfortunately, while we hope for love, hate carries an equal vibrational field on the heart as love does and healing seems fraught. Recently, it has been difficult to shift through the world without feeling the dark reverberations of hatred, even within ourselves. For example: I hate Trump. I hate white supremacy. I hate cis patriarchal capitalism. More importantly, I hate that I fixate on this hatred I have for all these things. Don’t get me wrong, this hatred I feel is legitimate. It’s not an alternative fact, and I’m not suggesting that we not allow ourselves to hate these things. However, if I’m honest with myself, then I must admit that the hatred which permeates my mind is draining. Last year, I focused a lot of my energy—way too much energy—on that hate, dwelling in the reality that was the 2016 presidential race, buried in disgust and, in my most vulnerable moments, despair. While the election of a white man as mediocre and hateful as Donald Trump wasn’t surprising or a new phenomenon for a nation founded on and maintained by white supremacy, another win for white mediocrity isn’t any less painful. Let’s keep it 100. Had a liberal democrat or democratic socialist won, things wouldn’t have been much different. The fact of the matter is, in racial capitalism, Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same shabby coin. Yes, Ronald Reagan gave us trickle down economics, but Bill Clinton gutted welfare reform, cutting our safety nets, the only sense of systemic security BIPOC have ever known beyond our own support systems. Yes, George W. Bush botched up the federal response to Katrina which wrecked and displaced hundreds of poor Black lives, but Hillary Clinton popularized “super-predators” as a descriptor of Black youth and enthusiastically rallied behind her husband’s now-infamous and draconian Crime Bill, the impact of which we are still dealing with today.
Related: HOW ONE WOMAN IS RECLAIMING HERBALISM AS A FORM OF RESISTANCE

In attempting to devalue Mo’Nique, we show how little we value Black women — how little we value ourselves.

By Jodi M. Savage Comedian Mo’Nique recently asked viewers to boycott Netflix because they only offered her $500,000 for a comedy special. The Oscar-winning actress pointed out that they had offered Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle $20 million and Amy Schumer $11 million. Mo’Nique claimed that Netflix had offered her such a low amount due to gender and color discrimination. Instead of widespread support, she faced a lot of backlash on social media. People were engaged in the all too familiar sexist, racist, and self-hating tactics of making negative comments about her weight and skin color. Many hurled bombs at her that are frequently used to silence Black women and dismiss our humanity: loud, angry, no class, entitled. Others said she should be humble, prove herself, and just be grateful Netflix was willing to help revive her career. They also accused Mo’Nique of having a “bad attitude,” the classic trope for Black women who do not offer up cupcakes and smiles when criticizing how others treat them. It was the responses from Black people that I found most troubling. Black women were among her harshest critics. Maybe it’s hard to feel sympathy for Mo’Nique because most people can’t relate to an entertainer who wants more than $500,000 — but many of these criticisms also contained an unsettling subtext about who gets to assert worth in the workplace and acceptable ways of asserting one’s worth. To suggest that Mo’Nique should just be “grateful” and accept Netflix’s offer is to disregard her accomplishments, her sense of worth, and her right to demand that she be fairly compensated. It also ignores the very real pay disparities for Black women in and outside of Hollywood. In attempting to devalue Mo’Nique, we show how little we value Black women — how little we value ourselves. Most Black women will never be offered $20 million or $500,000 to do anything. But Black women should care about Mo’Nique’s pay discrimination claims because, in many ways, we are all Mo’Nique. Whether we are actresses, secretaries, corporate executives, nurses, or restaurant workers, we are more likely to earn less than our white or male counterparts. Black women earn 63 cents for every dollar a white man makes. Black women are also the least likely to ask for raises among all demographic groups except Asians. We know how pay disparities play out in the workplace for regular folks: being lowballed in salary negotiations; getting hired and then realizing that people with similar or less responsibilities, experience or job titles earn more; being given additional responsibilities, but no salary increase; and not negotiating for a higher salary or raise.
Related: OCTAVIA SPENCER’S PAY GAP WIN IS AN ACT OF RESISTANCE AGAINST WHITE SUPREMACY

Learning more about Black history is highly necessary to understanding who we are and where we are from.

DNA testing for ancestry and ethnicity is increasingly popular and a number of companies offer a careful breakdown of our lineage. Black buyers especially should prepare themselves for the truths that lie within the DNA results. This means learning a bit about Black History: the brutal truths and treatment of slavery, including the separation of families and sexual assault at the hands of the white slaveowners. This also means learning about how populations moved from the South to the North, as Black families sought to escape Jim Crow and find work opportunities. So many of the anomalies that people are sure to find in their own DNA may not be so surprising after reading the books on this list. Prepare yourself for the truths that lie in your results by reading the following recommendations.

"The Book of Negroes"

There were slaves in America during the Revolutionary War. Those slaves were offered a chance at land and freedom if they fought for the British. This book is based on a journal that cataloged the men who were deemed “loyalists” and sent to Nova Scotia to claim their land. Nothing prepared them for the harsh weather and the reality that going north didn’t mean escaping the brutalities of racism. Lawrence Hill’s novel explores this era through a female character who was brought to America as a child and lived as a slave until the war broke out. "The Book of Negroes" will give you a good look at the beginning of the slave chain, where the bodies were snatched and stowed on a boat bound for bondage.

"Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass"

The famous speaker and abolitionist with the unmistakable coif was also the author of one the most famous slave narratives today. This book is one of three biographies that explore the life of the slave in the clear and honest voice of a survivor. Learn what it took for your ancestors to survive that life and preserve your family DNA. Douglass also details his escape and freedom in the tome, which is just as educational.

"Queen"

Alex Haley’s follow up to "Roots" was "Queen", the tale of a girl born of the assault by the slaveowner. The novel was a fictionalized version of a true story. Just like the girl in the book, Haley’s grandmother was born in slavery and was the daughter of the master. She is thrown out into the world and must fend for herself. The book tackles subjects like “passing” and the conundrum the biracial people often found themselves in. Ostracized for being the master's kid by black people, but too tainted with black blood to be white. Haley didn’t live to finish the book, another writer did so. However, the insight this book brings will enlighten those who open a test to find the unexpected European ancestry.

"Kindred"

Another look at the slave era in American history, Octavia Butler’s  "Kindred" is actually a time travel story that starts in the 1970s and ends up in the 1800s. Dana is somehow connected with this white kid from back then. Her first trip back in time lasts a few minutes, allowing her time to rescue the boy from danger and return home. She figures out that the boy is her white ancestor and she must keep this often racist, a spoiled child living long enough to create her line—long enough to rape her black ancestor. This book pits a modern woman against the slave atmosphere to amplify the atrocities and injustice. "Kindred" is a fictional, but eye-opening look at a time that is most vital yet most mysterious to Black people today.
Related: 8 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT ROSA PARKS

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