It's Friday night. I'm not doing shit. A few parties going on. A couple of Visual and Art shows my homies are participating in. I'm just chilling in the house because I want to get some writing done and I don't feel like being around anyone. You know how that go. The Introvert Meter needs to be recharged before I go back out. It's Benny's Alone Time. I'm surfing the net while waiting for Jesus aka Future Hendrix to drop his new album and I'm on Sundance Film Festival website. I like to read who won awards from it every year and read about potential movies I want to see in the future. My objective was to read as much on "Birth Of A Nation" as I could. I found out who Nat Turner (Lead Character) was through Assata Shakur's Autobiography and a URL Rap Battle (Loaded Lux vs Calicoe 3rd round) and to hear a incredible movie was made about his life I was very excited. I'm tired of slave movies personally but if there's one I want to see come to the big screen it's Nat Turner's revolt for freedom. I'm still surfing the website and I come across a movie called "As You Are." It was named after my favorite song by one of my favorite bands ever "Nirvana," and I really liked the plot I read for this movie. In one of the pictures I saw a kid dressed like Kurt Cobain for the movie so that was another film I was definitely anticipating. I noticed before I got off the site that Amandla Stenberg had a role in this movie.
*UPDATE* Future "God" Hendrix "EVOL" has dropped and washed my sins away.
Who is Amandla Stenberg? A black actress most known for her portrayal as "Rue" in "The Hunger Games." Feminist. Social activist. Singer and Violin player of a duo known as "Honeywater" along with Zander Hawley. Co-Writer of the "Niobe" comic book series. Amandla just does a lot of cool shit. It's funny. I see a name that interest me, I either do my google's for news about them or search them on wikipedia. Regardless if I already know who they are. I came across a Teen Vogue interview she did and I was just so amazed at how smart and aware she is. She's only 17. When I was 17 I was dumb as fuck, dressing like Murphy Lee, and hanging out at The Palace (STL Skating Rink/Teen Nightclub) getting twerked on to "Like A Pimp" by David Banner and Lil Flip. I Wish we could travel back in time to ask me at 17 what is the definition of Cultural Appropriation. I probably would've started flaming you for knowing those big ass words or asked you in return "Where The Hoes At?" I was super ignorant and lost at 17 years old but my all white mid Forces were clean though. Knowing this information about my past it gave me a great deal of respect for Amandla today. I'm grown as fuck and I look up to a 17 year old. What a life right? I know I'm grown but here are 4 reasons why I want to be Amandla Stenberg when I grow up.
We live in a world where self love is very rare. We often believe we aren't good enough so we turn to a lot of vices (drugs), think we have to hide who we truly are and how we truly feel to fit in with the people who look down or insult us. Basically live a lie. Amandla really loves herself and that resonated a great deal with me given her age. When I was 17 I was lost and doing silly shit to try and fit in with people. Some loved ones. Some strangers. I was a follower. Amandla doesn't give off that vibe. She is a young lady who is comfortable in her skin. I'm sure that hasn't always been the case because we all have our journey's full of vulnerability but to see a young black woman in one of the most ruthless industries where they always tell you what's pretty and what's not love herself unconditionally is very inspiring. How many people we've seen in Hollywood just completely destroy their lives because they didn't love themselves? Eating Disorders. Drug use. Addiction to cosmetic surgery. Just so many lost people who don't love themselves because they feel they don't measure up to the next person or the standard of the business. There isn't too many things stronger than a black woman who loves herself and Amandla is aware of that. She's still growing and I hope she keeps the attitude she has now.
Back when I was 17 (Dom Kennedy voice) I was sleep like a mothafucka. I went to a predominantly white high school and I had racist shit said to me for the first time in high school but I didn't know how to respond intelligently to it. All I knew how to do was be violent. I was taught if someone disrespects you. Fight them. I had trouble talking things out. If you said something racist to me back then I didn't know how to articulate to you what you said was wrong and why it was wrong or ignore you. I only knew how to physically hurt you. It's how I was raised. Amandla faced so much blatant racism because she was a black girl who played "Rue" and she handled it like a grown woman. Rue was described as dark skinned in The Hunger Games books but of course hatred never see facts or logic. At the time she had to be about 13 or 14 years old going through this and she conducted herself like the ultimate professional. I think that moment was what awakened her and started her journey on becoming the strong young black woman she is today. She could've quit and became discouraged but she kept going.
As a grown man today words don't really bother me anymore and I can articulate myself a lot better and more intelligently because I've seen a lot more of the world and learned a lot more about myself. I read about my ancestors and my overall culture a lot more. You couldn't pay me to pick up a book that wasn't a textbook in high school or college. I wasn't awake until I was about 25 years old. You know the saying "Stay Woke" well Amandla is most definitely wide awake at 17 years old and it looks like she's staying that way. It's rare at her age to see a young black woman who is aware of the power their ethnicity and identity holds. She realizes that the platform that's available to her as an actress a lot of people of color do not have and she chooses to speak on injustices in the world. Pure bravery. If you gave me a platform like Amandla has when I was 17 I'd sadly do the opposite. I'd just spend all my money from films on clothes and a gold grill and never speak on any issues. I didn't define myself in high school. I was still lost. I didn't define myself until my mid 20's. She's already aware of what she is. A young awesome bi-sexual black woman. She is consciously aware on how she presents herself to her followers and the world in general.
NOT AFRAID TO SPEAK UP IN WHITE HOLLYWOOD
Who knew a video full of truth about Cultural Appropriation in the music industry and hollywood for a high school project by a high school student would cause so many different emotions. People loved it. People hated it. People were unsure, but the conversation was started and that's all that matters. A teenager started this conversation. A lot of huge media outlets really tried to create conflict by creating click bait covering the video. When that happens that means Amandla's video touched a nerve. You know what's bittersweet about this video and Amandla's stance? What's great about it is that it shows me the black youth are very brave, awaken, intelligent, articulate, and know what they want. They're not stupid and lost like a lot of adults want you to believe. What irritates me about the video is the fact a teenager has more balls than these grown ass black athletes, music entertainers, actors, actresses, etc. A few adult artists and athletes have spoken on such issues but they're rare. A lot of these entertainers are oppressed and they're not aware of it because they think their bank accounts full of millions and their so called "friendships" with other rich and wealthy white people will save them from racism and oppression. I think it sucks that majority of these black entertainers with a way bigger platform than Amandla doesn't reach out to the young black youth and stand up for them like they should.
Think about this. You know how scarce work for black men is in Hollywood? Finding work for black women in Hollywood is 100 times worse so Amandla being a young black actress speaking up on issues that make White Hollywood uncomfortable some people would say is career suicide. She basically said fuck it. These topics on injustices black people face everyday need to be confronted. There already aren't a lot of roles for black women outside of the stereotypical roles anyway. I'm sure she thought about that but still wasn't afraid to speak up in white hollywood. A lot of black entertainers are so afraid that they'll lose their career or lose the support of white people so they continue to walk around pretending to be blind to these injustices in their industries and the world. Ignoring it doesn't make it go away.
I'm just thankful that Amandla is using her platform wisely and sparking the conversation of race. The way she called out Kylie Jenner was so fucking G'd up. I was very proud of how she handled that situation because she didn't slander Kylie. Amandla intelligently pointed out Appropriation. We see it all the time. They love our culture but hate us. They want to make money and benefit off our art and culture but never speak up on injustices within our culture. They feel they don't have to and feel they're entitled to our culture anyway. Kylie responded back rudely and Amandla still didn't slander her and instead responded elaborately on her own Instagram profile. Amandla was criticized by White adults for calling out Kylie because in America white people are always the victim and Amandla the black kid isn't seen as a child but as a "Angry Black Woman" that is always complaining about some shit. Anytime a black woman disagrees with something and attempt to argue her point she's seen as "angry." In a industry ran by white people, Amandla Stenberg is taking a stance.
Amandla reminds you that she's black and beautiful every chance she gets and I love it. She does not give a fuck who doesn't like it because that's what represents her. The message she conveys needs to be spread because there are young black women and adult black women out there who don't believe they're beautiful and are afraid to love their black skin unconditionally and unapologetically because they feel like they're causing trouble or division. Afraid to wear their natural hair because they feel it's intimidating and it's not beautiful in white america. There's nothing wrong with loving your culture and Amandla understands this. Black is beautiful. When I was her age I would be worried about how I dressed because I didn't want to be judged or seen as a "thug" in a all white high school. I dressed how I wanted regardless but that fear was always in the back of my mind. Just knowing in my mind and heart that these white kids were thinking I was just another ghetto black boy that doesn't belong in this school. I didn't feel like answering questions on why I have my hair braided or telling me I can't get a job later in life if I have any hair on my head. Why I wear doo rags? Why I wear long tee's? Why I can dance and why they can't? Why I wear a headband? When I wear a headband I'm a gangsta but when Billy wears one he's a goofy hipster. It was literally like a 9-5 job to just get people to see me for me. I knew they would never accept me regardless so I just kept being myself and that's unapologetically black. I'm glad Amandla feels how she does about her culture at her age and in her profession.
Amandla Stenberg is a strong young black woman with a voice and her generation needs to hear it.