Being sex positive isn’t just about saying yes to sex all the time. It’s about championing black women’s right to make sexual choices that leave us feeling positive about our sexuality and our lives. So I’m a sex-positive black feminist saying: respecting black women’s celibacy is also part of loving black women’s beauty, self-definition, and sexuality.
— Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley
 
Photo by: Julia Levine

Photo by: Julia Levine

Photo by: Julia Levine

Photo by: Julia Levine

 

 

'ill na na' is a short film and movement piece that makes commentary on the intersection of black woman/femme-ness and sex positivity through the medium of dance. This concept trailer is an preliminary attempt at achieving my objective in exploring a narrative around this topic. The main goal being, to answer the thus far unanswerable question: "What does the sexual liberation of the Black femme body look like?" 

Kennedie King, the lead director and writer on this short, decided to collaboratively create a dance movement narrative from the discourse of a focus group she conducted in March with a few of the dancers. Her ideas have been birthed out of numerous conversations she began having last year with various Black women in her community. King wanted to see how differently the women in my life saw themselves in relation to "sexual liberation". Thus far, this process has been an eye opening journey that has allowed her to begin to conjure the answer to the question on which this film hinges, in both the private and artistic spheres.

MEET THE DANCERS

Zawadi Caroll

Jamie Dawson

Synovia Knox

Breana Taylor

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Give me your softest sin,

Your chewed nubs and bitten lips.

 

 

Give me your gentlest fear,

 

Let me make a swaddle

For this blaze of you.

Iʼm a humble rain.

 

Give me your harsh,

 

And I offer my forlorn.

Where do I descend

Upon our gold?

 

Give you this bark,

 

This arid language of mine.

And hope you will not

Shatter at the root.

 

Give you this mellow heart

 

And its field of quicksand

Where all of my wild shows

Itʼs teeth.

 

And here you are.

 

A walking glory

Still willing to take my hand.

Miona Short

ill na na is the 'RED' episode in the draping series line up of short films. King chose the color red to pair with this topic for both the obvious and more underlying reasons. Of course, the color red has strong imagery ties to the concept of sex positivity, hypersexualization of the Black femme body, and sex in general. But also when thinking about the history of Black women in film, she found it unavoidable to intervene upon the archaic constructions of Black women as the desexualized Mammy archetype, a caricature of Black women that was often depicted with a red head covering or durag. The significance of this pairing is more theoretical than concrete, essentially King is hoping this brief allusion to that imagery gives way to her ultimate goal of shifting the media system relationship of Black women, sex, and the red color red. The grounding of the narrative concept in movement more than words, is meant to represent the power of self definition through action. For King, each dancer moves there way into new definition by the conclusion of the narrative. Her use of Foxy Brown's 1996 hit 'ill na na' as muse, plays on this capacity for reclamation.