White women please stop whining about wining. This week, U.K-born American sweetheart John Boyega was in the midst of a scandal for attending the Notting Hill Carnival. Chaos ensued online when Boyega posted a video to his Instagram of himself wining and grinding on a woman in traditional garb surfaced. White feminists were aghast that a hero they had fallen for would dare participate in celebrating a culture that did not center them. Many took to Twitter to denounce the perceived degradation of the woman that Boyega was dancing with. However, they failed to acknowledge the context of the traditional dance.
Carnival is typically a week-long celebration of culture similar to Mardi Gras that takes place all over the world. It consists of street performances, costumes, parade floats and, most importantly, dancing. The Notting Hill Carnival is one of the largest festivals to take place in Europe.
Unless you live under a rock, you have likely seen pictures of Rihanna slaying the festival that takes place in her home country of Barbados every year. When I’ve seen the images of her and other Black celebrities, I have never once envisioned them as victims or lacking strength, which Boyega’s critics insisted was the case for the woman that he was dancing with in the video. White feminism is quick to objectify Black women and strip us of any agency we have in situations they may not agree with. The policing of a Black woman’s sexuality is nothing new, especially from white women.
Like so many other things, John Boyega does not belong to white women. Being the star of a blockbuster film likely gave white people a sense of ownership over how he should behave and conduct himself on and off screen. Captioning one post “The force was in my hip type situation,” The Star Wars actor was clearly living his best life with no regrets. But critics disagreed, stating that strong women wouldn't be seen participating in such activities as gyrating in scantily clad cultural costumes.
But Boyega’s unapologetically Black Twitter responses were part of the reason Black people, including myself, fell in love with him. Perhaps it was his British accent that made him more palatable for white people but the actor has always been vocal in his celebration of Blackness.
(Photo: John Boyega via Instagram)
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