'Pariah': Black Lesbian Identity In A Black Movie

'Pariah': Black Lesbian Identity In A Black Movie

Learn about the 2011 Indie Film that focuses on a topic not covered by mainstream media: black identity.

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I am a little late in the game, but I will be doing a series of four articles on movies for black history month. The first one is one of my favorites, "Pariah".

It is a beautifully done Indie film, and in fact, debuted at the same Sundance Film Festival as "Precious" in 2011. Whereas "Precious" is loud and depends on the abuse of the black female body as a vehicle, "Pariah" is quiet, questioning, and real.

"Pariah" is an exploration of identity in several ways. Alike, who is a black lesbian, starts the movie by dressing and trying to play the part of a stud. She dresses in masculine clothing and goes to the club with her friend, Laura, to dance and flirt with women. When Alike goes home, she changes into pink feminine clothing, the identity her church involved mother, Audrey, wants her to have.

What makes this movie great is that there is an open conversation about black female sexuality and it is a comfortable conversation. There is homophobia, but it tends to come from the older generation of men and women who attend church. Women dance with each other, flirt with each other, sit on each other, kiss each other, talk about wanting to have sex with each other, and the judgment of the outside world stays outside.

The penultimate moment of the movie is when Alike meets Bina, who has the same interests as her. They sleep together and after, Bina tells her that it was a one night stand because she isn't "gay gay", another identity that this movie explores. What it means to sleep with women and have a sexual relationship with women, but ultimately want a romantic and intimate relationship with men.

Alike cries, but this is the moment that makes her grow and solidifies her as a person.

Later in the film, during the climax, her parents have an explosive fight and Alike intervenes, only for Audrey to shove her against a wall. Alike asserts that she is gay and that there is nothing wrong with her.

There are also several tropes that this movie subverts. Even though Alike's father, Arthur, is very much present in her life. He encourages her self-expression and protects her from men who get creepy on her. While he floats back and forth on his opinion of her sexuality, he chooses to be there for her in the end. He is still home for her.

There is also a stereotype that black folk are extremely homophobic and unaccepting, which is blatantly untrue. "Pariah" shows a community that mainstream media is not interested in because it isn't dramatic and it isn't hateful. It's complex, rich, and comes with its own set of rules.

This movie also subverts the trope of the "teacher savior", when a teacher (most of the time a white teacher), comes in and turns the students' grades around for the better. Alike's teacher reads her assignment and tells her that it was good, but that she was so much more capable. She didn't save her. She challenged her.

The saddest part of the movie is the very last time Alike speaks to her mom. Yes, there is a trope that black women are jealous and get loud and abusive when they learn of a potential affair.

In this case, Audrey's whole life revolves around her reputation and the church. Her instant reaction to both Arthur and Alike are to push them away. Which justifies her fight with them more so than undirected anger. The movie also gives Audrey a chance to explain herself when Alike speaks with her the last time.

Alike wants Audrey to accept her, and Audrey wants Alike to fit her vision. Both are quiet. Both are steadfast rocks. At this moment the viewer is allowed to hope that Audrey will change and accept Alike in the future. They have a mature, calm confrontation that is not given to black folk in mainstream media. And it is so refreshing.

"Pariah" explores black identity with care. There are no white folk in the film, and the frame keeps us within this community. We watch hearts breaks, issues arise and settle, and ultimately, Alike finds her own identity as a writer. "Pariah" is worth watching, if only for a taste of something that is never showcased.

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10 Great Disney Movies That Also Teach Important Life Lessons

The best way to teach a life lesson is through song and some awesome animation.
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While children's movies are silly, fun and enjoyable overall, they also usually teach life lessons as well. No one does this better than Disney. Hidden within the catchy songs and great animation are important lessons about friendship, love and going for what you believe is right. Here are 10 great Disney movies that have taught so many people important lessons.

1. "Lilo and Stitch"

Lilo and Stitch is an overall fun movie about an alien experiment that become the pet of a human girl and the develop a lasting friendship. The life lesson this movie teaches is that someone does not need to be related to you by blood in order to be family. Also, that just because someone is different, that does not mean that they should not be treated fairly. Lilo was able to see past Stitch's weird looks and behavior and loved him just like she would love any pet. Eventually her sister learned to love Stitch as well and accepted him as part of the family.

2. "Mulan"

Mulan is one of my favorite Disney movies because of the lesson it teaches, to be yourself and to do what you believe is right, even if other people disagree with you. This movie is a classic honor story where Mulan goes to fight in the war in the place of her father to prove herself, even though she knows if she is discovered it will bring dishonor to her family. I think this movie is so important for kids because is shows that you can do what ever you want regardless of your gender. This movie also emphasizes the strength of girl power and that having a pretty face is not everything.

3. "The Lion King"

Another Disney classic, the Lion King follows the story of Simba as he grows and becomes the eventual leader of his pack after a heated battle with his uncle. This movie teaches kids about loss, regret and not being afraid to face your fears. The central conflict of this story is when Mufasa dies trying to save Simba and Simba blames himself for his father's death and leaves his pack because he is afraid to face everyone. When his evil uncle Scar takes control he knows he has to go back and faces his fear of rejection and blame to help his family.

4. "Frozen"

Frozen was an instant phenomenon with catchy tunes and the power of sisterly love. This story teaches kids that there is nothing wrong with independence and sometimes all the support you ever need is support from your family. This story also teaches kids that it is not good to suppress your emotions because eventually all that pent up energy will come out in a bad way.

5. "Beauty and the Beast"

Another classic, this movie follows the story of an avid reader who ends up having to serve who the town call a monster but Belle sees through his thick skin to his kind heart. This movies teaches us that you cannot judge a book by its cover and that it is who someone is inside that counts. Also that reading is awesome and having knowledge is power.

6. "The Princess and the Frog"

This is another girl power story where a middle class girl wants to open her own restaurant because that was always her father's dream and no matter what she is willing to do what she needs to in order to succeed. This movie teaches the importance of hard work and determination and teaches children that they can do what ever they put their minds, even if all the odds are against them.

7. "Tangled"

"Tangled" is a fun loving movie about an eccentric girl who decides to venture out of the tower she has been trapped in her whole life and goes on the adventure of a lifetime.This movies shows us that sometimes the people who are supposed to care for us or claim to care for us do not actually have our best interest in mind and that it is okay to go outside of your comfort zone.

8. "Brave"

"Brave" follows Merida, a feisty girl who does not like to take orders but this gets her into some trouble with her mom and their relationship is put to the test. This movie teaches children that while sometimes you might fight with your mom, family is very important and having the ability to listen to each other is all it takes. Also, this movie teaches children that there is nothing wrong with not conforming to gendered beliefs and activities and that there is nothing wrong with being independent.

9. "Cinderella"

This is a classic just deserts movie where the good, taken-advantaged-of person gets the guy and the evil people get nothing. This story teaches us that treating people meanly gets you no where in life and that if you do what is right, even when the odds are against you, then you will be rewarded.

10. "Mary Poppins"

Last but certainly not least, "Mary Poppins" the story of an out of this world nanny who is both strict but also magical. Poppins teaches us that we should always strive for perfection and that you can both work and have fun at the same time and having an imagination is not a bad thing either. She also teaches the hard lesson of being able to say goodbye and move on to the next opportunity when the time comes.


Cover Image Credit: Pintrest

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If These 31 Marvel Heroes Slythered In To Hogwarts Houses, Here's Who Would Be Sorted Into What

31 of the best characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe meet the world of Harry Potter.

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When nerd worlds collide: the Harry Potter franchise and Marvel Cinematic Universe are some of the highest grossing fantasy worlds to date. From fantastic creatures and magic to superheroes and intergalactic battles, these two worlds are certainly not cut from exactly the same cloth.

With that said, the major characters in each do have a lot of the same qualities. Characteristic of the best heroes, many characters in the Marvel movies—and not just the Avengers—show exceptional bravery, loyalty, cleverness and a willingness to bend the rules for personal gain.

Obviously, while my girlfriend and I (both avid Potterheads since middle school) caught up on the movies before seeing Captain Marvel, we inevitably ended up sorting the main few, which snowballed into a full-blown Sorting Ceremony during which every Marvel character we could think of was assigned a House.

This was a lot of fun for both of us. However, each character was sorted with a complete understanding of their history and what happened to and because of them in the movies. Therefore, this list is equipped with many spoilers, so be forewarned as you venture forth into this excruciatingly deliberated list.

With that, we're going, to begin with the Ravenclaws, and yes, it is because I'm a Ravenclaw and extremely biased.

1. Tony Stark aka Iron Man: Ravenclaw

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At first blush, our first Avenger in the lineup would appear to be a Gryffindor with all the heroism. However, as his skills with technology are the vessel he uses to complete his heroics, he is the first Ravenclaw of the bunch.

2. Pepper Pots: Ravenclaw

Following closely behind her hubby is Ms. Pepper Pots, the on again-off again girlfriend of Tony Stark and CEO of Stark Industries. She's as brilliant as she is beautiful which makes them two little ravens in heaven.

3. Banner: Ravenclaw

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Banner all-natural is one of the easiest pegs for a Ravenclaw. The man is obsessed with science, technology and learning and makes sure to use those qualities for the greater good.

4. Dr. Strange: Ravenclaw

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Another obvious pick for a Ravenclaw is Dr. Steven Strange. Even after leaving the medical field due to an injury he just devoted himself to a different type of study. Also, his cleverness seems to have had a major impact on the course of the infinity wars, which hopefully will be explained a little better in End Game.

5. Vision: Ravenclaw

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Vision, literally created from the Mind Stone, is a no brainer (no pun intended? I think there's a pun in there.) Watching his development into a conscious humanoid was a beautiful process, and no one deserves justice more than him.

6. Gamora: Ravenclaw

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Gamora is one of the 5 of the Guardians of the Galaxy from the first and second movie, as well as the love interest of Star-Lord. I'll admit, I placed her in Slytherin first because of her connection to Thanos. It was my lovely girlfriend that made me reconsider, and I decided that she is more so clever by nature and just got dealt the worst of cards.

7. Clint Barton aka Hawkeye:  Ravenclaw

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Clint is another that appears Gryffindor on the surface, but just like with Iron Man, it comes down to his fighting style. Hawkeye, besides the fact that he literally has a bird in his alter-ego name, is calculated and technical in his approach to archery and consistently uses brain along with his brawn.

8. Shuri: Ravenclaw

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Shuri is the sister of King T'Chala of Wakanda and first appeared in "Black Panther." She is truly the brains behind the whole operation—no one is a better wiz with the vibranium than that lady.

9. Wong: Ravenclaw

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Wong's first appearance was in the Dr. Strange movie as a keeper of the ancient texts of the Mystic Arts. His devotion to protecting the knowledge they possess and upholding the Kamar-Taj's mission leaves no doubt where he'd be sorted.

10. Nick Fury: Ravenclaw

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The leader of the whole shabang: Fury almost got put in Slytherin, among others. The reasoning behind that was because he's got so much, well, fury. He's practically a force of nature. However, he ended up in Ravenclaw because of the position he holds. His job requires him to be analytical, selectively secretive, good at coordinating a lot of moving parts and pragmatic in how he allocates skill sets. He can also be considered an expert in his field, but the details of that are in Captain Marvel which I refuse to spoil for anyone.

11. Steve Rogers aka Captain America: Hufflepuff

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The official/unofficial leader of our Hufflepuffian crew is Captain America, embodying everything that makes up a true Hufflepuff. Cap. shows loyalty to anyone and everyone, even Iron Man after their battle in Civil War. His loyalty to Bucky and Peggy Carter transcends nearly a decade, and his leadership of the Avengers rivals only Tony.

12. Peter Parker aka Spider-Man: Hufflepuff

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This adorable little munchkin earns a spot in this group for his friendship. Though he is both brave and extremely intelligent, he never loses his fun-loving devotion to the team and their efforts. This comprises of the bulk of his personality at this age, and was the youngest of the team...hopefully still is. We'll see in June.

13. Peter Quill aka Star Lord: Hufflepuff

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The first of the Guardians of the Galaxy is also the protagonist of the movies. Peter Quill is half human one that the Sorting Hat would've taken an extra minute or two on. Part of me wanted to put him in Slytherin for his lawless excursions, but he really is the glue that keeps the Guardians together, showing above par instincts for friendship and teamwork.

14. Groot: Hufflepuff

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The next Guardian to fall under Hufflepuff, and one of my personal favorites of the whole franchise, shows his total devotion to his friends, compassion for living things and appreciation for life through his three-word large vocabulary. I hope I can speak for us all when I say, " We are Groot."

15. Drax: Hufflepuff

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The final Guardian from the orignial 5 to earn the badgerish honor is Drax, and primarily for his heart breaking quest to avenge the death of his wife and child. He's not the only character in the franchise to be on this type of mission, but his devout perseverance in this light as well as his affection for his friends proves despite his fierce appearance that hes an under-cover softy.

16. Mantis: Hufflepuff

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Though she came a little late to the game, appearing for the first time in the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Mantis would be an easy pick for Hufflepuff merely from her powers as an empath. However, she thrives under the label even more because of her sensitivity and gigantic heart as a newer, softer side to this team of misfits.

17. Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow: Hufflepuff

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Black Widow, affectionately nicknamed "Nat," was another tricky one to organize. I thought a woman as murderous, skilled and resilient as that had to be a Slytherin. But, again, I was blinded by her past instead of judging her on her actions. I feel bad for her because she really does her best in Civil War, and always really, to keep the gang together. However, she shows particular devotion to her partner Hawkeye, Cap and Banner if her affections are returned even to the slightest degree.

18. Okoye: Hufflepuff

Photo by Black Panther on Instagram

The Wakandan general is far easier to place than a few of the others. She is self-admittedly entirely devoted to protecting her king and her country. This is proven time and time again, most devastatingly when she must let the former queen, S.H.E.I.L.D agent and princess Shuri venture into the wilderness alone, opting to stay behind and protect the community instead under the rule off Killmonger. Though, this beautiful quality makes the open wound that is Infinity Wars all the worse.

19. King T'Challa aka Black Panther: Gryffindor

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It seemed only fitting that this natural born leader follow his fierce general as the first of the Gryffindors. T'CHalla as a Gryffindor is a slam dunk. He's brave, instinctively takes charge, is virtuous, merciful and fair. He also has an obvious love for his country and the well being of all men, which is why his addition as a sort-of Avenger was a game changer.

20. Thor: Son of Oden: Gryffindor

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Another one of my personal favorites (although its because he looks like a big lesbian) is the king of Asgard and also another easy placement. I mean, he literally wears the Gryffindor colors for god's sake. Another selfless leader, skilled in combat and wise beyond his years, Marvel fans look forward to seeing how Thor overcomes all odds yet again to save more than just the Norse and Asgardians.

21. Heimdall: Gryffindor

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Heimdal is another mythological character from the realm of Thor and is one of the most faultless characters in the franchise. Practically every time he appears in a movie he sacrifices himself to protect others. He assists Thor in countless adventures and takes it upon himself to hide the Asgardians in Ragnarok totally of his own accord. He was an invaluable addition to the group and deserved better.

22. Bucky: Gryffindor

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Behind the literally tortured past and the absolute sh*t storm he endured, Bucky has roots in Gryffindor. In fact, its what bonds he and Rogers together so eternally. He readily joined the army before becoming the Winter Soldier and hated himself for the crimes he was forced to commit. Also, he never failed to stand up for Rogers and defend their friendship, which, as it turns out, it would appear he would do for anyone.

23. Sam Wilson aka Falcon: Gryffindor

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Wilson fell into this House for his morals. From his first appearance in Winter Soldier he had a strict moral compass that dictated all of his decision making. The eternal partner to Captain America, he unquestioningly follows Cap. in to battle merely because he believes in Cap's judgement and priorities. Although they may break a law or two in the process, Falcon's focus stays clear.

24. James Rhodes aka War Machine: Gryffindor

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The last of the Gryffindor fellows is the closest comrade of Iron Man, using a suit of his own whilst on retainer for the military, and also a total boy scout. He foils Wilson in that his devotion to the rules is not dictated by his own standards, but by the law of the land. In fact, he abandons Tony at one point and sides with the government instead. This can be seen as honorable from one perspective, but its why I'm not as fond of him as I am Falcon.

25. Loki: Slytherin

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The leader of the Slytherin tribe is the character that everybody loves to hate. He is a total butt head, and I'm not just saying that because my girlfriend has the biggest crush on Tom Hiddleston. He's known as the trickster and it totally motivated by his own but surprises even himself sometimes by showing acts of kindness when he's not faking his own death (which happens often.) If he were to pull out one more spectacular trick, I, for one, would not be mad.

26. Hulk: Slytherin

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I know what you're thinking, and no, its not just because he's green. I separated the Big Guy from Banner for a reason, and it's because they're two totally distinct and different characters. Ragnarok taught us that, too, among other things. He's a Slytherin for a few reasons, and most of them are easy to spot: he selfishly buries Banner for huge amounts of time to get some glory and fame, doesn't prioritize a fight even if it means saving people and is just a naturally angsty boy.

27. Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch: Slytherin

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This is one that's still being hotly debated by my girlfriend and me, but I'm stubbornly standing by my decision. For one, she did spend ample time on the dark side, and apparently enjoyed her time there. Though she feels guilt for the destruction she caused in Civil War and despairs over taking life, she still has a streak of self-preservation that can't be ignored.

This is reinforced in Infinity Wars with her obsessive protection of Vision, and while some may argue that this shows loyalty (cough, Melanie, cough cough) it is not extended to the rest of the group. Therefore, this is proof that she was still looking out for her own interests defending her man so desperately—and for someone who has lost as much as she, who can blame her for giving so much to the one sable loved one she has left?

28. Rocket: Slytherin

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This one isn't so hard to grasp, what with his history of thievery and being conniving. While he's got mad love for his other Guardians, he has a harder time accepting his place in society, and frankly hates himself a little bit. He, too, shows loyalty to a selective few and has moments where he deviates from character, but makes it clear time and time again that he'd put saving his own skin before anything else.

29. Scott Lang aka Ant Man: Slytherin

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Another that smoothly falls into place was Scott Lang, the ex-cat burglar. He mainly earned this spot for his almost inability to follows the rules. Although he shows his complexity as a character by working in a team on more than one occasion, at the same time he's usually getting something out of it in return. The ongoing battle for the rights to his daughter also reaffirm this classification, for he breaks rules to see and protect her despite his ex-wife's, the new husband's and the court's wishes.

P.S./Confessional: The Wasp is not included in the line up because I just have yet to see the squeal to the first "Ant Man." I apologize for my ineptitude.

30. Nebula: Slytherin

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Nebula is the second one my lady and I strongly disagree on. To put it plainly, I see her as a Slytherin purely because she came from the bad side, also a daughter of Thanos and sister to Gamora, and she definitely liked it. For a while there she was all for daddy's plan to wipe out half of all living beings. Even though she had a change of heart in the second Guardians movie, Snape in the Harry Potter series did the same and he was still a true Slytherin—some would say even the best thing to come from the House.

31: Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel: Gryffindor

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After we got through the bad Slytherins (I kid, I kid), I figured we'd end on a hopeful note, true to the most recent Avenger movie. the Captain is a ray of sunshine in these dark, dark days. I'll be careful not to put any spoilers here as the movie is so new, but she is easily a top contender for one of the most powerful and bad a*s heroes ever to come from the Universe. At first, I was a little peeved the Avengers had done so much work to protect the Earth and she was MIA the whole time, but her arrival is nothing short of timely, and I truly believe she has the leadership and ability to handle anything that End Game sends their way. For this, and many other reasons I won't name, she really is a true Gryffindor.

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