Monday, February 21, 2011

Black Moses Barbie: Another Black History Month Failure

Black Moses Barbie (Harriet Tubman Commercial) (1 of 3) from pierre bennu on Vimeo.

The following is the blurb that goes along with the video.
This mock commercial for a Black Moses Barbie toy celebrating the legacy of Harriet Tubman is part of Pierre Bennu's larger series of paintings and films deconstructing and re-envisioning images of people of color in commercial and pop culture.
 Transcript below the fold via Racialicious

Music: Mmmmmmmm (woo woo woo)….Black Moses Baaaar-bieeeee.
Runaway Ken: Oh no! I think we’re lost!
Runaway Christie: (Simultaneously) We’ll never be free!
Black Moses Barbie: Hey kids! Looking for freedom?
Black Ken: It’s Harriet Tubman!
Black Christie: It’s Black Moses!
Black Moses Barbie: On the other side of this tree you’ll find a cave. Go through the cave, make a quick left–
Runaway Ken and Runaway Christie: –mmm hmmmm–
Black Moses Barbie: –and you’ll see a boat.
Runaway Ken and Runaway Christie: –okay–
Black Moses Barbie: Inside of that boat you’ll see a pair of oars…
Runaway Ken and Runaway Christie:
Black Moses Barbie: …FREEDOM oars!
Runaway Ken and Runaway Christie: WWWOW!
Black Moses Barbie: Paddle north and make your way to freedom.
Runaway Ken: Runaway Christie?
Runaway Christie: Yeah, Runaway Ken?
Runaway Ken: This is all kind of scary.
Black Moses Barbie: Freedom–true freedom–is daunting.
Runaway Christie: I know, Runaway Ken, but–
Black Moses Barbie: –you’ve come this far, but you have to know you’re ready.
Runaway Christie: You know she’s been known to hold a gun on folks who…hesitate.
Black Moses Barbie: I never ran my train off the track–
(Sound of shotgun loading)
Black Moses Barbie: –and I never lost a passenger.
Runaway Ken: (singing) Doo doo de doo  be doo doo–
Runaway Christie: (simultaneously) Oookay.  Walking, walking, walking to freedom–
Runaway Ken: –for me.
Music: Mmmmmm mmmm mmmmmm.
Announcer: Black Moses Barbie comes complete with Motivational Freedom Rifle. Freedom Oars sold separately. 

I am going to keep this short because I think that it is obvious that this is some pure ish.  I understand the attempt to refresh history to encourage the younger generation to learn about their past but this is not the way to do it.  Watching this video made it seem like the wonderful accomplishments of Harriet Tubman were erased.  She was more that just a conductor on the underground railroad.  She helped ex-slaves adjust to their lives in Canada and in fact, her church still stand in St. Catherines Ont.  She was a spy and a scout for the union army, for which she was denied her rightful pension.  

No life as great as Harriet Tubman should ever be reduced to a ridiculous barbie commercial.  Once again this is yet another example of the lives of Black women be simplified and "othered".