20 Years Later, what does ‘Waiting to Exhale’ mean to Millennial women?

From Chapter 3 – Black Women as Cinematic “Other”

In the history of filmmaking, never has there been a period when the black female subject has enjoyed a prolonged spate of positive portrayals on screen. From the onset, black women’s cinematic representation has been an ambiguous one.

Waiting to Exhale

Taken from McMillan’s blockbuster novel, Waiting to Exhale tells the story of four women, each dealing with man troubles. Savannah Jackson (Whitney Houston), a TV producer who is having an affair with a married man; Bernadine Harris (Angela Bassett), a mother dealing with a messy divorce from a man who’s leaving her for a white woman; Robin Stokes (Lela Rochon) a young executive who is struggling with an aimless relationship; and Gloria Matthews (Loretta Devine), a single mother who pines for her ex-husband who has come out as gay. The women forge a friendship that carries them through their troubles.


There is a lot to admire about this story of four attractive and accomplished women. Their friendship and their celebration of black womanhood and sisterhood as well as their portrayal of professional women in contemporary film. As noted in the L.A. Times article,”Waiting to Exhale’ breathed life into films with ethnic casts and a woman’s point of view 20 years ago.” But, as we discussed in class, this film still subscribes to many of the traditional stereotypes that have plaqued black women throughout the history of film. 20 Years Later, what does ‘Waiting to Exhale’ mean to Millennial women?

Please incorporate the readings, any additional resources like articles and our class discussions. Make sure you review your response before posting, for grammar and spelling errors.



Claudine – Can the Welfare Queen be a Love Subject?


Consider the conversations we’ve had about romantic heroines and love objects vs sex objects and write about how it relates to Claudine. Which one is she more, or is she both? Claudine was portrayed as a Welfare Queen and a Jezebel throughout the film, in your response to this post talk about how this stereotyped framed her as well. I would like you to read this article, “Six Annoying Women Character Tropes in Black Romantic Comedies,” there is a section that relates to Claudine. I also added an article about The Moynihan Report that created the concept of the Welfare Quees. As always, incorporate the readings assigned, plus our discussions about the above topic with the two articles into your post. Below is a link to the film for those of you who missed the first or second half.

Warning: Before posting, write your thoughts in a word document. Please check for spelling and grammar and read it out loud to make sure your points make sense. If possible have someone read them as well, to make sure your argument/thoughts are clear. Make sure you are presenting your ideas to the best of your ability.

The Beauty Model, Colorism and the Images of Women of Color

For Extra Credit:


Pick 2-3 three articles that address Colorism and the Beauty Model and discuss as it related to either the short film Yellow Fewer, a tv show or film that favors or refers colorism. As always incorporate the readings, our discussions and refer to the content in this blog posts in your comments. Also see, the short film Yellow Fever which we viewed in class

Empire’s Grace Gealey Says She Didn’t Experience Colorism Until She Came to the US

Viola Davis as You’ve Never Seen Her Before: Leading Lady!

This Latina Is Calling Out Telenovelas For Being ‘Overtly White’

Why are there so few black female stars with darker skin?

What You Need To Know About Colorism, As Told By A Light Skinned Black Woman

Yellow Fever


Welcome to our 2nd class blog. After every film screening and/or with certain topics, you will be asked to comment on the blog. Please incorporate the readings and refer to scenes from the class screening. Feel free to add articles, quotes from other books or blogs (please credit your source) as well as film clips that relate to the topic.


Please connect the assigned reading on Black women as the “Other” and the “Social Deviant” to She’s Got To Have It. We talked briefly about the concept of the “symbolic whore” and the “good girl vs the bad girl”. How does that relate to his female protagonist, Nola Darling? Please review the article below on She’s Got To Have It and incorporate scenes from the film in your comments/arguments.

Dear White People and the new Black Cinematic Heroine

Dear White People, the new comedy of race and identity in the Obama-era US, is “a nonstop parade of barbed epigrams, cuttingly literate social observations”, writes Owen Gleiberman. Justin Simien, an African America filmmaker examines race and culture in a predominately white fictional college campus.


In Dear White People, we see re-imagined stereotypes of the Tragic Mulatto, Sapphire and Superwoman. Using quotes from Manatu and other resources examine how the filmmaker changes these stereotypes and what was his imagined goal in reinvisioning them. What does this say about how we are to look at black women in contemporary films, especially by African American filmmakers. Feel free to connect black female leads from other films and tv shows as an exmaple, including ones that we have already seen in class.



Zebrahead – Nikki, Love or Sex Object

In the film Zebrahead, Zach a white Jewish teenager in Detroit falls for Nikki, a young Black woman from Brooklyn. Nikki is an average teenager, “the girl next door,” but she is coded differently depending on who is looking at her. Incorporate the readings and our discussion about the film. What verbal and non-verbal messages/codes are used to define Nikki? Is she a love object or a sex object and how or when does it change? And how is hip hop music used in this film?


Coffy – The Superwoman and the Black Sexual Other in Blaxpolitation movies

We talked about Coffy being more than one sterotype, please discuss and explain why? Also, give examples of where this stereotype exist in current films/tv shows. In preparing your comments, think about some of the things we talked about in class as well as the non-verbal sexual behaviors overview I sent you. Again, please refer to the readings from previous classes and scenes from the film. I’m looking for everyone to post comments here by Monday evening and feel free to comment on each other’s post.


here is a link to the film for those who missed the first half, please watch it is you missed it so you can refer to scenes: Coffy