A Beautiful Portrayal of Black Womanhood **spoiler alert**
First dates are typically a beautiful disaster. You’ve made a conscious decision to show a complete stranger your impostor-self, with the hope that the real you can come forward. You want all the boxes checked but expectations are not that high – at least that’s what you tell yourself.
Imagine slow-dancing with a guy you’ve known for only a couple of days. You’re staring deep into each other’s eyes. He asks, “How do you want to be loved?” No one has ever asked you that before but it doesn’t mean you don’t have an answer.
“I want him to show me scars I never knew I had. But I don’t want him to make them go away,” Queen says in an assured voice-over. “I want him to hold my hand while I nurse them myself. And I want him to cherish the bruises they leave behind.”
In Queen and Slim, a black couple is on the run since shooting a white police officer dead and have made time stand still – just for a moment - at a Louisiana juke joint.
Queen’s response washed over me like a flood. She reminded black women that we’re not crazy for wanting that kind of love from our partners. In a country that dehumanizes us, asking to be understood is a sin. Queen and Slim depicts black womanhood without the typical tropes, all while centering a dark-skinned female lead.
There have been far too many movies that miss the mark when presenting black women – Deliver Us From Eva, Think Like a Man I and II, or any of Tyler Perry’s films.
Queen and Slim exposes Queen’s vulnerabilities without stripping her of being a real person. In the beginning of the movie, she is actually snooty and unlikable. Slim continues to peel away her layers, even though it seems this date is over before it began. The night ends with him driving Queen home.
However, the night takes a turn when a racist police officer pulls them over for a traffic violation. He tries to arrest Slim but Queen speaks out. The situation escalates and Slim shoots the officer dead in self-defense.
Queen uses her voice and makes all the decisions about what they need to do. At times, Slim doubts her judgment but eventually follows her lead.
In one scene, he calls her crazy and wonders if she knew the officer had killed a black man. To which Queen replies: “It should be a sin to call a black woman crazy.”
Too often black women are called angry and aggressive. What is refreshing about Queen is that she understands how the world sees her as a black woman yet continues to move boldly.
Queen immediately protects Slim; a man she just met on Tinder. This comes from her own experience as a lawyer. It reflects a world in which black women rise up to protect their communities – particularly the black men. On social media, we often say trust black women, and this movie does not ignore that.
What also stands out for me is that she is not burdened with all the responsibility. Slim begins to contribute with his idea to go to Cuba, he calms her fears without flinching, and takes care of her dislocated shoulder. With each situation that happens, their relationship grows and becomes balanced.
Towards the end of the movie, we see Queen vulnerable and reveal her trauma to Slim. He loves her instead of becoming another one of her scars.
Black Girl Magic takes on a new meaning in this movie. “I really wanted her to feel like a human being, not a ‘Magical Negro,’” Turner-Smith told me. “I understand we love to talk about black girl magic, but sometimes that is a term that allows people to put us in this character like we’re not real people that feel real things.”
Queen and Slim shows an accurate portrayal of black womanhood: a multi-dimensional black woman falling in love and standing firm in the center of chaos.