Black History Month Spotlight: The Grapevine

Black History Month Spotlight: The Grapevine

Introduction:

                   Doing these Black History Month Creator spotlights has been such a fun experience for both Taylor and I. Being able to introduce these amazingly talented creators to the greater community has been a truly fulfilling act of service in reverence to Black History Month. For our third installment of our Creator Spotlight I am going to be doing something a little different. Instead of highlighting a single creative, I am going to take the time to highlight an entire show. The Grapevine is a YouTube panel discussion based show that attempts to bring clarity to some of the most heated debates within the Black Community. By having rotating guests, The Grapevine allows for different perspectives to be explored publicly surrounding some of the biggest questions that are affecting the Black Community as a whole. Taylor recommended one of their videos to me a couple years ago, and I was instantly hooked.  

 

           (Photos from their instagram)

                 The show is structured like a dinner table discussion. The single host Ashley Akunna sits at the head of the long table, while the rotating guests sit around the table bringing with them their personal experiences and opinions on the topic. Ashley's job is to be the moderator though she adds her opinions every now and again. She acts as the firm hand that keeps the conversation on a clear and easily digestible path for the audience. As you may assume, these conversations often get heated and emotional so Ashely's role is incredibly important to the success of the show.

 (Photos from their instagram)

              The other important aspect of the show is the treasure trove of educated opinionated people that give The Grapevine a unique edge. Their panelists range from gay Black ministers to Black conservatives making the conversations rich with perspective. My absolute favorite aspect of The Grapevine is that it shows that Black people are not a Monolith, our opinions are as diverse as we are as a people.

 

Top Three Favorite Videos:

 

The Grapevine: African Americans vs. West Indians vs. Africans: 

                     The Black Diaspora is extremely diverse, and there are many intraracial issues that continue to divide us to this day. We are not always on the same page about everything, and nowhere is this more apparent than this series about Africans vs West Indians vs. African Americans. It is a multi part series that goes into depth about how we all view each other or are conditioned by our circumstances to see each other. Many people make the assumption that because we all came from the African Continent in one way or another, we all are one in the same, not true. This is the first of three episodes on this topic and you would be surprised at how quickly things get heated once the discussion is opened for everyone to discuss with each other. This is one of the earlier series of episodes that I stumbled upon and it really stuck with me. I was really unaware of the ways that African Americans are looked down upon widely within the diaspora. All people within the African Diaspora do not think the same, and that is shown clearly in this episode.

The Grapevine: The Relationship Between the Black and Latino Community:

           Within the corner of the internet that I participate in, the conversation about allyship and solidarity has been hashed and rehashed more times that I can count. This particular episode of The Grapevine focuses on the very special, and sometimes strained relationship between the Latinx community and the Black community. Existing in a White supremacist society is about survival for those who are constantly dominated by the rules of engagement. But not every race or culture is dominated in the exact same way, there is a hierarchy. White and Black are on opposite ends of the spectrum of privilege, but there are many races and cultures in between that enjoy certain privileges that phenotypically Black people have never had. This is why in every culture and race anti-blackness exists in a big way. The panelists in this discussion do a great job of discussing how complex it can be to self identify, and how isolating it can be to be Black in America. Especially when other POC’s who are dominated by the same system of White supremacy would rather look down their nose at us then work with us in solidarity.


The Grapevine: The Pressure to be Curvy

               Beauty standards are constantly changing and it has become increasingly more difficult to keep up with them due to the rise of Social Media. This phenomenon is particularly true for women and their already difficult relationship with their physical appearance. As people like the Kardashians have risen to stardom the hyper focus on the exaggerated hourglass body type as a performance of femininity has become the norm. As plastic surgery becomes less taboo and more affordable combined with the growing dependence on Social media to create a sense of self, many women have started to look very similar in both face and body. This particular episode was the first time someone put words to what I was beginning to see more and more on my explore page. The panelist discussed openly how this growing obsession with the curvy body has affected them personally, while also talking about the darker sides to this expression of femininity.

 

Conclusion:

 (Photos from their instagram)

                In conclusion, The Grapevine is doing a wonderful service to both the YouTube community and the Black Diaspora. By making a point to showcase different perspectives on extremely polarizing topics that affect the Black community. They are dismantling the common misconception that all Black people think the same and are motivated by the same things. Through showcasing this on an accessible platform like YouTube, people of all types have the ability to educate themselves on Black issues while also seeing us as individuals. The Grapevine is blurring the harsh dichotomy between Blackness and Whiteness by pushing for more rich nuanced conversations.

 

 (Photos from their instagram)

Follow Their Socials:

YouTube

Instagram/Twitter: @thegrapevinetv