Here’s Why Some of the Black Community Is Driving #BoycottWomanKing on Social Media

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Who’s driving the #BoycottWomanKing trend on social media in protest of the Viola Davis-starring historical epic that hit theaters today? Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not the same people who dropped racist memes in reaction to the first look at Halle Bailey in Disney’s live-action “The Little Mermaid” trailer.

Critics don’t have an issue with Davis playing a strong Black leader in “The Woman King,” but are alarmed that the history of the Dahomey tribe, who sold other Africans into slavery, has been whitewashed.

“Time to Boycott the Woman King movie. The film is about the Dahomey & Benin that traded slaves into the transatlantic… This may be the most offensive film to Black Americans in 40-50 years,” wrote Los Angeles attorney and producer Antonio Moore.

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“Let’s be honest folk. It’s movie about a African tribe famous for selling slaves to Europeans that was made into a female empowerment story by two White women writers. You don’t have to be very “woke” to see the problem here,” wrote one Twitter user.

The film, which was cowritten by Dana Stevens and Maria Bello, who produced along with Davis and director Gina Prince-Bythewood of “Love & Basketball,” and “The Old Guard” fame, took seven years to make it to the screen.

Others see the hashtag as a racist and sexist move to get a film led by a Black woman to fail at the box office. “I’m not trusting any hashtag that tries to get a Black women led movie to fail. I’ll see it for myself and if it’s bad or spins history in a negative way so be it. But Viola & John are going to get my movie dollars. Suck on that, bots & ops,” wrote Christa Tomlinson.

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Another woman tweeted, “Do NOT #BoycottWomanKing Instead, learn more. The movie delves into the horrors of the slave trade and how it affected black women, especially. It doesn’t glorify slavery, it condemns it.”

“A lot of this is just veiled misogynoir,” wrote producer Princella D. Smith. “People really hate to see dark-skinned women have a platform other than many roles and struggle love roles. I saw the film. It does not whitewash what was happening between these African tribes. DO NOT #BoycottWomanKing

Black journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones also tweeted about the film a month before its release in August.

“It will be interesting to see how a movie that seems to glorify the all-female military unit of Dahomey deals with the fact that this kingdom derived its wealth from capturing Africans for the Trans-Atlantic slave trade,” she wrote.

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The film itself takes an anti-slavery stance, with Davis’ character General Nanisca speaking up about her kingdom’s participation in the slave trade a few times, begging King Ghezo (John Boyega) to separate Dahomey from the process since Black people are all their people.

While the film is based on historical accounts, some of the blank areas had to be filled in for the film. The character that Davis plays is largely fictional but may be rooted in a French officer’s account of seeing a young Black woman named Nanisca beheading a prisoner.

The action film, which opened with $1.7 million in Thursday night previews, is now playing on 3,765 screens and is expected to earn $12 million this weekend.

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