One of the beauties of womanhood and culture is that there is a natural desire to protect it. There is a feminine way of being a protector. In fact, creating a form of defense for the sacred circle of womanhood can be as natural as the very essence of woman, itself. There are numerous women who perform the role of the spiritual warrior. Sometimes, there are women who perform such a character, through the performing arts. Whether that be on film, or on the theater stage, these women remind us of the world of femininity, and its domain of security-emotiomal and mental. The ability to repel forces, which are not life-sustaining or nurturing to our womanhood is key!
Every culture has their symbol of spiritual warriors. There are a number of people who are part of that world. That sacred realm of protection, and the protection of children, within those gardens. Black America’s gardens are no exception to that very rule. In fact, the Soulful 70’s was one of the most profound and vivacious times for Black American womanhood, and the art of repelling negative energy. When you think of that image-that Sista’ girl, Soulphyllic, funkadelic Soulful vibe, what feminine image comes to mind? Take a guess, a VERY WILD GUESS! If the name, PAM GRIER, has entered your head, then you have guessed right!
She was FIERCE! She was FIRE! Complementing with her power was her feminine charm, beauty, and mystique! Forget about the notion of the helpless, peaceful, and quiet Black American girl, who doesn’t fight back. In this case, Pam Grier was the live-action Superhero, that every Black American woman wanted to be, and secretly still, desires to be. What made Pam Grier so mystical and nourishing to our people, to our women folk, is that she laid in her femininity, while doing a lot of the grunt work. Her natural FRO’ illuminated one of the signature styles of Black America’s culture. Of course, there are those beautiful images of her being highlighted in nature’s delight; capturing herself in the garden.
In watching many of her films, she was natural. There was a natural glow in her mystique. During her fight scenes, and noted characters such as Foxy Brown, there was always a naturalness to her vibe. She was Earthly. She was real. People vibed and connected to her nature and every move. On an even greater note, she related to the people. Her people, in fact. Social issues of the time were place on the table. Creatively, they were placed on the table for all to see. It was beautiful and nourishing. Not to mention entertaining and adventurous.
In Black America’s gardens, Pam Grier is our spiritual warrior. From the characters she chose to the way she performed them. There was often a sacred and secure aura about Pam Grier. In her world, Black American women were safe and protected. We were vocal and protected within our communities. The beautiful thing about it is, that fighting back didn’t equate to losing our feminine essence. On the contrary, her high action-kicked roles affirmed that Black American women were active within our communities; safeguarding the feminine role, while ensuring that she was still as vigilant, as ever.
Another important feature of spiritual warriors is that in protecting others, they are able to showcase their own vulnerabilities. Many lessons are to be learned from this. Such was very essential for Black American women, during that period, as it erased notions of the “strong, Black woman.” In her notable character of Foxy Brown, Pam Grier exhibited a level of strength, while also reflecting a softness to her femininity. Expressing her character’s pain is one of the highlights of that 1970’s era. Being unapologetically honest about that pain was crucial in the most authentic capturing of Black American womanhood.
Finally, there was the theme of justice. Throughout many of her roles, Pam Grier did not simply “turn the other cheek,” when it came to righting the wrongs. In fact, that’s what made her characters, and performances, so memorable. There was always a way of bringing beauty towards re-claiming whatever had been taken from her. Getting those who had wronged her, to the pain of what she was experiencing was always part of her character’s persona. She would not suffer in silence with her pain. It was meant to be shared; meant to be experienced. In her world, blind forgiveness was an insult. Crying silently, or hurting away in a private view, was an insult to the very existence of her characters. Such was pivotal in the world of Black American womanhood and culture. Too often, our foremothers had been programmed to neglect their pain for the comfort of others. Moving like smiling zombies, so that others don’t feel “uncomfortable,” to reality’s lies. A reality that others not like them did not want to see, as it reminded them of their own falsehoods. Reminding them that their social standing was due to having scapegoated and undermined Black American womanhood; while using her culture and community for their own pleasures. Yet, all the while they claimed that she-the Black American flower-was unfeminine, “no good,” content within one’s social standing, and invisible within her own gardens. Pam Grier defied all of these social agreements. Furthermore, she defied all of this while being feminine, fierce, and phenomenal. She did not lose the naturalness of her womanhood when playing these characters. For that, she remains a Shero, within Black America’s cultural gardens and aesthetics.
The wonders of Pam Grier is that she became the real life Supershero, that many Black American women aspired to, during this time. And, the 1970’s were crucial times. Furthermore, it brought a number of underlying themes to the table. One of those themes, related to the reclaimation of our Being as gatekeepers of our womanhood, and cultural identity. Through Pam Grier, we were not silent about our pain, desires, dreams, and wishes. In Pam Grier’s world, we did not play nice, or accept the crumbs handed to us. No. We were nourished in our womanhood, and femininity. We demanded recognition and comfort in our own spaces. If anyone decided to “remove us,” or “devalue us,” within our particular spacing. Let it be known that the repelling of such forces would take place. Our SuperShero powers would rise, and we would ensure that every part within our womanhood would arise to protect the treasures, that our mothers had left for us. This is the gem, and legacy, of Pam Grier’s career on film. She performed the spiritual warrior for Black America’s maiden and mother images. And, she was able to fall in love, and experience the aesthetics of her womanhood.
Spiritual warriors come in different shapes and forms. They fight in different ways. There are different strategies in their protection of the garden. Nevertheless, always keep in mind that they are part of the realm of protection; one that is as old and ancient as time. For Black American women, it doesn’t matter the past pains of slavery, or the decades of injustice. Spiritual warriors and maidenal images always come back in some shape or form. Those Black American women, who perform their roles as the Maiden, Mother, and Spiritual Warrior are a blessing to our very community. For it is they who have held onto, and preserved our feminine aesthetics, during a time when others worked tirelessly to erase our feminine image. Doing it purposefully, in order to have easy access within our communities, and the riches it entails. Our authentic Black American cultures-that, which we created, from our own soiling, experiences, and journeys in these United States of America. Our Spiritual warriors have done the work of ensuring that it is so. That it will always be, so. It is for that reason that they are celebrated in the sacred workings of our gardens. That Soulful, Funky, Sista’ Girl swag, which highlights one of the very personas of Black American culture. So, right on, Foxy. Water every plot, growing from our soiling. After all, foxes always come to the pond, to be watered and to drink.