Through the looking glass.

Don’t put your heart into something your people aren’t permitted to own or have a hand in creating.

It’s the hardest lesson to learn—especially if one has no alternatives available created by one’s people. We wish to identify with characters whose faces resemble our own, to bask in the validation it provides. We exist. We are of value. But what black people must know, especially when it comes to the media we encounter, is that content we do not own or have not created can easily be used to hurt us—either through the swift erasure of black people and the whitewashing of black characters to appeal to potential non-black audiences, heavily weighted negative stereotypes that result in discrimination, or the financial exploitation of black people. For that which is created specifically for black audiences sans any input from black people is a product devoid of black culture designed to siphon money from the African diaspora while providing nothing in return.

We want to be touched by the art we consume, to give ourselves over to the emotions elicited. And we should, no matter the creator or creation. But we should not search for our reflections in that which has not been shaped by our hand. For paper mirrors fashioned for us by those who are not us are not mirrors at all.