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zoe kravitz catwoman, catwoman black

Cover of "Catwoman: Nine Lives of a Feline Fatale."

Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, is a quintessential Batman villain … slash accomplice … slash on-again-off-again love interest. But outside of her relationship status with Bruce Wayne, Catwoman is a fascinating character in her own right.

Agile, clever, dangerous, independent—selfish even—yet still a consistent champion for the disenfranchised. She has no loyalty to the status quo and plays by her own rules. She never really needs a hero, because she acts as her own savior.

the batmanCover of "Catwoman #59" by Adam Hughs upload.wikimedia.org

She has all these fascinating layers, and as a Catwoman fan I find it tragic that often in film adaptations, this character is portrayed in one of two ways: either as a sex object or as a foil to the main (male) hero.

However, two actresses of color—Zoë Kravitz and Eartha Kitt before her—transcend the tropes and embody Catwoman’s essential qualities, each in their own distinctly masterful way. Because of their boldness, Catwoman is not only a more dynamic character, she’s a compelling symbol for Black female empowerment.

To geek out a little further on the subject, I spoke with Jamie Broadnax of Black Girl Nerds, a blog turned multimedia outlet that explores all things at “the intersection of geek culture and Black feminism.” Who better to team up with, right?

black girl nerdsJamie Brodnax.Photo of Jamie Broadnax, used with permission

Together, we explored the social impact both Kitt and Kravitz portrayal had on everyone’s favorite feline fatale.

(For the sake of this article, we’ll just pretend that one "Catwoman" movie never existed. Though I still stand for Halle Berry.)

When Eartha Kitt became the first black Catwoman back in 1967, she knew its importance. Her daughter Kitt Shapira told Closer Weekly:

“I was about nine years old when she played Catwoman on Batman, and that was a really big deal. This was 1967, and there were no women of color at that time wearing skintight bodysuits, playing opposite a white male with sexual tension between them! She was one of the first really beautiful black women — her, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge — who were allowed to be sexy without being stereotyped. It does take a village, but I do think she helped blaze a trail.”

eartha kitt catwomanTv Show Vintage GIFGiphy

And blaze she did. Eartha Kitt purred her way into legend, giving the character an iconic voice, feline mannerisms and downright fierce femininity. Whenever she came on screen, it felt like something between edgy performance art and a civil rights protest.

In one particular Batman episode titled “Catwoman's Dressed to Kill,” the character infiltrates a posh luncheon ceremony filled with white socialites, ready to give Batgirl an award for being the best dressed crime fighter. But Catwoman ain’t having it.

Gesturing to the table of white female socialites, she hisses “You ladies, with your fancy hairdos, what do you know about beauty?” before throwing dust that explodes and turns their hair into afros.” It was a pretty radical way to comment on white-leaning beauty standards, if you ask me.

Before Eartha, the role was played by the famously “statuesque” Julie Newmar. And though Newmar gave a wonderfully wistful, slinky innocence to the role, there is something about Kitt’s portrayal that feels more pivotal. More important.

Like Newmar, Kitt definitely had sex appeal, but in a way that empowered other Black women to see themselves in the same light.

Jamie Broadnax:
“Eartha Kitt molded Catwoman into a sex symbol, which was certainly appealing for the time. She served a purpose of being a beautiful antagonist for Batman, while Batman was conflicted himself with her beauty and was enamored by it. Eartha Kitt also allowed Black women like me to see themselves reflected in TV shows (especially genre TV shows) that allowed us to believe that we, too, can be Catwoman. It's also because of Kitt's Catwoman that many Black women felt comfortable cosplaying as the character.“

Fast forward to 2022, and now Zoë Kravitz is getting acclaim for her equally striking version of Selina Kyle. Everyone from Taylor Swift to OG Catwomans (Catwomen?) Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway and Michelle Pfieffer have sent their heartfelt praises.

This Catwoman is sexually fluid, stealthy AF, resourceful and cunning, with charisma and depth. Like Kitt before her, Kravitz offers an emotional equal to Robert Pattinson’s Batman. It makes for some fantastic viewing, even to those who could care less about The Batman and his conquests.

zoe kravitz catwomanRobert Pattinson Couple GIF by The BatmanGiphy

Broadnax adds:

“She's fully fleshed out and gives proper motive for her actions in a way we haven't seen before. By that I mean, she's not a self-serving anti-hero as depicted in other films, but instead is more of a heroine to those close within her sphere of influence.”

This might seem like a small feat for Kravitz, who is no stranger to producing great work. But keep in mind: Even an A-list, award-winning actress like Kravitz, born into celebrity, still faces obstacles because of the color of her skin.

In an interview with The Guardian, Kravitz revealed that she had previously been refused a chance to audition for a role in "The Dark Knight Rises" for being too “urban.”

Previously, sources thought Kravitz wasn’t allowed to audition for the role of Catwoman (which went to Anne Hathaway). That has since been proven untrue, but even if it were, considering that Catwoman only appeared for a total of 19 minutes in “The Dark Knight Rises,” I’d say it was a blessing in disguise.

Taking the blatant racism aside, as a comic book nerd, this is just mind-boggling. Have you seen Gotham? That’s about as urban as it gets. But I digress. It’s an insidious and ugly word that Hollywood has been allowed to hide behind for far too long. Plain and simple.

Kravitz added, “Being a woman of color and being an actor and being told at that time that I wasn’t able to read because of the color of my skin, and the word urban being thrown around like that, that was what was really hard about that moment.”

For Kravitz to not only play the role, but to shine in it, helps other Black women see that times are changing. Not saying they’re changing fast enough, but still. Once again Catwoman has become a role model for confidence and power. For those who are often lacking positive representation, this can be vital.

What will be next for Catwoman? The future is still unwritten. Broadnax and I both agreed that when it comes to Kravitz, we’re hoping for a standalone series. But either way, because of the courage of trailblazing performers, Catwoman will be forever changed. She may be considered a nemesis to Batman, but when it comes to Black feminism, she’s a hero.

By the way, if you’d like to see Jamie Broadnax's full review on "The Batman," you’re in luck! That can be found here.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

'I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.'

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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Education

How a 3,800-year-old stone tablet helped create modern legal systems

'Innocent until proven guilty' isn't that new of a concept.

Kind of looks like the Matrix code...

The modern justice system is certainly not without its flaws, however most can agree that the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is one that (when not abused) stands as the foundation of what fair due process looks like. This principle, it turns out, isn’t so modern at all. It can actually be traced all the way back to nearly 3,800 years ago.

historyLady Justice, the image of impartial fairness. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

English barrister Sir William Garrow is known for coining the "innocent until proven guilty" phrase between the 18th and 19th century, after insisting that evidence be provided by accusers and thoroughly tested in court. But this notion, as radical as it seemed at the time, can, in fact, be credited to an ancient Babylonian king who ruled Mesopotamia.

During his reign from 1792 to 1750 B.C., Hammurabi left behind a legacy of accomplishments as a ruler and a diplomat. His most influential contribution was a series of 282 laws and regulations that were painstakingly compiled after he sent legal experts throughout his kingdom to gather existing laws, then adapted or eliminated them in order to create a universal system.

Those laws were inscribed on a large, seven-foot stone monument, and they were known as the Code of Hammurabi.

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Pop Culture

TikTok star's surprising method for finding good Chinese food is blowing people's minds

Yelp can be a helpful tool for scoping out food joints, but maybe not in the way you think.

Photo by Debbie Tea on Unsplash

Different cultures view service differently.

Content creator Freddy Wong has a brilliantly easy way to find authentic Chinese food.

As he reveals in a mega viral video that’s racked up 9.4 million views on TikTok and 7.7 million views on Twitter, the trick (assuming you live in a major metropolitan area) is to “go on Yelp and look for restaurants with 3.5 stars, and exactly 3.5 stars." Not 3. Not 4. 3.5.

He then backs up his argument with some pretty undeniable photo evidence.

First, he pulls up an image of a Yelp page from P.F. Chang’s. With only 2.5 stars, one can tell the food is “obviously bad.” Alternatively, Din Tai Fung—a globally recognized Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant—has four stars.

Sounds good right? Wrong. In this case, “too many stars” means that “too many white people like it,” indicating that the restaurant is being judged on service rather than food quality. According to Wong, if “the service is too good, the food is not as good as it could be.”

He then pulls up the Yelp page for a couple of local Chinese restaurants, both of which have 3.5 stars. The waiters at these establishments might “not pay attention to you,” he admits, adding that they might even be “rude.” But, Wong attests, “it’s going to taste better.”

@rocketjump

Why I only go to Chinese restaurants with 3.5 star ratings

♬ original sound - RocketJump

"The dumplings here are better [than Din Tai Fung's]. I've been here," he says of the 3.5 star Shanghai Dumpling House. Considering his Twitter profile boasts a “James Beard Award winning KBBQ Gourmand'' title, it seems like he knows what he’s talking about.

So, why is this 3.5 rule the “sweet spot”? As Wong explains, it all comes down to different “cultural expectations.”

“In Asia, they’re not as proactive. They’re not going to come up to you, they’re not going to just proactively give you refills, you need to flag down the waiter,” he says, noting the different interpretations of service.

"People on Yelp are insufferable,” he continues, arguing that “they're dinging all these restaurants because the service is bad,” but the food is so good that it balances out the bad service. Hence, a 3.5-star rating. His reasoning is arguably sound—people do often give absurdly scathing reviews that in no way accurately reflect a restaurant’s food quality.

“A good Yelp review doesn’t mean it’s a good restaurant — it simply means the restaurant is good at doing things that won’t hurt their online rating,” Wong said in an interview with Today, adding that “highly rated Yelp restaurants are often those with counter service and limited menus, minimizing potential negative interaction with staff.”

He also added the caveat, “I don’t have anything against those places, but I think people who only eat at the ‘highest rated’ restaurants on online review sites are only eating at the most boring restaurants.”

A ton of people in the comments seem to back Wong’s theory.

best chinese food

100% accurate, some say

TikTok

Plus, the theory seems to not be limited to just Chinese restaurants, further implying that maybe there’s more of a cultural misunderstanding, rather than any real lack of quality.

thai food near me

No drink refills but the food is fire.

TikTok

yelp reviews, yelp

2.8 is the new 5

TikTok

One of the gifts that our modern world provides is the opportunity to truly experience and appreciate other cultures. Since food is easily one of the most accessible (and enjoyable) ways to do that, perhaps we should prioritize seeking authenticity, rather than rely on a flawed and superficial rating system.

As Wong told Today, “I hope it encourages people to go out and eat more food from not only Chinese restaurants, but restaurants representing the whole world of cultural cuisines.”