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From Kitt to Kravitz–how actresses of color are claiming Catwoman for Black feminism

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.

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If you're on a quest for wellness, you've likely heard about the latest buzzword in hydration: hydrogen water. It's not just a trend among health enthusiasts; this cutting-edge concept is gaining traction for its remarkable health benefits.

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Pop Culture

UPS driver shares his weekly paycheck, and now everyone wants to apply

People are shocked to find out how much delivery drivers make.

@skylerleestutzman/TikTok

People were shocked to find out how much Skyler Stutzman earned as a UPS driver

People are seriously considering switching careers after finding out how much can be made as a UPS delivery driver.

Back in October, Skyler Stutzman, an Oregon-based UPS delivery driver went viral after sharing his weekly pay stub on TikTok.

In the clip, Stutzman showed that for 42 hours of work, and at a pay rate of $44.26 per hour, he earned $2,004 before taxes, and ultimately took home $1,300 after deductions.

This both shocked the nearly 12 million viewers who saw the video…not to mention it stirred their jealousy a bit.

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Do you ever feel like you could be doing more when it comes to making a positive impact on your community? The messaging around giving back is louder than ever this time of year, and for good reason; It is the season of giving, after all.

If you’ve ever wondered who is responsible for bringing many of the giving-back initiatives to life, it’s probably not who you’d expect. The masterminds behind these types of campaigns are project managers.

Using their talents and skills, often proven by earning certifications from the Project Management Institute (PMI), project managers are driving real change and increasing the success rate on projects that truly improve our world.

To celebrate the work that project managers are doing behind the scenes to make a difference, we spoke with two people doing more than their part to make an impact.

In his current role as a Project Management Professional (PMP)-certified project manager and environmental engineer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Joshua Williard oversees the cleanup of some of America’s most contaminated and hazardous waste sites.

Courtesy of Joshua Williard

“Recently, I was part of a four-person diving team sent to collect contaminated sediment samples from the bottom of a river in Southeastern Virginia. We wanted to ensure a containment wall was successfully blocking the release of waste into an adjacent river,” Williard says.

Through his work, Josh drives restoration efforts to completion so contaminated land can again be used beneficially, and so future generations will not be at risk of exposure to harmful chemicals.

“I’ve been inspired by the natural world from a young age and always loved being outside. As I gained an understanding about Earth's trajectory, I realized that I wanted to be part of trying to save it and keep it for future generations.

“I learned the importance of using different management styles to address various project challenges. I saw the value in building meaningful relationships with key community members. I came to see that effective project management can make a real difference in getting things done and having on-the-ground impact,” Williard says.

In addition, Monica Chan’s career in project management has enabled her to work at the forefront of conservation efforts with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF-US). She most recently has been managing a climate change project, working with a diverse team including scientists, policy experts, data analysts, biologists, communicators, and more. The goal is to leverage grants to protect and restore mangroves, forests, and ecosystems, and drive demand in seaweed farming – all to harness nature's power to address the climate crisis.

Courtesy of Monica Chan

“As the project management lead for WWF-US, I am collaborating across the organization to build a project management framework that adapts to our diverse projects. Given that WWF's overarching objectives center on conserving nature and addressing imminent threats to the diversity of life on Earth, the stakes are exceptionally high in how we approach projects,” says Chan.

“Throughout my journey, I've discovered a deep passion for project management's ability to unite people for shared goals, contributing meaningfully to environmental conservation,” she says.

With skills learned from on-the-job experience and resources from PMI, project managers are the central point of connection for social impact campaigns, driving them forward and solving problems along the way. They are integral to bringing these projects to life, and they find support from their peers in PMI’s community.

PMI has a global network of more than 300 chapters and serves as a community for project managers – at every stage of their career. Members can share knowledge, celebrate impact, and learn together through resources, events, and other programs such as PMI’s Hours for Impact program, which encourages PMI members to volunteer their time to projects directly supporting the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“By tapping into PMI's extensive network and resources, I've expanded my project management knowledge and skills, gaining insights from seasoned professionals in diverse industries, including environmental management. Exposure to different perspectives has kept me informed about industry trends, best practices, and allowed me to tailor my approach to the unique challenges of the non-profit sector,” Chan says.

“Obtaining my PMP certification has been a game-changer, propelling not only my career growth, but also reshaping my approach to daily projects, both personally and professionally,” Chan says. Research from PMI shows that a career in project management means being part of an industry on the rise, as the global economy will need 25 million new project professionals by 2030 and the median salary for project practitioners in the U.S. is $120K.

PMI’s mission is to help professionals build project management skills through online courses, networking, and other learning opportunities, help them prove their proficiency in project management through certifications, and champion the work that project professionals, like Joshua and Monica, do around the world.

For those interested in pursuing a career in project management to help make a difference, PMI’s Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification could be the starting point to help get your foot in the door.

How to clear a stuffy nose instantly.

With cold season upon us, there's no better time to learn a couple of awesome and easy tricks that will clear up the dreaded and annoying stuffy nose.

Prevention magazine created a short video showing two easy ways to get you breathing free again no matter how stuffed up you might be.

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116 years ago, the Pasterze glacier in the Austria's Eastern Alps was postcard perfect:

Snowy peaks. Windswept valleys. Ruddy-cheeked mountain children in lederhosen playing "Edelweiss" on the flugelhorn.

But a lot has changed since 1900.

Much of it has changed for the better! We've eradicated smallpox, Hitler is dead, and the song "Billie Jean" exists now.

On the downside, the Earth has gotten a lot hotter. A lot hotter.

The 15 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998. July 2016 was the planet's hottest month — ever.

Unsurprisingly, man-made climate change has wreaked havoc on the planet's glaciers — including the Pasterze, which is Austria's largest.

Just how much havoc are we talking about? Well...

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Identity

Southwest praised for 'customer of size' policy that gives larger passengers priority

Southwest believes that no one should be charged for taking up an extra seat.

via Bill Abbott/Flickr and DiamondPaintingLover/TikTok

Southwest's inclusive 'customer of size' policy.

Flying on an airplane can be highly stressful for people of size. Navigating through the tiny aisles and finding comfort in the extra-small bathroom can be challenging. But one of the biggest problems is getting an extra seat if necessary. Every airline has its own policy, and most charge for additional seats.

To make things easier for people of size, plus-size travel influencer Jae’Lynn Chaney has petitioned the FAA to standardize fare policies for plus-sized travelers. The need for some standards across the airline industry makes sense in a country where airplane seats are getting smaller and obesity is on the rise.

The petition requests that airlines require larger passengers to be “provided with an extra free seat, or even multiple seats, to accommodate their needs and ensure their comfort and safety, as well as those around them, during the flight.”

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Pop Culture

Former car dealership employee reveals the best way to get a cheaper price on your vehicle

Buying a new car can be an overwhelming process. But Roxy Stylez has a few tricks of the trade to help it go in the buyer's favor.

@roxystylezz/TikTok

A former car dealership employee shares some tip to get a fair price

Buying a car is, as we know, can be overwhelming. Especially during that inevitable moment the salesperson goes away for 15 minutes (which feels more like an hour) and comes back with, supposedly, the best deal available.

When in reality, that “best deal” includes all kinds of sneaky charges that most customers don’t know they can counter. So by the end of the draining process, they leave exhausted and paying more than they technically should.

And even those that do know dealerships aren’t upfront with their cheapest prices might not always have the confidence to negotiate for themselves. Which makes this bit of advice so helpful for car buyers everywhere.
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Taylor Bruck comes out live on TV.

Weekend morning news anchor for Spectrum News 1 Ohio, Taylor Bruck, came out of the closet on live TV recently and the big moment happened on a whim. She was discussing Thanksgiving plans with her co-anchor, Alexa Maslowski, when she casually mentioned she was planning on visiting her “girlfriend” in Cleveland.

She told People it was a “spur-of-the-moment" thing.

“I told myself, ‘Just say it,’” she said. “When I finally said it out loud, I smiled inside because it was a big moment for me." She posted a clip of the milestone across her social media profiles, where it has been seen hundreds of thousands of times.

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