A quote from Michael B. Jordan’s recent Vanity Fair profile is raising eyebrows.
“We don’t have any mythology, black mythology, or folklore,” Jordan said in the interview. “Creating our own mythology is very important because it helps dream.[sic] You help people dream.”
The Twitter backlash began when Vanity Fair isolated his quote in a graphic and posted it to the platform:
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) October 4, 2018
While many on Twitter were upset with Jordan’s seeming ignorance of the abundance of black mythology, others were concerned about the lack of context for the quote and questioned whether Jordan was referring to the lack of black mythology in TV and film projects as compared to the myriad of stories based on European mythology. Still others point out that the quote appeals to the magazine’s white readership and highlights why black interviewers are so important. Perhaps if a black interviewer had been allotted the opportunity to spend the day with Jordan, the interviewer would have asked him about the implications of his statement and properly pressed him for clarification.
Here’s what folks are saying today:
Wasn’t Michael B. Jordan the really, really Black one on Black Panther. Like, was doing some deathly acts for Black people?
I guess Killmonger didn’t just leap out in that interview.
— PrestonMitchum (@PrestonMitchum) October 5, 2018
Sorry but I can’t get upset about an interview with Michael B. Jordan that was CLEARLY written to cater to a specific audience doesn’t provide full context to the whole convo etc. nothing about MBJ has ever indicated intentional ignorance. Soooo
— Shanelle Little (@ShanelleLittle) October 5, 2018
I’m not surprised or particularly incensed that Michael B. Jordan doesn’t think we have our own mythology. We oftentimes aren’t *taught* are own mythology, since it’s been dismissed as superstition without meaning or “ancient” history.
— Court ???????? (@courtdanee2) October 5, 2018
I just saw the Michael B. Jordan quote.
I just did a “Big No!” at my desk at work.
This is why I buy a copy of “The People Could Fly” for every child I’m related to. Because Y’all. I cannot stress this enough. Black People told all the stories.
— Khalilmonger (@relicUA) October 5, 2018
Beyonce was inspired by Oshun, Yoruba Goddess of Sensuality & Prosperity.
DC hero Steel was inspired by John Henry, an AA folk hero who died winning a race against a rock drilling machine.
I’m gonna need you to do a tiny bit of research before you speak. pic.twitter.com/TllsnprBSA
— The Amityville Kiki (@TheJoaninJonin) October 5, 2018
So, Michael B. Jordan’s comments on there not being any black mythology or black folklore is why this thread has returned.
But, interviews are hard.
Did he mean there is none? Very untrue.
Or, did he mean cinema is nearly and currently void of examples? Very true. https://t.co/rGn7WEbkPv
— NOT KYLE (@kyalbr) October 5, 2018
The response to Michael B. Jordan saying we don’t have Black folklore and mythology is exposing people’s academic privilege and general lack of understanding or patience for Black people who haven’t had the same exposure and access.
— Dana (@DanaVivianWhite) October 5, 2018
— Maya Contreras (@mayatcontreras) October 5, 2018
I hope Michael B Jordan sees this thread. https://t.co/rf5ZaVThV1
— ???? Mary Magdaween ???? (@BroderickGreer) October 5, 2018
Decided to actually read that Vanity Fair cover story on Michael B. Jordan to see the context of his folklore quote (since it was pulled out #onhere), and I’m annoyed. Not by his quote, but by the fact that YET AGAIN “mainstream” (read: white) outlets get SO MUCH ACCESS.
— Britni Danielle (@BritniDWrites) October 5, 2018
So abt this @michaelb4jordan folklore quote. Given his pro-Black upbringing–& the fact that he apparently went to a school founded by “the Black Youth Org in the 1960s with an emphasis on Afrocentrism”–I think this quote doesn’t mean what folks are making it out to mean #onhere
— Britni Danielle (@BritniDWrites) October 5, 2018
One of the first books I’ve ever read as a kid was a collection of black folklore collected by Zora Neale Hurston.
— Bennett D. Bennett (@TheAcecapade) October 5, 2018
Michael B. Jordan: “Black people don’t have their own mythology.”
Mythical characters of the African diaspora: pic.twitter.com/ml68a6yVJs
— Kar (@karlogan_) October 5, 2018
Even hotter take: if people took the time to read the article, they would notice he’s referring to depictions on the big screen. Go right ahead and tear him down though ????????♂️
The man is literally hoping to bring the very stories we all know to the masses.
— #CarterV Slatt (@DJWonka) October 5, 2018
Idk any black mythology or folklore from the top of my head, so I won’t give Michael B. Jordan too much crap. That said, does he not have a publicist to brief him prior to interviews? Also not knowing something =/= its nonexistence. https://t.co/PeL60OlMLj
— Lemon in Autumn???? (@LemonClarkMedia) October 5, 2018
killmonger would never think this. igbo masks have folklore & mythology attached to them. killmonger would know better. pic.twitter.com/RnsuRMHz47
— ???????? #simba (@HowAboutBeth) October 5, 2018
Anansi didn’t trick his family into giving him extra plantain for this pic.twitter.com/IzGtEp2nK4
— Miles Holder (@MilesHolder) October 5, 2018
Mike sounding very Kanye-esque with that statement… No Black mythology or folklore?!?! Can we please get some Black journalists to engage these artists??? pic.twitter.com/U4yTRjKWnU
— Andrew McCaskill (@DrewMcCaskill) October 5, 2018
Brother @michaelb4jordan, please hear from your people today. There is plenty of rich black and African American mythology and folklore and it’s easy for a determined person to access. You can help amplify the voices of those who’ve come before!
— PullupSeymourHoffman (@Forevertru2ATL) October 5, 2018
Some Twitter users started creating and retweeting threads full of black mythological stories, including actress Reagan Gomez, who posted a thread full of resources. She also tweeted this, which might properly sum up the anger many feel about Jordan’s comments.
These things are googleable. It’s not surprising that alot of us may not know these stories, but to think the stories aren’t out there, to think that people from a continent as rich & vibrant as Africa, wouldn’t take these stories with them & come up w/ new ones is sad.
— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) October 5, 2018
Jordan has yet to comment on the true meaning of his Vanity Fair quote. But until he does, his comments, however inflammatory they might be, have at least provided an opportunity to talk about African mythology and how many black creatives including Jordan can use their power and ability to bring these stories to the mainstream. That way, we don’t have to have these discussions about whether or not black people have a mythology.