Arts and Entertainment

Zombies: Black Women of the Genre – Roberta Warren of Z Nation

My issue with zombies is that once a zombie touches you, that’s damn near it. If you get bit, it’s over for you. Ain’t no coming back from a zombie bite, bih. So why does Z Nation grab me when other shows couldn’t? First, I appreciate the humor that accompanies this particular zombie narrative. Second, I love that the leading lady of the narrative is a Black woman, played by Kelita Smith, probably best known as the wife in the Bernie Mac Show.

Zombies and I don’t get along. Bae is a fan of Walking Dead so for the past few years I have watched glimpses of the hit AMC show. Nevertheless, I tried to avoid zombies in my general tv and film viewing. Bae doesn’t care though because he keeps introducing me to various narratives in the zombie genre including Resident Evil, which I didn’t realize dealt with zombies until I saw the most recent installment in the series.

After nearly six years, he finally found a zombie narrative I could watch without peeking through my fingers. We recently started watching Z Nation on Netflix and I have to admit that I am a fan.

My issue with zombies is that once a zombie touches you, that’s damn near it. When a zombie bites you, it’s over for you. Ain’t no coming back from a zombie bite, bih. So why does Z Nation  grab me when other shows couldn’t? First, I appreciate the humor that accompanies this particular zombie narrative. Second, I love that the leading lady of the narrative is a Black woman, played by Kelita Smith, probably best known as the wife in the Bernie Mac Show.

Kelita plays Roberta Warren, a former National Guard Lieutenant whose badass military skills keep herself and crew out of trouble. I like this character for giving depth to the angry Black woman trope. Warren moves through the post-apocalyptic U.S. while on a mission to save the world. Sure she’s angry but in Season 1, she’s also the love interest of Charles Garnett played by Tom Everett Scott.

In Season 2 Warren calls the shots for a group of misfits including “The Murphy,” a man-zombie hybrid whose blood might hold the cure to the zombie virus. We see a Black woman embody what Audre Lorde calls the erotic as power through Roberta Warren.

Warren shows love, compassion, ruthlessness, and craftiness. Her character embraces a wide range of emotional depth typically not given to Black women on the television. She’s not only a Black woman who lives in a “zomcom,” she takes the lead. If you’re into zombies or Black women in zombie genre, check out Syfy’s Z Nation here.

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