How does Sankofa address the theme of sexual exploitation?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gerima's film addresses the themes of sexual exploitation in a direct manner.  Mona is the victim of sexual exploitation as a slave.  This is evident in a couple of ways.  When Mona is first captured, her clothes are ripped off of her and her branding being naked helps to convey the sexual exploitation that many female slaves had to endure.  At the same time, Mona, now Shola, suffers repeated sexual abuse from Lafayette.  Gerima does not miss the opportunity to bring out how enslaved African- Americans suffered the most with their time on the plantation.  Their suffering existed on the most intense of levels, including sexual exploitation.

Interestingly enough, I think that Gerima is making a statement about the modern sexual exploitation of women of color.  The opening of the film features Mona as a model.  Her photographer is demanding of her that she objectify herself further.  He insists that Mona  "be more sexy" and he tells her to "give me more sex."  Gerima might be suggesting that for the modern woman of color, there is an another form of sexual exploitation in the social setting of fashion and what cultural notions of the good demand.  In this, when the film demands a reclamation, perhaps a part of this is for women of color to "reclaim" their own identity that has become objectified by the social order in its determination of what is "attractive."