By JoliAmour DuBose-Morris/Style Caster
Whitney Houston has been a silent (or rather, boisterous because of her musical capabilities) member of my family for many years. “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength,” was my mother’s fighting song for those gloomier days. I grew up singing “Million Dollar Bill,” in the kitchen and using “Greatest Love of All” as my karaoke song. My sister would paint in her sketchbook for hours, replaying “How Will I Know” and the performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” with the singer dressed in all white and red will never leave my list of ‘Recently Watched.’ I even mimic the way her hands come up as she clings to her last high note. She was a great mirage of what it meant to be a Black woman, as she emboldened both the privileges and hardships of being such.
In the past, films have characterized Whitney as a victim in her own life. Her talent was so abundant and so immensely bright that anyone who challenged her personally was an automatic iceberg looking to sink her soaring ship. So when I watched the trailer for I Wanna Dance with Somebody, the biopic of Whitney’s life released in December 2022, I was intrigued by how the film, directed by Kasi Lemmons, was looking to redirect her story.
Known as “The Voice” and “Pop’s Princess”, these monikers exemplified the autonomy Whitney seemingly wasn’t allowed to have as a human being. Once her gifts were put on display, the privacy, empathy and understanding to which she was indebted were continuously exchanged for compliments, fame and glory.
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