The Kent Test
Created by Clarkisha Kent
Definition: a test designed to determine whether a film or any other piece of media has provided the audience with adequate representation of femmes of color. This is meant to encourage discussion on what good representation can look like for femmes of color and it is not the be all end all test (but it is a good place to start). The Kent Test is named after and created by culture writer and critic Clarkisha Kent.
Instructions: Add points in accordance with the following elements of the Kent Test. The lowest number of points a film or other piece of media can achieve is 0 while the highest number of points is 8.
The woman/femme of color character….
1. Must not solely be a walking stereotype/trope. (1 Point)
Tropes are not discouraged, but if the only thing you remember about the character is that they are the “the damsel in distress”, the “sassy Black friend”, “the Dragon Lady”, etc, this point will be lost.
2. Must have their own plot / narrative arc. (1 Point)
Self-explanatory. This character can and should have a story that contributes to the film/piece of media’s overall narrative. If they do not, this point will be lost.
3. Must not be solely included in the narrative just for purpose of “holding down” some male character and his story. (1 Point)
If this character is only showing up to help a male character if he needs it and when he needs it and nothing else, this is a problem and this point will be lost.
4. Must not solely be included in the narrative to prop up a White female character. (1 Point)
Self-explanatory and related to A. This includes characters that only play friends, mentors, servants, and etc. to White women characters. If this character is only utilized to make a White women character seem cooler, more interesting, or more progressive, this point will be lost.
5. Must not solely exist in the film/piece of media for the purpose of fetishization. (1 Point)
Self-explanatory. Historically, women of color, be they Black, Brown, Asian, or Native, have been oversexualized, hypersexualized, and fetishized in the United States, and this phenomenon is all too common in our media as well. If a film/piece of media does nothing but include women of color for the express purpose of being fetishized, gawked at, or drooled over, this point will be lost.
The only exception to this is if the film/piece of media has established very, very clearly that this is the character’s choice, is in line with their character, and/or is an attempt by the character to subvert an existing trope/expectation. If none of these exceptions apply, this point will be lost.
6. Must have at least one interaction with another woman/femme of color. (1 Point)
Said interaction does not have to be “pleasant” but this point will be lost if both characters are reduced to nothing more than competition for a male character.
A bonus point will be awarded if the second women of color is not related to the first woman of color in any way, shape, or form. (1 Point)
7. Must not be the go-to character “sacrifice” in a film/piece of media (1 Point)
If this character suddenly offers themselves up to save another character in the film/piece of media—especially if the character being saved is not another woman of color and especially if this a piece of media that is scarce when it comes to women of color—this point will be lost.
The only exception to this is if the film/piece of media has established very clearly that this “sacrifice” is completely in line with the character’s wants, needs, and virtues. If this is coming left-field for the character, this point will be lost.
The Kent Test Point System:
7 - 8 Points: This film/piece of media contains strong representation for women of color.
- 5 - 6 Points: This film/piece of media contains sound representation for women of color.
- 3 - 4 Points: This film/piece of media contains middling to fair representation for women of color.
- 1 - 2 Points: This film/piece of media contains pathetic representation for women of color.
- 0 Points: This film/piece of media contains abysmal representation for women of color.