I'm only 1/3 of the way through reading "A Taste Of Power," a book about Elaine Brown, one leader of the Black Panthers.
Prior to reading the book, I'd have thought it doesn't matter whether a dark-skinned or a light skinned actress played her in a movie adaption of the book --just like it didn't matter with Mandela, Martin, Malcom, Marva Collins, or Tina Turner.*
At first I couldn't figure out why the book so much time on her childhood. But within the 1/3 that I've read, Elaine talks about how poverty, class, and color, how being light-skinned affected her choices, her mindset, and her opportunities as a child, a teen, a 20 year old.
If someone eventually makes a movie about her life and includes her formative years, then the actress would need to be light-skinned. If somehow Elaine Brown's story was told by a white person or that always white-sought colorism-blind black person, where there wasn't any reference to her formative years -- much like Malcom X's story was told, then the actress could be light-skinned or dark-skinned because her skin color would have been erased from the story.
But Nina's story doesn't contain such a choice. Elaine's, as told by Elaine, really doesn't either. But even a blind white person can see or hear that a lot of Nina's work was about her distance from whiteness.
Nina's person, Nina's art, Nina's music, Nina's interviews were about being a dark-skinned black woman. That's why even white(?) hollywood understood that they would only be able to hire the same paler, white-featured "black" actress they always hire if the actress wore blackface and a prosthetic nose.
It can be seen as standard operating procedure for white Hollywood to offer the role to Saldana. (And, I do pray this was a white idea, omg) But no self-respecting black woman should have taken the part under these conditions -- which brings me to my next point.
What is even MORE inappropriate is that Saldana's mindset on race is as far from Simone's as Donald Trumps is from Ghandi's on any subject under the sun. Her willingness to put on blackface and the prosthetic nose show us this. Her comments on how it was okay for White people to play Cleopatra, an Apache, and Othello (while wearing black face) show us this.
The thing that's become clear in many of the discussion I've read on Zoe as Nina is that LIGHT PRIVILEGE and LIGHT FRAGILITY are as real as White privilege and white fragility.
Saldana's inability to see
that she could only be approved to play Nina Simone
in white/light circles
BECAUSE she is light-skinned
(like 80% - 90% of all black actresses
since film was invented)
DESPITE Nina's story being
a dark-skinned black woman's story
This whole thing is so much like white racism
But there's a huge, heart-breaking difference between white racism defeny-ers and black colorism deny-ers.
White racism deny-ers don't get high levels of agreement from their targets, the non-white. But colorism deny-ers do.
That is, I'd guess that 50% or more of colorism targets, the dark-skinned, will agree with colorism deny-ers in saying that colorism isn't real, or it wouldn't be if we could just stop talking about it And most of the time those screaming "There's-no-difference!!!" in treatment between dark and light skinned blacks, over and over with their hands over their ears, claim they are doing so in the name of unity.
This will continue to rip us apart from the inside for as long as we allow the reverse colorism screamers to go unchallenged. The reverse colorism screamers (dark and light in skin tone) are every bit as ignorant and vocal as white reverse racism screamers. And we need to let them know it at every possible opportunity.
As Patricia Collins has pointed out, every human being has sites of oppression and also of being the oppressor. This leaves black women, of all shades, not wanting to acknowledge that they are unwitting oppressors based on class or religion even as they are oppressed by white people and men. Black men don't want to admit the oppress black women as males because they are, along with black women, oppressed by white people. And light-skinned women, mostly via their denial of obvious and decades long looking-closer-to-white privilege, oppress dark-skinned women despite being the targets of racism too.
Saying we are "all one race" doesn't erase racism when white people shout it from the roof tops. And saying "We are one black people" doesn't erase colorism, light privilege, or light entitlement either.
Our fear of a lack of unity cannot get in the way of the truth.
White people at work prefer light-skinned women. White run Hollywood prefers light-skinned women. Black men in the public view, in large numbers, prefer light-skinned women. Yet, it is not all upside for light women. The jealousy, based on reality of preferential treatment, has to be dealt with. The fawning of black men and white people due to their light skin can't feel any better than being a person that's loved for their money -- not for the woke.
In my mind, the only thing that going to get rid of light tears and light privilege is to provide rejection to those that are giving them that privilege rather than oppressing darker skinned women via denial.
|2013 Black Actress|
Ladder Of Net Worth SuccessMost Black Actresses Left and Center
with Cosby Actresses Right
For those light women that don't feel or see any privilege, keep in mind that most white people don't see theirs either. And I suspect that light women with strongly black features might not have much privilege at all.
However, most of the time none of us will see our own privilege unless we dig hard to root it out like the author of the article below.
We have to do better.
We need more Nina-Simone-Minded Black women among us. We have to talk about colorism, light tears, and light privilege. Tip-toeing around it has gotten made some us nearly as moronic on colorism as 50% of the white population is on race.
Zoe Saldana is what happens when a people is more focused on being embarrassed and humiliated that colorism exists in the black community than that people focused on talking about it, understanding it, and trying to be rid of it.
Zoe Saldana, not raised by black Americans in this country, should have been completely and totally alone in her defense of playing Nina Simone in blackface. But she wasn't. So, I have to wonder if Nina-gate wouldn't have happened at all if so much of the black community wasn't so colorism illiterate because we're so colorism secretive due to being colorism ashamed. Maybe Saldana would have had a chance to learn more about colorism and how she has benefited from it just by hearing about it here and there as she went about her day to day life.
There have been studies that show that all children, even black children are biased toward whiteness. What many people don't know is that there have been studies that show that black and brown adults are too. As black and brown people move from childhood to adulthood, the black and brown teenager (for example) knows what he or she is supposed to say as far as being proud of being black or brown. But there are questions and ways of asking questions so that the subject cannot adjust his answer to fit the proud black/brown narrative he or she has been taught. And when those subtle questions are asked, most black and brown adults are found to be biased toward whiteness.
That is a shameful thing for most black people to admit because most black people want to believe that they haven't taken anything inside them as a result of living with white racism every day. But that's likely a prideful lie to preserve sanity.
Colorism should be seen as a piece of anti-black racism that's gotten inside us as a result of living with white supremacy. Our fear of speaking about colorism can be seen as a defensive mechanism designed to keep each of us from getting too close to figuring out how much white racism has gotten inside us.
The refusal to speak on colorism probably walks hand-in-hand with the refusal to look inside ourselves. And the refusal to look inside means we don't root out. And what we don't root out, festers -- much like racism festers with it's white victims unaware.
We have to do better. * * * * *
Consider article below an example of us "doing better."
Being light-skinned isn’t a problem and it is not something that we ever have to apologize for, just as white people don’t have to apologize for being born white.
Read More: Nina Simone, Zoe Saldana, and Light-Skinned Fragility
*- in years not long past white actresses were selected for white biopics because they looked like the person. But black actors and black actresses were picked for black biopics by age(?) and never looks as there were only a 3 or 4 black actors or black actresses WITH LEAD ROLE EXPERIENCE to pick from at any given moment.