The Complexities of Skin Color

Posted in Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2016-07-20 19:25Z by Steven

The Complexities of Skin Color

Black Issues Forum
Raleigh, North Carolina
Running Time: 00:26:46

Deborah Holt Noel, Host

Inspired by the casting of Latina actress Zoe Saldana to play Nina Simone, the performer and activist known for her pride in her dark skin, Deborah chats with professor Dr. Yaba Blay, filmmaker Eric Barstow, and undergraduate student Ayana Thompson to delve into why so many people still knowingly and unknowingly participate in colorism – the assertion that light is better.

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The ‘anti-racist’ crowd have resorted to the old politics of racism

Posted in Articles, Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2016-03-09 19:46Z by Steven

The ‘anti-racist’ crowd have resorted to the old politics of racism

The Spectator

Brendan O’Neill

The self-important slayers of ‘cultural appropriation’ have gone too far this time. Clearly they didn’t get a big-enough moral kick from chastising white people who do yoga (on the basis that yoga has ‘roots in Indian culture’), moaning about Beyonce donning a sari (‘how is this different from white folks wearing cornrows?’, the racial police demanded), and fuming about middle-class indie kids who wear Native American headdresses at music festivals (apparently this ‘perpetuates damaging, archaic and racist stereotypes’).

So now they’re turning their fire on a black actress who, in their view, is not black enough to play Nina Simone. Yes, even black people can now be accused of being insufficiently black for certain cultural pursuits.

The actress in question is Zoe Saldana, a fine actress whose curious combination of vulnerability and steeliness has made her the darling of the modern Hollywood blockbuster. She’s one of the best things in the Star Trek reboot movies and she even managed to inject some humanity into James Cameron’s otherwise soulless, eco-miserabilist epic, Avatar. And next she will play Simone, in a big biopic, the trailer for which was released last week.

But the identity-politics mob isn’t happy. Why? Because Saldana is a light-skinned black person, a ‘half black’, as some have foully put it, and she used make-up to make herself as black as Simone…

Read the entire article here.

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Why Zoe Saldana was the wrong black woman to play Nina Simone

Posted in Articles, Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-03-09 01:50Z by Steven

Why Zoe Saldana was the wrong black woman to play Nina Simone

The Telegraph

Emma Dabiri

With her long silky hair and brown tan skin, Zoe Saldana may well be black. But is she “black enough” to play Nina Simone?

Some people seem to think not. Ms Simone’s surviving family have asked Saldana, who darkened her skin with make-up to star in the upcoming biopic Nina, to “take [her] name out of your mouth for the rest of your life.” Many Americans agree.

To some it may seem strange that a woman with parents from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic – where 85 per cent of people have African ancestry – should be regarded as not being “black”. But to understand this, we need to consider the way race has been constructed by our society.

As a mixed women with a white mother and black father, I should logically be regarded as “half-white” as often as I am “half-black”. Yet this doesn’t happen, because race is not logical. Instead, whiteness is a social construct which depends on a myth of racial purity and exclusivity, with no room for anyone with visibly African ancestry, no matter how light our skin. In the USA, this was typified by the “one drop rule” – a legal principle which decreed that anyone with a single African ancestor was “black” for the purposes of segregation. For many people, black is simply black.

This can be a powerful concept: I identify as black, not mixed-race, precisely because it is an inclusive category which allows unity between a very wide range of people. But that plurality can also obscure things. I am always sensitive to the advantages I might have in comparison with darker skinned black women, because the truth is that there is a huge difference in how society treats us…

Read the entire article here.

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African American Exceptionalism and the Truth Behind the Rage over Zoe Saldaña Playing Nina Simone

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-22 21:44Z by Steven

African American Exceptionalism and the Truth Behind the Rage over Zoe Saldaña Playing Nina Simone

Upliftt: Latinos in Film, TV and Theater

William Garcia

In a recent article from the Huffington Post, Zoe Saldaña talks about the Nina Simone biopic that has been controversial all over the Black blogospheres. Saldaña said: “the people behind the project weren’t my cup of tea.” She also said, “the director was fine but there was a lot of mismanagement.”

On June 11th 2015, during an InStyle magazine interview, Zoe Saldaña said: “I think I was right for the part, and I know a lot of people will agree, but then again I don’t think Elizabeth Taylor was right for Cleopatra either.” Those comments may seem, in a sense, post-racial, especially after defending African-American actor, Michael B. Jordan, for playing the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four Film.

The Black Movement in the United States has only paid a particular attention to blackness—leaving out Afro-Latinos as “not being really black.” Being Black in the U.S is equated with being African-American in a time where there is a continuous migration from Africa, the Caribbean and Afro-Latin America. The Black Movement in the U.S invisibilizes Afro-Latinos amongst other Afro-descendants in a time when all Black Lives Should Matter. Many African-Americans in the U.S created a controversy over Zoe Saldaña playing Nina Simone. There were several articles published infuriated with her allegedly “playing a blackface” and being a self-loathing Dominican–although most of these articles also forget she is half Puerto Rican. During a interview, Zoe Saldaña clearly states she identifies as a Black woman, but that comment was omitted from many conversations…

Read the entire article here.

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Stir Builds Over Actress to Portray Nina Simone

Posted in Articles, Arts, Communications/Media Studies, New Media, United States, Women on 2012-09-13 04:16Z by Steven

Stir Builds Over Actress to Portray Nina Simone

The New York Times

Tanzina Vega

In the digital age Hollywood casting decisions leaked from behind closed doors can instantly become fodder for public debate. And when the decision involves race and celebrity, the debate can get very heated.

The online media world has been abuzz with criticism for nearly a month now over the news — first reported by The Hollywood Reporter — that the actress Zoe Saldana would be cast as the singer Nina Simone in the forthcoming film “Nina” based on her life.

Few have attacked Ms. Saldana for her virtues as an actress. Instead, much of the reaction has focused on whether Ms. Saldana was cast because she, unlike Simone, is light skinned and therefore a more palatable choice for the Hollywood film than a darker skinned actress.

“Hollywood and the media have a tendency to whitewash and lightwash a lot of stories, particularly when black actresses are concerned,” said Tiffani Jones, the founder of the blog Coffee Rhetoric. Ms. Jones wrote a blog post titled “(Mis)Casting Call: The Erasure of Nina Simone’s Image.”…

…Recently an online petition was circulated to protest the casting of the light-skinned actress Thandie Newton in the film based on Ngozi Adichie’s novel “Half of a Yellow Sun,” which centers on the Nigerian Civil War (1967-70); there was some criticism of the casting of the biracial Jaqueline Fleming as Harriet Tubman in the film “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”…

…Casting an actress who does not look like Simone is troubling, said Yaba Blay, a scholar of African and diaspora studies and the author of a forthcoming book called “(1)ne Drop: Conversations on Skin Color, Race, and Identity.”

“The power of her aesthetics was part of her power,” Dr. Blay said. “This was a woman who prevailed and triumphed despite her aesthetic.” Dark-skinned actresses, she added, are “already erased from the media, especially in the role of the ‘it girl’ or the love interest.”

Read the entire article here.

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