All Articles Tagged "blackface"
Zoe Saldana Isn’t Allowing Your Opinions About The Nina Simone Biopic To Deter Her, Says She’s Doing It For Her ‘People’
Actress Zoe Saldana has been forced to bear the brunt of much criticism since it was announced that she was the actress selected to play iconic singer Nina Simone in the long-awaited motion picture about her life. Fans and celebrities alike have publicly voiced their disapproval of Zoe assuming the role of the singer, especially when photos of the actress on the movie set, all dressed up (and painted up) in her Nina costume surfaced.
“So today I saw the images of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone… and I think they are ridiculous! Yes there should be a movie made, and YES they should have chosen someone who LOOKS like Nina Simone, ESPECIALLY since her RACE played such a PIVOTAL role in WHO, WHAT and WHY, she was. THAT ASIDE for a second, this just looks WEIRD, it looks like a person in Black(er) face with a fake nose … REALLY?!!!! DOES NOT THE ONE NINA SIMONE’S LEGACY DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS?” singer India Arie expressed.
While public frustration can certainly be understood, Zoe has been hired to play the role of Nina Simone and she still has a job to do, whether we like it or not. Hip Hollywood recently caught up with the actress to discuss the intense level of criticism that she has received for her role in the biopic. Here’s what she had to say:
“The reality is what keeps me focused and what kept me from I guess getting stressed or being hurt by the comments is that I’m doing it for my sisters. I’m doing it for my brothers. I don’t care who tells me that I am not this and I am not that. I know who I am and I know what Nina Simone means to me. So that is my truth and that set me free. You know, I can only rely on that and maintain as much humility as possible so that when I have to face the world and I have to then give the movie to the world to see and share it with them, that if it comes back in a negative fashion or positive, I’m gonna keep my chin up because that’s who I am and that’s who I’ll be and Nina was like that too. So I did it all out of love, out of love for Nina, out of love for my people and who I am and my pride of being Black woman and a Latina woman and an American woman and that’s my truth.”
What are your thoughts on Zoe’s response? Does she make valid points or did she totally miss the reason why people are upset?
You can check out a clip of Zoe’s interview on the next page.
If you thought the days of Blackface were over, you are sadly mistaken. International fashion magazine, Numéro recently printed a two-page editorial entitled, “African Queen”, in which 16-year-old Caucasian model, Ondria Hardrin is depicted wearing heavy bronzer, as if the publication was attempting to pass her off as Black and many are wondering why? Why didn’t Numéro just hire a Black model?
Jezebel revealed that the same agency that represents Hardrin also represents several Black models. It’s unfortunate when Black models aren’t even considered for jobs that common sense would make most assume are for them.
“why hire a black model when you could just paint a white one!” blog Foudre said of the ridiculous spread.’
Now we won’t play ignorant, we know that there are White people living in Africa as well, but according to the Huffington Post, Ondria is from North Carolina and judging by the heavy amount of bronzer that she is wearing in the spread, it seems quite clear that the glossy was attempting to have her to appear “darker” than what she actually is.
I suppose this only serves as a reflection of the scarce number of Black models who are employed by the fashion industry. Jezebel recently reported that this past New York Fashion Week, 82.7% of the participating models were White, while only 6% were Black.
No one can say whether or not Numéro meant any harm by the model that they selected for the spread, but it appears to be the message that it sends to Black models and the world in general that people are finding to be offensive.
What are your thoughts on this?
Shantrelle P. Lewis, New York-based curator and scholar, has been all over the globe – Haiti, Brasil, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, Cuba, Jamaica, Sweden, Paris, and elsewhere black folks can be found – researching, documenting and presenting the African Diaspora through exhibits like, Dandy Lion: Articulating a Re(de)fined Black Masculine Identity and Life After Death: A Multi-Media Analysis of the Persona That Was/Is Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
Her new project, Black Pete, Zwarte Piet: The Documentary will send Lewis back to the Netherlands in an effort to explore the tenuous relationship between a Dutch holiday fable and the local black community. Taking time out from fundraising, Lewis talked with MadameNoire about the film; the passion behind the project; and the fascinating story about how a former pre-med student and high school teacher found her true calling as a keeper of the culture:
First tell us about Black Pete, Zwarte Piet: The Documentary? More specifically, for those not aware, who is Zwarte Piet?
“Black Pete, Zwarte Piet: The Documentary” is a film about the Dutch celebration of Sinterklaas and his helper – Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). St. Nicholas as a figure, is harmless and famous around the world right? Well the narrative attached to the celebrations of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands includes another element that is virtually unknown outside of the Netherlands. During holiday celebrations there, white people dress up in blackface in their roles as the Zwarte Piet character. This tradition has been practiced and widely celebrated throughout the country for many years. However, when larger numbers of Black people started to migrate to the Netherlands from Suriname and former Dutch colonies in the mid/late-20th century, of course, some people were not happy about this tradition.
Over the years, various individuals and groups have resisted the celebration while many others have assimilated into mainstream culture and adopted the celebration themselves. It has been within more recent years that more visible protests have been formed against the practice and people have increasingly in larger numbers began speaking out and publicly protesting the blackface character, who supposedly received his dark color from falling down a chimney. But if that is indeed the case, why is that he has “nappy” or “curly” hair (e.g. afro wig), exaggerated red lips and gold hoop earrings that are synonymous with the same types of earrings worn historically by people of African descent? Also, why is his entire face black? And why aren’t his clothes covered with “soot” as well?
This documentary seeks to explore several subjects – the history of Zwarte Piet’s blackface, activists and Dutch citizens who believe that the performance and imagery associated with Zwarte Piet are racist, and individuals in the Netherlands who feel that the tradition is harmless and shouldn’t be changed. Additionally, we seek to locate Zwarte Piet in a larger context of the race, racism and (mis)representation of Black people in the Netherlands.
What compelled you to want to explore such a racially-charged and culturally sensitive topic through film?
As a curator, I’ve always been attracted to the medium of film. While I use the exhibitions that I curate to explore subject matter that isn’t necessarily for the faint of heart, I’ve never been too afraid to approach sensitive subject matter. For example, my exhibition Sex Crimes Against Black Girls, was probably the most emotional and professionally challenging experience I’ve had thus far in my career. So when it came to the subject of Zwarte Piet, I wasn’t necessarily interested in curating an exhibition – there have been several exhibitions about the subject already. My primary goal for attempting to tackle the subject of Zwarte Piet through film comes from a desire to educate masses of people, not just in the U.S., but internationally, about what some may deem as an international issue of concern. Unlike the accessibility of other languages like Spanish, French and English, Dutch is a localized language, one that isn’t spoken by many people outside of its borders and its former colonies. Thus, much about Dutch history and contemporary politics are virtually unknown by the rest of the world. My goal as a researcher is to explore a topic of interest and concern to me since I’m currently heavily involved in research about the Dutch Caribbean, but through a medium that provides greater access and awareness. It also concerns me because it affects my colleagues and friends – people that I’ve grown close to during my experiences in NL. I could have curated an exhibition but honestly, how many people would have had the opportunity to engage the subject matter? The work that I do as a curator and researcher, the manner in which I present the topics that I’m de-constructing and exploring, is about accessibility. I felt that Zwarte Piet is a topic that has already experienced enough isolation and I want to test my ability as an educator to assist in placing it on a larger platform for critical discourse.
Race-bending is the common Hollywood practice of changing the race or ethnicity of a character to produce a movie. This can be done to give a leading role to an A-list actor or even to make a movie more “acceptable” to audiences – and yes, sometimes blackface is a part of this ya’ll. Thankfully, we can take comfort in knowing that race-bending isn’t always offensive. Click through to see what we mean.
Everyone In The Last Airbender
“Racebending” became an actual term following outrage over casting choices for the 2010 film The Last Airbender. Instead of hiring Asian actors to play the lead roles, as the source material called for, producers cast four white actors as leads, and just one Indian actor as – you guessed it, the villain.
Tags:a beautiful mind, a mighty heart, blackface, Breakfast At Tiffany's, Cloud Atlas, Elizabeth Taylor, halle berry, Hollywood, jake gyllenhaal, john wayne, mickey rooney, prince of persia racebending, racebending, racebending actors, racebending controversy, racebending movies, racebending roles, the conqueror, white actors who played black roles
Cornel West is no stranger to harsh language, and harsh is the most appropriate word to describe the words he had for Barack Obama and several black political pundits on a recent episode of Democracy Now. Dr. West was asked to weigh in on the issue of poverty in America, a topic that was oft-neglected during this election, in lieu of the astronomical amount of money that was spent on campaigning this year — $6 billion.
Not one to mince words, Dr. West went straight for the jugular when host Amy Goodman asked him how he feels about the spending that took place this election season.
“I think that it’s morally obscene and spiritually profane to send $6 billion on an election, $2 billion on a presidential election, and not have any serious discussion—poverty, trade unions being pushed against the wall dealing with stagnating and declining wages when profits are still up and the 1 percent are doing very well, no talk about drones dropping bombs on innocent people,” Dr. West said. “So we end up with such a narrow, truncated political discourse, as the major problems—ecological catastrophe, climate change, global warming. So it’s very sad. I mean, I’m glad there was not a right-wing takeover, but we end up with a Republican, a Rockefeller Republican in blackface, with Barack Obama, so that our struggle with regard to poverty intensifies.”
Tavis Smiley was interviewed alongside Dr. West and insinuated that political thought leaders like Melissa Harris-Perry, Al Sharpton, and Michael Eric Dyson, who have been vocally supportive of the President, need to push him to have a stronger stance on certain issues. Dr. West was nowhere near as PC, telling Goodman:
“I love Brother Mike Dyson… but we’re living in a society where everybody is up for sale. Everything is up for sale. And he and Brother Sharpton and Sister Melissa and others, they have sold their souls for a mess of Obama pottage. And we invite them back to the black prophetic tradition after Obama leaves. But at the moment, they want insider access, and they want to tell those kind of lies. They want to turn their back to poor and working people.”
And when it comes to a statement Dyson made in which he called the President progressive, Dr. West said this:
“In the president’s forward motion in the second term to establish a legacy—and I don’t think that being president ought to be about a legacy; it ought to be about advancing the best for the American people. But in this conversation about his legacy, I want to see what risk he’s going to take. Is he going to put himself on the line for poor people? Is he going have an honest conversation about drones? As Doc said earlier, you know, is he ever going to say the word prison—the phrase, “prison-industrial complex”? Reagan wouldn’t say “AIDS.” Bush wouldn’t say “climate change.” Will Obama say “prison-industrial complex”? I mean, I want to know where the risk is that equates to being the most progressive president ever. That’s the—I don’t get that.”
Well, say it like you mean it.
Check out the full interview here. What do you think about what Cornel West had to say?
From The Grio
A photo of University of Florida fraternity members wearing blackface at a Halloween party has been garnering criticism across the Internet and now the university, fraternity and the individuals involved are apologizing.
The Gainesville Sun reported that the university’s chapter of Beta Theta Pi hosted a Halloween party with a “rock stars and rappers” theme last week. That is where the photo of two fraternity members wearing dark paint, baseball caps and gold chains was taken.
The photo was posted on the UF NAACP chapter’s Facebook page the following day with the message, “Who’s party this is is not the issue but the fact that this is seen as acceptable is where the problem lies!”
Read more at The Grio
Violence against black bodies is something that deeply troubles me. As an African-American woman, violence against black female bodies specifically causes me great distress and as far as I am concerned, is not a laughing matter. I cringed as a video displaying a Cleveland bus driver landing an uppercut to the jaw of a young black woman circulated the web. My heart shattered into thousands of pieces each time I heard someone laugh or comment, “I bet she won’t put her hands on another man.” While I certainly understand the argument that a man should not have to endure assault or abuse at the hand of a woman, let’s not be mistaken: a line was definitely crossed on that bus. And, instead of having intelligent conversations about the general lack of respect and regard that black men and women have for each other and their bodies that was displayed in that sad clip, many people chose to laugh about how the driver’s forcible punch resembled a move from the popular video game, Mortal Kombat.
This unfortunate situation isn’t the first time that, as a community, we’ve joked and poked fun at things that don’t contain an iota of humor when you really stop to think about them. How many times have we chuckled when someone perfectly timed a “keep your pimp hand strong” interjection into an otherwise normal conversation? I don’t have any close friends or relatives that I’m aware of—and I’m not excluded—who don’t, ‘til this day, get a good laugh out of an “Eat the cake Anna Mae” reference. I recall the day after the 2009 Chris Brown/Rihanna incident hearing some remarks to the tune of “He beat her a**, she had to do something to provoke him,” said in jest in some instances.
Coincidentally, last week, a group of three white male high school students reenacted Chris Brown beating Rihanna in blackface during a pep rally at New York’s Waverly High School. People were outraged, characterizing the students’ actions as racist and insensitive. Black people were deeply offended that white students would exploit such a serious incident to garner laughs and applause, and at a pep rally of all things. But here’s the thing…we set the precedent. As a community, we’ve been laughing at violence against women for years now. While blacks may not perform reenactments of domestic violence in front of large crowds for giggles, some of us certainly posted links to that video of the uppercutting bus driver to see how many likes and comments we’d receive.
Let me be clear; the actions of the Waverly students were deplorable and outright shameful. I am not placing posting a video and laughing at the same level as donning blackface and behaving like, well, a jacka**. I am, however, saying that making fun of abuse is ALWAYS unsavory.
There’s a saying that goes, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. One of my earliest memories is of singing “I’m Going Up A Yonder” at a dear cousin’s funeral as a young preschooler after she was tragically killed. Her sister’s boyfriend mistook her for his girlfriend and ran her over as she cleaned the snow from her running car. I also remember looking upon my older sister who was an unrecognizable pulp of flesh when her husband rang our doorbell and left her on our doorstep after beating her with the end of a pistol, almost to the point of death, when I was in high school. And as a full-fledged woman, I was moved to the point of tears today as I read that Sharmeka Moffitt, a 20-year-old black woman, was set on fire by men—presumably white—in white hoods in a northeastern Louisiana town park on October 21, 2012. In my world, violence against black female bodies is not a joking matter. While I’m sure there will be some that will assert that I am taking things too seriously, I’ve seen enough bloody and battered messes to know that let that there are some things that are indeed not good for the goose, and certainly not good for the gander.
Nothing else really needs to be said. Do you agree?
Sheena Bryant is a writer and blogger in Chicago. Follow her on twitter at @song_of_herself.
So A NY High School Thought It Was OK For Kids To Reenact The Chris Brown-Rihanna Fight In Blackface?
How many things are wrong with this situation? Oh, let me count the ways.
Recently, at a high school in Waverly, NY, three white students thought it was a good idea to put on blackface and reenact the 2009 domestic violence altercation between Chris Brown and Rihanna during a pep rally. Why? As part of an annual competition at the school for the title of “Mr. Waverly.”
Yeah, we don’t get it either.
The photo above, which depicts one scene of the reenactment, has received more than 10,000 views and 100 comments since being posted on CNN’s ireport Monday by Waverly High School alum Matthew Dishler, according to The DailyReview.com. Dishler apparently included a note with the photo denouncing the students’ actions saying they depicted:
”acts of domestic violence as satire to an audience that included not only students but parents, faculty and various members of the media and community leaders.”
Two other Waverly alum also expressed their disappointment with the display, including Yale graduate Vlad Chituc, who wrote:
“I think it’s unconscionable that such blatant racism has been tacitly approved of two years in a row. The administration should be creating an environment where minorities are welcome, not the butts of racist jokes that make light of domestic violence.”
Hannah Van Wie-Desisti also backed up those sentiments:
“I used to be so proud of where I came from. Not so much now due to the recent incident. I found it unfathomable that the faculty would not only approve this idea for the skit in the first place, but allow it to go on during the pep rally. I honestly don’t believe that the students meant to offend, but were just ill informed of how offending their skit actually was. The staff should have stopped it before it even started. By acting like the skit was acceptable, they are teaching their students that racism is okay and that abuse is humorous. The whole thing outraged me and made me so disappointed in the school that I was once loved.”
Since this situation has gone viral, school district superintendent Joseph Yelich has made a statement to local media, saying:
“The Waverly School District is committed to creating a positive atmosphere through our activities,” Yelich said in a statement. “I will be working with our building administrators, our staff and our students to examine our current activities and develop future activities consistent with our commitment.
“Ultimately, our administrators are going to need to meet with the whole student body to set clear expectations for our behavior and the impact it has on all people.”
I would have thought that would have been done long ago. Interestingly, to try to prove there was no racist intent behind the insensitive blackface performance, one iReport respondent wrote:
Last year at the pep rally, a student dressed up as Tiger Woods for the Mr. Waverly skit, according to a commenter on this iReport. ‘I don’t personally know who was acting out the part of Tiger, but he was in no way making fun of black people. He was actually dressed in black dress pants, a Nike shirt and a Nike hat. Exactly how you would see Tiger dressed on the golf course. These are just kids acting out real celebrity skits.’
Umm maybe these kids should just stop dressing up like black people — oh, and making fun of things that aren’t funny.
by Marissa Ellis
Ok, call me crazy but the frequency of Blackface-related incidents in this country (the ones that have been reported at least) has got me thinking that the perpetrators are not necessarily “unaware.” The most recent offensive case involved a second grader in Colorado. Ironically enough, his parents made him up in blackface as a way to make him appear like Martin Luther King Jr. during a school presentation he was doing on the civil rights leader.
According to ABC News:
Sean King had a vision for his project, part of “Wax Museum Day” at Meridian Ranch Elementary School in Peyton, Colo., said his mother Michelle King-Roca.
“He said, ‘Mom, I want to wear a black suit because that’s what he wore, a black tie, a white shirt and also I want to do my face black and wear a mustache,” she told ABC affiliate KRDO.
As parents and their pint-sized historical figures waited to file into a classroom on Wednesday, the principal asked King-Roca to remove her son’s make-up, she said.
Instead, she ignored the request and waited for Sean’s presentation.
King-Roca said she was then called to the principal’s office where she, her husband and Sean had a discussion with three school officials. Unsatisfied with the situation, King-Roca pulled her son out of school for the day.
Thank god the school principal had enough sense to reprimand the parents and convey disapproval. It’s hard to believe that after all these stories and the public disapproval with blackface, people continue to engage in it and then cry naivete.
It’s sad that this young student had to be involved in this very public embarrassment. Let this be yet another lesson for people in this country who have yet to receive the forever-circulating memo which states that “blackface is offensive.”
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By Angela Thomas
Following in the footsteps of US and Italian Vogue, W Magazine has released an all-black editorial in their March issue on newsstands now. The 8-page spread entitled “Feminine Mystique” features of-the-moment models Jourdan Dunn, Anais Mali, and Jasmine Tookes showing off the latest looks for spring in bold prints and funky statement jewelry.
It is refreshing to see such a tasteful spread featuring models of color in the wake of recent scandals in fashion including the Vogue Italia “Haute Mess” editorial in which (mostly) white models wore heavy makeup, long, brightly colored nails, and exaggerated hairdos that have been linked to black women. Their attempt to “poke fun” at a culture they did not understand was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but ended up being insulting to some.
In 2009, then editor-in-chief of French Vogue, Carine Roitfeld, caused quite a stir when Dutch supermodel Lara Stone was photographed in blackface for the magazine. With the wide range of talented models of color who are currently working in fashion, one wonders why a black model wasn’t chosen instead of using a white woman painted black?
The controversy continued recently when the March issue of FHM Phillipines was released with fair-skinned actress Bela Padilla on the cover surrounded by dark-skinned models. The tag-line read, “Stepping out of the Shadows,” igniting such an uproar that the issue was eventually pulled from the stands.
The list of fashion faux pas keeps growing when it comes to blacks being represented by the mainstream media, which leads one to wonder, will they ever get it right? A lack of diversity in the editorial offices of these major magazines could explain why the same issues keep recurring. Which is why during these controversial times, the “Feminine Mystique” editorial is so tastefully refreshing. There are no gimmicks and no stereotypes. Just three black women doing what they do best: posing for the camera and looking beautiful.
All photos courtesy by Emma Summerton, courtesy of W Magazine.
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