Nicole Beharie is one of my favorite people ever! I also like that she recognizes that she is one of the actresses of color making great strides for other actresses of color in the realm of sci-fi/fantasy work.
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Well, well, well…THAT’S the way to end a winter finale!
I live-tweet How to Get Away with Murder every week; follow me @moniqueblognet!
This recap of this week’s How to Get Away with Murder episode, “He Deserved to Die,” is probably going to be even less of a recap than the other How to Get Away with Murder recaps. Basically, this “recap” is going to mostly consist of a takedown of Rebecca. I just can’t get with her. And neither can others on Twitter:
At the time Leslie Jones’ Twitter harassment happened, I didn’t know how to write about it. Not because I wasn’t upset by it—I most definitely was. But I was saddened by it to the point where I didn’t want to write about it. But sometimes, not talking about something does just as much damage as intentionally doing the wrong thing. What happened to Leslie Jones didn’t just affect Jones, but it affects every black woman, especially those of a darker hue.
First, let me give a quick rundown of what happened to Jones a few weeks ago. It all started with Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos. He took it upon himself to write a “review” of Ghostbusters with the title “Teenage Boys with Tits.” We’re already on a roll here.
This launched a huge spew of vile, racist, colorism-laden tweets directed directly at Jones. I won’t put them in this article, but you can read their tweets (if you want to) at Fusion.
After facing as much as she could take, Jones left Twitter.
Thankfully (or rather, after much criticism), Twitter finally banned Yiannopoulos, who has been a troll on Twitter for a long time. Twitter denizens rejoiced, but there were still some issues to suss out.
1. None of Jones’ other co-stars came to her defense publicly. I make exclusive note of the word publicly because for all we know, her co-stars could have come to her aid over coffee, or could have called her, or could have visited her at home or something. We don’t know what type of relationship she has with Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Chris Hemsworth. However, no one saw or wrote about any of them saying something in defense of Jones; Jones was seemingly left to fend for herself against hoardes of trolls.
Because of the optics of the situation, regardless if they did comfort her in private, it looked like once again white feminism reared its ugly head. (To understand what white feminism is, read some of these posts.) Instead of showing solidarity with Jones as Ghostbusters sister-in-arms, there were no public tweets of support or public outcry from Jones’ other female co-stars. And let’s all remember that Hemsworth barely escaped controversy with his wife’s Native American themed Halloween party, so maybe it was best he didn’t speak at all. But still, it wouldn’t have hurt if he said something in support of Jones.
The lack of help smells of “Strong Black Woman” Syndrome, in which white individuals don’t recognize the vulnerability and emotional life of their black counterparts (to read more about the plight of the Strong Black Woman, read this post and this one). While white women are routinely shielded and protected over the slightest of infractions, black women are constantly left to fend for themselves. We are constantly faced with the “But you’re so strong!” mindset. This codes into “But you have no feelings!”
2. The type of abuse Jones faced had a specific strain of colorism to it. Excuse me for repeating some of the phrases tweeted out, but the epithets of “big lipped coon,” Yiannopoulos gleefully writing, “rejected by another black dude,” and the constant comparisons to gorillas all reek of colorism directed at darker-skinned women.
The obsession some people have with skin color runs deep in the culture of this nation. The lighter you are, it’s thought, the closer you are to whiteness and acceptability. Whiteness also has erroneous connotations of femininity, gentility, vulnerability and worth. The colonialism of the mind not only affects white Americans, but Americans of all stripes. Within the black community, colorism has a huge history, from the Blue Vein Society of the past, to people claiming other ethnicities (whether it’s true or not) to remove themselves further from their blackness.
Dark skin is not just at the bottom of the colorism ladder; because it’s at the bottom, it’s wrongly associated with lack of femininity, brute strength, and once again, lack of emotion and vulnerability. A dark-skinned woman has had to grow up with verbal and nonverbal abuses about their skintone, which can take a toll on self-esteem; just take a look at the “Paper Bag Test” phenomenon, which tests how light-skinned (and supposedly how acceptable) a person is, as well as the famous doll test performed by psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark. If you don’t know about the test, the Clarks gave black children white and black baby dolls, then asked the kids which doll they liked the most. The kids ended up liking the white dolls more, while the felt the black dolls—the dolls that looked like them—were worthless. When I was growing up, there were, thankfully, black dolls, and there had been black dolls since the mid-to-late 1960s (particularly after the Civil Rights Movement). But dark-skinned dolls, dolls that look like this:
haven’t been around all that long. In fact, these dolls just came out April and June of this year. (I’ve personally seen one other dark-skinned contemporary Barbie doll a few years ago, and this is without counting the South African “World Culture” Barbie doll, which seems to be discontinued on the website.) Darker-skinned girls and women have still had to wait for proper representation in dolls, not to mention in actresses on television and in film.
3. Jones’ non-European features were also the subject of ridicule, and this is based in a European-centric ideology. Black women with more European features, such as thinner noses, lighter skin (again, colorism), and and smaller lips, are often given higher booking over actresses with more pan-African features such as flatter noses, darker skin, and fuller lips. This reflects society at large, which gives precedence to those who have more European features and appearances. This is why Stacey Dash has completely changed herself from this:
and why Lil’ Kim became unrecognizable.
This is also why Viola Davis has been public about combatting colorism and racism in Hollywood. In her interview with The Wrap, she said:
“…[W]hen you do see a woman of color onscreen, the paper-bad test is still very much alive and kicking. That’s the whole racial aspect of colorism: If you are darker than a paper bag, then you are not sexy, you are not a woman, you shouldn’t be in the realm of anything that men should desire. And in the history of television and even in film, I’ve never seen a character like Annalise Keating played by someone who looks like me.”
Society and Hollywood should be ashamed, because Milo Yiannopoulos represents a culmination of societal issues left to fester and, indeed, to make money from. Both should more open to darker-skinned women, because the impact on young girls is humongous. Thankfully, there are darker-skinned girls paving the way for others and showing them that they matter, that they are worthy, and that they are loved and can be loved. In honor of Jones facing the onslaught of the worst of Twitter and coming out on top (not only has Yiannopoulos been banned, but Jones is back on Twitter!), and as a way to say thank you to her for standing up for black women, especially dark-skinned black women, here’s a list of 15 dark-skinned characters who have defined today’s TV and film.
If you have characters you’d like to add to the list, share your post and hashtag it #DarkSkinnedHeroines on Twitter and Instagram!
THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE, SO BE CAREFUL.
There were a LOT of deaths in just the first three episodes of Season 3 of Tyrant, right? So many that many fans are wondering if they were even necessary. The fandom has taken the death of Season 2 insta-fave Rami particularly hard, since Rami seemed like a great candidate for President, and he’s just a good guy who came from humble beginnings. I was bummed like the rest of the fans, but I’ve also talked with Keon Alexander, who played Rami, for the Entertainment Weekly community, and we discussed in-depth his process for getting into Rami’s head. It seemed he really enjoyed playing Rami, and because there was so much that could be mined from the character, I expected Rami to be around for several seasons, not just one season and two episodes of the next. SIGH.
Here’s what I wrote about Rami in this week’s Tyrant catch-up article, “‘Tyrant’ season 3 recap: Three episodes, four bombshell moments”:
“…Rami — poor, noble, kind-hearted Rami — had no one crying over him. POURQUOI??? WHY DID RAMI HAVE TO DIE?
I was still waiting on Rami to magically appear, laid up in a hospital with the outside world believing he was dead when he was only badly wounded, but such a scene never came. Instead, after Rami sacrificed himself to save Molly and Emma from the Caliphate ambush, we get one scene with the head of the military telling Bassam that Emma is kidnapped and Rami has died — and that’s it, really. No finding his body, no honorable burial, no nothing! I’m not the only one who’s upset; the Internet has been ablaze with fans and critics alike trying to figure out why Rami was killed. For what reason? What added stakes did it provide? Couldn’t Rami be a superhero and escape certain death just like Bassam? Rami’s certainly more honorable than Bassam! As Peach the starfish said in Finding Nemo, “Isn’t there another way? He’s just a boy!”
SIGH. I’ll be pouring some out for you, Rami. Rest in peace. Or better yet, maybe you’re alive in an alternate dimension, as the benevolent President of Abbudin.”
I was also particularly bummed about Nusrat. I realized after I had my latest Entertainment Weekly Community post published that I didn’t write enough on why I felt Nusrat’s death wasn’t warranted at all. First of all, Nusrat should be hailed as a hero for saving Abbudin from a despot. Rami told her the folks outside the palace did see her as such. So why kill her off, writers? Is it because she could have been Daliyah’s rival for the “Mother of the Revolution” title? Did Sibylla Deen simply want to leave, and there wasn’t a cleaner way to remove her character from the show? I want answers, and currently, I feel like Kanye West on Sway’s radio show.
Nusrat has been the most abused person on this show, starting with the very first episode. It seems especially cruel that she would be killed after everything she’s endured. Did her life mean nothing? I mean, I get a show is supposed to have tragedy, but is everything bad supposed to happen exclusively to one character? I think Nusrat should have gotten a break for once in her life. Like, after leaving the mental institution Bassam had ordered her to, she could have come out and continued to plan her revenge on the Al-Fayeed family. She would have become a great character due to her mission to avenge her family and unborn child. In a way, Nusrat’s death reminds me of Abbie’s death in that it didn’t really serve the story except to get rid of a character.
The next gut-wrenching moment for me was when dear Emma got killed. I was hoping for something to come of Emma’s character this season, because I wrote last season how she has been the most neglected character, despite being the one of the few characters who actually utilizes their common sense on a day-to-day basis. Emma’s desires are simple, but always ignored: She wants to live a normal life in California like she used to. Instead, her parents, her dad in particular, got her killed. I write in this week’s post that Emma’s death is on Bassam’s hands.
I forgot that there was another, more intimate reason as to why Bassam’s actions led to his daughter’s death. The only reason Ihab Rashid is trying to bring Bassam down right now is because Bassam killed Samira. Ihab wants to make Bassam pay. Which leads to the biggest question I have in these few episodes: WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU RELEASE A MAN WHO WANTS TO DESTROY YOU?! Look, I get Bassam’s “forgiveness commission” in theory. But seriously, Bassam, you’re ruling an unstable land with tons of people who want the title of President. You’re going to start being soft-bellied now that you’re at the top?! Don’t be foolish, Bassam. Be ruthless like you’ve been in the past.
Anyways, you can read my full thoughts on these three episodes at the Entertainment Weekly Community!
Do you like what you read on COLOR and want to support the site with your writing? First, thanks for thinking so highly of the site, and second, you can contribute!
I must say upfront that writing guest posts for COLOR is an unpaid position. At this point, I can’t pay contributors, even though I’d like to. However, I can promise that with COLOR, you will be giving your writing access to an audience of like-minded individuals who also want to see society a much more just place and entertainment a much fairer representation of the world.
Contributions must pertain to one of three different types:
Longform pieces: These pertain to an issue in society and how it might relate to race and culture. For example, you might have a post on the plight of black men in America or you might have a post retaliating against a form of bullying in feminism. Also included in longform pieces are thoughts on certain activist hashtags.
Entertainment discussion: These are posts that expound more on popular TV shows. These can be as long or short as you want them to be; they can be posts aiming to read TV show tea leaves, plotlines you want to see happen, hashtag movements, or they can even be reviews of shows not covered on COLOR, like Marco Polo, Mozart in the Jungle, Scandal, Jane the Virgin or any others, particularly ones that have an important/discussion-worthy message about race and culture.
Entertainment discussion can also include movie reviews. I don’t have a lot of movie reviews on COLOR, so if you’re more of a movie watcher, I’d welcome your film opinions.
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Other posts that are welcome are Queer Coded posts (posts outlining how certain characters uphold Hollywood’s unspoken coding of villains or the “Other”), Fantasy Casting posts (in which the writer recasts whitewashed movies or speculates on the casting for upcoming films or films they wished would get made), Racially Sensitive and Racially Insensitive Casting posts, and MOC Monday/WOC Wednesday posts.
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Harry Potter character Draco Malfoy is an amazing character. He’s one of those characters who are racist, growing up in a household where certain “ideals” are taught, but soon realize how terrible their minds have been when the real world gets dropped on them. Draco had that happen to him in spades, and for years, I liked to think he was better for it. But J.K. Rowling had denied me that pleasure in canon. Until now. Through Pottermore (which you need a login for), she finally shared the rest of Draco’s story.