Disclaimer: I do not claim to have the facts, neither am I an insider. These are just my opinions and views.
Last Sunday, the world watched in awe how the rich fraternize, banter and enjoy each other in an exquisite environment much to the delight of the rest of us. We even watched them eat pizza in attempt to show that though surrounded by all the glitz and glamor, they are very much like us.
The beautiful gowns were on display, eye-catching jewelry with dapper and elegant suits, all of them, the envy of us all…the onlookers. I loved Ellen as the host, not that my opinion matters after-effects. It wasn’t just the designers who scored big that night, Lupita’s lip-gloss maker apparently did too. The lip-gloss she gave Ellen during the show in place of change for pizza, went flying off the shelves the next day. It was unfortunate that pizza guy’s pizza was a perishable item, if not, it would have been out of supply too. On the bright side, that pizza chain must be getting mad business (didn’t see the name) just for getting featured on such a huge platform.
Most of us must have gotten lost in that make-believe world with all its allure and enchantment, forgetting that even though the atmosphere looked very relaxed and laissez-faire, it is hard work that got each and every one of those stars in that room. This year as had been reported was one of the hardest to predict at the Oscars and it was because every one nominated performed exceptionally well and were deserving of their nomination.
But in the weeks leading up to the Oscars, Lupita Nyong’o had been all the buzz and even post-Oscars. If you were not watching her make an appearance on a TV show, then you were either seeing her grace the covers of numerous magazines or reading her up on countless blogs. She became quite the rave of the moment and deservedly so.
I am very very happy for her, that all her training at Yale School of Drama and her hard work is finally paying off; but it seems to me like the world is more focused on her skin complexion than her amazing talent. There has been more talk about her dark complexion than about the brilliant and heart-wrenching performance she delivered in 12 Years A Slave.
Hollywood seems to have found its new muse while the black community, especially ,Africans seem to have found a new face to represent them. It appears to me that she is being celebrated for the wrong reasons.
We live in America.Land of the free, where equality and liberty is for all and where opportunities abound for every body irrespective of skin color.And I like to believe that it is because of this that the casting director cast Lupita in the movie after seeing how talented she was. But I can’t help thinking that all the hype surrounding her has been mainly because and around her skin.
Lupita’s skin is flawless no doubt. Silky, smooth and spotless. It is very enticing and rich and a great part of me thinks Hollywood took so much to her because of it, because it is black gold which they can milk and mint money out of. No wonder the countless magazine covers and blog features. They are fully aware of this and are using her as a marketing tool to market their countless products.
I pray that is not the case but since it seems so, what does it say of Hollywood? We are not really done with slavery then are we? If the main reason why Hollywood espoused Lupita is because of her skin, then they have completely sold her short and her success has been built on a fallacy. Many people auditioned for that role, but you imagine what it would mean if or what is says if Lupita only got the role because she was the darkest of them all and not because she carried the weight that the part demanded?. That would mean, even though not in chains and depicting the story of a woman enduring pain from the hands of her captor, Lupita has been indirectly dealt the same fate of the studios choosing her because she was dark enough.
And the designers and magazines? Same thing. I am sure they chose her because they feel their designs and clothes would stand out on a complexion like hers. You would see Lupita, but really, what you are focused on are the clothes. They are mining the gold that is her body to their benefits, much to the delusion of those who look to her as inspiration for success.
Blacks now feel a certain sense of credibility and pride because of her. They are in a silent war with who knows, trying as much as possible to claim her as their own and not “theirs”. They are the first to tell you that if she was as light as Beyonce or as brown as Gabrielle Union, she wouldn’t have gotten the role of her lifetime. The role that would catapult her to heights she might have never even dreamed of. She needed to have dark-skin to have been cast, thereby implying that her complexion might have been the only thing that worked in her favor, not her talent and hard work.
What does this say about us a people, as a human race?, who claim to have seen the light and are being fair to grant every body the opportunity to prove themselves and celebrate people for their tough grind. Isn’t it the racists in Hollywood then, the designers and magazines that chose Lupita not because of her ability but appearance? And isn’t it the racists in the blacks that rejoices and associates with her because they feel she is the real definition of ‘black’.
Since she came into the spotlight, there has been more debate and talk about what beauty really is, especially for the black community. It seems as though Lupita has set the new terms of beauty: dark skin. There are a myriad of skin complexions in the world and you would find more shades of that in the black race than any other race. The whites are just white. Plain and simple. White. That is it. Even those whom you can clearly see and recognize as tanners, are simply white. But when we see a black person, he is either fair/light, chocolate/brown, or dark/black and black people, often times are always the first to make the distinction. Sure there are bleachers too and just like the tanners, it is completely bad for you and could lead to cancer.
But what about those who don’t bleach? Those who are naturally light skin or brown? Where does the new definition of beauty that is Lupita-skin leave them? Aren’t they just as beautiful? Women have been attacking women and blacks have been attacking blacks for not being dark enough like Lupita and accusing the innocent ones of trying to deviate from Lupita-like-skin. Aren’t we all beautiful in our own way? Do we now define beauty in terms of what other people say it is?
We all have the racist bug in us every time we identify with someone else more for their skin color than their brains, when we offer people opportunities not because we believe in their true abilities but what their skin has to offer, when we revere and revel in someone’s success not because their unending toil finally paid off but because we feel their skin got them there, we are racist. We all are.
If we are going to continue to praise Lupita, let it be because her talent and work got her to that position and not because of her skin. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with inspiring a few girls who might need it if they are not confident in themselves. But let us not use her as a standard for beauty, because beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. It doesn’t matter if you are brown, orange or black as long as you were born that way. You have to love yourself and accept yourself first before the rest of the world will, which she clearly seems to have.
To borrow Lupita’s mother’s words, you can’t eat beauty. You cannot reap the rewards of beauty but you will reap the rewards of hard work. She said a beautiful speech when she received her award and I end with her words, “no matter where you are from, your dreams are valid”. Your dreams are valid regardless of your skin color as long as you do the work.