Yetsreday ESSENCE magazine bestowed Lupita Nyong’o the Best Breakthrough Performance Award at their 2014 Black Women in Hollywood luncheon for her Oscar-nominated performance in “12 Years A Slave.”
While receive this honor, Lupita gave an acceptance speech which was both heartbreaking and inspiring. She spoke about Black beauty and the times as a young adult that she felt unattractive for being so dark-skinned. She only saw lighter-skinned women on TV; as a child and adolescent, Lupita shared, she used to pray to God to make her skin lighter so she could be as desirable as them. Today, as a successful actress, she hears from young women who feel that same way right now.
Here is Lupita Nyong’o's full speech from last night, via ESSENCE. It’s extremely touching and well-worth a read: Keep reading »
Whitenicious, a cosmetics line created by California-based, Nigerian-Cameroonian pop star Dencia touts its ability to help customers even out their skin and get rid of discoloration. The product is essentially a skin bleaching cream in a golden jar, sold for $150 a pop– well, at least that is what anyone would gather from Dencia’s “transformation” as seen on the advertisement, from a mocha beauty, to a caramel, Beyonce look-alike, to a washed-out corpse.
So why is this never explicitly stated? More importantly, why is the purpose of Whitenicious — to make a dark skinned person have lighter skin — intentionally concealed? The advertising campaign for Dencia’s product leads consumers to believe that the function of her “cosmetic” is to “nourish your skin and lighten dark knuckles, knees and elbows.” Keep reading »
I am a 23-year-old black woman who, for a long time, tried to have discussions with white people about racism in America. I went to a white, liberal college in New York City where I thought such exchanges were welcomed. I actually believed there could be such a thing as a productive conversation on the matter, some type of engagement, a debate. I wrote speeches about the wealth gap between black and white families (a staggering $100,000 difference), the unforgivable incarceration rate of black men, the discriminatory education system. I even made a video about the misrepresentation and misuse of black women by pop culture and the media. Most of my revelations were met with silence and blank stares by my class of mostly white peers. Eventually the professor, typically a white man or woman, would clear his/her throat and ask, “Well, any questions for Tiffanie?” The students would whisper amongst themselves, but oddly, I was never asked to elaborate. It was understood, in their opinion, that I was the overly sensitive, angry black woman. The racist; a race baiter. Keep reading »
Putting to rest (for now) a controversy over why the iconic comedy show has not had a Black woman on the cast for five years, Sasheer Zamata has joined”Saturday Night Live” as a featured player. According to Deadline Hollywood, Sasheer graduated from the University of Virginia three years ago and trained with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City. You might even recognize her from her appearances on “Inside Amy Schumer” and in a number of viral YouTube comedy videos, including “How To Politely React To Your Friend’s Terrible Engagement.” “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels had promised to add a Black comedienne to the cast after the show was criticized during the fall following remarks by Black male cast members, Keenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah. Keenan had suggested there weren’t enough Black women who were “ready,” while Jay said the show needed to get with the program and be more diverse. Sasheer will appear on January 18th, with Drake as a musical guest and host. Looking forward to it! [Deadline Hollywood, Sasheer.com]
“It’s actually really funny how many people could watch my performance, and they think it was, like, sexist and degrading to women, and somehow people found that it was racist, which I couldn’t even wrap my mind around. Because I’m like: ‘How do I win? If I have white dancers, then I’m racist. If I have black girl dancers, then I’m racist.’ We know we’re not racist, and I know I’m not putting down women. People got a rise out of me saying that I was a feminist, but I am. I’m telling women be whoever you want to be.”
Oh Miley, Miley, Miley. Here she is in the New York Times this weekend proving she, still, so doesn’t get why people were offended that she spanked a Black woman onstage at the VMAs. I’m not entirely surprised that an ex-Disney star doesn’t have the a developed sense of racism and intersectional feminism, but I would have hoped she’d be slightly more intellectual than to think than employing black backup dancers makes her not racist.
Here’s what Miley had to say when she was asked by the Times whether her personal thinking about race changed this year: Keep reading »
Three or so days in, I’ve listened to Beyonce’s new, self-titled record straight through at least a dozen times. I say with all seriousness that I believe it is her masterpiece, one of those increasingly rare albums in which every track is essential to the overall story. While I have my favorites, there is not one track I have the desire to skip. The album and its 17 accompanying music videos tell a story about womanhood, but specifically Black womanhood, that is powerful, compelling and beautiful. At times, the songs are clearly autobiographical, but they also speak to themes that are relatable to many women — sexuality, self-expression, motherhood, love, heartbreak, power, and self-worth. The latter theme is especially felt in the album’s opening number, “Pretty Hurts,” which has Bey singing about the damaging effects of rigid beauty standards and body policing. The video for “Pretty Hurts” features Beyonce as a pageant contestant (from the Third Ward, the area in Houston where she grew up) who endures judgmental looks and objectifying weight and measurement assessments as she sings, “But you can’t fix what you can’t see/ It’s the soul that needs the surgery.”
The song sends a powerful message about the pressure we put on girls to look a certain way; the video depicts just one way that pressure is experienced by girls specifically in the pageant circuit. But according to Amanda Hess over at Slate, the video’s pageant theme is “based on an incredibly outdated vision of how we reinforce unattainable physical norms for girls.” According to Hess, “today’s beauty myth is constructed through collections of highly curated ‘candid’ selfies beamed straight from the stars themselves, and Beyoncé is its queen.” In other words, it’s not just the video that Hess has a problem with — it’s Beyonce delivering that message at all because, in her opinion, Beyonce is part of the problem. What Hess gets wrong is … well, everything. Keep reading »
R. Kelly is one of the most successful R&B artists of our time. He’s sold 54 million records globally, had a career that spans three decades and penned classic records that have provided the soundtrack for some of our best moments.
But while folks were bumping and grinding to his hits, other things were going bump in the night. Keep reading »
Earlier this week, we fell in love with 12-year-old badass Vanessa Van Dyke (and her supportive momma!) for not letting her private school enforce racist beauty standards on her hair. The Orlando, Florida, student complained about bullying from students over her Afro and school administrators responded by demanding that Vanessa straighten or cut her Black hair or face expulsion. The school’s dress code said hair must be a natural color and not be a “distraction,” but they only said Vanessa’s ‘fro was a distraction after she complained about the bullying. Fuck you, Faith Christian Academy! In honor of Vanessa Van Dyke, EBONY.com has declared today, November 27th, #NationalAfroDay. Women and men rocking natural hair are invited to submit their photos to Ebony, where they will be posted on a special “We Are Hair For Vanessa Van Dyke” Facebook page. Show Vanessa Van Dyke some love for staying true to herself in the face of bullshit. [EBONY.com, Facebook.com: We Are Hair For Vanessa Van Dyke]
Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, Florida, has forced 12-year-old Vanessa Van Dyke, a Black student who rocks a mane of natural hair, to either straighten her hair or cut it off — or be expelled.
The school claims her hairstyle is in violation of the school dress code, which says, “Hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction.” It gives examples of inappropriate hair such as rat tails, mohawks and shaved designs. The “distraction” is apparently Vanessa’s complaint to grownups at the school that she was been teased over her hair. Keep reading »