Erin

Hollywood and Biracial It-Girls

Erin
Hollywood and Biracial It-Girls

There's definitely an ongoing trend of Hollywood newcomers who seize the spotlight for months and even years at a time for new films that aren't even always that spectacular. Actresses like Zoe Kravitz (yes she is biracial for those of you that didn't know, both of her parents are half black/half white), Zendaya, Yara Shahidi, Amandla Stenberg, Kiersey Clemmons, Tessa Thompson, the list literally goes on. Any time there's a new young "black" actress, she's light skinned and mixed. Because of this, the playing field in terms of representation isn't leveled in the slightest. 

Annoyingly so, whenever the topic of colorism arises, the Black community becomes completely and utterly tone deaf despite the fact that the same arguments made against racism could be applied to colorism. It's astounding that even after all these years, all of the studies and statistics that backup the realities of colorism, all of the hate towards dark skin that's been spewed by public figures OF the Black community, that people are still in denial. 

The representation when it comes to ALL black girls is far from being even. It would be intellectually dishonest and insulting to insist that there's just as many young dark skinned girls in the media right now that are just as popular and prevalent as the light, biracial ones. I often push specifically for young dark skinned girls because representation matters at a young age. I'm 20 years old and I still feel some type of way about never seeing anyone like myself on tv growing up besides Keke Palmer. I'm still mad because I still don't see anyone like me. I could throw several names at you of young Black dark skinned actresses. But would you know who they are? Diamond White? Sierra McClain? Ryan Destiny? Lovie Simone? Royalty Hightower? Karidja Touré? Quevenzhané Wallis? I'm disappointed to say that I myself can't even go much further than this. And that's a problem. 

If I asked you to name me more young dark skinned actresses, you'd probably automatically recite to me: Gabrielle Union, Teyonah Paris, Anika Noni Rose, Antoinette Robertson, Aja Naomi King, Lupita Nyong'o, even Viola Davis who is 52 years old. And I regret to tell you that all of these women are 25+. Not saying that that's old, but just because some of them look young, doesn't mean they should always be recycled and kept in rotation for roles meant for younger black girls. It's not fair to newcomers who are trying to get their start.

It's telling that there are notable dark skinned actresses in Hollywood that are only older women, not young teens and women that are in their early 20s. Dark skinned girls are only recognized once they get older while the light, biracial girls receive praise and plenty of recognition off the bat without having to even star in a notable film with any merit. Dark skinned actresses need to do the absolute most and be twice as good to get half of what the lighter, biracial girls get. That's a fact. The fact that Viola Davis is only just now receiving her first notable awards, specifically speaking the Emmy's, Academy Award and Golden Globe Award, after years of giving us entertainment through her gut-wrenching and emotional depictions, says a lot because it was long overdue. 

For every light skinned, biracial actress that's booming in Hollywood, I want a dark skinned equivalent. I've made this clear plenty a time but for some reason people still seem to think me wanting this is basically wanting to completely push out lighter skinned, biracial actresses. "It sounds like y'all don't want any light skinned girls on screen. Pushing out light skinned girls and replacing them with dark girls isn't a solution for equal representation." *Porsha Williams voice* Who said dat? Cause I didn't. Unless your subconscious thinks there's not enough room for the both of them. There needs to be more variety, and pushing for that to happen is not the same as "pushing" people out. If anything I'm pushing to make more room.

Here's the thing with these popular, young lighter skinned actresses: their activism doesn't inspire me. They simply do not represent me. I am the total opposite of everything that they are. I'm dark, unapologetic, I'm very outspoken, and I'm not what most would consider "safe". I don't really consider myself to be someone that's easily palatable to the public. These girls have an extremely palatable and watered down form of activism and blackness that doesn't resonate with me at all. I am BUHLACK, 2 dark skinned black parents and 4 dark skinned black grandparents. No significant mixtures or lightness over here. The general public does not find them to be threatening or aggressive the way they do when darker girls like myself are speaking on the same exact things as they are.

Sure Zendaya and Yara are on their pro-black, Black Girl Magic wave but I'll never be able to relate to any of it. Had I been in their position I probably would be blackballed in the industry for being too radical and aggressive simply because I'm dark skinned. Their experiences will always be vastly different from mine as well as how they're perceived, and their rise to fame assures me of that every time. When it comes to representation it's not a one size fits all sort of ordeal, and people should know that by now.

Young light skinned, biracial girls are allowed to be young in Hollywood and on-screen but it seems that that same permission isn't granted to darker skinned black girls, which needs to change. Age limits are being put on who gets recognition and who gets to be featured on-screen when it comes to dark skinned Black girls and women and it's not fair. I want dark skinned girls to have the freedom to be great and be recognized at any age, anywhere. It's time for the constraints to go.