Photo via: www.renaissanceblackwomen.net
Last week I was disgusted to see the Straight Outta Compton casting call in print. Unfortunately, nothing about it surprised me. Attacks on black women's beauty, femininity, and worth comes with a deep history of subjugation and occurs within and without black communities worldwide. Sadly in 2014, someone had no qualms about a casting call that placed black women at the bottom of the totem pole. It is no wonder that there are few movies and films that depict the complexities, beauty, intelligence, and humanity of black women. If the process is tainted (as shown by this casting notice), what can we expect of the the final product? My problem with the ad goes further than its flippant disregard of black women. Ranking women according to race and skin shade is another problem altogether.
The impacts of these kind of onslaughts on black women are dangerous. Over and over we hear and see the hurt and pain women of color experience, because they've never felt affirmed, beautiful, worthy or deserving of good. There are countless women who don't see themselves reflected in positive affirming images. Instead, many black women live in a world where they are surrounded by ideas, attitudes, music and people who pile on insult to an already deep injury. I also worry about the potential damage on children's psyches when the images they see or the messages they hear cast black women and women of color as inferior.
I don't have the solution to such a long and deep-seated problem, but I urge you, if you are the parent, friend, relative, mentor or teachers of a little black girl, please affirm her, because in this world she needs it. Please expose her to positive role models who look like her, role models who rose above the fray despite negative messaging. Continue to support, encourage, and empower the sisters in your life, because a lot of us often need a soft place to land.