Invisible Women

A biopic of legendary activist and artist Nina Simone is in the works. The decision to cast Zoe Saldana in the lead role has provoked much discussion in the Black community and the entertainment world. As a dark-skinned Black American woman, this subject touched me on a deeply personal level. When pictures of Saldana in character leaked I shook my head. It’s bad enough that I rarely see positive depictions of women like me in the media. But the fact that Hollywood would rather put a light-skinned sista in blackface than cast a dark-skinned woman to play a dark-skinned woman felt like the straw that broke the camels’ back. Are ebony sistas so undesirable that we can’t even get roles in our own story? It rankled me, and I was far from alone in this. But those of us who have dared to say so have been treated as though we-and not the color caste system that continues to exist in 2012-are the real problem. We are accused of ‘reverse racism’, of being jealous, of hating and of attempting to monopolize the concept of Blackness. We are told that we are simply paranoid and it is all in our head. I’m truly struck by the audacity of such sentiment. It isn’t enough that darker women are marginalized in media. Our voices need to be silenced as well. Our experiences with colorism and the pain it causes are swept under the rug. I fully admit to being complicit in this in the past. I’ve bitten my tongue. I’ve held back out of fear that I’d be misunderstood. I won’t make that mistake again. I am going to speak my truth as a dark-skinned sista. I refuse to be an invisible woman.It is not that I feel dark-skinned women alone represent blackness. It’s that I’m tired of us being excluded from the picture altogether.

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