Fighting Colorism and Its Expression of Femininity and Masculinity

By:  BlackConservative93

Actress, Amandla Stenberg has generated positive buzz from black media outlets with her claim of not wanting a role in Black Panther in order to give more screen-time for dark skin black women.  She described her decision as, “There are spaces that I should not take up,” in an interview with CBC.

She goes on to say, “These are all dark skin actors playing Africans and I feel like it would have just been off to see me [sic] as a biracial American with a Nigerian accent just pretending that I’m the same color as everyone else in the movie.”  Even though Stenberg auditioned for the role of Princess Shuri, it did not make sense for me in understanding why now, especially when most black people do not know who she is or the movies she starred in other than the Hunger Games.  If she did not feel comfortable playing an African Stenberg could have asked casting or the director to play a minor role as an African American.  Her presence in the film would not have bothered anyone or diminished dark skin actresses.

Now, I will state the obvious that she would have been too light to play T’Challa’s sister due to his skin tone and among the various actors who played their relatives.  She was right in that aspect due to the role, but the bigger question was why did it need to be announced?  Some black bloggers did not applaud Stenberg, such as the Kinfolk Kollective after she posted a screenshot meme describing Stenberg as an attention whore.  At first the meme did offend me (even though I am not mixed), but after reading the comments I began to realize that black women did not need Stenberg’s pity.  Kinfolk Kollective may have lost some supporters as her attack on light skin/mixed women was unwarranted, but it happens when bloggers live for controversy.

Nonetheless, Africa is not as dark skin as African Americans imagine as we often miss the existence of light skin, mixed and albino Africans; but we get the concept of Wakanda as an uncolonized country that isolates itself from the rest of the world.  So the director had it right with casting even with audience’s claims of light skin extras.

On the flip-side, I also see Stenberg’s dropout as Princess Shuri as her seeing though the lack of femininity among Wakandan women.  I am sure Stenberg was not the only mixed woman to audition.  Granted, this assumption could be a reach to claim that light skin women silently boycotted to not audition in droves to be apart of the Dora Milaje (warriors).  When it came to equating femininity or compassion for dark skin women I saw it more with the men than women.  No, I am not saying Black Panther and Killmonger are gay.  T’Challa was shy and was teased for still loving Nakia (Lupita N’yongo) and Killmonger had a scene where he made out with his girlfriend.  Black men were not afraid to be vulnerable, cry and they even learn how to forgive themselves in accepting and fixing the wrongs from the past.  I will say that Lupita and Letitia Wright were beautiful in the film, but I noticed the one-sided appreciation as black magazine publications thirsted over Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan and Winston Duke while black men seem to just appreciate the film as art and not notice the actresses.

In my opinion, I did not see a lot of eye candy for my age range.  Yes there was Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright), but she was childish and it made me see her as more of a pre-teen than an adult.  Lupita as Nakia was somewhat feminine, even though she is beautiful I kept seeing her as an equal to T’Challa, but she did open up near the end when she saw Killmonger throwing her lover over the waterfall.  Granted, Angela Bassett as Ramonda was the most feminine role in the movie (one of two main female characters who did fight in the film), she was a widow and we did not get a chance to see her love her husband (T’Chaka).  In my opinion, my eyes were on Nabiyah Be (Linda) who was disguised as a sales associate in her first scene in the museum.  I saw her hair, I was hoping to see more of her, but that short lived.  It was kind weird to leave the theater and not have someone to call “bae”, especially when most of the cast were black women.

Regardless, the Black Panther film was a powerful masterpiece that was just as marketable not only to black people, but to every race and nationality.  As a huge comic book nerd, I will stand down to say that Black Panther was not for me, but for the dark skin black girls who were excluded from nerdhood because us blerds/nerds did not want girls around the club and we were naïve to believe that they liked superheroes too.

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