About Lupita: Reflections On The Backlash

Lupita Nyong'oSo unless you have been living under a rock you are aware that actress Lupita Nyong’o took home to the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress last Sunday. While Lupita’s ascent has been praised and celebrated there is also a backlash to her success.

The level of negativity and shade being heaped upon the actress by Black people in social media has truly disgusted me. I swear, some people are never satisfied. From accusations that she is a ‘house negro’ and is going to be used by ‘the white man’ to ‘force’ homosexuality and interracial relationships on African-Americans to the confident declarations that white people don’t ‘really’ find her beautiful, there is a nasty streak of hate being thrown at her. The idea of a beautiful, dark-skinned Africans women being adored is unleashing the worst in people. It is very, very sad to see.

As a black woman I really wonder about those pushing these ideas. Why is the idea that non-Blacks might find a dark-skinned woman beautiful met with such paranoia and accusations of a conspiracy? Is a non-Black person admiring one of our women so outside the realm of possibility that we have to insist it’s just a fetish? Then there are the complaints of “overexposure”. I see a number of folks complaining that they are ‘sick’ of seeing Lupita’s face everywhere. But these same people don’t complain about the exposure of Black female celebrities of a lighter shade. For example Beyonce has been in the public eye since 2003 and is a major global icon. Yet I haven’t heard as much whining about her exposure, nor has the public’s fascination with her been written off as a racist fetish(if I’m wrong please correct me). The response to Lupita by elements within the Black community shows how hurt we are and how deeply we have internalized White Supremacy.

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A native Seattleite and recent East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been. I reside in the suburbs of NYC with my husband, daughter, and our two feisty but deeply loved cats.

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