Lupita N’Yong’o is a Goddess.
And although her presence illuminates the darkness, her skin is like chocolate ganache, her teeth are pearly white, and her personality is as radiant as the sun, I’m still running into some Lupita hate…and it’s mainly from Black men.
“People only call Lupita beautiful out of pity,” one of my Twitter followers wrote.
I quickly responded to him with a tweet in all caps that said, “NO!”
It took me a minute to calm down because I’ve seen the women he’s dated. All light skinned…all with long hair. It got me to thinking…why did so many Black men find Lupita unattractive, and why did they feel the need to voice their opinions about it so adamantly?
Ms. Lupita graced the cover of People Magazine last year as People’s “Most Beautiful Person.” I was delighted that the Goddess was being recognized by people everywhere. Folk all over now had to acknowledge the fact that someone found this dark skinned, natural haired, AFRICAN girl BEAUTIFUL.
For some reason however, that same feeling of praise didn’t resonate with Black men. There are several reasons why I think Black men call Lupita ugly:
3)They’re Ashamed To Admit They Find Her Attractive
4)They don’t have eyes
Colorism has always been a thing in the Black community. Light skinned girls with long straight hair have always been considered “pretty.” The media has perpetuated that myth a hundred times over, and casting directors, rappers, athletes, singers, etc have helped the process along.
For example, take the casting call for the film “Straight Outta Compton”:
A GIRLS: These are the hottest of the hottest. Models. MUST have real hair – no extensions, very classy looking, great bodies. You can be black, white, asian, hispanic, mid eastern, or mixed race too. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to
B GIRLS: These are fine girls, long natural hair, really nice bodies. Small waists, nice hips. You should be light-skinned. Beyonce is a prototype here. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number
C GIRLS: These are African American girls, medium to light skinned with a weave. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to:
D GIRLS: These are African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone. Character types. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com
That actually makes my stomach turn. It bothers me that even in 2015, with all of the oppression, racism and prejudice that Black people still face on a daily basis, that Black men would continue to use the same tactics as their oppressor to tear down Black women. Misogynoir, a term coined by feminist Moya Bailey, who also happens to be a lesbian, describes this situation perfectly. Misogynoir refers to anti-black misogyny, where race and gender together are factors in the hatred of black women. Bailey created the term to address misogyny directed toward black women in American visual and popular culture.
To take it a step further: Misogynoir creates a binary with White women (where White women represent “good” womanhood and Black women do not) or has levels that include other women of colour, but only insofar as Black women are the most degraded and placed at the bottom—is also a factor when many heterosexual Black men assert their dating “preferences.” They rarely can verbalize what they desire without also making it known that they don’t desire or that they even hate Black women.
Le Sigh. Here’s the thing: Nobody cares about your “preference,” sir. But what we DO care about is why you prefer what you prefer. Does it kill you to know that a person you’ve been taught and have probably programmed yourself to hate or find unattractive has found her spot as People‘s Most Beautiful Person? What about that eats away at you? Does it get under your skin that she is always smiling, and absolutely NOT what Black women are portrayed to be by the media? Does it damage your ego that she is a graduate of YALE? And what’s more: YOU DON’T HAVE TO FIND LUPITA ATTRACTIVE. But brotha’ you also don’t have to VOICE your disdain for her so LOUDLY, and be such a douchebag while doing it. How about building your sisters up, and not attempting to discredit them?
I think this excerpt from an article written by Damon Young for Ebony magazine is a good note to end on:
…there’s no doubt in my mind this crush pattern was a direct result of believing only lightskinned girls were crush-worthy. As much as we tout how important it is for a young Black person’s parents to instill an appropriate sense of self-worth, self-love, and racial consciousness, family units don’t exist in vacuums. A kid’s peer groups matter. The images they’re exposed to matter. The media they consume matters. And, I don’t think it was a coincidence my young tastes skewed lighter at a time when the vast majority of the young female entertainers considered crush-worthy (Halle Berry, Aaliyah, Lark Voorhies, Mya, Karyn Parsons, Tisha Campbell, etc) were also light. Even the ones who were browner (Tatyana Ali, Ananda Lewis, Chilli, etc) were lauded for their long, wavy hair–a trait usually associated with lighter-skinned women and not one most Black women posses, not by far.