Can we stop pretending this isn’t deliberate?
I am not asking for a recast of Shana. Even with the assistance of colorism, it is still very difficult for non-white actresses to obtain major roles. If a white actress can be hired for the role? She will be. So every role cast to an actress of color should be held onto with all its might, for the opportunity may not come again. What I am asking for is the basic acknowledgement that colorism exists, it is in play here, and it is erasing black, Latina, Native, and Asian actresses of darker hues from the canvas. It is telling our daughters and our sisters that their skin tone is unfeminine and undesirable. That we should not be relegated to the back, in brief full-body shots in celluloid to provide contrast to the fairer lead, but that we are so unattractive that we should not be seen at all. That we must be adjusted—lightened—to be of worth. To be beautiful. To be wanted. An actress such as Lupita Nyong’o is held as an exception to the “rule” that women of darker hues are unattractive instead of as one mere example of a new rule—that women of all hues are equally beautiful.
I am not going to support the upcoming Jem and the Holograms film. I am no longer going to support any film or television show where a character once heralded as beautiful—due to and not in spite of her skin tone—has been lightened to make said character “acceptable.” Marketable. Not until at least one character makes it from the second dimension to the third with her melanin levels intact. And Hollywood has amazingly yet to give us that. Not even one character.
We are no longer going to accept the message that we are not wanted here and yet still leave our money on the counter as we make our way out.
We have other options now.