Actually, I adore Zoe Saldana. I think she’s beautiful. And a fine actress with heart and mettle and a kick-assness about her. I think I’ve seen a lot of her work simply because she was in the movies and as a consumer of pop culture, especially black pop culture, she’s earned my respect. But this whole Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone thing just, like, confuses me. Not so much because of what Zoe Saldana isn’t, but because of what the incomparable Nina Simone was. She loved her some us—every inch of our dark skin and our wide noses and our thick lips and our buxom, curvy bodies—every coil in our kinky hair. And she used her art to encourage—no, demand—that we do the same, no matter how much society insisted on reserving it’s tallest pedestals for “otherness.”
I do not deny Zoe her blackness; she has the right to claim it (and couldn’t deny it if she wanted to anyway) and celebrate it as she sees fit. But what responsibility do we have to Ms. Simone’s legacy—her staunch, unyielding celebration of all that popular culture long abhored—as we tell her story? As we remind the world of her truth? As we put a fair-skinned, silky-haired, thin Latina in blackface and prosthetics so that she can portray a dark-skinned, thick-nosed, luscious-lipped, wide-hipped PROUD TO BE BLACKER THAN BLACK black woman whose life’s mission was to represent for those of us who look like her but struggled to embrace it?
I say we put it in the hands of The Queen herself. Ms. Simone’s words speak a piece of her truth. Here, her thoughts on why the celebration of blackness is so crucial for the people:
There has been plenty of discourse on the matter of Zoe Saldana’s casting in the upcoming Nina Simone film, but none as powerful and beautifully written as my friend Akiba Solomon’s piece for Colorlines. I invite you to read her piece, “A Personal Take On the Nina Simone Biopic’s Casting Troubles.” I also invite you to read the open letter written by the content manager for NinaSimone.com.
And other MyBrownBaby Fresh Links:
1. Man Convicted in Michigan of Keeping Four African Boys As Slaves (Clutch)
2. Snoop Lion Drops Kid-Friendly Reggae Video, ‘La, La, La’ (AtlantaBlackStar)
3. Why Is Breast Cancer Killing So Many Black Women? (Ebony)
4. Brooklyn Teen: 1st Black Female Chess Master? (The Root)
5. Anonymous Mom: I Chose Single Motherhood & Have Been Branded A Shitty Mom Ever Since (Mommyish)
6. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg Backs President Obama (Wall Street Journal)
7. Chinese say one child is enough as Beijing weighs end of policy (NBC)
8. Police use Taser on 10-year-old at school career day, lawsuit alleges (Yahoo)
Have a fine weekend, family!
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.