Links of the Week 09/01/2012

1Gabby Douglas to Oprah: I was ‘bullied,’ called ‘slave’ during early gymnastics training in Virginia. [New York Daily News]
She recalled a specific example of racism. “One of my teammates was like, ‘Could you scrape the bar?’” she remembered. “And they were like, ‘Why doesn’t Gabby do it, she’s our slave?’”

“I was the only African-American at that gym,” Gabby went on. “I definitely felt isolated. Why am I deserving this? Is it because I’m black? — those thoughts were going through my mind.”

2. Disappearing Acts: Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone & The Erasure of Black Women in Film. [Huffington Post]

Casting Saldana also attempts, if inadvertently, to erase the memory of Simone’s revolutionary ebon image from our minds and history’s musical canon. Saldana as Simone specifically challenges the message of Simone’s music and undermines the power of her well-documented resistance to conventional ideas of beauty and colorism. Nina’s success and appeal had as much to do with her talent as it did with her having big lips, wide hips and that Mama Africa bosom.

Hollywood has a long history of giving black actresses the finger by casting white women in the lead of films based on the lives of black women — most famously Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. Angelina Jolie was given the green light to portray Mariane Pearl, an Afro-Cuban Chinese, French writer in the 2007 adaptation of Pearl’s A Mighty Heart, which we kinda let slide because, well, it was Angie. But then she was cast again in a role based on a black woman character in the film Wanted, an adaptation of the same titled comic book series in which the main character is a black.

And the real kicker came in 2008 when Mena Suvari, a white actress, was cast in “St”uck, the true life story of African-American Chante Mallard, for which Suvari had the nerve to sport cornrows.

3. Desert Flower [National Geographic] A must watch movie. 

Somali nomad Waris Dirie runs away from an arranged marriage at the age of 13 and ends up on the fashion runways of London, Paris, and New York. She also becomes a UN special ambassador, speaking out about the traditions that harm women worldwide.

“I feel that God made my body perfect the way I was born. Then man robbed me, took away my power, and left me a cripple. My womanhood was stolen. If God had wanted those body parts missing, why did he create them?”~ Waris Dirie


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