Need Diversity? Use The Black Girl! Part 1

*Sigh* I am so sick and tired of this. It seems like every time that it’s time to show diversity the casting director snaps his finger and says, “I know, lets get a black girl!” Which would be great that black women were getting more roles, and being shown in a better light if they were actually… Oh, I don’t know, really being shown in a better light. Instead, these black women never get to just play a standard role of women. No they have to be the poster child of diversity even it it means making them look a way that is not flattering. The role that no one else wants to be. Somehow they use black women as the  “revolutionary ones”. To make a point. Most of the time these “diverse” characters are only using their stereotypes to say see its okay to be this or that. But really all they are doing is keeping black women in the same stereotyped role that these same people struggle to escape everyday.

Take Amber Riley’s character Mercedes on the Fox show Glee. She could be seen as a poster child for diversity. She’s African American. She’s Confident and she’s not a size two. Sounds good on the surface, right? Wrong. Mercedes comes off looking like they typical black woman diva. Basically whatever thinks black women think they are.  Not to mention she is so confident in her body she was even willing to give up the cheerios to eat tater tots for lunch instead of dieting to stay on the team.  Now you might say, “True, but there is a white character on glee who is also overweight and loves her body.” But again this doesn’t hold up. What they show of Lauren (the white character) is someone who loves her body and people in turn love her. Somehow because of this she is able to bag the hottest guy on the show. (Puck) and enjoy her life to the fullest even with extra meat on her bones. With Mercedes, she is written as the sacrificial Mammy for white audiences. Torn between being giving up her tots and being a cheerio and popular for the first time. Of course, It would send a bad message to the audience members to see a black girl actually care about how much she weighs because(as a black woman) of course you have to *love* your body.(No matter how close to obesity you are) So in the end Mercedes gives up Cheerios for the tots. This loving yourself campaign would actually be good if on the same hand they had the other white characters(0r other minority characters) living up to those same standards. But they don’t. Instead Riley’s character is the woman who is sent onto the minefield of the “love yourself” campaign. While the rest of them sit back and watch, silently admiring, yet not daring to be so bold.  It’s the typical “I’m not going first, you go first” idea, That has the black woman testing whether the grenades are actually volatile or not.

This isn’t the only time this happens either. Take the new Sofia Vergara K-Mart Commercial for her clothing line. The obvious theme of this commercial is, that, as a woman you should work with what you have and “be proud, be sexy” In the commercial different races of women are all showcased, but guess who the “l love myself, I don’t have to be skinny to be happy” woman is? The black woman!  She is the woman who is boldly daring to be outside of a healthy weight to show the world its okay. Here’s a question: Why couldn’t they have had the  white women be the “I love myself” woman? Or the Asian woman?  Because  Black women are constantly being “othered” by forcing them into the same stereotype. If you listen closely what they are telling black women is “YOU are a black woman. You can’t possibly want to look normal.” You can’t possibly want to be an average (healthy) weight that other races of women strive to stick to. If you don’t you aren’t promoting diversity. You hate yourself. *because of course loving yourself means being overweight and sassy.  Because black women are of course overweight and sassy. Its not possible for a black woman to love herself and send that message without being fat.

Question 2: If it is just so important to have diversity and self love, why are they still showing every other race of woman “sacrificing” for their beauty? Showing how they are willing to go without tots to get ahead instead of standing on the sidelines watching the other women participate. I’ll answer that question myself. Because they want to show that black women need to “keep it real” show that they are not “sell outs” to beauty standards that the other poor races of women are forced to endure. Black women are “above” that.Its supposed to be good that black women are fat and happy about it.  But really, none of this is helping black women in the long run  because it paints a picture that black women should sacrifice themselves yet again for “the cause”.

END OF PART ONE. PART TWO IN NEXT POST

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