I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty, black beauty, dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: “Dear Lupita,” it reads, “I think you’re really lucky to be this black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.”
My heart bled a little when I read those words, I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.
February 27, 2014
7th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon
Not a day, hour, minute or second goes by on my social media without a Lupita Nyong’o posting. Tonight all eyes will be looking out for her on the red carpet at the Academy Awards aka Oscars as she’s up for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Patsy in “12 Years a Slave.” If I invert two of the letters of the title (Slave to “Salve”), it brings me to the theme of this post. Lupita’s beauty, brains, culture, talent, and impeccable style have been a salve to so many Black women. For some reason I thought the trials of dark-skinned Black women would have come to an end in the 21st century, but I have been sadly wrong. As they say, these things adapt to their times. “Colorism” has been tossed around. Zora Neale Hurston’s generation would call it “color struck.” The road to Lupita is long and peppered with potholes.
We see Lupitas every day. We really do. But her beauty is only affirmed on this scale only a few moments in a lifetime. Where as white and light beauty is our social and aesthetic default and standard. But somehow it’s decided by something when a generation will have a “Lupita moment.” For the highly visual digital age, she has been the gift that keeps on giving especially to young women of a certain hue and (let me not forget that other standard) hair texture.
Lupita has been a feast for women who have been living in their social famine. I thought I’d pull together what I call a few “Lupita” moments starting with the days when “Black Is Beautiful” was supposed to be the “salve” of the decade. This time I would like to measure the impact of the “Lupita factor.” This time will it stick? Feel free to post your “Lupitas” to this blog post.
2000 – 2009