*Recently Munroe Bergdorf, a transgender DJ and model, was fired from her position at L’Oreal, for some statements she made about the foundations of American and British racism. Statements that were taken entirely out of context by the British newrag, The Daily Mail.
Here’s her full statement:
There’s a great irony involved in a company attempting to make money off token efforts at diversity, firing one of its spokespeople for speaking out against racism, out of fear of what bigoted White people might think about the company. (In other words, performative allyship for money.) Then again, its L’Oréal, and I never put much stock in their efforts at diversity in the first place, or in the efforts of most businesses that try to attract my dollar this way. This is a company, that for decade, didn’t seem to want dark skinned people buying any of their skin careproducts, since they didn’t care to make any products for them, so I’m not surprised that they’ve issued a statement saying that Bergdorf does not represent the views of their company.
Well, where’s the lie?
And the response:
L’Oréal’s recent layoff sends a telling message about white supremacy
Looking back, makeup brands have strategically shut out women of color since their inception, particularly women with darker skin tones. This is not news, nor should it come as a surprise, as film was also built for white people. So in an effort to “champion diversity,” and potentially even make up for years of anti-Blackness, L’Oréal Paris casts a Black woman in their YoursTruly True Match diversity campaign.
Where they took a “risk” on her braids, they were rewarded by the potential of kudos by hiring a Black woman who is perceived as not “too Black” due to her lighter complexion. We know by now that dark skinned Black women are villainized, even when they’re FLOTUS. Where they took a risk in hiring a Black woman for a historically white company, the benefit was the accolades they would receive from GLAAD and mainstream media for hiring a Black trans woman, as opposed to a Black cis woman.
*C’mon! You knew this was going to happen! White people are upset that a dark skinned actress will be playing an orange skinned alien in a TV show, named Starfire. White male geeks being angry, whenever Black women wander anywhere near the orbit of their masturbation fantasies, (Aww c’mon! You know that’s what this is about!) is as predictable as clockwork, at this point.
You know what, guys? We coming for all your redheads! All of them! I think the staff at Black Nerd Problems will entirely agree with me on that.
I’ll be honest, when I first saw that Senegalese American actress Anna Diop (24: Legacy, Quantico, and perhaps most importantly, Everybody Hates Chris) was going to play Starfire in the new live-action Teen Titans series, I had the same reaction I always do to these sorts of castings: Yay for representation! Look at us on the screen!
But nah, homie. NAH. This series is coming out in 2018 aka the Year of Our Goddess Bast, She of the Sun and the Moon, as she eclipses the hell outta movie theaters and brings her eternal prophesy Black Panther to pass. You gonna have to do better than that to compete with Marvel dollars. Time to step the f up, DC Comics.
I’m talking about taking Koriand’r’s design all the way back to the original. The big hair— no! The biggest hair! I want to see Starfire waking up in a fireproof bonnet with curls flourishing like they been moisturized in the Milky Way. And don’t give Anna one of them wigs you keep giving poor Halle neither.
I want a whole planet of nothing but Black Tamaraneans. You know, the alien race that are both incredible warriors but simultaneously so full of sex positivity and love they literally forgot about war and built a scientifically advanced paradise? Give me a celestial body populated by Black people whose melanin is so fly they actually convert the sun’s ultraviolet rays into aerial travel. Hell, I want a planet where Black joy is so normalized that Kori can never fully adjust to American society and is constantly checking her team on their privilege and blatant racism (Nightwing’s role is rumored to be for a white boy, so it’s gonna happen).
Give me a Starfire whose history of being sold into slavery isn’t glossed over as a past trauma, but is an active part of her connection to Earth’s Black diaspora. A superhero who understands the horrors of the Tuskegee experiments and Henrietta Lacks because she and her own sister underwent the same kind of treatment by the Psions. And give me a badass Blackfire (keep that name!) while you’re at it! I’m talking your most fabulous Eartha Kittvillainy in an intergalactic romper looking so fine you almost forgive her.
Read on here [x]
*Still talking about this issue. There wasn’t anything new I needed to add to this. This essay on White fandoms erasure of PoC from their own narratives says it all.
When I check the Into the Badlands tag I often see people who are / were watching the show solely for its supporting white characters and supporting white ships – either they stan the Widow or Jade or Quinn or ship Jade x Ryder. And… Into the Badlands, with all its faults (looking at you s2 finale), is a show lead by two Asian male leads, a show with a central romantic storyline (s1-2) featuring a Black woman and an Asian man.
And it’s not like I want to say that the Widow / Jade / Quinn or Jade x Ryder are not worthy of stanning or that people aren’t allowed to like them, but the thing is that all the above are far from being rarity in media and fiction – you can find those kind of white characters and white ships in almost any given Western book, film, tv show. Whereas MK, Sunny and Veil are the examples of those few representations that we have. Sunny and MK being Asian male leads in a genre show on big US network is unheard of, they are unique. SunnyVeil as a Blasin (AM/BW) couple centering romantic storyline of seasons 1-2 is rarity.
And it reminded me of something – of those Katrina stans from Sleepy Hollow. You know, that show that had a great first season and a disastrous continuation after.
Abbie Mills is not the first Black woman lead on US TV (though she’s shamefully close to it), but she was a main lead on a genre show, and in 2013, that was unheard of. […]
Simply put, The Sleepy Hollow fandom was the first major genre TV fandom that was not explicitly white dominated. – Diversehighfantasy
Abbie Mills as a Black woman lead was important representation, and not just for Black women fans but to all of us. And yet, there still were the part of the audience that watched the show for a supporting white character Katrina Crane and supported the romantic storyline between Katrina and her estranged husband Ichabod (the show’s male lead). These people hated Abbie and wanted her gone off the show or become a supporting character to Katrina’s lead. The thing is that Katrina is a character that you can find by opening any book, by turning on TV and seeing in any show, you can go to a theatre and pick almost any play or a movie and you’ll see a Katrina and Ichabod x Katrina romance. So the defining feature of Katrina stans is that they are people who want the status quo – they watch the diverse films / shows, read the diverse books and latch onto the generic white characters and relationships that one can find in any genre of any piece of Western media / fiction.
You can find Katrina stans in any fandom, really. They are the Westallen / Richonne / Ichabbie haters who ship the white ships with the white men from those respective fandoms. They are the Rey.los, they are the Maggie/Daryl shippers. They are the people who claim that Finn is nothing more than a comic relief character, while Kylo is the “true male lead of the SW”. They are the people who insist that Scott is not the true lead of TW, but Stiles is. They are the people who watch Into the Badlands for its supporting white characters, they are the people who watch Cleverman for Iain Glenn only, they are the people who watch Marco Polo for its white male lead and couldn’t care about anything else in the show, they are the people who will watch Black Panther for M@rtin Freeman only. Katrina stans are people who erase Blade, John Luthor and Luke cage from their own canon narratives.
They are the Cl@lecs and J@lecs. And no, the latter are not “progressive” just because they’re not erasing Alec’s sexuality, like the former homophobes do. Because as rare LGBT representation is even nowadays, the shows featuring white gay lead characters and white gay / LGB relationships are still more represented than the shows featuring non-white gay characters and gay / LGB ships of color. I can name dozen of shows off the top of my head right now that star white gay characters and have central white gay / LGB romance. I can only name two that feature Asian GB characters – Shadowhunters and HTGAWM, and Oliver was a recurring / background character in s1-2.
Katrina stans are the people who erase characters of color from their own canon narratives. A person doesn’t need to be white to be a Katrina stan. They just need to support racist patterns of erasure and prioritize whiteness. “It’s really easy to be a little bit racist.” ©
And to a point I can see where these Katrina stans are coming from – never having the luxury of racial representation, from my very childhood I’m used to watching shows and films or reading books for one background character of color (not even an Asian character in particular, just the ones they can offer), who rarely has a central storyline, and is lucky enough if they don’t die horribly in the middle of the story. And you learn to cherish even those scrapes of representation they give you.
That’s why it hurts seeing when white fans, or fans with white worldview (not necessarily white themselves) try to erase those little scrapes of representation that we are starting to have. It’s not about “ship wars”. It’s about racial erasure. Racism hurts and it is always personal to a person of color.
White fans who indignantly ask “why does it matter what color of skin those character have?!” really don’t understand the mere concept of what it’s like never seeing yourself represented on screen / in fiction. They remind me that legend about “Let them eat cake” saying – the rumor states that when French queen Marie Antoinette was informed that the poor country people had no bread, she replied, “Then let them eat pastry!” The moral of the legend is that with all the luxury surrounding her, she didn’t know the mere concept of starving and having nothing but bread to eat.
White fans having the luxury of representation surrounding them everywhere they look, simply don’t get that we don’t have the metaphorical pastry. We barely can afford a loaf of “bread”, we don’t have the luxury of choice. So, basically Katrina stans are the people that come to your home, steal your last and only loaf of bread and then innocently wonder why are you mad.
If we continue the food metaphor, imagine this: you live in a world where all the bakeries offer only one pastry – the jelly bean cake. You like the jelly bean cakes, but you also crave for a raisin cake, after all, you are a raisin person. But you are surrounded with jelly bean people, so you adapt. You eat the jelly bean cakes. And when you’re lucky you see a jelly bean cake with one raisin in it, and you are the luckiest person alive, you buy the jelly bean cake with that single raisin and you eat the whole cake and cherish that one raisin. And then one day the bakery bakes a jelly bean cake with lots of raisins! You’ve never been happier. But then you see how jelly bean people come into the bakery, they buy the raisin cake, they take out the jelly beans and throw away the raisin cake into the trash bin. All in front of the baker, and then they make complaints about the raisin cake to the baker, because there aren’t enough jelly beans in it, even though the shelves of the bakery are full of jelly bean cakes.
That’s how I feel.
And if someone takes this post as a personal attack and “policing the fandom”, congratulations, you’ve missed the whole point.
*So some “Don’t-wanna-no-nuttin'” tried to bring it to an actual historian on Twitter and got schooled. Literally! I’m living for all this fresh new sass Ive been seeing from unexpected corners of the internet. When you’ve got even Asian people calling White people crackas on Tumblr, and academic historians mouthing off on Twitter, and being applauded for it, that’s when you know that everbody has just gotten completely sick and tired of the racist bullshit.
I’m just saying, all of the things that are happening now, the resurgence in racist rhetoric, the attempt to shove women, and gays, and PoC back into a submissive place, is all going to have some serious backlash.