The experiences and struggles of American black women and Afro-Latina women are very different and should not be blurred together haphazardly.

When Evelyn Lozada, a proud Puerto Rican female, was involved in a domestic dispute with her 40-day-old husband Chad Johnson (Ochocinco) I heard more than a few people say something to the effect of "ughh, those black women!"

Errr excuse me? Since when does Evelyn Lozada or any of the millions of women of Hispanic heritage in the United States suddenly qualify as black women in the traditional sense? Oh right, only when they act "ratchet" or trifling right? In any other case they are called (and clearly call themselves) Latinas.

The experience of black women and Latina women in America are different. We come from a different culture, though they are sometimes intertwined. If you've ever been to a Dominican beauty salon you know this reality all too well.

While I have love for my Afro-Latina sisters, some gladly take advantage of black culture while not actually experiencing the nuances of black culture. Evelyn Lozada is one such example. Rocsi Diaz of BET's 106 & Park fame is another. But when you put the situation in reverse, you'll be hard pressed to find a black American woman taking a Latina woman's role in anything. How about Mary J. Blige as Selena? I think not.

Jimmy Iovine & Cynthia Mort: Replace Zoe Saldana with an actress who actually looks like Nina Simone .
Nina Simone
Now in more recent news, a biopic on Nina Simone, a proud regal beautiful dark-skinned black woman, has been planned. Lo and behold they've decided to cast a Latina woman, Zoe Saldana, for the role. She is the lovely actress who starred in the movie Columbiana.

I think it's time we stand up and clarify this reality. The fact that a director felt it appropriate to cast a lighter-skinned Latina woman to play a very dark-skinned black woman from the American South is a problem. 

The experience of Afro-Latina women is simply not the same as black American women in this country. When people bash black women as a whole, Latina women don't usually feel personally offended by it. We should not be made to "accept" someone who cannot relate to our unique culture, struggles and experiences to play an important black historical role.

A petition is making it's rounds, which I have gladly signed. True to my promise, I am happy to make a stand and show support when my sisters (and brothers) stand up on important social issues. I hope you'll feel the same and add your signature to the quickly growing list (currently at 941 supporters):

Jimmy Iovine & Cynthia Mort: Replace Zoe Saldana with an actress who actually looks like Nina Simon

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The mainstream media used Gabby Douglas' hair to distract from her accomplishments, and some of ya'll helped.

Guest Post by Sammi Jace
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Surely by now you’ve heard of the Gabby Douglas hair “controversy.” Certain media publications somehow made it into a major news story.

Now more recently in a Washington Post article, the same publication that really brought Gabrielle Douglas' hair to the forefront, they are reporting on how Gabby seems zapped and not her normal self in competition. They blame it on people talking about her hair, her mom and her family.

Photo courtesy Wiki Commons

No Washington Post. The real problem is YOU and all of the other news sites that have sensationalized Gabby Douglas’ hair and personal life so that you could make a story that gets clicks.

But most of all I’m a little disappointed in some of my sisters. Haven’t you learned anything yet from the BWE blogiverse or from four years of having Michelle Obama as our first lady?

The media clearly concocted that story about this young black girl’s hair as a way to distract from her success and you fell for it, hook, line and sinker.

How a Non-Story Becomes a Story

It all started with an article by a Yahoo! Shine blogger named Lylah M. Alphonse who posted a few tweets from hair haters. A grand total of three tweets. (By the way, if you are at all familiar with Yahoo! Shine, it is a blogging platform where ANYONE can post their thoughts.)

Then Goldie Taylor, a journalist with a fairly large following, posted a falsehood on Twitter about black women and hair pointed to the black women who were dissing Gabby’s hair. She commented that CDC statistics show the number one reason why black women don’t work out is because of their hair. That statement was retweeted on Twitter hundreds of times but Taylor couldn’t come up with any data to back it up.

By then the newspaper sites and blogs (yes even black ones like Global Grind and Clutch) had grabbed the baton from the "hair defenders" and off they went. So many blogs popped up “in defense of” Gabby’s hair. The Washington Post is one of the biggest culprits, publishing numerous pieces about her hair like this one and this one.

Their loud attempts at "defending" her hair backfired, because it only ended up potentially hurting this girl instead of helping. All the talk might have gotten in her head during the remaining competitions and she didn't do as well. Congratulations. She probably wouldn’t have even noticed the comments about her hair had not these news sites and journalists MADE it into a mainstream issue.

Now whenever Gabby’s name comes up in a story they almost always reference her hair. Thanks to people who made all of that noise about nothing.

Just as they did with Michelle Obama and countless other overachieving black women, they just had to attach some sort of stereotypical story to this black girl to bring her down to size. And some of ya’ll helped.

Gabby Will Be Just Fine

I would like to commend T. F. Charlton who submitted a very well-written opinion piece for Ebony airing out the truth of what happened to Gabby Douglas. It’s refreshing to know that some journalists are still on their job.

Regardless of what the media says Gabby will be alright. And she doesn’t need anyone’s praise, accolades or faux "defending" in order to continue with her success. I wrote this article because I feel that sunlight is the best disinfectant -- it's important that we start to hold these media sources and journalists accountable when they publicize overblown stories that could potentially hurt a 16-year-old child.

To my black sisters all I ask is that you think twice before you jump on the next media bandwagon. Watch closely to see how a non-story becomes a story. They do not care about you—they only care about the story.

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