When certain stars and public figures call themselves black only to receive certain roles and benefits, that disrespects the legacy of people who are black 24/7/365.
I touched on this a bit when I wrote about the Nina Simone biopic (a.k.a. travesty). Zoe Saldana only recently came out with a few halfway comments to justify why she wore black face and a prosthetic nose to depict an African American woman legend that many black women look up to for inspiration.
I embrace all women of all colors as my sisters.
But one thing that I have a problem with is women (and men) who are only black when it is convenient for them.
When a job pops up that calls for a black woman (such as Nina Simone or casting for a black television show) there they are with application in hand, proudly calling themselves black.
But any other time they are something "other" for the benefit of mainstream appeal. For example, there was a certain makeup commercial where a singer identified herself as French and Native American, as if just being a proud African American black woman wasn't enough.
Then we have the case of Latina women like Evelyn Lozada, Rocsi Diaz and a host of reality stars who like to call themselves black, but only when it's convenient for them. Any other time they make it a specific point to identify with the Hispanic/Latino community.
And before anyone comes back with the "but they are black! their ancestors have African blood," line think about this. My black people have strong Cherokee lineage, but would we be accepted into a Miss Cherokee contest? Would we be able to claim Cherokee only when it's convenient for us to have an opportunity and then go back to being a proud black woman tomorrow? I doubt it. That would be totally disrespectful to the Native American community.
Also, why is it that African American women aren't asked to grace the cover of Latina magazine or to host Telemundo? Why wasn't Mary J. Blige considered for casting as Selena? If we're all black sisters in the struggle than that should be happening by now, right?
What makes black the only race that's "interchangeable" and accepting of everyone into the ranks (even if it's just a one drop situation)? Yet no one else accepts us into their ranks, to play their roles, host their shows or represent their brands?
No one seems willing to answer that question.
Be Black 24/7/365
This post is not meant to throw shade at or alienate my fellow sisters of color. It is just to say if you're black, say it loud and proud 24/7/365! This is not a game. Don't just pull out the Black Card when you feel that it will give you a trump hand. Live black, love black, embrace black as your history and legacy. If you can't do that then you are straight up disrespecting our black heritage.
That's like moving in with someone, claiming the home as your own, staying for a while, eating up all their food, putting your feet up on their coffee table and then peace-ing out without paying a dime of rent when a better living opportunity comes along. Disrespectful.
Black women and men, those who didn't have any privilege of passing or claiming another race/heritage when it was convenient slaved and fought for our civil rights. Please don't disrespect our black ancestors and their struggle by using their legacy and heritage only when it's convenient for you to make money or to get more attention.
Regardless of your background, I love all of my sisters, and we can find unity by respecting each other and our unique heritages properly. That shoutout goes especially to you Ms. Saldana.
image by Roland Godefroy (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons