Thursday, October 12, 2006
It is hard to know what to think about Angelina Jolie, who for all intents and purposes is presumably white, playing widow Marianne Pearl who, according to page 17 of today's Metro, is not black but really biracial, in a movie. The role did not go to Thandie “Sally Hemmings” Newton or Halle “Queen” Berry.
Should she be allowed or shouldn't she? Is it believable that a white woman could convincingly play a biracial woman?
According to my childhood, YES. If you polled the black kids at School #91 in Indianapolis in 1987, they would unanimously agree that I wear white girl shoes. If you interviewed the young ladies in my Home Ec. class at Shortridge Middle School in 1994, and asked why I think I'm soooo smart, they would say, "That's just cuz she talks white." If you asked the all-white Christian campers in 1997 why I continually sway off-beat to the hymnals they would be perplexed and say, "We don't know. We thought she was black. I guess we were WRONG. Hahahahaha!"
All of these case studies, thanks to the invention of the Time Machine on March 24, 3040, conclude that both black and white races classify me as white. But I don't FEEL white. And identity is about how you feel! Trans-gendered people, help me out.
Clinging faithfully to the antiquated and unscientific One Drop Policy, I have always claimed Black on survey sheets and joined Black Student Associations throughout my education. In high school I insisted on reading the "On This Day in Our History" announcements during Black History month. Why? Am I stubborn? Am I greedy for acceptance? No. I'm Black.
Sometimes people affirm my blackness without me prompting them to. As a drunk, white frat boy in college once confided, "I think Tyra Banks is UGLY. Oh...no offense, Abbi". Offense proudly taken, Racist.
The fact that the Metro feels the need to clarify that a biracial woman is not black explains a lot. Anyone who has had to pick out his "good hair" so it looks like an Afro and so the black kids won't tease him knows that. Anyone who feels like she has to "axe" a question at Popeye's when she orders knows it too. Let me be black the stereotypically white way I’m black, and I’ll let you pretend you know French when you order Oh Grotten potatoes.
If anything, the reason the public should be reeling by the Thandie-Angelina switch is the same reason kids roll their eyes at high school play auditions. All good roles go to the Seniors. Forrest Whitaker has been in the game a long time, so when it's time for someone to play Idi Amin, he’s the one who wears shoe polish to get Africa dark. End of discussion!
Before we get outraged as a country over this injustice to Ms. Newton and Ms. Berry, let’s remember two things: 1) Marianne Pearl is not a slave. 2) She’s not a superhero who controls the wind. She is a REAL person whose suffering requires the ilk of a woman who has not just simulated having relations with the mangy Billy Bob Thornton, but who ACTUALLY HAS (dry heave) had relations with (dry heave) Billy Bob Thornton.