Thursday, October 12, 2006

Black Like Me


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.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Abbi!!! This is truly brilliant.
Quite a way with words, creative humor with a message!

I love it.

Abbi said...

Thank you very much, anonymous donor of good tidings and complimentary opinions! Your contribution earns you the title of "Good Person".

Anonymous said...

1. you have referenced a terrible book. i had to stop reading it when i found myself referring to myself as "the negro".

2. speaking of terrible, hollywood be damned- i will not be shucking out ten of my hard earned dollars to see this tripe. i, too, am a jaded and bitter white woman.

3. marianne HERSELF picked angelina to play her. box office politics aside, wtf does THAT say about what type of woman she is?

there are times when the means, do not in fact justify the end, mkay?

Abbi said...

Good insight, and 10 pts for the word tripe. What about creative license, though? Are we gonna get mad if Michael Jackson chooses an actual human to play him in a made for t.v. movie? Where do we draw the line?

Jim Kline said...

You are as inspired as ever Abbi.

Abbi said...

Thanks, Jim! Halloween's coming soon. Now that people are disguising themselves as biracial people, my costume is as good as ready.

Jim Kline said...

Well, congratulations! You have taken my title of cheapest Halloween costume ever (the past few years I've just thrown on a Punisher t-shirt and slicked my hair back, which is actually an outfit that I tend to wear pretty frequently anyways). You've inspired me; next year I'm going to have to find an outfit that actually ends up EARNING me some money to get my title back =P

And Halle Berry isn't that good of an actress for anyone to get upset when she doesn't get a role anyways.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry after reading your comments.
However, if you could pick your hair out to make it 'look like' an afro, then you weren't really fooling anybody anyway. It's the hair that gives us away every time.
Makes you second class. Just ask Naomi.But I'm digressing. The point is,Black women have a little 'ilk' of their own.No matter how articulately we learn to rationalize the oh so bitter truth, in the end, Angelina Jolie will be pickin' out her wig just long enough to pick up an Oscar. And Marianne, unanimously and of her own accord, will be a brilliant, bi-racial,baffled...second.

Abbi said...

Where does Naomi stand? She's giving people who beat other people with cell phones a bad name these days. Thanks for reading. I still think it's a trip. Can't wait to see a movie about Good Times with an all Asian cast.