President Obama’s ethnicity has been the giant elephant in the room within the sphere of race relations in America. Even after he attempted to point to the obvious, saying publicly that some citizens dislike him simply because he is Black, he was immediately accused of “playing the race card,” and the elephant was promptly sent back to hide in the corner.
Politics isn’t the only medium that reveals just where America and other parts of the world stand on race. The meteoric rise of Mexican-born, Kenyan-raised actress Lupita Nyong’o can be used as another meter-stick of just how far we have come.
Here are 5 things Lupita’s presence on the big stage reminds us about race relations around the world:
That fawning over Black excellence is rarely genuine
Lupita walked nearly every red carpet during the extensive award season that wrapped up with the Oscars last month. BuzzFeed collected Lupita’s every look for her fans to continue fawning over her beauty and fashion choices. Her speeches were lauded as “emotional,” “moving” and “inspirational.” If Lupita didn’t win the Oscar for her supporting actress role in “12 years a Slave,” a riot may well have erupted.
But not everyone is buying the Lupita-is-the-best-thing-that-happened-to-Hollywood narrative. According to conservative pundit and author, Ann Coulter, Lupita is liberal America’s latest pet project in an effort to overcome their guilt over racism. Coulter tweeted on Oscar night:
“Today’s Hollywood PC order: Gays, Blacks, Hispanics. Tomorrow: Gays, Hispanics, Blacks. Enjoy it while you can, Black America! #Oscars.”
She continued: “With ’12 Yrs Slave’ certain to win best pic, Longo award checks racism box, freeing Hispanic to win best director for “Gravity.” #Oscars”
Coulter isn’t alone in her skepticism. “One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race” author Dr. Yaba Blay told theroot.com, “I’m skeptical of all the fanfare. She’s a trained actress, and if it were all about her acting skills, I’d feel different. But now she’s been put in this fashion-beauty-icon box. I just don’t trust the mainstream, and what feels like a fetishism and exoticism in their obsession with her in this moment.”