By: T. Olajide
For many of us, the news of the Han Solo stand alone casting was initially joyous. Donald Glover has been cast as Young Lando Calrissian and Emilia Clarke was supposedly cast as Alden Ehrenreich’s love interest. The former made people giddy, but the latter was more of a bittersweet choice.
Fans were disappointed that although the women considered for the role of Ehrenreich’s supposed love interest were ‘diverse’ (for lack of a better word), they were the same old women of colour we are all used to — Tessa Thompson, Zoe Kravitz, Naomi Scott i.e. lighter skinned. Personally, the line up was not disappointing, it was expected. While I a admire each of the women selected — everyone from Clarke to Kravitz, and appreciate that they all deserved the consideration due to their talent; I must say that it would be foolish to assume that Hollywood is achieving inclusion by recycling the same women for productions.
There is a lot to unpack and decode from this rotation of lighter skinned women Hollywood has going on. The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that lighter is deemed better — this is a matter of fact. Lighter is less threatening, not as close to what is familiar but distant enough from black to be beautiful.
The second thing we must note is that by regurgitating the same images we tell people that the demographic has shifted — but not enough for everyone to have a chance to succeed. More than enough darker skinned women of colour are talented and just as deserving as these roles.
Love shouldn’t be exclusive to ink — let’s love darker skinned women actively. That means we don’t just tweet or write tumblr posts about coconut laced ‘chocolate’ models, this means levelling the playing field and this equals giving every woman a chance to succeed.
As I said before, I am not surprised at the final choice and I am not particularly angry either — at this point, I would say that I just hope that the mainstream world can walk the walk, I don’t want to read any posts by your token black editor or see anymore witty comebacks on social media. The work that translates to reality is pushing for a new kind of representation and a dedication to shattering the status quo — don’t just shortlist your favorite ‘safe’ black women, it almost seems like you auditioned them to keep us appeased and it almost seems like you already knew what you were going for before the auditions started!
Remember that real activism and change is brought about with honesty.