In the decades-long quest for more diversity in entertainment, a lot of stars in recent years have come to detest the label of blackness often applied to them. You know, black actor, black movie…black bond.
Malcolm Lee and the cast of The Best Man Holiday were rather adamant about the 2013 flick not being categorized as black film because the sequel was really a Christmas movie with universal themes that just so happened to have an all-black cast (and because we know how “black movie” scares away non-black viewers and decreases box office profits). Similarly, Idris Elba, before Anthony Horowitz started talking crazy, already had no interest in joining the 007 series because he didn’t want to be labeled a “black bond.”
I get it. White entertainers are never called Caucasian actors or Anglo-saxon singers and no one wants to be defined by their race all the time. Except the fact remains that we always are and likely always will be. The thing is that doesn’t have to be a bad thing and it sometimes comes off worse when entertainers seem to be running away from their blackness in their quest for inclusion.
Thankfully, Misty Copeland isn’t one of those so-called new blacks we’ve seen come to the forefront lately. In a recent appearance on The Huffington Post Live she talked about being called a black ballerina and she expressed she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“[I embrace the title] because it’s so rare and because it’s an issue and because it’s been my path and my struggle. I’m not going to deny or pretend that that’s not who I am. And I think that just because I’m now in this position as a principal dancer doesn’t mean all of a sudden I’m going to drop the fact that I’ve had all of these obstacles and so many are continuing to have it. Just because I’m here doesn’t mean racism goes away in the ballet world.”
Finally, someone gets it.
As we saw recently with Will Smith, there’s a tendency among actors of color who’ve reached a certain level of success to suddenly treat their race as a non-factor simply because they believe they’re now with the in crowd. But the very fact that they are only a few black stars who ever reach that entertainment promised land echos the exact sentiment Copeland expressed: Just because they made it doesn’t mean racism went away. And it should be noted that goes for them, even in their elevated status, and other newcomers still trying to break in the industry. Yes, an actor or singer or ballerina’s talent should stand on its own and that is the only thing these entertainers should be judged or rewarded by. But the fact remains that even if you don’t self-identify as a black anything, everyone else will still see you as such because that is what you are. So why run from it?
Clutchettes, what do you think about stars embracing or denying the black label?