Thanks to the Straight Outta Compton Casting Call, I now know which racist grade of “pretty” I am. If you haven’t heard, there’s been a super racist casting call for the biopic film centering on N.W.A which will be featured next year.
Sande Allesi Casting posted the call but removed it after several people complained about it being racist. The call for actresses is broken down into several grades: there’s A, B, C, and D Girls. Guess where the “African American” girls are sitting at? Yep, a D.
The fact that the casting call employs an overt racial hierarchy demonstrates the extreme racist climate dark-skinned black actresses have to endure in Hollywood. The call separates women into meat-like categories; we are put into different piles based upon the amounts of fat, hair, and dark skin that we possess.
This also points to the ways that women are valued based upon how their beauty is perceived in mainstream media culture. “A” girls can be any race, as long as you have a “great” body and you’re classy with your own natural hair. “D” girls unsurprisingly are African-American, and are not in “good” shape. Oh…and they must have a medium to dark skin tone! Reading this call feels like I’m reading a menu out loud, “yes, I’d like to order a medium to brown poor African American woman please.”
Nothing on this call is new information though…and maybe that’s the sad part. The only real *shocking* component to this whole call is that the racism employed is so blatant. It’s actually almost laughable.
In our post-racial culture, we have adopted coded ways of talking about race without actually talking about racism. So, to see someone publicly post a document that essentially reinscribes every racist trope of black womanhood (in a climate where people say racism doesn’t exist ) is perhaps the only shocking element of this story. On the one hand it saddens me, and on the other, I’m glad that we finally have written proof for our claims as black women when we say that we’re discriminated against.
Luuvie from the Grio states:
“This speaks loudly in an industry that has not been kind to Black women, and it seems committed to excluding us as valuable members of society who are whole, varied and complex. Apparently, dark skin girls were the Quasimodos of 1980s Compton. Basically, Hollywood is full of basic-minded executives who still believe the paper bag test is valid.
This is a movie about the lives of one of the most prolific rap groups ever, and characters in it are still being white washed (or should I say light washed)? I’m sure all the “girls around the way” weren’t light-skinned with long, natural hair. I bet that the women that those men liked and loved and cherished weren’t just clones of Rihanna and Beyonce. Besides, wasn’t the era of NWA the era of the jheri curl?”
What’s also sad is that women are actually going to reply to the casting call, and perhaps even judge their personhood based upon which messed up racialized sexist category they fit into. Yet another reason as to why we should support independent black women-owned media products! In doing this, women can see that they can contribute to Hollywood in ways that don’t require them to spend time assessing which grade of meat they fit into.