On Sunday, March 2, 2014, Lupita Nyong’o became the sixth woman of color to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Twelve Years a Slave. I haven’t seen the movie yet. You give me very little time to watch movies these days! But, I love awards season and watching the red carpet. Miss Nyong’o was the epitome of elegance on every single red carpet. Not a single fashion fail. On instagram there are endless montages of the United Colors of Lupita Nyong’o. It’s so refreshing to see a new face, and a woman of color, be totally themselves yet effortlessly gorgeous on a red carpet. But fashion isn’t the only reason I think her story is important.
I was blessed with the opportunity to grow up around people of various ethnicities. Growing up in New York City affords a person many opportunities that other people do not get. It’s important to understand that people who are not around various ethnicities get their social cues from the media. People who are not around Black people learn about Black people from the T.V. and movies. So now, instead of seeing hyper-sexualized vixens, mean bullies, and mammies, there is now a real black princess. There are arguments that the role she played adds to the preexisting stereotypes of black women in the media. Acknowledging that, I still feel really proud of her accomplishment and happy that you now have this example.
This article at Clutch Magazine summarizes it best. The author says little girls need to see themselves. “They need to see women who look like them being held up as beautiful, and talented, and valuable because it matters.” I couldn’t agree more.
What I want you to know? Lupita is a darling and so are you! You matter. You are beautiful and your talents can be expressed in a multitude of ways.