One of my favourite pages to follow on Facebook is called White Guys. And before you jump to ridiculous conclusions about the content, please go to the page and see what it’s all about. These guys are going to change things and I’m all for it. They linked a post from Gawker entitled Lena Dunham’s Race Problem written by Rebecca Carroll. There are many things I agree with in this post and she outlines some questions I’ve had in my mind for a long time. And not specifically about Lena Dunham, I’m one of few who isn’t particularly a fan of hers, but about race and it’s depiction right here, right now.
One thing I dislike about these conversations is the black-and-white of it all. We are not the only two races in this world and while you may see an article about Asian men who deserve leading roles, it seems the discussion is between all the white people of the world compared to the number of blacks on tv, in movies or media who are portrayed positively. It happens during fashion weeks around the world; someone, somewhere is just waiting in the shadows to count how many non-white faces are on the catwalks. I am not against racial diversity. OF COURSE I’d love everything to be even and equal and relatable but if I am watching a McQueen show and I don’t see a black model, I’m not enraged. What does the colour of a model’s skin have to do with the design and structure of a beautiful garment. You can argue, “Are you telling me there weren’t any other models of colour who could’ve done what this white model is doing?” Yes, there’s probably a bunch of them but as I’ve always said, intent should be the basis of any argument you have in this situation. If you know people of colour were intentionally ousted for one reason or another, then yes, condemn them all! But if that’s not the case, then hush and watch the pretty clothes nuh man!
If you haven’t realized yet, I’m black. And I feel the focus of a lot of arguments are not entirely where they should be.
Rebecca writes: “…if Dunham were to say to Remnick and Apatow, “Guys, you know what would be awesome? If we did a movie or an entire issue of a magazine or dedicated the whole New Yorker festival to conversations about centralizing racial representation in media,” they would likely listen, and that would be radical.”
Yes, this would be radical. But do you know what the reality is, if Lena did this, people would take issue with it. “What does this privileged white woman know about racial representation in the media?” “This isn’t an accurate portrayal and who gives her the right to…” Like, it will never be okay for a group of people. It just won’t.
In a world where everyone has a voice, and they want to make sure you motha-f*ckin’ hear it, this will be another thing on the laundry list of injustices. Now, here’s my loud voice, listen to it!
I have always been a black female. Always. Can you believe it?!?!??! My life as a black female is different than other black females. And it’s sure as hell different than any other man or woman from any other race. If I hear we’re in a “post-racial era” one more time, I’ll scratch out my own eardrum. We will NEVER be out of it. The differences are what make us, they shouldn’t be what break us.
Going back to the Gawker post; Lena Dunham lived a different life than I did. I don’t expect her to relate. Could she be enlightened? Of course. We tell our stories and sometimes people learn something new and perspectives are changed. There is no denying that as visible minorities in North America, we are taught a lot about how life works for white people. Now, just go along with me on this because I’m not about to bash caucasians, I’m just explaining something.
The history we’re taught in school (at least mine) is primarily about things that happened to white people, involving white people, were written by white people. Then, in February we had special lesson on Black History. And occasionally we’d touch on the Native lives that built this country.
I’m generalizing A LOT here but you must see my point. People who are not white, learn about the lives of white people and from that we learn to adapt our lives to fit in. We’re taught we have to work harder, be stronger, smarter and better to just be on the same level as a white person. THAT is a reality. Do you know what it’s like getting a job or into a school solely based on filling the visible minority quota? Like, this is a thing I can’t believe people aren’t aware of. Still.
“Hey Bruce, we don’t have enough ethnic diversity here so keep an eye out for Jermajestys and Harpreets in those resumes. Let’s get up to code.”
We are a product of the world we’re raised in. I would never expect Lena Dunham to be vocal in the world of racial diversity; I’m not saying she shouldn’t or couldn’t be, I’m just saying her not doing so is not disappointing to me. Rebecca also mentions THA GAWD, Issa Rae (and if you don’t know who she is, you better do some damn research). She IS a fan of Lena Dunham and there’s nothing wrong with this. They’re two young women making names for themselves in the industry of their choice. The point is, a lot of you have never heard of her or seen the genius of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Like Lena, Issa Rae creates, writes, acts, directs and produces. Her series is award-winning, she’s had development deals and yet, she hasn’t garnered the same excitement and fanship from the masses. Issa Rae writes what she knows, from her experiences and understanding of the world. Her perspective is unique to her even though people like me can relate.
I hope one day we’ll be able to see the differences and simply accept them without bitter conflict. Without bringing things down to our genetic makeup and ethnic backgrounds. You have lived in a way that isn’t the same as I’ve lived and that’s…okay. Let’s share our experience. Let’s learn from them. Not in an effort to be right, but seeing things from other points of view will only lead to a more enriched life. If we don’t agree with each other, we don’t have to attempt to hurt each other with words. What good comes from this?
Listen, Lena…do you. I mean, you have been doing you, so keep on doing you. All I ask from society on a whole is to be open to all voices from everywhere. Not everything is about fame and social media presence but I promise you, there are some of the most interesting voices coming from the most unexpected places. If you shared those as much as you shared a photo of Lena’s new haircut, we all might shift toward a better tomorrow.
But I mean, you don’t have to listen to me…I’m just another black girl.