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Nina Simone Biopic: I See Nothing Wrong

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The Nina Simone biopic has been in the making for some time now, and when it was announced a few years back that Zoe Saldana would play the iconic activist and artist there was expressed outrage. That outrage was reignited yesterday, when the official trailer for the film was released.

Many took to Twitter to voice their concerns, and what really added fuel to the fire was a single tweet by Saldana, which garnered a response from the official Nina Simone Music account.

For many, the outrage centers itself around the lack of aesthetic resemblance between the two, going as far to point out the fact that Saldana isn’t “Black enough” or doesn’t understand the Black experience in America, simply because her tone isn’t dark enough to truly endure the same type of rejection, struggle and a lack of opportunity.

Surely enough, Simone’s body of work represents her experiences as a dark skinned woman living in a society that did not readily welcome her—and still doesn’t. But despite being familiar with her works and having a slight sensitivity to racism and colorism, I’m still not convinced that the arguments presented are valid enough to enlist the level of disrespect that Saldana has been exposed to.

I agree that there are several women that were more fitting for this iconic role. But I also feel that a person doesn’t necessarily have to be an exact resemblance to portray or embody the essence of their subject.

Casting issues aside, the controversy surrounding this film really struck a chord with me. Being neither a “light” or “dark” skinned Black woman (I would qualify as brown skinned), I’ve read through tweets and articles addressing Saldana’s lack of “Blackness.” And from what I’ve consumed, white people are not needed to perpetuate certain ideals, especially as it relates to racism and/or colorism.

Why? Because we, too, judge one another solely off the color of our skin. The disadvantage of falling in the middle of the “Black” color spectrum is that white America reminds you of how Black you are, while Black America let’s you know that you’re not Black enough. Colorism has become so ingrained into our psyche that we don’t even recognize the fact that not only do we jump to judgment about someone based on how light or dark they may be, but we also seek to validate their “Black experience” via those same parameters.

We have to stop perpetuating the complexities of not being Black enough within our own community.

Tiana Jorman is the creator of the lifestyle blog, Tiana combined her unparalleled talent of writing with history and received a B.A in cultural studies.