Anti-Black Racism Is Not Just A White Thing
Last week, actress Gina Rodriguez posted a video of her singing along to the song “Ready or Not” by the Fugees. But instead of pausing while Lauryn Hill says the N-word, Rodriguez proudly goes in.
“N----s give me the heebie-jeebies.” For good measure, she laughs at the end of the line.
I wasn’t surprised by this, as Gina Rodriquez has a consistent track record of gaslighting Black people. Although she has been outspoken in the past about the need for more diversity in Hollywood, she’s been all talk and no action. When people seek to hold her accountable, she apologizes without any effort to repair the damage done.
In true fashion, Rodriguez issued an Instagram apology video. “I am sorry. I am sorry if I offended anyone by singing along to The Fugees, to a song I love, that I grew up on,” she said. “I love Lauryn Hill and I really am sorry if I offended you.” A few hours later, a more formal apology was released – clearly the work of her publicist – mentioning all the right buzz words, including “community of color.”
Unfortunately, these insincere apologies were not directed towards Black people. She also didn’t explain why she felt entitled to use it. After all, this is the typical journey celebrities take when they get called out for doing something, especially being racist. Once social media begins to drag them for filth, only then will an attempt at an apology come.
In a September 2018 interview with her “Smallfoot” co-star Yara Shahidi, Rodriguez interrupted the interviewer, who was discussing Shahidi’s status as a role model for other young Black women, to say that Shahidi is an inspiration to “so many women,” not just Black women — minimizing Shahidi’s race.
When promotion for “Black Panther” began in 2017, Rodriguez tweeted, “Marvel and DC are killing it in inclusion and women, but where are the Latinos?! Asking for a friend…”
Not only did she question the significance of the first superhero movie featuring Black actors in all the leading roles, she ignored the two Afro Latinas who have starred in Marvel films: Tessa Thompson, who played Valkyrie in “Thor” and Zoe Saldana in “Guardians of The Galaxy.” Both also appeared in 2019′s box-office hit “Avengers: Endgame.”
During a roundtable discussion about pay equity and diversity in television in November 2018, where she appeared alongside Gabrielle Union, Ellen Pompeo and Emma Roberts, Rodriguez inaccurately said Latinas are paid the least in Hollywood.
After that discussion, she went on the Sway in the Morning show to issue a tearful apology. She also offered up that her father is a dark-skinned, Afro Latino and that the Black community has always been her community. She has also referred to herself as Afro Latina in the past. Yet after photos surfaced of her father (clearly not Afro Latino), she stopped with that whole narrative.
This opens up a broader conversation about race which has nothing to do with who is “allowed” to use the N-word; we have had this conversation for years. Frankly, in 2019, it’s beyond me how anyone on this earth should be confused by that. Rather, the conversation is about how we misunderstand race and believe “communities of color” are all the same. After all, it would be much easier to undo the work of white supremacy if that were true. Rodriguez’s “community of color” comment is inconsiderate.
Refusing to say “Black people” or “the Black community” when apologizing for using the N-word is, at best, an inability to understand what she is apologizing for and, at worst, a deliberate tactic to dismiss the hurt she caused.
Anti-black racism is consistent in all communities, not just white ones. We all have different experiences, and that is okay. What’s not okay is when we try to lump everyone together and flatten the specific experiences of one at the expense of another.