feeling some kind of way about that particular picture of Zoe Saldana that picture is rubbing me the wrong kind of way…
I have to wonder why this certain photo of Zoe in a bra and underwear was chosen to contrast Nina’s face.
A couple of tumblr notes [shown above] indicate that some people are discomfited by the fact that I used a specific picture of Zoe Saldana juxtaposed against one of Nina Simone in my Coffee Rhetoric post, “(Mis)Casting: The Erasure of Nina Simone’s Image”. Firstly, it wasn’t a deliberate attempt on my part when I inserted the accompanying image into the post. I was looking for a side-by-side/collage-d image of Zoe and Nina without having to create one myself, and looked on Google images to find one and that one was the one I chose. There was no rhyme or reason to my decision other than convenience.
Secondly, regarding the concern that there was an attempt to erase Zoe’s race; if you read the article in its entirety, you quite possibly would have noted that I stated I was not a gatekeeper for “Black is, Black ain’t” and noted that Zoe is undoubtedly part of the Diaspora. The picture that was chosen does not negate the fact, that Zoe being cast to play Nina Simone is wrong on many levels, and that Hollywood and the larger media are notorious for trying to erase the image of Black actresses with keener features. The image shouldn’t quell any of the points I made.
I’m sure I could have used any number of split pictures of Zoe and Nina if I’d spent more time searching Google images, and none of them would disprove that Zoe doesn’t have the phenotype to portray Nina Simone; and that’s not a denial of Zoe’s Blackness. I’m not going to offer any disclaimer or post-blog epilogue lauding Zoe Saldana as an actress and how the image [or op-ed] is not some personal affront to her credentials, just to placate readers… because that’s not what the post was about.. it’s not about her. The impact of what I wrote [or the image for that matter] isn’t supposed to make people feel anything other than aware of an obvious instance of colorism and the erasure of Nina Simone’s image, as well as the entertainment industry’s perpetual disdain for Black women who have dark skin and/or non-Eurocentric features.
Nina’s activism and image challenged people’s narrow views of what’s beautiful, because so often they chose not to recognize that she was. That the glaring differences between Nina and Zoe in the chosen image upsets some people, is equally as unsettling to me, because I’m not understanding why it’s bothersome, other than the reality of seeing the stark differences of two types of Black women, one of whom isn’t acceptable enough to appease film executives, even in death. That Nina Simone can’t garner any respect in a posthumous work about her storied life is what vexes me the most, not the picture I uploaded via Google Images.