straight outta compton or the jim crow era?

ice-cube-director-f-gary-gray-and-dr-dre-pose-with-the-cast-of-straight-outta-compton-the-n-w-a-biopicfor some, the idea that universal pictures is planning to make a movie about the highly influential “gangsta rap” group nwa is a tremendous accomplishment; it demonstrates another facet of the black experience that is being shared with a larger audience.  however, according to the group doing casting for the film, depicting the lives of easy-e, dr. dre and ice cube also includes stereotypical depictions of black women.

in a listing released last week, the group called for women in four categories:

SAG OR NON UNION CASTING NOTICE FOR FEMALES-ALL ETHNICITIES- from the late 80’s. Shoots on “Straight Outta Compton”. Shoot date TBD. We are pulling photos for the director of featured extras. VERY IMPORTANT – You MUST live in the Los Angeles area (Orange County is fine too) to work on this show. DO NOT SUBMIT if you live out of the area. Nobody is going to be flying into LA to do extra work on this show – and don’t tell me you are willing to fly in.

SAG OR NON UNION FEMALES – PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR SPECIFIC BREAKDOWN. DO NOT EMAIL IN FOR MORE THAN ONE CATEGORY:

A GIRLS: These are the hottest of the hottest. Models. MUST have real hair – no extensions, very classy looking, great bodies. You can be black, white, asian, hispanic, mid eastern, or mixed race too. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: A GIRLS

B GIRLS: These are fine girls, long natural hair, really nice bodies. Small waists, nice hips. You should be light-skinned. Beyonce is a prototype here. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.comsubject line should read: B GIRLS

C GIRLS: These are African American girls, medium to light skinned with a weave. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: C GIRLS

D GIRLS: These are African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone. Character types. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: SandeAlessiCasting@gmail.com subject line should read: D GIRLS

not only are the women categorized by body type, but also by hair and skin complexion — it sounds like a video vixen auction block. such blatant colorism has led universal to distance itself from the casting agent.

as a “medium to dark skin tone” african american woman, the most hurtful part about the listing is that it put in black and white what any conscious observer already knew.  the standard of beauty does not include those considered dark skinned. disturbingly, this isn’t a movie starring a majority white cast where a racially ambiguous woman is needed to play the witty sidekick, but instead a film about black people starring black people and black women who fail the brown paper bag test are still relegated to the back of the bus. even with our precious lupita nyong’o, girls like us continue to struggle to get positive and varied depictions in mainstream media.  yesterday, the casting agent issued an apology for the advertisement, but it was too little too late. colorism is much bigger than one movie.

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