Anyone familiar with the brilliant rising star Yara Shahidi knows that she is both proud of her Iranian and Black heritage and a champion of #BlackGirlMagic. So when a Twitter troll made a below-the-belt comment about her “racial ambiguity”, Yara did the Grown-ish thing by pivoting this negative moment towards the bigger issue of colorism in entertainment.
A Twitter user by the name of Chick Norris tweeted her reason for not watching the Black-ish spinoff Grown-ish, which follows Zoey (played by Yara) on her journey through college. “Ima pass on grown-ish like i passed on black-ish,” she writes. “How is it that a spinoff only occurs when the oldest daughter is racially ambiguous?”
ima pass on grown-ish like i passed on black-ish.
how is it that a spinoff only occurs when the oldest daughter is racially ambiguous?
— chick norris (@darfucius) December 13, 2017
Can you say “reaching?”
Yara, of course, responded like the classy young lady she is. Instead of letting the tweet get under her skin, she decided to point out the obvious.
1. She is unambiguously a Black woman
2. Colorism in Hollywood is a much more important discussion to be having.
Now, we can have a separate conversation on the ever present colorism and the monolithic black aesthetic on TV of 3c hair and lighter skin…
— Yara shahidi (@YaraShahidi) December 14, 2017
This isn’t the first time the 17-year-old actress has proven herself to be wise beyond her years – especially on the topic of race and color. In an interview with Teen Vogue, Yara says she remembers being tapped to model for giant brands like Mattel and Disney to play the “Black” version of iconic characters. “I was happy to be Black, but at the same time there were moments of, ’Why is this a separate collection?’ There was this realization that being Black meant I was the ’off-brand’ version because Cinderella wasn’t made to look like me.”
She went on to say that being on a show like Black-ish, while also being mixed race, changed her experience in even more complicated ways. “Somebody once called me whitewashed…All around me [on the show], there were examples of excellence and excelling. But because I carried myself a certain way, I wasn’t a ’believable’ Black person to [some people]. That was the strangest moment.”
Despite the occasional criticism, Black-ish has never shied away from issues of colorism in its script. In an episode titled, “Being Bow-racial” Rainbow (played by Tracee Ellis Ross) is forced to reflect on her own bi-racial identity when X brings home a white girlfriend. It’s one of many reasons this sitcom is lauded as one of the most progressive programs on TV.
What’s even more impressive is seeing this young lady, even with her busy schedule, making time to address ignorance once small mind at a time.
There are tons of polite ways to ask a person about their race, but Tami’s method definitely didn’t go over well with Kesha in this Basketball Wives clip.