Actress Alexandra Shipp had a rough day yesterday. A reply to a fan who tweeted to her about a possible movie pairing of her X-Men character Storm with fellow Marvel Comic character Thor led to a discussion on colorism in Hollywood in which Shipp said that 90 percent of the “racism” she experiences is from black people. I’m going to go ahead and insert my facepalm here, because, girl, where are your people when you need them?
After news broke Thursday that Disney was acquiring Twenty-First Century Fox, an excited fan tweeted to Shipp and said, “[N]ow that Disney bought fox, I’m gonna need that Storm and Thor team up now….. How do you feel about that sister?”
Shipp replied that she would love for that to happen.
Some fans, who are extremely faithful to comic book lore, are at odds with the idea of Shipp portraying Storm because in the comic books, Storm is a dark-skinned black woman and Shipp—who has a white mother and black father—is light-skinned.
It’s weird, because didn’t another mixed-race, light-skinned black actress play Storm as well? Did people get this upset about Halle Berry playing the character? I guess social media wasn’t such a big thing when Berry did her turn in 2014, but I digress.
One fan snapped on Shipp and replied to her with a particularly snarky tweet that said, “Nope. Disney is re-casting the whole team, boo. We getting a dark skinned non-racially Ambiguous Storm like we deserve.”
Shipp, understandably upset, quoted the tweet and said, “This. Right. Here. Pure hate. Its disgusting. My whole life I’ve had to defend my skin tone, like its controllable, like I’ve ever been treated white. Sorry, your racism doesn’t work on me. I’m a strong black woman & no one will EVER be able to take that from me not even a troll.”
Another person tried explaining to Shipp that colorism and racism are not the same thing.
Author Nina Perez wrote, “Sis, darker skinned Black people wanting representation isn’t racism. Taking it to your mentions may be a bridge too far, but dismissing colorism and its negative effects isn’t cool either.”
It seemed like Shipp understood what she was saying, because she responded to Perez and said, “I dont dismiss colorism in any way shape or form. But I’m not wearing blackface I AM BLACK. Everyone should be represented, but I’m playing a cartoon, not a historical figure. Period. Thank you for showing up with coherent criticism, i hear your constructive criticism.”
But did she really get it? Because when a fellow light-skinned, mixed actor responded that there wasn’t a lot of mixed-race people around when these characters were created (which, what?), she seemed to agree with him and wanted to go back fighting the good fight for light-skinned people.
“So what? We’re not allowed to get roles because we’re mixed? Because when these characters were created, there wasn’t a lot of mixed race people so it was basically just black OR white? #TooWhitefortheBlacksTooBlackfortheWhites,” Tanner J Perry wrote in a new deleted tweet.
Shipp quoted Perry’s tweet and responded, “Well said my dear friend.”
So is it “Oochie Wally,” or is it “One Mic”? Does Shipp really understand the problem with colorism in Hollywood, or does she feel victimized and discriminated against as a light-skinned black woman?
Our answer lies in two of her last tweets on the subject.
“You wanna know what I’ve found interesting? That 90% of the racism I’ve experienced in my lifetime has been at the hands of fellow black people. It’s crazy! Why do this? Why tell a woman she’s not enough because YOU THINK SO??” she said in one tweet.
Again, she equates a discussion on colorism with racism against her by her own people.
“You guys act like i dont want every skin tone represented on TV smh who would ever want that? This conversation about Storm is so stupid, I’m out. Y’all don’t know me and probably never will. If i lose my job to another actress, i hope it’s for her talent and grace, not her skin,” she said in another tweet.
Poor Alexandra. She just doesn’t get it.
How are you a “strong black woman” who doesn’t understand how colorism impacts dark-skinned actresses? How do you, a “strong black woman,” equate criticism of colorism with “racism” from your own people?
How are you, a “strong black woman,” so thin-skinned that when someone brings up the very real fact that you likely benefit from light-skinned privilege, it results in a total meltdown on Twitter?
From one high-yellow sister to another, buck up, girl.
As light-skinned women, we are afforded a certain amount of privilege that our darker-skinned sisters don’t get. Admitting that is the first step in building an understanding of it.
Being dismissive of people who bring up the issue isn’t helpful. It’s a form of erasure that is even more egregious than the so-called racism you claim to experience from other black people. You aren’t helping anything or anyone with that attitude.
Your approach to this was wrong in many ways, not the least of which was accusing other black people of being racist against you.
In the future, check your privilege. It just might help you learn something.