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Why Marc Lamont Hill Doesn't Deserve the Benefit of the Doubt on Labeling Lupita Nyong'o a "Fetish"

This is the season of the Pharell Williams defense. A Black man get's called on nonsense and then immediately claims that he has no idea why Black women are offended. 

I appeared on a Huffpo Live segment hosted by Dr. Marc Lamont Hill in response to a segment last week where he waived the flag of caution over Lupita developing a potentially large white fan base. ( She's in the business of selling tickets to fans *eyeroll*) In the context of his concern trolling he used the very loaded word of "fetish."

When confronted with is own words, Dr.Hill took the Scarlett O’Hara “I don’t know nuthin bout slandering Black women” defense. Also known as throwing a rock and hiding your hand. He also pulled out the old “But, but, but I have a Black daughter!” defense. *Typical* As if rapists, batterers and serial killers don’t have daughters too. He claims he had “no idea” that his guest Kamua Bell who he was kee keeing it up with while labeling Lupita a fetish has an entire comedy routine based on attacking Black women. 

His fans have labeled  me as an “Angry” “Hostile” Black woman for not indulging in his amnesiac - Reindeer Games. All of a sudden when confronted with his offense, the highly educated Black professor plays the “I’m confused card. ” Whatevs!

So let me be clear- I am proud to be a Black woman who has the ability to feel anger. Harriet Tubman felt anger, Rosa Parks felt anger, Martin Luther King felt anger, Jesus Christ turned over tables in the Temple and routinely told his disciples that they were wrong. He probably was perceived as angry.   The question isn’t whether or not I’m angry, the question is why aren’t you.

And let’s be precise with our labels - I wasn’t “angry,” I was resolute. I was asked to be a GUEST on a show and while I had no expectation that I would get to speak at length, I certainly expected the other women on the panel to get to have their say and the bulk of the time was taken up with Marc talking about himself and playing dumb. At one point I asked if we were going to get to talk - not so I could talk but so the other two women could get in a word. None of us really needed to be there this morning, he could have just done a monologue. 

Marc Lamont Hill used the loaded word of fetish to scare off young Black women and make them wary of “mainstream” success. Maybe he lacks self awareness and doesn’t understand the words that are coming out of his own mouth. But based on who and what he supports (Lil Boosie and Genarlow Wilson to name two), he really isn't entitled to the benefit of the doubt on issues related to Black women and girls.  

I'm not a fan of 12 Years a Slave. I feel confident saying I'll never see the movie. I also haven't seen Beloved the movie - didn't need to since I read the book. I wasn't invested in any way in whether Lupita won an OSCAR.  The only reason I went on that show was to say that Lupita Nyong’o received the attention she received because she and her team ran one of the most masterful OSCAR campaigns I have seen in my lifetime. Irrespective of the outcome of that campaign,  she is a classic example of what happens when preparation meets opportunity and any inference that s only reason non-Black people like her is because she is an inanimate object is offensive.

To little Black girls watching the public vivisection of Lupita by people like Marc Lamont Hill and his ilk, keep preparing to meet your opportunity. To Black women who are in my generation, we have a moral obligation to create opportunities for these young women to collide with in the future. 

That means middle aged Black women need to be cranking out our own Hunger Games, Divergent, Twilight, and Marvel Comics so that the next Lupita or Viola, or Octavia, or Jennifer or Whoopi or Angela, or Gabourey, Quevenzhane or Hattie that gets nominated for an OSCAR can leverage OSCAR season to move on to starring in a “4 tent pole” summer  blockbuster if she chooses.


Reader Comments (53)

Hello Gina, Christelyn here. I just wanted to take a moment to let you know how much I appreciated your commentary on the Huff Post Live interview panel. Clearly you did your homework--you knew more about Marc's guests that he did! I know that you and I have divergent views on other issues, but on this we are both resolute. I hope you will allow me to say we are on the same side in this regard. Keep doing what you do, it is valuable.

March 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristelyn Karazin

I don't get the hand-wringing by the Black community over how Lupita is being lauded in the media. Each year there is a White starlet given the same treatment. It's par for the course for White males and females. I don't know for sure, but I would think that most of them feel extremely lucky to be the current "it girl/boy." Some of them can't handle the pressure and high expectations. Some of them don't live up to those expectations. There are others that make it work for them and can transform their time in the spotlight into a long and lucrative career.

Lupita has the winning combination of looks, grace, poise, style, etc. that make her the perfect Hollywood starlet. Should she shy away from the limelight? Should she give the middle finger to those that admire her? How should anyone working in their chosen profession behave when they are suddenly thrust into spotlight and are praised and admired? I'm not understanding why the admiration that she's receiving is a problem.

I don't see this as Lupita's issue. It's on those people that are paranoid and suspicious of why "they" are praising her so highly. It was a similar situation with Gabourey Sidibe. People were so concerned about what would become of her. Gabby hasn't become a superstar nor has she been regularly trotted out in the media as some circus freak. She is however working steadily as an actress, in mostly forgettable roles. Nothing sinister has befallen her.

Despite what some Black women have expressed, it makes a huge difference to a LOT of dark-skinned women and girls to see someone with Lupita's skin tone, hair length and texture, and body type being called beautiful. The magazine covers and fashion spreads are icing on the cake! Our culture (both Black and non-Black) does NOT celebrate people (especially women) with those features. In fact they are often inferred to be ugly and undesirable. I sincerely hope that Lupita has a long, successful, and satisfying career in entertainment if that is her desire.

March 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersaadiyah

This was one of THE best interviews I've ever seen. You Ladies- but especially, YOU, Gina, voted a resounding "NO MORE!!" for all of Black Womanhood, and delivered a much needed blow to the enemies of our Image and Being. Thank you for speaking the truth in the face of foolishness!!

March 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBlack Woman Think Tank

Y'all have no idea what this conversation means to me PERSONALLY. I have been waiting to have this talk since I was in middle school. Let me tell you that since then EVERY SINGLE TIME a guy liked me in high school folks acted surprised and 'confused' JUST like Marc Lamont Hill is claiming to feel now.

People STILL insinuate that my husband of FOUR YEARS must have some weird 'jungle fetish thing' and doesn't really love me. The idea that any man, but especially a non-black one, can genuinely find an unambiguously black woman attractive just like any other woman truly does confuse some folks, but that is NOT my problem. What does it say about these folks that they find it odd or bizarre that a man might like me, but normative or typical for a man to like Paula Patton, Rihanna, Beyonce or Taylor Swift?

So pretty much the only way I can prove I love myself as a black woman is to get a divorce and pair off with with the very same men who barely give me the time of day if I am walking down the street alone? I will support Lupita career now and forever because her presence have blown open the black community's deep dark secrets that have done so much harm to unambiguously black girls. The okeydone is DONE!

March 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEbony M

[I hope it is okay to reuse a comment I wrote elsewhere]


I keep telling you all, clarity is way more valuable than peace.

Clarity is what Lupita is bringing to everyone that is paying attention. She's pretty smart -- she may actually have planned this.
Clarity: as the BM entertainers who happen to be DBR's (I don't want to blanket accuse all BM entertainers) are revealing, in ways that can not be glossed over, just what their values actually are.
Clarity, as faux intellectuals are being deconstructed.
Clarity, as damaged BW cosigners are being shown to be fools.
Clarity, as fake concern is being exposed as contrived.
Clarity, as the limits that cultural arbiters (both Black and White) place on dark, natural or feminine BW are made clear.
Clarity, as dark, natural or feminine Black girls are shown what is possible.
Clarity, as racio-misogynists are shamed.
Clarity, as against expectation, WM and yes WW declare admiration, attraction, approval, even envy of this remarkable woman.

Clarity ... is way more valuable than uneasy peace. I welcome this consternation and desperate attempt to spin this into something the GATDL can try to get us to believe. No one is going to beg the haters to be kind anymore. They are going to demand that they shut up. The only way this could be any better would be if Lupita was AA, but I'll take it.

March 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAabaakawad

I've read/lurked for years. This was the first time I saw you and was like "get him" through the whole thing. Kudos. Best part: can we speak yet?

March 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTyren M

BABBBBYYYYY. Wigs were snatched, and I am here for it. The skirting, dancing, and backtracking was a sight to behold.

This conversation is a great example of how the tide has turned with many black women - no longer will we stand aside and tolerate foolishness under the guise of unity.

Thank you for telling it like it is. I loved your "not even trying to entertain yo waffling trifility" expression. I've worn it many a time myself.

March 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaphne

I haven' t read this entire thread so my point may have already been stated but I am convinced that everyone on that HPL segment with the exception of Dr. Blay missed the point of MLH's comment. He did not in anyway question or belittle Lupita's beauty or talent, he was simply (and quite clearly) saying that he is skeptical of White media's current infatuation with her and how THEY belittle her by making her not only an object by focusing on her beauty but also how they may use her and a handful of others to absolve themselves of marginalizing Blacks as a whole. I feel that he was spot on in his comparison of her and Obama and how Whites can now say that they "love Blacks". It's no different from the " One of my best friends is Black" quote Whites cling to. Embracing one or two Blacks does nothing to address the systemic racism that is perpetuated by those same Whites..... Secondly, Sister Blay was ON TARGET with her critic of how Black women receive information when it comes from Black men. How that sister Gina can so concretely state that Black men have no place in speaking on Black women or there image is confusing and down right absurd to me. No one wanted to address Sister Blay because it would have meant addressing themselves. #mytwocents

March 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLi

Someone please tell me what was that animalistic sound in the background during the time in which Gina 1st spoke? WTF is the deal!?

March 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterT.Q.

I am so happy you stood up to Marc Lamont Hill. It is true. Because Lupita doesn't fit the usual "Black Beauty" which tends to emulate the White Woman (Case in Point-the Olivia character of "Scandal.") I think many Black males perhaps may feel intimidated by Lupita's beauty and her recognition in the White Community because it causes their guilt and shame (regarding their fetish toward light-skinned, Latinos, and White women) to surface and be IN THEIR FACE. It is refreshing to see our dark skinned Sisters being recognized. I think it has to do to a large part that our First Lady is dark skinned. And his comment about "focusing on her (Lupita's) immense talent - HELLO! Doesn't he know that's why she's being recognized BECAUSE OF HER IMMENSE TALENT! He's concerned that White Media is constructing her as a fetish. IS THIS BECAUSE HE DOESN'T SEE HER AS A BEAUTY? I think you're feeling guilty MY BROTHA!

March 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterK. Bush

McCauley is brilliant and masterful with words. Thank you for defending us.

March 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNYC Lawyer

Oh, beautiful truth this writing! You three ladies were brilliant! That was real conversation about very real issues.

And yes, we know why they're calling you angry. People--especially men--are so comfortable with the hierarchy games that they play to keep others in their place, that they become flabbergasted when women don't meekly step back when they're condescendingly told to. You ladies just kept advancing. I believe I saw that man's ass hit the floor in surprise & disbelief. Happy sigh :-)

March 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertemple

Bravo Gina!!!

This is the best interview that I have seen on this subject. I felt that you were so completely clear and resolute with your words that Mr. Hill's choice to feign ignorance at his disrespect of Black women with his words was completely obvious. Our personhood and image has been systematically bludgeoned for centuries due to white supremacist ideals and this topic is inextricably tied to the notion that a Black woman's being is now to be determined and approved of by Black men who have been the culprits and the masterminds of the attacks on us for the last thirty years.

Mr. Hill spoke a great deal about his doubt and concern regarding the intent of white people/white media toward Lupita and her image but somehow he conveniently displayed very little ability to understand what was said by all of you regarding Black women's valid doubt of Black male intent when "defending" Black women's honor against the big, bad outside world. When it comes to the protection of us and our image I don't know any Black woman that hasn't been damaged or felt more at risk from the perpetuated hatred that is inflicted on us by Black men.

I wish the panel had been just turned over to you'll. There is so much more that could have been said on this subject but I am glad that this has been the best no-filter start!!!

March 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPamela Cherie

Thanks folks for your kind words. I am who I am.

@Tyren - what a difference 7 years make. I've been asked to appear on every broadcast news network and two out of the three cable news networks more than once- I've even sent producers in the direction of other bloggers because I prefer radio to video. I've done some public television, but this was the first time debating / wig snatching/whatever on camera. So it was interesting to see my face when I'm hearing complete and total foolishness. I

@Daphane I am very expressive in the face - which is why I should probably stick to radio because I just don't have time for the nonsense. I couldn't believe he didn't just say "Maybe i should have used different words." That was my "Knee Grow Please." Look. At one point you can see my "Is this fool serious?" look. Thank goodness you couldn't see my hands most of the time because I'm a hand talker and I know for a fact I shook my finger at him a few times.

@Li of course he was belittling her. You can't refer to someone as a "fetish" without belittling them.

@T.Q that animal sound was probably an animal :) It was probably a hawk eating one of the migratory birds that are nesting outside the window.

@Pamela, I actually did take over the panel once I realized his agenda. You might have missed me saying "Are we going to get to speak?" to give Christelyn a word in edgewise and then I was the one who said "Yaba" which cued him to give her a change to speak. I just gave up on him when he went all Scarlett O'Hara. He brought us there to conduct a monologue and I wasn't having it. If he was going to do all the talking, we didn't need to be there. But if we were there, I wasn't going to spend 20 minutes listening to him obfuscating and redirecting.

March 13, 2014 | Registered CommenterThe Blogmother

Gina, gurl you were looking fierce and flawless!!

March 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonja B

I really enjoyed watching you speak. The facial expressions were hilarious because I knew exactly what you were thinking (I have the same problem). I also love how you took control of the conversation on his show. That was bold. I definitely think you should do more on camera interviews because you are not afraid to be confrontational and call the interviewer out on their BS. I think with more practice on camera you will learn to control your facial expressions.

I think Marc Lamont Hill understood exactly what you were saying. His ego was bruised so he did not want to admit he was wrong.

March 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJM

MLH spoke way too much and he really did not do a good job defending himself. Unfortunately, Black men have a hard time hearing the truth when it is critical of them, which is interesting since they are so quick to point the finger at White people.

Can we just celebrate Lupita without caring about her being "fetishized" by White people (or any other race)? She's having her "IT GIRL" moment and hopefully she'll have a long and successful acting career.

I am more suspicious of Black men who are suspicious of Lupita's acceptance/embrace by Whites than I am of White people accepting/embracing her. Black men are probably just shocked that such a dark skinned woman is being celebrated by the mainstream media (and may end up with a non-Black man).

March 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLorna Jerome

Hi Gina. I've read you from the very beginning from after the Oprah Imus show. I don’t always agree with you, but I admire you because at the heart of your argument is an unwavering consistency, passion, clarity and intelligence. You remind me of the best of the original second wave feminists, because they changed the world through passionate intellectual arguments, as you do. I think your argument here is 100% correct. (It is absolutely ridiculous to say that admiration for Lupita is in anyway a “fetish”. I don’t even understand how that conversation could start) Speaking for myself (and part of that is that I am white), I have to tell you, that Lupita’s performance was transformative, and affected me like nothing else I’ve ever seen in my life. I think that you should not allow your very grounded and righteous anger and mistrust of the mainstream, or any other assumptions keep you from seeing this film. I assure you that you can not know what it is or assume anything if you don’t see it yourself. I believe that Lupita Nyong’o is the heart of this film, and her performance is so striking that it feels to me, like she is calling up the spirits of the dead. While this is a film, and you certainly know that it is most of the time, what is clear is that it’s mission is noble, and the commitment of the actors in it is truly extraordinary. This is a harrowing and tortured film and it struck me in the heart and soul in a way that can actually shift perspective. Even knowing of the suspension of disbelief, there is something in Lupita’s performance that is to me somehow beyond traditional ideas of what even ‘acting’ is, or can be, and for this reason I strongly encourage you to see this film. That is really my point in commenting here. This performance will go down in history as not only great, but important. This film matters so much more than Hunger Games or Divergent or Twilight, It is a popular work with noble purpose. She could not have possibly had a better reason to win an Oscar, (especially when Oscar so often gets it wrong). Sometimes, even in the mainstream culture, the right thing happens, and you have to allow in your heart for that possibility with 12 Years A Slave. See it.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Bond

He was not expecting all that...LMAO. He knows now.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSilkOne

You got in that ass and I loved every minute of it. I only wish someone would've cut his babbling off sooner. For someone with a doctorate, he's remarkably inarticulate.

Sickened by all the concern trolling regarding Lupita, like a dark skinned black woman can't ever be loved just because. Ugh.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertruth hurts

Everything you said was spot on. Him and the other DBR T.S., we black women know who he is and how they always tout that I have a black daughter and this and that. The problem is that , yes they have daughters and when they daughters hear these vile things come from their father who suppose to protect them, then they are really throwing confusion because you hate and the ones who celebrate me are less melanin individuals, then how will that be explained. The tide is turning and a lot of these bm actors who profited at our expense is coming to a head.
He claim he did not know this comedian who he interviewed. So for someone to have a Phd he does not have to much intelligence because you just interview people without checking their background. O yeah this the one who interviewed Nelly who said that he will kick somebody a** the next time. Now for someone who has a daughter that was his opportunity to check him. So the fact that nelly can say that and Marc can allow that type of talk , then I really feel for his daughter. Men like that are scary because his daughter will have to endure abuse to the highest level. I hope she has a support system because if not she will need therapy already. These interviews are becoming more and more because of the escape that black women are doing. I am so glad that you gave him his just deserts and I hope that as more black women escape blackistan not only in physical as well as mental, these individuals are hanging themselves because people don't want to be associated with crass and scum thinking folks and they will do their own self in by default.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShaylah

Great job! I'm really disappointed in Marc Lamont Hill. So what if some people will seek to fetishlize" Lupita. I believe the vast majority of her fans (whites included) are taken with her combination of beauty, talent, and refreshing personality. Personally, I think she is gorgeous.

I sadly believe that Hill draws the conclusion that Lupita is a fetish because he doesn't think dark skin black women are attractive. Thus if whites do so, Hill concludes it must be some weird fetish.

It's unfortunate that Hill won't admit his own biases and apologize.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

It is rare for me to get "schooled" online, but Sister Gina did some teaching in this interview. I think Dr. Marc Lamont Hill should absolutely NOT get a pass for feeding directly into the problem at the center of the discussion: the legitimacy of a black woman's beauty. By even posing the question the way he did, he perpetuated the notion that there should be a question mark behind the attention and admiration Lupita has garnered.
Having said that, I don't think the interview revealed any "feigned ignorance" or "intentional slander" on Dr. Hill's part. I think it exposed the naivete he (and many of us) has had about the many layers of internalized disrespect and objectification of black women. Discovering that the comedian he had discussed Lupita's beauty with was a black woman-bashing man married to a white woman just proved how pervasive this self-hatred is!
So, KUDOS to Gina for being a true foot soldier. I t was like whooping your child for hanging with the wrong kids and getting caught up. I am convinced Dr. Hill's heart was in the right place, but his mind needs to catch up.
Kudos to him for bringing the sistas on to debate. Major kudos to the other sistas for their diverse opinions as well. I loved Christelyn's "We need to clean our own house." line of thought and Dr. Yaba Blay at the end pointed out that truth is truth, but it will be received differently depending on the source. I think she was respectfully encouraging us all to not paint concepts with such broad brushes. And she definitely got a high five for pointing out that Lupita's "brand' of beauty was not celebrated before by our own men. Great discussion all the way around...

March 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermaljazur

I thoroughly enjoyed reading ALLof the comments here.

Two things I want to mention: Before Lupita became as famous as she is today, I saw a photo of her (in Jet mag?) and thought "Wow she's beautiful!" I remembered she was from Kenya, but could not remember her name when I later decided to look for the photo on-line to show to the little black girls I mentor.

The late great Black American film maker Gordon Parks made "Solomon Northup's Odyssey," starring Avery Brooks as Solomon years ago. The role of Patsy was the one that broke my heart and stays with me. I did not want to see it again in the new version "12 Years A Slave;" but I'm very happy for the success of the beautiful Lupita.

March 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbnance

Wow!!! A couple of comments: 1.) I noticed that if you don't side with Mr. Hill's opinion, then you're missing the point and, 2) Anthropologist deals with alot of qualitative research, which includes background research. I find it a bunch of baloney that Mr. Hill was not aware of Mr. Bell's comedy material related to black women. Hill put Bell on that show for a biased opinion.

This was an awesome interview ladies. I love, love, love it!!

P.S. Gina, I talk with my hands too. Sometimes, I'm called on it but I say, "hey", it got your attention!!

March 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLD


I believe your criticism of MLH was extremely unfair and overly harsh. Calling him DBR and suggesting that his daughter will have to endure abuse to the highest level is both absurd and slanderous. In 2010, he wrote an open letter to the rapper Slim Thug after he claimed white women were superior to black women. The sentiments expressed in that letter,I believe, represent the true Marc Lamont Hill. You say he is scary and lacking in intelligence. Really? Your criticism of this brother is so over the top that it can't be taken seriously by any rational person.

March 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteropinion

The question isn’t whether or not I’m angry, the question is why aren’t you.

Preach Sister Preach!!!!

March 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSavannah

To Gina, I love you for what you and Christelyn did with Marc Lamont Hill. A LOT of black women feel this way. We stand behind you. Do not change!!!!!

Just remember:

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

- Mahatma Gandhi quote

March 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSavannah

I have not watched the awards season this year however, I can say that I do see that sometimes a black women must be exotic to achieve main stream acceptance. Lupita having an obviously Congolese last name puts her in the acceptable to celebrate black people category. Biracial, and foreign i.e. Brazilian and Caribbean women are some other examples. I know this to be particularly true amongst Black men. Whatever White men celebrate many Black men are soon to follow.

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKim in Va

Thank you to Christelyn and Gina! I was so happy to see you defend the beauty of black women and holding MLH's feet to the fire!

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTasha

@Kim in Va

"Whatever white men celebrate many black men are soon to follow."

What exactly are white men celebrating? Go to any white male dominated site and type Michelle Obama, Serena Williams or Venus Williams into the search window and read the comments. They are not celebratory.

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterguest

Great post/interview. Much respect. We haven't heard a peep from Hill since. LOL. Strangely enough, W. Kamau Bell will be in my city for a stand up show. My eyes popped out when I saw the advertisement. I would go boo him, but why waste my money. Lol. Smh.. These men have showed their true colors.

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTJ

@guest if White men were not celebratory, Marc Lamont Hill would not have referred to her as a fetish. Make up your minds. Either the world loves her or it doesn't. I can see you are struggling with this concept mightily.

@TJ Yeah i have not heard a word out of him either. I guess his Lupita trolling ran its course. Or he got embarrassed in front of his White co-workers and didn't want a repeat.

@Kim if you keep telling yourself that only certain Black women can achieve success then it will be so, until a woman you don't think can achieve success achieves it. In the same way that men and women see the world differently, Black people and non-Black people see things differently. Don't assume that they carry around our internalized dysfunction. They don't

March 18, 2014 | Registered CommenterThe Blogmother

Hi Gina,

I know you are passionate about black issues, but I didn't know that you were so passionate until I saw you in that segment. I'll be honest, I couldn't understand your anger until I reviewed the part with Kamau-Bell and I realized that MLH was being an asshole from the start and I'm glad you gave him the reaming you did (if you don't mind the expression). I have noticed this kind of dog-whistling stuff like'you can't be a success without white support' etc where his kind always seem to want to brown nose their white audience and employers.

I personally couldn't understand the whole Lupita stuff myself because I find it odd that a blatantly fake, hostile and false Hollywood is now serenading the beauty of dark-skinned black female, but I now see that the need to have young dark-skinned females feel good about themselves is still a pressing concern as ever and why the celebrations continue. This opportunity is as good as any. Thanks for updating me on that one.

Also understand that sweeping generalizations are painful and endeavour not to tar all black men with the same brush. It is painful to hear you speak that way and see you feel that way. The 'few good black men' don't have the control and the influence in the media to make their feelings known. They may be ignorant of your feelings, but no men of any race fully understand their women and American culture conditions black men are towards their women worse than most.

March 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFrank Church

As a light-skinned woman who comes from a family with a wide range of skin tones from deepest dark to pale white, I am happy for Lupita and for the recognition she is receiving. The affirmation she is receiving for both her beauty and her talent makes me tremendously glad on behalf of all the other dark-skinned beauties who are underappreciated or not appreciated at all. The fact that Marc Lamont called the admiration of this woman who deserves all the accolades she is getting a "fetish" speaks volumes about him, and none at all about her. Kudos to Gina for setting him straight!!
I have had relatives, co-workers, and my daughter's friends who are dark-skinned confide to me about the grief other black folks have given them for being dark. That is all the more reason why her place in the sun means so much to me, and there's more than enough room in the sun for all of us. Regardless of what our individual hues are, we all came from a dark-skinned woman somewhere along the line. My paternal grandmother was dark, and so was my father. My daughter is a coppery brown, but she gets a very deep tan in the summer. She has had idiots tell her she's beautiful for a dark woman. However, she constantly tells me that she's glad that I always affirmed her beauty by telling her that her complexion is beautiful. That seems to have had the effect of building self-confidence in her no matter what others say. I would have done the same thing, regardless of where her complexion fell on the complexion spectrum. It's about instilling a healthy self-respect and appreciation for one's own beauty while acknowledging the right of others for the same thing. Arrogance is a whole other thing, because it's about feeling unwarranted superiority to others. In any case, I wish Lupita well in her chosen career. I will always have the utmost respect for her as someone who was honest about her own struggles against the colorism that negated her and her ability to rise above it. Using Alex Wek as her inspiration, she learned to appreciate her own obvious beauty. Her success has been the greatest possible revenge against all her childhood detractors.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

@Frank Church

There's nothing odd about Hollywood serenading Lupita's beauty. Lupita made sure that she would get noticed. That was part of her Oscar campaign, hiring a stylist that would dress her in a way that accentuate her natural beauty in a way that made her stand out from her white counterparts. And that is why calling her a "fetish" is so offensive. It implies that Lupita is a naive woman being used by Hollywood when Lupita is in fact an intelligent woman who has played an active role in taking certain actions that would elicit the response she is receiving in Hollywood. Not saying that racism does not exist but Lupita knows how to play the game, she is no "fetish'. Many minorities are not aware of the politics involved in the media and entertainment industry. Its not just good enough to be talented to get noticed, this applies to whites but especially to minorities, one has to understand the politics involved. Lupita, in addition to being beautiful and talented, was aware of the politics involved and she and her team came prepared.

March 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLL


I definitely believe Lupita is a fetish because I have seen all of this before. When a young Djimon Hounsou was discovered homeless and hungry on the streets of Paris he, literally overnight, became an international sensation. Designers from Calvin Klein to Thierry Mugler declared him the most beautiful "creature" they had ever seen and he was soon flying around the world to work with everyone from Madonna and Janet Jackson to Steven Spielberg. The giant billboard of him wearing only his Calvin Klein underwear that stood in the center of Times Square became legendary. In the eyes and minds of the fashion elite, Djimon was absolutely a fetish. They viewed his dark skin and perfect body as a canvas to explore their racial fantasies. His receiving two Academy Award nominations as well as helping to pave the way for other African men in the modeling industry is a testament to both his immense talent and great determination.

Lupita's talent and beauty are undeniable. But to not question the motives of the Hollywood and fashion world decision makers, two of the most racist industries on earth, is extremely naive.

March 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterguest

Only SOME black people think it is STRANGE that Lupita is popular. Why they think its strange is for them to self analyze because I have no time for their internal issues. Everyone else is simple charmed by this young lady regardless of skin color just like people including me were charmed by other "IT" girls like Jennifer Lawrence. And no it was not "white" media that made me feel this way about Lupita like I don't have my own mind. I was just glad that the response I had when I first saw her was echoed in many other people. That is having an "IT" factor.

March 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLydia

@guest - I guess I'm baffled as to what a fetish is. It seems like anyone outside of the "norm" receiving attention by the larger media can be deemed a fetish. Concerning Djimon Hounsou you stated,

"The giant billboard of him wearing only his Calvin Klein underwear that stood in the center of Times Square became legendary.
In the eyes and minds of the fashion elite, Djimon was absolutely a fetish. They viewed his dark skin and perfect body as a canvas to explore their racial fantasies."

Tyson Beckford (a dark skin Black man) as well as countless White men such as David Beckham and Mark Wahlberg have also graced the same Calvin Klein billboards wearing only their underwear. All were beautiful men with amazing bodies. Were they fetishes as well or just Djimon? Djimon scored a coveted fashion campaign with a major designer. Do you think that he feels bad about the exposure and the opportunities that followed? Also many of us love seeing ALL of those man clad only in their underwear, larger than life!

I'll need to see some concrete examples of where he was treated any differently than the usual "it" girl/boy in the fashion or entertainment world. I hear similar stories of many young men and women who are suddenly thrust into the spotlight. In the fashion world, it's usually just a matter of being in the right place at the right time!

You also stated, "His receiving two Academy Award nominations as well as helping to pave the way for other African men in the modeling industry is a testament to both his immense talent and great determination."

So it was actually the fact that he was considered beautiful, talented, and a hard worker that caused him to gain fame and not because he was a fetish? He certainly paved the way for other men with similar looks to enter into fashion. Alek Wek did the same for women. Now it's very common to see women with skin darker than chocolate and closely cropped, kinky hair gracing the runways and in fashion spreads. How would we have gotten to where we are today if people like Djimon and Alek weren't featured in all matter of media and given the exposure that they were given, aka your definition of being fetishized?

I don't know much about the state of Djimon's career at this point. He had a pretty good run as far I'm concerned. In entertainment and fashion, one's star can burn out just as quicky as it ignited. However, I'd like to leave it up to Djimon and Lupita to inform us of how they view the attention that they've gotten. No one, especially those with self esteem issues, should try to define their experiences.

March 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersaadiyah


"No one, especially those with self esteem issues, should try to define their experiences." I co-sign this statement. It seems like people are projecting their own issues with embracing dark-skin as beautiful onto Lupita. Lupita does not seem to have a problem with the attention on her appearance so far so maybe the people talking about her being a "fetish" are the ones with the problem.


What do you mean? Of course the are racists in Hollywood just like there are racists everywhere so what? Lupita is a beautiful woman, there is nothing odd about people appreciating her beauty. Lupita doesn't seem to have a problem with how Hollywood has embraced her and its her life. You may have to ask yourself why are you more concerned about Lupita's business than Lupita herself?

March 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLL


I'm not sure what your point was, but one can be treated as a fetish and STILL be deserving of their success. The two are not mutually exclusive. Comparing Djimon to David Beckham is weak because the fashion industry has ALWAYS featured men who look like Beckham. The same can not be said about men who look like Djimon. He changed the game the same way Alek Wek did.

With regard to your nasty remark about self-esteem issues.....never mind.

March 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterguest

A beautiful black woman who fits Lupita's aesthetic is considered as a fetish because we celebrate her? I find this to be one of the biggest problems ever since we started celebrating Lupita. She's not popular simply because white people also celebrated her, she's popular because many of us did it first.

Ignorant black people like Hill have a problem with Lupita's popularity are basically angry because white folks have joined in. Black people who have the same thoughts as Hill, ignore the fact that it was the women who resemble Lupita were the ones who actually elevated her to the forefront.

I am an African descendant and I will celebrate any black woman who elevates our existence in this world regardless of where they are from. After she won the Oscar you would have thought she would be on the cover of Jet magazine, I haven't seen it yet. We forget that the black media is the main ones who don't celebrate the Lupita's of America.

March 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVon

It breaks my heart every time I see or hear of black people not supporting 12 Years A Slave because they're tired of "slave movies". We finally get a film from a first hand account, not made up from some white persons head (Here's looking at you Uncle Toms Cabin), Directed by a black man from the uk (which holds more weight in my opinion since he was not likely bound by too many politics it seems) To give a brutally honest, brilliantly acted movie. What we should be tired of are white savior centric movies, pandering to the "guilty" feelings of white folk which 12 years is not.

March 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

@guest - " Comparing Djimon to David Beckham is weak because the fashion industry has ALWAYS featured men who look like Beckham."

No YOUR argument is weak. Since Djimon was the first black-skinned man to be featured on those billboards, should they have started him off wearing a t-shirt and boxers instead of just having him wear only briefs as did his White predecessors?

Present some examples where either Djimon or Lupita were treated differently from their White counterparts and fetishizied. Simply receiving attention as a "first" is not (automatically) being treated as a fetish!

Like many have pointed out, the reason why concerned Blacks are calling Lupita a fetish is because they (and some in the Black community didn't/wouldn't acknowledge Lupita FIRST. Now they feel guilty about ignoring or rejecting her!!

April 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersaadiyah

HI Gina just saw your interview on Huffingtonpost. Thank you for nailing the issue and not allowing Marc Lamont to squirrel his way out. I have been having a negative feeling about him that I could not shake since I first seen him on huffington post live and my intuition is more and more confirmed. I have to say I am now your fan. Keep up the good work.

April 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I'm sorry but Gina added much more to Marc's comments than he ever said. It speaks to where her mind is at, not his from my perspective. Marc never suggested that Lupita didn't deserve her acclaim. Nor did he suggest that she did not work to earn her current popularity. He had in fact been part of the media that pushed Lupita to her current status by doing more than 1 segment on her and her talents. Marc simply wondered and suggested that Lupita was being ascribed extraordinary mythical beauty status and somewhat being objectified by white media as the next it "black" girl (not just the next it girl). Given history, its a valid concern imo.

I felt a hostility in Gina towards Marc Hill that was frankly disturbing . She was angry, combative, and frankly rude in her interview with him. That wasn't a representation of a strong woman making her points imo. Just the tone and approach its as if she wanted to be enemies and not have conversation and exchange of perspective.

And I have to comment on Crystal's lament that "white people can't win". Girl please. First off, I can't imagine anywhere in black america where a woman who looks like Lupita would not be considered gorgeous. Instead of telling all of America about how we blacks hate ourselves and need white people to teach us what beauty is, maybe she needs to check her head & that of those around her. I do not dismiss the colorism that exists in the overall black community but its an exaggeration if not flat out lie to say that a Lupita would not be acknowledged as beautiful in black american without white america deeming her so.

Blogmother comment -> Of course holding Black men accountable "disturbs" you. You think they should be able to say and do whatever they want to to us and we should take it quietly. In other words, holding two Black men accountable for kee kee-ing it up while calling a Black woman a fetish is unacceptable. Marc and his producers knew EXACTLY who they were getting and which tone I would take. He read my FB comments and we had a Twitter exchange. Notice she isn't disturbed by the marginalization and dehumanization of Black women by Black men in the media every day. Pay attention to people like enychica - they are perfectly content to throw Black women and girls under the bus, but get offended if you protest.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterenychica

Anytime I can "disturb" the enemies of the interests of Black women and girls I have been successful. You'll survive. Black women and girls are disturbed by people like enychica every.day.

I know seeing Black men being held accountable makes you uncomfortable - that's okay. You'll survive.

April 26, 2014 | Registered CommenterThe Blogmother

THANKYOU!!! You really took this 'gentleman' to task!

May 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTweetstedsista


havin just run across your blog TODAY inna most roundabout of ways (4 or 5 steps from CNN), i thoroughly enjoyed watching a NO NONSENSE Sista hand MLH (who give da impression of an intellectual snobbery) his head. As mentioned above, CLEARLY him wittle ego was bwuised.

as an ol man, i aint big on bloggery/social media, but as a DEVOUT PanAfrikanist i must say yours is a site issa pleasure to PERUSE...

Marlon Hill

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarlon Hill

Thank you for standing up that segment was hard to watch. Especially the first part with Bell and Marc giggling like idiots about how absurd it is for whites (especially white males) to find Lupita beautiful bc you know the only standard of beauty that really counts is white or pseudo white (asian, latinas), but black women nooo that must be just a fetish.

If you thought that segment was up chuck worthy you should see Marc Hills stupidity on full display on his segment with Reza Aslan (Islamist apologist, who recently got his arse handed to him by Sam Harris), or the one with Cornell West, MLH is a follower, the guy doesnt have an original thought in his head, he looks vacant half the time and only talks over. Didnt he used to work for FOX News.........yea chew on that one....

I can tell you as a former Muslim African woman neither West, Aslan or Marc Hill know anything about Islam either but they sure do have opinions....opinions and arse holes......

October 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMel

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