Tag: tracee ellis ross

We Need to Talk About Colorism on ‘Mixed-ish’

Mixed-ish is a new show to premiere this fall on ABC. If it sounds familiar its because it is the newest addition to the Kenya Barris empire on the network. His first big show was Black-ish then it’s spin off Grown-ish. Now, Mixed-ish will be a prequel series about Rainbow Johnson played by Tracee Ellis Ross.

 

Image via Rogers Media

 

When I first heard about the spin off, I was like…um okay? I’ve always liked Black-ish even when some of the episodes were questionable and the same goes for Grown-ish but sadly in a larger way.  

 

Image via HipHopDx

 

Rainbow is the mother and wife on Black-ish and her character is mixed, half white and half black. On the show, we meet Bow’s mother several times and she always was a light skinned black woman. But when the trailer for Mixed-ish came out and we see that Tika Sumpter, a dark skinned actress was playing the role of her mother, it was confusing. We all had questions. 

 

Image via MadameNoire

 

Tika Sumpter is seen on the left and the original actress is on the right.

This fact alone leads me to a couple of conclusions. 

The first being, ‘Oh, this is why the colorism episodes, raised more questions than discussion.’ On both Black-ish and Grown-ish he and his team of writers bring up colorism. The first instance was when one of the twins on the show, Diane, gets her school pictures back and they didn’t light her properly so in the corner of the class photo she was almost completely dark.

For Grown-ish, the conversation was started by Zoey, the main character and eldest Johnson child about how colorism affects dating. It introduces how some black men would rather date white women, women who looked ‘exotic’ or unidentifiable than black women, specifically dark skinned black women. 

 

 

Both had good intentions, I will say that. And the Black-ish episode did a bit of a better job. It showed how colorism is multi-faceted and how there is not an easy solution. The point that they drove home was how all black skin is beautiful which is a sentiment that I could get behind. But the discussion was undercut by the B plot in which Jack, her twin wants to get to school earlier for the first time. For me it framed the episode in a strange way and made it seem like there was a ticking clock on this important conversation by counting down to the time where Jack was supposed to be at his assembly. 

 

Image via Yahoo

 

Grown-ish’s episode completely missed the mark for me. There were so many opportunities in the episode to have a real discussion about colorism and college life but for seem reason they didn’t go all the way. A character in the show is made aware that he has a preference for lighter skinned women. To prove a point, he finds a darker skinned woman and brings her over to the table, parading her around, basically saying ‘see, I like dark women too.’  No, discussion was had, the dark skinned student didn’t even say anything to put him in his place. It gets brushed off until later in the episode where he actually admits that he might have a preference for lighter women but it’s under cut with an attempt at a joke. They wrote themselves two opportunities for any kind of discussion on this particular topic but they wasted twenty minutes of my time.

My second conclusion is that Kenya Barris and the writers are pandering to their audience. On Black-ish there weren’t too many dark skinned black women besides, Diane and her grandmother Ruby, her father’s mother. Now, both seemed to act like some of the stereotypes given to black women. In the earlier seasons, Diane was mean and kind of evil while her grandmother was oversexualized. Not that there’s anything wrong with women acting in that manner on their own accord, it just always felt stereotypical to me.

In the colorism episode on Black-ish, Rainbow brings up the arguments about how it wasn’t her fault that she was born light skin and how light skin jokes hurt and these are very valid points. But if her mother was supposed to be as dark as Tika Sumpter, why couldn’t Bow try to help with the conversation with her own daughter? At the end, Ruby talks with Diane because she is the only one who knows what she was going through and it was fine but knowing what we know now, it doesn’t sit right with me that Bow was left out of that conversation.

She could’ve maybe talked about the experiences she had seen her mother go through or wait, no, she couldn’t because Bow’s mother was NEVER supposed to be dark skin. I’m not putting Tika Sumpter’s acting skills to the test here, she could’ve been the best person for the job but seriously? There wasn’t a single actress who could help continue and expand your already established universe, Mr. Barris? Where is the continuity?

So, are we saying that Bow deliberately held back information that could’ve helped soothe her daughter? That she just so happened to forget that her mama was dark skinned and knows absolutely nothing about her mother’s experiences as a black woman? Especially a black woman in an interracial relationship? I find that very hard to believe.

 

Image via Amazon

 

And it’s ironic how last year a book titled, Keeping Up With the Johnsons: Bow’s Guide to Black-ish Parenting had no effect at all. It’s a parenting guide, “written” by Rainbow but it was really written by Mrs. Barris and supposedly based on the couple’s life. It’s frustrating because Bow is a great mom. If it was supposed to be framed this way from the beginning, this could have been a great character moment and a mother/daughter moment.

On another note, what does that say about the actress change? Are we supposed to believe that as Bow’s mom got older that she lost color? And that what? Getting gray hair equates to losing melanin?

 

 

The last and final conclusion, is that I’m tired. Black-ish, Grown-ish and Mixed-ish can be absolutely incredible shows and the latter have had some good episodes. But if you can go all the way and have the opportunity to do so, why pull back? A lot of their subject heavy episodes make great points which then leads to great discussion. But at the moment I’m disappointed.

Mixed-ish premieres on September 24, so we’ll see. 

 

Feature Image Via TV Insider

 

 

 

 

Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Others Mourn Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison, essayist, novelist, professor, and Nobel Prize winner, passed away on August 5th, 2019.

In the wake of her death, many people, fans and celebrities alike, have been sharing the impact that the author has had on their lives. Oprah Winfrey and former president Barack Obama shared some particularly touching responses.

 

Oprah Winfrey and Toni Morrison on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'Image via AceShowbiz

 

Winfrey shared this image of her and Morrison on her Instagram with the following caption:

In the beginning was the Word. Toni Morrison took the word and turned it into a Song… of Solomon, of Sula, Beloved, Mercy, Paradise, Love, and more. She was our conscience. Our seer. Our truth-teller.

She was a magician with language, who understood the Power of words. She used them to roil us, to wake us, to educate us and help us grapple with our deepest wounds and try to comprehend them.

It is exhilarating and life-enhancing every time I read and share her work. 

This pic was her first appearance on the Oprah Show.

She was Empress-Supreme among writers. Long may her WORDS reign!

 

 

Toni Morrison and Barack ObamaImage via Entertainment Tonight

 

Obama posted about Morrison multiple times. On Tuesday morning he posted on Twitter:

Toni Morrison was a national treasure, as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. Her writing was a beautiful, meaningful challenge to our conscience and our moral imagination. What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while.

 

The image Barack Obama posted on Instagram and TwitterImage via Twitter

 

Obama included the above image with his tweet, and posted the same image on Instagram along with this caption:

Time is no match for Toni Morrison. In her writing, she sometimes toyed with it, warping and creasing it, bending it to her masterful will. In her life’s story, too, she treated time nontraditionally. A child of the Great Migration who’d lifted up new, more diverse voices in American literature as an editor, Toni didn’t publish her first novel until she was 39 years old. From there followed an ascendant careera Pulitzer, a Nobel, and so much moreand with it, a fusion of the African American story within the American story. Toni Morrison was a national treasure. Her writing was not just beautiful but meaningfula challenge to our conscience and a call to greater empathy. She was as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. And so even as Michelle and I mourn her loss and send our warmest sympathies to her family and friends, we know that her storiesthat our storieswill always be with us, and with those who come after, and on and on, for all time.

 

Hillary ClintonImage via Yahoo News

 

2016 Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton tweeted a quote from Morrison, sharing her condolences:

“If there is a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written, you must be the one to write it,” Tony Morrison said. 

We are all so lucky to live in a world where she took her own advice and shared it with others.

 

 

Tracee Ellis RossImage via Ebony Magazine

 

Tracee Ellis Ross, lead actress in Black-ish and daughter of Diana Ross, tweeted her own response to the news:

Toni Morrison. While you have left the physical realm, the many treasures you left us will bear fruit for generations and generations. Your work has cascaded through my life deeply and simply… rest in power to a beloved icon.

 

Image via CNN

 

Shonda Rhimes, creator, head writer, and executive producer of Grey’s Anatomy had this to say on her Twitter:

She made me understand “writer” was a fine profession. I grew up wanting to be only her. Dinner with her was a night I will never forget. Rest, queen.

 

Image via CNN

 

Lastly, George Takei took to Twitter with his own response:

A towering figure in literature, Toni Morrison, has passed. Winner of the Noble Prize, and keeper and storyteller for so much of our nation’s soul, she was truly beloved to us all. Rest now, and let us honor you as a nation eternally grateful for your contribution.

 

 

 

 

Featured image via Washington Post