Long after Lupita Nyong’o won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 12 Years A Slave I lay in bed awake. Although she was most deserving, past experience has taught us not to anticipate the recognition of talent if possessed by a person of color. We’ve learned to expect very little, to minimize potential disappointment. I replayed the moment from memory multiple times; the images shone like a highlight reel on a projector, illuminating parts of my past self long-ago relegated to the recesses of my mind. The surprise in her eyes as her name was announced. The congratulatory cheers from her peers as she stood and hugged Steve McQueen. The acknowledgment of Patsy’s plight acting as the catalyst for the actualization of her current joy. The pride on her brother’s face, a sense of pride we shared as if she were kin. The stark contrast of her Nairobi-blue gown against the deep sienna of her skin. Her skin. I considered her recent confession of hating her complexion, and began to ponder the quest toward acceptance of my own reflection. I knew I could not rest until I’d spoken these thoughts aloud.
How did you feel after Lupita’s Oscar win? What impact has colorism had on your life? Share your thoughts in the comments!