Birth of a Nation actress Gabrielle Union wasn’t always proud of her looks. Despite being gorgeous, Gabrielle says she used to try to minimize her features as a child.
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, she said,
“I didn’t love my skin color, I didn’t love my lips. I didn’t love my nose, I didn’t love my hair. I didn’t love anything. I didn’t love my body. Because no one was choosing me—my self-esteem was determined by somebody choosing me.”
She added that she even tried to hide her features, particularly in photographs.
“I used to curl my lips and I see pictures and I look insane, but it was me trying to minimize my blackness.”
The actress and wife of basketball player Dwyane Wade has been particularly vocal recently about the struggles of being black in Hollywood. She spoke with the magazine about “the sense of being hyper-visible or invisible on sets,” as she calls it.
“When do you stand up and point out every micro-aggression, and when do you stand down so you’re not the angry black person all the time? It’s tiring. It feels like another job that you’re not getting paid for—that is all encompassing.”
fighting white privilege
It starts with education. Well, according to Gabrielle Union it does. The actress is making it her mission to educate friends, family, and other folks in the industry about white privilege, but it hasn’t been easy.
In an interview with blog xoNecole, the actress explained,
“I have, however, had conversations with people that are on my team, the cast and crew that I work with, friends from high school, etc., and it’s been very fascinating to see that so many people are so resistant to the idea of oppression in America. They think you can just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and work hard enough to achieve the American Dream. People will say, ‘My parents came from another country and didn’t speak English,’ but even so you still get the privilege of whiteness. Most of the people that I know have never truly had to function on a level playing field.”
We have had so many of the exact same conversations so we know exactly what she’s talking about, unfortunately.
So what exactly do you do then? According to Gabrielle Union you can’t give up. You have to keep having these awkward conversations in order to persevere. In fact, she’s already had this convo with Lena Dunham (who has been berated for her brand of white feminism) and plans on speaking with many more in Hollywood as well.
“In order to begin to see change start to occur, we have to be willing to have conversations with people who have different opinions than us. I’ve already talked to Lena Dunham; I would love to talk to Kate Upton and Amy Schumer. Maybe I can help to explain the oppressive systems that have benefited and allowed them to say these careless, insensitive and offensive things. Those conversations are awkward as fuck and they get heated. Similar to watching people have conversations about consent.”