A teacher of mine met him [Robert Downey Jr.] on a plane to LAX. She didn’t recognize him until after they had already talked and he had fallen asleep. She said she pretended that she didn’t know him after that and he talked to her for the rest of the flight, asking about her life, never mentioning himself once.
- Kid: (stares) Excuse me, Mister.
- Me: (looks up from my book) Yes? Hi!
- Kid: Are you a football player?
- Me: (looks at his jersey and tries to think positive) No.
- Kid: Oh. Because most black guys play football.
- Me: (thinks of eleven child-appropriate responses after taking a walk)
are you fucking kidding me?
Ugh. That’s why I turn off my anonymous. Dumb fucks.
As if it couldn’t get worse, recent animations have hit upon a new way to circumvent this problem: get rid of people of colour altogether! Which brings us to Disney’s latest smash-hit Oscar-winnig animation, Frozen. Frozen was applauded for its nuanced, active female characters (let’s gloss over the Barbie-like approach to body image for now) in contrast to passive princesses past. On a diversity level, though, the film’s vision of wintry unmitigated whiteness extended not only to the landscape but the movie’s characters, too. “Aha!” its defenders could say. “This is a story set in 17th-century northern Europe, why should there be any people of colour?” To which the reply could be: “This is a work of fantasy concocted in ethnically diverse, 21st-century America, in which you have chosen not to cast or represent a single non-caucasian person.”
There’s no road map for being black.
Jacquetta Szathmari, as quoted in Baratunde Thurston’s How to Be Black