Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Can Rashida Jones Get Some Love?

I've seen a number of write-ups on the Black web about the cover of Vanity Fair's 2011 Hollywood Issue.  One thing has bothered me, though.

Source: Arnold Gatilao via Wikimedia Commons.  Obtained under a Creative Commons license.
In some sites' annual posts bemoaning the proportion of young Black actors on the cover, they failed to mention Rashida Jones' presence.  Still can't find her?  She's reclining on the last stool on the right, feeding a tiger.  Hollywood glam at its most fabulous.

You've seen her on NBC (The Office, Parks and Recreation) and in films like I Love You, Man and the Oscar-nominated Social Network.  If that still doesn't click for you, she was on Boston Public and appeared in a sketch on Chappelle's Show about a "love contract."

For anybody who needs further proof of her Black bonafides, she performed in "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf" in college, okay?

Oh, and she also happens to be Quincy Jones' daughter with actress Peggy Lipton.  Yes, that Quincy Jones.

It is an amazing, potentially career-altering honor to be featured on the cover of the Hollywood Issue.  There's a number of well-known Black sites that mentioned Anthony Mackie, but completely forgot about her, and should know better.  I'm not going to call them out by name--unless you e-mail me--because I'd love to be one of their freelancers.  ;)  And if they're smart, they've rectified the error by now. 

It's like they caught an intra-racial case of what I call "racial amnesia."  That's when you've been introduced to someone of another race in a professional or social capacity numerous times, often in situations where you're the only Black person in the room, and they just can't seem to remember who you are. 

Are the oversights basically related to her skin tone?  Or is there something else going on here?

Maybe the lack of respect is about Ms. Jones taking roles that are generally race-neutral.  Other than playing an Italian on The Office, there's usually no explicit statement on her characters' ethnic backgrounds.  She has excellent comedic timing, and she proves to directors that typecasting is played out--you can't put actresses of African descent in a neat, "Black comedies-only" box. 

She hasn't been in films primarily marketed to Black audiences, but she's had a really diverse body of work and should be recognized by our community.

Kudos to Rashida, and hopefully, she'll never have to worry about this issue again.

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