Yesterday, we received a comment from one of our astute readers about Lupita Nyong’o and her acceptance in the mainstream media.

Ask_Me wrote:


A few weeks ago there was some controversy after Dr. Marc Lamont Hill referred to Lupita as a fetish. Well, after that he got dragged by black women.

This was a very educational moment because the video of the “dragging” gave me plenty of food for thought…

The video made me think about things I’ve never thought about in terms of Lupita and what she means for the black community, black women, whites and beauty standards. This idea of her being a fetish, which truthfully I’ve only head from black men, has come up again with People Magazine naming her most beautiful person.

I wanted to know if you will write an article about black women and this idea of black women being fetishized when one/some of us become “accepted” (I’m not sure if that is the right word) by whites or mainstream America. Can you also address what the woman professor said about gender? I’m interested in knowing why the word “fetish” is even used at all. Why does it scare some people that Lupita is getting some shine?

While I watched Dr. Marc Lamont Hill’s public schooling in real time—let’s just say sistas weren’t too keen on him insinuating Nyong’o was becoming a “fetish”—I decided not to write about it because, honestly, I was think-pieced out (especially since I’ve written my fair share).

Instead of continually analyzing what Lupita’s presence meant to Black women and girls, or Hollywood, or the world at large, I just wanted to just bask in the beauty of her #BlackGirlMagic and enjoy the moment.

But when it was announced that the Kenyan actress was tapped by People Magazine as the most beautiful woman in the world, I noticed a disturbing uptick in people (sadly, many Black men I knew) wondering why she was being hailed as the most beautiful when “she looks mad average.”

I’ve tried to ignore the Ashy Larrys, as @ThePBG has so aptly called them, but the more I scroll past their jabs at Nyong’o being “beautiful because white people now find her beautiful” (this is the argument), the more I wonder why people can’t just say she’s a stunning women without all the qualifying and asterisks.

I wondered if some Black men also get all up in their feelings about the mainstream (read: White) media finding women like Paula Patton, Beyoncé, Halle Berry, Ciara, Rihanna, or Jhené Aiko beautiful, or are some of them incapable of acknowledging Lupita’s beauty because she does not fit into anyone’s—Black folks or White folks—ideals of what we’ve been taught is beautiful (i.e. White/light skin).

I also wondered, as Dr. Yaba Blay pointed out in the HuffPost Live roundtable, if some Black folks were jumping on the Lupita Is GAWJUS! bandwagon because it was now acceptable to see her as worthy because she’d garnered mainstream approval.

Just when brothers across the web were about to take an L, Damon Young penned a surprisingly honest essay for Ebony arguing “Why Black boys need Lupita Nyong’o.”

Young writes:

The inevitable backlash from certain Black people incredulous that someone had the audacity to consider Lupita beautiful. I think some of these people just keep “Lupita is ugly” in draft format on their iPhones and Twitter accounts, waiting for an opportunity–any opportunity–to hit send.

I spent much of yesterday morning reading some of these replies while shaking my head at their obliviousness to their ignorance. I even poked some fun at them yesterday afternoon, crafting a quiz titled: “Exactly How Threatened Are You By Lupita Nyong’o’s Beauty?” And I felt no shame in doing any of this because, well, I’ve earned it. In three months, I’m marrying a brownskinned woman with dreadlocks who carries Vaseline and owns a “Black Girls Run” t-shirt. My last serious girlfriend before her? Same complexion as I am. Even my “it’s complicated” relationship from college was with someone darker than I am.

Basically, I can scoff at the colorstruckedness of the Lupita hate brigade because that’s obviously not me. And it’s never been me.

And…well, that’s a lie.

Young goes on to write that for the better part of his formative years, the vast majority of his celebrity crushes were all light-skinned women with “traditionally beautiful” features like Aaliyah, Mya, Karyn Parsons, and Tisha Campbell because that’s what he saw in the media.

Which brings us back to Lupita. While so many in our own community are discounting her sudden rise and acceptance as merely a “fetish,” the fact that she’s on the world’s stage—and continues to slaaaay effortlessly—matters.

Because while adults might not “get it” somewhere, a little boy or girl who looks like Lupita thinks she is beautiful, and that’s far more important some random Ashy Larry’s misinformed opinion.

Let’s talk about it folks. What’s your take on Lupita Nyong’o’s popularity? Is it a for real or is it a fetish? And does it even matter? 

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  • A_Passionate_Voice

    I CALL KARMA TO BLACK MEN IN AMERICA. In about 2 to 5 years LIGHTSKIN Women will be considered an impure, mutant, degenerate species, while a pure African Female Beauty Ideal will be fantasized across American Media like a Foreign car from a High-end Dealer, hence cultivating a new breed of reverse psychological warefare against black men that will perpetuate:” BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOW HATED YOURSELVES FOR SO MANY YEARS, YOUR PERSPECTIVE IS THAT OF ANIMALS, HENCE WHY THE STATE OF YOUR COMMUNITY IS BEYOND REPROACH & BACKWARDS. ” – Whites are now blaming and framing us for the destruction of our own community, while we bask in the confusion of this smoke and mirrors phenomenon and rightfully so. #SimplyBrilliant

    Whites have always found black women beautiful. We are at a time in History where black women are going to become successful via every facet of entertainment (Black Women; as in MELANIN SUFFICIENT EVIDENT- UNQUESTIONABLY BLACK) that is. Black women are already worshipped by the white high fashion industry and have been for the last thirty years. ( And if your a drug slinging porch slug from the stoop who hates the sight of his own mother, you would have no knowledge of even this, but as I digress…) This is the same industry that will not hire blue vein LIGHTSKIN BLACK MODELS ( Funny isn’t it ???)

    The ideal black beauty in high fashion is a brown skinned woman from north Africa or BLACK Brazil (upon which agents strategically photograph the contrast between the beauty of these black women vs. their white female counter parts with an emphasis on their glowing darker skin and exotic full facial features)

    Bi-curiously through LUPITA, whites have found an opportune excuse to celebrate black beauty and bring the idealization that whites have always adored about blacks to light, all while Black Men have been drinking and advertising the cool aid that the Black female equals= poverty, ugliness and worthless; hence the confusion.(???) Because of this confusion….., Black men want to know – HOW DO YOU GO FROM WORTHLESS TO BEAUTIFUL ALL OF A SUDDEN?????

    Because the King of Spades has been played by white industry which makes black men look like animals who have been tricked into hating their own women, when in fact there was no trick. – BLACK MEN have made a conscious decision for the last 30 years to hate themselves.

    In Lieu of this phenomenon starting with Lupita, the social value of the Black man will drop to an all time low. And they will feel what Black women have felt for what has seemed like an eternity

    P.S. – Being the only species on this planet that look the way that we do. – Now that’s Beauty worth Celebrating. Even if only whites think so.

    – Black women will now go from being hated by Black Men for being too black to now Being hated by black men for being to Beautiful.

    KARMA is Natural B__ch !



  • sharon evans

    Ms. Lupita is a beautiful woman, I wish everyone would see the beauty in dark skin, but they dont. I am a very, very dark skin woman and I grew up in the 60’s that was just not acceptable. I didnt get a boy to like me until I was a senior and guess what he was from out of town. That was in the 70’s. Now fast forward to 2014 – my grandsons and grand nephews only like mixed girls. We have not progressed any!!!!! It is soooo sad.

  • sharon evans

    As I was reading other comments – one man asked “but we black men are more racist towards black woman than the entire white supremacy structure of this Country” no I dont think the Black man is more just they are equal. What other race/culture of people make music calling our mamas,sisters, nieces, cousins, aunts whores, bitches and other such bad names? Why is this allowed, because -the underlying message is black women are like dirt they are not to be cherished but they are to be walked on.

  • chuckdaly

    If you were old enough to remember the 80s, you will have a hard time not seeing the parallels between the medias admiration for Lupita’s beauty and that of Grace Jones. Grace Jones had no problem finding men to share a bed with, and I’m sure Lupita has a list 3 blocks long with men who would gladly escort her to her next premiere. So, what long term ramifications did Grace Jones beauty have on Hollywood, and will thing be the same for Lupita? Most black men see the same thing happening again.

  • So, if a light-skinned, caucasian-featured, hair-straightened woman of African ancestry is adored by the world, it’s okay with people, but if a woman who looks like Lupita Nyongo is adored, it’s a “fetish”? What does this say about the sickos who call her a “fetish”?