From her music, you can gather that India.Arie is not one to accept politics as usual. Armed with humility, respect, a lot of ALL CAPS, and Twitter, the acoustic soul singer recently decided to voice her opinion on the questionable choices being made for the now highly controversial Nina Simone biopic. We’re probably never going to hear the end of this one…
In a tweet simply entitled “WHAT I FEEL ABOUT THE NINA SIMONE MOVIE,” India.Arie spanned all of her emotions as she opined on the choice to cast Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone and the pictures of the actor in blackface (call a spade a spade). There’s bewilderment: “this just looks WEIRD, it looks like a person in Black(er) face with a fake nose .. REALLY?!” There’s indignation: “DOES NOT THE ONE NINA SIMONE’S LEGACY DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS?” Anger: “THIS looks like a parody. if it has to be FORCED this hard somethings not right! i DO NOT LIKE these PICTURES. AT ALL.” Sarcasm: “If they were going to pick a person who looks NOTHING like Nina Simone… why not her Daughter Simone *shrug* just saying…” And finally, sadness: “these Images … just make me feel … Sad.”
All of India.A’s emotions stem from the irony that, as she points out in her post, Nina had to struggle because of her appearance. For her, as for many other Black women in the entertainment industry, opportunities were contingent on her skin, nose, and lips. The casting of Zoe Saldana barred more fitting Black women from getting work on the role, and in doing so spit on the struggles Nina endured.
While India finds dishonor in the casting choice, she does hold back judging Zoe Saldana. She writes “you NEVER know what People are MEANT to do,” suggesting that perhaps the actor was “BEING CALLED SPIRITUALLY TO PLAY THIS ROLE…” Coming from a Caribbean island and Christian household, I’m not really supposed to question the spirits… but really spirits?