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Whitewashing The Facts: 10 Racial Appropriation Fails

Wearing a prosthetic nose and blackface for her role as the late singer Nina Simone has Zoe Saldana in a sizzling flood of hot water.

Saldana – who is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent – last week tweeted a quote from the famed singer. Simone’s official account fired back with this:


Due to the blatant change in ethnicity, many are outraged and confused as to why producers did not cast a dark-skinned actress to play the part of the controversial singer. The change is especially significant as Simone was a prominent source of inspiration in the Civil Rights Movement; a performer whose art largely reflected the oppression she faced for the way she looked.

Simone’s daughter Simone Kelly voiced her opposition to Saladana‘s casting in The New York Times in 2013, saying:

“My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark,” Kelly said, adding “Appearance-wise this is not the best choice”.

Casting Saldana not only takes away the history and context of the character but withdraws casting opportunities for black actresses. Opponents have pointed towards amazing black actresses that resemble Simone such as Uzo Aduba and Viola Davis.

The case with Saldana does not stand alone, but is one of many films to miscast people in roles contrary to their ethnicity. Here are some of Hollywood’s worst examples of whitewashing:

10 Racial Appropriation Fails

Emma Stone in Aloha

This was very odd casting, as Emma Stone was supposed to be portraying the character Allison Ng, of mixed Chinese, Hawaiian and Swedish descent. Even odder that for a film reflecting Hawaii which is over 70 percent non-white, the cast was almost all-white. The film was a major box office flop.

Image source: Movieweb

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