Saturday, September 18, 2021

Lupita Nyong’o: Too Much Melanin to Be Considered Latina?

Lupita Nyong'o, actor Oscar Isaac and film producer Kathleen Kennedy attend the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Mexico City premiere fan event at Cinemex Antara Polanco on December 8, 2015 in Mexico City, Mexico.
Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar Isaac and film producer Kathleen Kennedy attend the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Mexico City premiere fan event on December 8, 2015 in Mexico City, Mexico.

*32-year-old MexiKenyan Lupita Nyong’o and her “The Force Awakens” co-star Oscar Isaac, recently did an interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos about how the two stars of “Latin origin” landed their roles in the new Stars Wars film.

The chat was conducted in Spanish, and according to the Facebook translation app, the comment section lit up from the blissfully ignorant about the authenticity of Lupita’s Latin roots.

Nyong’o was born in Mexico City, Mexico to two Kenyan parents. As Madame Noire notes, she lived in Kenya for most of her childhood but went back to Mexico when she was 16, and identifies as a “Mexican-Kenyan.” She told El Mañana (as translated and reported by The Wire):

“I’m Mexican and Kenyan at the same time,” she said, according to El Mañana. “I’ve seen the quarrels over my nationality, but I’m Kenyan and Mexican at the same time. So again, I am Mexican-Kenyan and I am fascinated by carne asada tacos.”

Because most folks only subscribe to what White Supremacist programming allows them to believe, with regards to history, many can’t wrap their heads around melenated Latinos, and those of Sub-Saharan African ancestry. Many subscribe to an “if it ain’t white, it ain’t right!” mentality.

Anyone born in Latin America is considered Latin. Latin America includes over “20 sovereign states and territories from Mexico to South America and through the Caribbean, and is made up of various ethnic groups and races including European, African, indigenous native and Asian.”

If you’re a white-passing or even a white-Latin, your ethnicity is never questioned, just ask “Brazilian” supermodel (and former fiancée of Rohan Marley) Isabeli Fontana, whose roots are Italian. Or even Isaac himself, “whose father is actually Cuban and his maternal grandmother French.”

In should be noted that just last week, Mexico released its new Census form, which will now officially recognize the 1.38 million “Afro-” Mexicans living in the country. According to Quartz, “Afro-Mexican activists wanted the inclusion as a way to help fight back against discrimination and erasure,” a form of genocide that comes with Western influence and colonialism.

The debate over Lupita’s heritage ranges from her being Mexican “by accident” to her not being a Latina-enough because she only lived in Mexico for a few months.

One such commenter on Facebook said, “Lupita N’yongo no es Latina! Es una actriz increíble, una mujer hermosa, pero de Latina no tiene nada. Nació en México mientras su padre estaba allí de negocio y solo vivió allí unos meses. Sus papás son de Kenya.”

Facebook app translation: “Lupita N ‘ YONGO IS NOT Latina! It’s an incredible actress, a beautiful woman, but of Latina has nothing. She was born in Mexico while her father was there for business and only lived there a few months. Her parents are from Kenya.”

Another commenter write, “Lupita es Mexicana por accidente no por que tenga Origen Latino como Lo dice el señor Jorge Ramos. Ella es Africana. Oscar si es de Origen Latino.”

Facebook app translation: “Lupita is mexicana by accident not because I have latin origin as it says Mr Jorge Ramos. She is African. Oscar if it is of Latin origin.”

Most of the up-voted comments proudly claimed Nyong’o’s as Latin, with one comment saying:

“Si Lupita fuera Rubia y de ojos azules ahi estubieran reclamandola como Mexicana! Como es posible que sea el 2015 y tengamos la mente tan cerrada? Y la verdad no me sorprende en lo absoluto, nuestro hermoso continente Americano es un gran arco iris de colores pero lamentablemente lo unico que casi se ve en la tele es blanco, claro! Eso tambien se debe a que nuestras razas de color casi estan marginalizadas y no tienen las mismas oportunidades.”

Facebook app translation:

If Lupita She was blonde and blue eyes there were reclamandola like Mexican! How is it possible that it is 2015 and we have the mind so closed? And the truth I am not surprised at all, our beautiful American continent is a big rainbow of colors but unfortunately the only thing that you can almost see on tv is white, of course! That also is due to the fact that our races of color almost are marginalized and do not have the same opportunities.

Again, some of these translations may be poor, as they were taken from the Facebook transcription app (via Madame Noire).


Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.



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