I am happy about this choice. And I am also writing that for a site with a predominately black audience, which means this disclaimer is necessary.
My joy over Nyong’o’s latest cover has nothing with needing the approval of a mainstream (read: white) magazine to recognize black is obviously beautiful.
And it has nothing to do with needing validation from white folks about black anything for it to be great because black folks can and do (and will continue to) validate themselves everyday.
It has everything to do with thinking something akin to “well, it’s about dang time they figured it out.”
“They” is white publications who tend to be late with everything regarding black folks. (Case in point: they were nearly two decades late discovering both Brooklyn and twerking.)
With Lupita — because of her absolutely and all around awesomeness that makes her impossible to ignore — mainstream pubs — Vanity Fair, New York magazine and W, too name a few, have been on the money since she slayed in 12 Years a Slave. Being current about who black folks think is hot at the time they actually are is in itself revolutionary.
The other “it” they figured out is that yes, black folks– and not just high yellow, green eyed and be- weaved women– can be beautiful, and evidently more beautiful too. And sell magazines. (We’re magic, tada.) We’re just beyond a time — one I came of age in — when black women get more than one cover of each magazine per year. So for Lupita to rack them up like balls on a billiard table is astounding.
And to take People‘s top honor– over the usual stream of indistinguishable white women– is a rare feat for a black woman, especially one with a dark complexion.
About that dark complexion and more. Lupita’s version of beauty is unfortunately many things black folk have been told isn’t beautiful. Light is “supposed” to be right, and black hair is “supposed” to be straight and those full lips are only celebrated on white women. It’s about time a woman who falls outside of those “supposed” to be norm gets her just due.
When I celebrate her cover, that’s what I’m shaking my shimmy over. Nothing more.