Last year on July 25th, I sent this tweet to Ice Cube: "dreamed I was married to @icecube. we argued over which vid vixens to cast. He was mad because one of mine was too young and too skinny."
As it turns out, I'm a prophet because a recent casting call for the NWA docudrama "Straight Outta Compton" has caused a serious racial uproar. Los Angeles filmmakers are/were looking for four types of African American women to appear in the film. The women are/were categorized from A - D. "A" women are of all races with great bodies, lighter complexions and sport their own hair. B - D calls for black women of a different type.
The ad went viral.
The Facebook ad where it first appeared has been deleted and Universal issued an apology.
The deleted ad stated that B girls are "light skinned" and although the casting agency says "Beyonce is the prototype here", the part calls for women with long, natural hair and small waists. C girls are light to medium skinned African American women with weaves. D girls are poor African American women who aren't in good shape with medium to dark tones or "character types".
A lot of education and tremendous support is required before black women can shake off damaging preconceived notions reinforced by Hollywood agencies with Italian names like the one in charge of "Straight Outta Compton" casting. In response to the backlash, this casting agency responsible for a worldwide of hurt says it will change its lettering system.
I really don't know too many men who don't ascribe to the casting agency's and NWA's A - D list idea of women. Maintaining friendships with them is a lot of work because like the person who posted the ad, a lot of people see nothing wrong with their discrimination until it's been thrown in their face like hot dishwater.
In fact, discrimination against black people by other black people is so pervasive, victims accept it and refuse to remonstrate.
Moreover, gangster culture from Michael and Sonny Corleone to Ice Cube and Tony Soprano has always hated women. There has never been a place inside of gangster culture for women other than strippers, girlfriends, and wives.
Women have never been gangsters' business partners. Ice Cube has defended rap music's use of words bitch and hoe successfully for more than twenty years. Ice Cube is a writer and wrote most of NWA's lyrics. In Ice Cube's view, there's nothing wrong with the words bitch and hoe when the words are true.
Still, when men withhold financial opportunities from women, that's hate. A female business partner in gangster culture would outearn a video vixen in gangster culture.
Despite it all, Los Angeles women will email photos to the casting agency and audition. At some point, everyone has thought about being on television and film. For many, this divisive and insensitive casting call is a financial and career opportunity. Everyone deserves a chance.
Like Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, N.W.A's original audiences are now grown folks with grown kids. Like the rappers, the original audiences are well over 45 now and South Central and Compton has lost all aura and significance. Raising teens in a gangster culture is profoundly uncool. So are Bloods and so are Crips.
In LA right now, chickens are coming home to roost. Ice Cube's son has been cast to play Ice Cube in the biopic. And daughters of dads who probably listened to NWA's music back in the day are sending photos to a casting agency's gmail account right now.
The beautiful irony is that few 18-30 year-olds know much more about Ice Cube than his roles in popular comedies like "Friday", "Ride Along" and "Are We There Yet."
The open casting call reopens the wounds of black on black conflict and self-hatred that separates and divides black families. The casting agency's call reminds me that hatred of black skin and black life didn't begin with black people, but others and that black people bought into it (literally with their dollars that support it).
It's painful and sad that the person in charge of the most delicate aspect of any production, public relations, didn't know better. It's good to know Universal responded quickly.
But there's still truth to the ad and women hate each other because of it.
Thanks to our weakened mindsets, red heads are hated by their blonde sisters. Blonde sisters are hated by their brunette sisters. "Light skin" sisters are hated by their "brown skin" sisters. Sisters with natural hair are hated by their weave wearing sisters. Long slender bodies are hated by rounder ones.
This cycle of hatred won't end in circles where women do not embrace the personal power they have and use it for good not evil. Larger women, smaller women, women with long hair, women with a slim bodies are all aware the stereotypes exist, but we all have a personal responsibility not to act heinously with regard to those stereotypes in mind.
We can still hold the door open or smile and say hi to the woman or man whose hair you don't like or whose body image you don't own, and perhaps do not want. The natural tendency, the tendency we're taught, is to dismiss and despise those who are unlike us in a twisted, mindless effort to self-preserve.
So I'm not mad at Ice Cube. This time last year I dreamed we were married after all. I am more than annoyed by the person who drafted and released such an insensitive unfiltered casting call. (My dream suggests a woman wrote that).
Mostly however, I am sad for those young women who look at the A and B list and feel good because they fit that mold and those who feel marginalized because of it.