Anyone who pays attention to the happenings in America knows all about the color lines that have been created in Hollywood. Although the Civil Rights Era ended more than 50 years ago, sadly, many elements of that disheartening still linger, plaguing the progression of modern-day American, to this day. African-Americans have advanced in many areas where professionalism, education, finance, and economics are concerned but don’t get it twisted. The same mistreatment still tends to happen, but now it’s just a bit more subtle. When famed actress Viola Davis attended the “Women in the World summit in New York City on Thursday, April 12, she opted to discuss a relatively intense topic: the subtle existence of the brown paper bag, reports Bossip.
Paper Bags Aren’t Just For Baggin’ Groceries:
If you’re of age, you’ve probably heard all about the old “brown paper bag” test, which in African-American history is described as a form of racial discrimination. In many instances, people with skin darker than the shade of a brown paper bag were often denied the same privileges as fair-complected people or those of a lighter hue. During the panel discussion on Thursday, Viola Davis shared a brutally honest observation she’s made over the years. Although her statement is relatively blunt, there’s probably more than a few women who actually agree with her.
“No one thinks a woman darker than a paper bag is attractive,” Davis told MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid Thursday at the “Women in the World” summit in NYC. “They find her mannish. That is the American mindset. And that’s seeped into art… If Julianne Moore came on stage and did a monologue, and I came on stage and did the same monologue, in the same way, would you see it the same way?”
The highly respected actress went on to further discuss the situation and how she plans to use her position in Hollywood to make the entertainment world more inclusive for people of all shades of color. “My goal now is, for actors of color especially, there is a need for us to be didactic, and I don’t like that,” Davis said. “What I mean by that, is that every time we’re on stage and every time we make a choice, there’s a question of ‘so what did that mean?’ ‘What social statement was that making?’ Sometimes we just want to tell a story. That’s it. Sometimes we just want to be.”
However, she didn’t stop with the color lines. She also briefly discussed another physical attribute that often leads to discrimination – a woman’s weight. ”Not every woman who is sexual is a size 2,” Davis said. “Not every woman who is sexual is walking like a supermodel. And not every woman who is sexual is lighter than a paper bag.”
Breakin’ Down Barriers:
Since Viola Davis’ career took off, she’s snagged numerous memorable roles that have placed her in a league of her own. From her performances in films like Doubt, where she starred alongside Meryl Streep and Fences with Denzel Washington, to her Oscar award-winning performance in The Help, and her primetime television hit, How To Get Away With Murder, Viola Davis is now a household name. But due to the disheartening color barriers, the success she’s achieved didn’t come without hard work. During a previous interview with People magazine, Davis discussed her journey from poverty to winning an Oscar. She admitted the journey has definitely been incredible and some days it’s still a bit unbelievable.
“I was the kind of poor where I knew right away I had less than everyone around me,” she said. “We had nothing,” she recalled. But life is definitely different now. “‘I cannot believe my life,’” she says. “I just can’t. I’m so blessed.” Although Viola Davis has accomplished a lot, thus far, it’s probably safe to say she’s far from finished.
Do you agree with Viola Davis’ perspective of the color lines in Hollywood? Share your thoughts.