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We’re a few days away from the big day for Sasheer Zamata. This Saturday, January 18th, 2014 will be the day we get to see what NBC Universal’s changes will do to their critically acclaimed and heavily famously followed show, Saturday Night Live. However, with every change comes a method of growth. For a television show, the growth can be seen through the cast itself and it’s audience.
Unfortunately, America may still have some growing to do, and they may not be prepared for a “kinky” haired, deep brown-skinned and full lips-having, self-loving black woman. Americans are too well into their Olivia Popes and Michelle Obamas, the safe black women with no outward appearance of Afro-ethnic heritage, or a desire to uphold such history and culture. Yes, it is 2014, but the comments and articles that I have read thus far about these additions are relentlessly evident of the true ignorance of American television watchers. So I shall illuminate you all.
Sasheer hails from Indianapolis, Indiana. Her high school may not have been the poor and underserved schools we expect all people of color with a substantial connection to their heritage to go to, but it takes a special kind of person to grow up darker than your peers and not see (and feel) the differences. And it’s Indianapolis, not Baldwin Hills. By growing up in a not-so-colorblind world, it makes perfect sense the actions she would take while at the University of Virginia.
Having co-revived a black student organization called Paul Robeson Players, and eventually leading it, she and her team brought to life Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf on stage at the university. Additionally, she became a highly active member in Sustained Dialogue, a campus organization aimed at finding common ground among the many groups on campus, and co-started a day of eliminating stereotypes and prejudices called De-Stereotype Day, which is still celebrated on grounds today. When graduating she understood well how she would be able to establish her grounds in the entertainment world.
She joined up with groups such as the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, and immediately started her own web series. UCB had come to U.V. A before, and it’s a no brainer to work with who you connect with, especially if they are actually good at it. However, in her web series, she remained in her melanin element, portraying the famous black women of America from Michelle Obama to, my personal favorite, Beyonce. Though she could have done more shows of the Queen of England and maybe even Lady Gaga, she chose not to. How race conscious is that?
In the end of the day, you define you. Neither our race, or our socio-economic status, (though very important in analysis) can define who we decide to be when we are truly free to be ourselves. Her ability to be able to relate to others who are not black is actually ok, considering she doesn’t hide it too well. Plus, with the combination of the 2 black female writers, 3 if you count Sasheer, I am certain we won’t be allowed to smudge the racial lines of difference. So Back Off! And let’s prepare for a good show!
Congrats Sasheer! WahooWa!! #FistPump!