Lupita Nyong'o And The "T" Word

Lupita Nyong'o's recent success at the Oscars has left us ruminating over Hollywood tokenism.

The blogosphere is currently ablaze with all things Lupita Nyong'o. The recent Oscar winning actress (congrats!) has become Hollywood's poster girl in just a matter of months, but her stratospheric rise to 'flawless' star status is now being marred by buzzwords like 'Hollywood tokenism' and 'fetishization'. Comic memes like this one (admittedly posted on our social media to divisive responses) tap into Hollywood's dichotomous relationship with black beauty and success. If a person who happens to be black is celebrated, and their blackness is mentioned, they automatically become associated with tokenism — lest we forget Halle Berry's Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Monster's Ball).

Admittedly, it's impossible to engage with Lupita Nyong'o's ubiquitous popularity without acknowledging that her success may also benefit Hollywood's public image; see Lee and Low's infographic highlighting the Academy Awards' poor diversity stats below. Who better than a Yale educated, bilingual, beautiful actress like Lupita to front Hollywood's progressive 'we're post-racial' marketing campaign. Yes, the fact that Lupita now seems to be everyone's new best friend may certainly carry undertones of white self congratulation, it may even give people the false idea that Hollywood is a utopic land of equal opportunity for all  — read this interesting Aljazeera article about how this is not the case. But what's most important, and fundamentally triumphant about Lupita's success, be it underlined by the white establishment's self interest or not, is the mere fact that she exists, and that she - and her beauty - are being celebrated.

No one said it better than Lupita herself in her 'black women in Holywood' acceptance speech, where she highlighted the desperate need for role models who look like her. Her eloquence, intelligence and grace do a service to women in acting in general, and black women specifically, and we need more people like her on our screens.  Though Hollywood and the film industry still has a long, long way to go in representing diversity, the 'Lupita Nyong'o effect' suggests that we're on our way, and until we reach that point, words like tokenism will always resurface, but hey haters gonna hate. Now that this rant is over, check out Lupita being humble and stunning all at once and watch out for the moment where Ellen Degeneres lets slip that she, like us, loves her.

Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.

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How CKay's 'Love Nwantiti' Became the World's Song

Nigerian singer and producer CKay talks to OkayAfrica about the rise of his international chart-topping single "Love Nwantiti," his genre-defying sound and the reasons behind this era of afrobeats dominance.