When I hear the phrase “African Queen” several thoughts and images come to mind. I picture a beautiful dark skinned woman who is strong, intelligent, and fierce. I see a woman who is a leader and a symbol of Africa. I hear the word “Africa” and I think of the motherland, a vast wide continent in which man and life began. I think of Africa in it’s natural state before it was robbed of it’s people and culture. The phrase just makes me think of a time when there were still kings and queens and a nation of people who were full of tradition and ruled over its own. But maybe this is just my image and a picture I’ve painted myself.
Maybe I’m just misguided and confused. Because Numero Magazine recently did a photo shoot called “African Queen” and hired a sixteen year old model to do the cover spread. My issue is not her age or even that she is a model. My issue is Numero Magazine hired a young lady named Ondria Hardin who is Caucasian. Yes you just read correctly, the model who embraced and attempted to portray the image of the “African Queen” was a young teenage Caucasian girl. They covered her in a dark bronze make-up from head to toe and to the naked eye she even looks African. Once I read this article and saw all the controversy it caused, I didn’t know how much I should be offended. Is this their art form to turn her into something she is not? Was it a weak attempt to show heritage to the African and African American community? Is this a magazine that ignores the importance of hiring an ethnic model to represent an ethnic person? On the other hand is this a magazine that wants attention and publicity? With all the questions I begin to ask myself, I realize there’s an answer for each. And all the answers I wrap my mind around make sense.
The biggest week of fashion in America is New York’s fashion week and over 80% of the models are Caucasian. Could Numero Magazine have hired an ethnic model to portray this image? Is it ok to pretend to be something we are not? Don’t we all pretend sometimes? Are we not a culture of people that pretends to be something we are not? People pretend to be rich when they are not, we pretend to be happy when we really are hurt, and in many other aspects of life we represent things that we don’t really believe in. So now the question I ask you is “can she be your African Queen”? If I grow up poor, can I become rich? If we were once uneducated, can we educate ourselves? Can a democrat become republican? Can a “White” person be “Black”? These are questions we may want to ask ourselves before we judge or condemn. The final conclusion is left to you… Be fair, be just, be blessed.