I remember back in 2012 when the first Hunger Games film was released and racist fans cried out at the casting of Rue. In their bigoted views, the death of a 12-year old girl would be less meaningful if she was played by a black actress. In other words: black lives are not as important as white lives, black children are not granted the same innocence as white children, and blackness somehow makes a person less worthy of love, respect and dignity. It hurt for me to watch and I cried reading the comments online, knowing that this seemingly small controversy was indicative of much bigger systems at play which devalued the lives of black people everywhere.
These sentiments did not fall on deaf ears. In a recent interview with Solange Knowles for Teen Vogue, 16-year old Amandla Stenberg, who played Rue in the film, shares that in that moment she realized she could never escape her blackness and all the meaning it carried. At only 12 years old, she found herself in the centre of the most racist backlash I have ever seen surrounding a film casting. I cannot imagine for a second what it must have been like to be her in that year and realize, at such a young age, how the world really sees her.
Since then, Amandla has been outspoken on many issues and has rightfully earned the title “activist”. It’s a vulnerable position to put yourself in, and as we’ve seen, people have been quick to try to quiet her and label her as just another “angry black woman” (but why shouldn't we be?). Despite this, Amandla shines bolder and brighter—and I’m so excited for all the #BlackGirlMagic she has in store for us this year.