Remember all the talk a while back about how badly "Saturday Night Live" needed more black female representation? Sasheer Zamata joined the cast and two black women writers, Leslie Jones and LaKendra Tookes, were hired. But Jones’ recent skit about slave rape showed that the franchise has a long way to go before getting it right on race. In fact, Jones’ recent bit about slave rape really missed the mark and proved that diversity shouldn’t be the only goal in talks about fair representation. Equity and fairness matter, too.
Jones made the joke in reference to Lupita Nyong’o’s winning People’s "Most Beautiful" cover. Soraya Nadia McDonald summarizes what happened at the Washington Post:
In her first on-camera appearance on the show, Jones congratulated Lupita Nyong’o on winning People magazine’s "Most Beautiful Person" award, then argued for a "most useful" category for herself, asserting to "Weekend Update" host Colin Jost that she would be his pick if he were approached by three Crips in a dark parking lot. "The way we view black beauty has changed," Jones said. "See, I’m single right now, but back in the slave days, I would have never been single. I’m six feet tall and I’m strong, Colin. Strong! I mean, look at me, I’m a mandingo … I’m just saying that back in the slave days, my love life would have been way better. Massah would have hooked me up with the best brotha on the plantation … I would be the No. 1 slave draft pick."
After fans criticized the skit, Jones tried, and failed, to defend herself on Twitter:
Black women are so often the butt of the joke. If any of us deserve to be protected from such, it is our ancestors who endured the indignity and dehumanization of slavery. Furthermore, sisters who have their own issues with dating should not have to deal with the indignity and dehumanization of another (hurt) sister making light of their pain for an audience of White folks, or anyone else, for that matter.
Whether SNL will ever get it right when it comes to Black women remains to be seen, but I’m even more curious to know when Leslie Jones will get it right for herself–and our ancestors.