Lupita Nyong’o: ‘I wasn’t aware that I belonged to a race called Black until I came to America’

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Lupita Nyong’o: I wasn’t aware that I belonged to a race called Black until I came to America’
Lupita Nyong’o: I wasn’t aware that I belonged to a race called Black until I came to America’

Lupita Nyong’o believes race is a “social construct” because, growing up in Kenya, she never thought of herself as “Black”.

The 36-year-old Pisces was born in Mexico but raised in Kenya, which gave her a different perspective on race and racism in Black America.

She tells BBC Newsnight that she still experienced “colorism” prejudice due to having darker skin. But it was only after she arrived in the U.S. that she saw how people were divided by race.

“Race is a very social construct, one that I didn’t have to ascribe to on a daily basis growing up,” she says. “As much as I was experiencing colorism in Kenya, I wasn’t aware that I belonged to a race called Black.”

Lupita Nyong’o: I wasn’t aware that I belonged to a race called Black until I came to America’
Lupita Nyong’o: I wasn’t aware that I belonged to a race called Black until I came to America’

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She said she only realized she was Black when she moved to America, “because suddenly the term Black was being ascribed to me and it meant certain things that I was not accustomed to.”

Lupita says she was once told she was “too dark” to appear on TV, and that she was not as pretty as her sister, who had lighter skin.

“I definitely grew up feeling uncomfortable with my skin color because I felt like the world around me awarded lighter skin,” the Black Panther star explains.

As a result, she believes Americans favor lighter skin even among those who are Black.

“We still ascribe to these notions of Eurocentric standards of beauty, that then effect how we see ourselves among ourselves,” she adds.

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47 thoughts on “Lupita Nyong’o: ‘I wasn’t aware that I belonged to a race called Black until I came to America’

      1. She made an Ignorant comment not based on 1600s, 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s but clearly on 20th century Technology.

        It was stupid for her to make that comment.

        1. Its ignorant of you to insult her just because you don’t like her comment. I thought it was BS too. But sometimes people say things before they realize how bad it sounds. Doesnt make her a bad person. Grow up sir!

          1. She is stating that she basically was unaware of a race called Black which she is not part of. She was was aware of her skin color as dark. There is a difference. You can’t blame her because of the way she was raised and the terminology used in her culture referring to her skin color.

            This is my opinion and understanding of what she is saying.

    1. You’re clearly stupid. Why would slaves who lived amongst themselves of the same color describe themselves as “Black” thats a euphemism used to justify what our opressors use to opress us.

      1. Black is a color not a Race my Grandmother was Cherokee Indian an from Okolona Arkansas how could people reddish brown call them selves black hell.if that true anything brown should be black some people are just blind to the truth.

      2. You must not live among people of color because thats exactly whats happening….keep an open mind …youre sounding like a negreopean

    2. Mf back to fuck off, she is right in Kenya things are different being black is a privilege not a fucking disease like being white.

    3. Actually she is 💯 percent correct. Race is a social construct. And slaves weren’t called black negro and colored until after they were emancipated. Black didn’t even emerge until the 50’s/60’s. Perhaps try reading before you start typing.

    4. Again idiot

      Because spaces were brought here and that’s the beginning of your ancestry in America that got you so stuck on color

      Stuck on fucking color that you think your black and from a nation called blackondia

      So dumb her point makes more than sense problem is black Americans are so small minded and not worldly knowledgeable to understand that these people just view themselves as African people and no one in a nation that is all people of color will tell another u are black

      But since ur an idiot you don’t understand that

    5. Actually not true. Africans identify with national identity most; similar to the rest of the world. Grant it, people notice and still segregate by skin color but it’s so much more layered and complex in America.

    6. Your facts need checking. No slaves called themselves that until they were called such. Before all that they were African. Not niggers, not negros, not Black. Just African or more specifically whatever part you were from i.e. Kenyan, Nigerian, etc. Black is not a race in Africa. Do your research. If she lives in a completely different country then America aint her business so why would she know what goes on here unless it’s local news in Africa or someone tells her.

    7. We NEVER called ourselves “Black” (in Africa or anywhere else on the planet) prior to that largest Human Trafficking operation in history called the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Africa is too diverse (genetically) for any people there to be called a single “color.” That ignorance began with the Spanish and Portuguese. Try reading a history book for once in your life, you moron.

        1. Not everyone need to read things like this.. When you or not gifted with the common sense to see the story and just not the small words that may stand out to a small minded person.

    8. Sir, it is funny that you call her ignorant considering your remarks are actually ignorant. She is technically from Mexico, hence she is Mexican. I was born outside the United States as well and when I came to the United States at the age of 4yrs old I only knew what nationality I was until I learned I was labeled black. The United States is the only nation that uses color to divide.

      1. That’s how white supremacy works, but them Rhesus monkeys will
        be eliminated during the 3 days of darkness, if you look up the twelve sign
        Jesus gave to St.Padre Pio about the end of the world, geographical the American
        continent will be wiped off the earth, it’s mention in the 12 signs from Jesus to St.Padre Pio, but read 2nd Paul 3rd chapter KJV the whole earth will be scorch not a thing and humans will be alive, but then comes the 12 tribes of Israel, there will be the 12 gates ready for his chosen to enter before everything take place.

      2. She is not from Mexico…she is from Kisumu Seme….that she is in Kenya..and she is as black as the screen on my TV…she is also a liar…that lady was black when she was in Kenya and she knew that now …she’s harping on about colorism..whatever that is

        She was also not considered beutiful until some white publicist told the world she is….i guess that’s what white people think a beutiful black African should look like

        She is also shitty actor

    9. Actually, slaves learned they were black as a consequence of slavery. Africans generally identify by tribe and nationality. Race has little significance in an all black country. You clearly misunderstood what she said. Black did not have the political or social meaning in black Kenya that it carries in the West.

    10. This is the exact thing she’s talking about. Just because you’ve only experiences life here in the states, you think it’s the same for everyone everywhere. Smh

    11. She is absolutely right America is the most racist country on the planet. America has affected the entire planet. All you have to do is your research. Negative person/ name calling that’s why black people can’t rise up. That’s her view. Show some respect.

    12. Black is a word that was made up by the Cauccasian this word wasn’t used in Africa its a made up name do your research before you call her a liar

    13. She knew she had dark skin. She’s talking about a general grouping and assuming everyone with dark skin is the same.
      Read the article again.
      Also, the concept of “white” is invalid. I understand the different heritages (Iris, English, ect.) But what is “white” food? What is “white” culture?

    14. Why does she have to be called a bitch because of what she said. Exactly how do you know that’s not what she felt like growing up. Let’s not rude it’s not even necessary.

    15. I think you misunderstand. She knew she was dark-skinned, but not that it was referred to as “black”, as it is in the US. Actually, it isn’t black. That is the name of a color, a crayon. Look at one, draw it on paper. Do you know any human who matches that color?

    16. Don’t condemn people especially if you’ve not walked in their shoes. I can absolutely relate to how she feels cos I felt the same exact way after I visited America for the first time in 2013. Everyone knows there are different races but to really know,is to experience it. I personally didn’t know I was black until I travel down there even though I had very light skin

    17. She must have suffer from memory loss, if she was born in Mexico and raised in Kenya, am sure she realized she was a black woman, i dont care what part of the world you live, black people are all ways made aware of their color. Miss me with the bull shit, money and fame dont change how people perceive you.

    18. STFU Dumb Ass Dummy She Didn’t Say She Didn’t Know She Was Black…She Said She Didn’t Know She Belonged to A Whole Race Called “Black”!!! You Speak English Don’t You Boy? Well You Should Know the Difference!!!! Gots To Be Some Racist Ass Cracker Mentioning “Slaves” Like that!!! STFU BITCH!!!!

  1. One of the most socially destructive and damaging misconceptions in history is that people are “colors.” The most ironic thing about that 400 year old joke is that “Black folks” never called themselves “Black” until the Spanish and Portuguese created the racial designation when the Slave Trade began. But, since we all still adhere to these “classes” that are defined by colors of course, the f*ckery continues. All modern Human beings are descended from “Black” Africans who migrated out of the continent and our many phenotypical variations are based on climatic and dietary changes over time. So, color assignments for entire groups of people is a hoax. As African people, we never cosigned on that sh*t.

    We are not a color. We are Everything, Everyone and Everywhere. – HakatRe

  2. Now if this were 1800s ( I’m being generous) I might give this statement a simple side eye. However not coming from a remote island and tribe like the North Sentinel Island, This statement is egregious to say the least. Let’s not act like it is simply colorism that is dealt with on the continent. The colonizers use the same terminology for all of us. This statement is simply put impossible to swallow.😣👀🤔🧐

  3. Lupita is making up this story to get cheap headlines. She is bigger than that and I am disappointed in her. Because of colonization all over Africa, every african knew that there were at least two races black and white.

  4. But she had to already know colorism is all apart of the division of race? She was born in a country that had to regain its independence from Europeans and she was raised in a country that had to regain it’s independence from Europeans, but she never knew racism?

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