One Great Graf: Coates on Nina Simone and the meaning of casting Zoe Saldana

“[Zoe] Saldana has said that others actors who better resembled Simone passed on the role, and that she herself declined it for a year. But in the end she felt that Simone’s story “deserved to be told.” The sentiment is understandable. But the very fact that there’s such a shallow pool of actors who look like Simone is not a non-racist excuse, but a sign of racism itself — the same racism that plagued Nina Simone. Being conscious of that racism means facing the possibility of Simone’s story never being told. That is not the tragedy. The tragedy is that we live in a world that is not ready for that story to be told. The release of Nina does not challenge this fact. It reifies it.” —Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Atlantic

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