Smallfoot co-stars Gina Rodriguez and Yara Shahidi spoke with entertainment editor Xilla “Blogxilla” Valentine about the animated adventure, which is in theaters today. But the on-camera interview is catching attention for Rodriguez’s response to the journalist’s question to Shahidi.
“You are just goals for so many young, Black women,” Valentine says to the 18-year-old star. Before he can continue, Rodriguez jumps in, in an attempt to correct him, saying, “so many women.” He then continues, standing firm in his initial statement. “Yeah, for women, too, but Black women we need people on a whole ‘nother level.”
The importance of the statement and need for greater visibility for Black women appears to go over Rodriguez’s head. As someone who positions herself as a champion for Latinx representation and visibility in TV and film, her comment was a surprise to some. For others, it was yet another example of the actress’ pattern of erasing Blackness from the conversation.
Rodriguez herself has taken to Twitter several times to comment on the need for Latinx characters, but her attempts to center the Latinx narrative have come at a cost of erasing the accomplishments of Black actors, who undoubtedly opened doors for the Latinx community. When Black Panther debuted, she applauded Marvel and DC for inclusion yet asked, “where are the Latinos?”
In addition to erasing the historic nature of the film and importance of centering Black people, she also failed to acknowledge Afro-Latinas in Hollywood like Tessa Thompson, who played Valkyrie in Thor or Zoe Saldana in Guardians of The Galaxy. Digital content creator Gabriela Thorne created a thread with several examples of Rodriguez’s erasure of Black people.
On Instagram, the conversation continued. The Afro-Latin Diaspora platform posted the video clip, generating nearly 10K views and hundreds of comments.
Valentine also shared in the comments section under his post that the incident was one of a few times Rodriguez interjected throughout his interview. The father of two Black girls, he wanted to intentionally center Black women with his question.
Eva, host of De Colores Radio, identifies as a non-Black woman of color and offered sage advice to Gina via Twitter: just listen.
Thank you for correcting her @BlogXilla. As non-black WOC we really must know when to hush and just listen. Not everything is ours @HereIsGina. Please for the love of God, recognize this. Especially with black women. https://t.co/WE9rWdCaX9
— Evita 🏽 (@EvaArreguin) September 27, 2018