How ‘Everything, Everything’ Normalizes #BlackGirlMagic In All The Right Ways

Everything Everything Interracial Dating

Black beauty, as it should be.

There's an important movie in theaters right now, and it doesn't have anything to do with superheroes, pirates, or being fast and/or furious.

It's a film about race, which, let's be honest, is rare for most Hollywood movies. But it deals with race in an incredibly interesting way — by NOT dealing with it. Not directly at least.

Let me explain...

Everything, Everything is a book-to-film adaptation of the popular YA novel by Nicola Yoon. It follows the story of Maddie, an 18-year-old girl with a rare immunodeficiency disorder that prevents her from ever being able to leave her house without dying or becoming extremely ill.

She’s lived her entire life behind windows and air-locked doors with only her mother and nurse to keep her company, but when Ollie, a handsome boy who always wears black, moves in next door, it changes her entire life. Despite the walls between them, Maddie and Ollie use the power of the internet to quickly form a relationship that pushes Maddie to question her life and her illness.

Their romance blossoms despite Maddie’s confines, her life unfolds as she discovers how big the world is and how love really can change everything.

Yes, the movie has a unique and adorable plot, but what makes it even more special is how it normalizes interracial dating relationships and beautiful black girls.

In the book, Maddie explains that she is half-Jamaican on her mother’s side, and her father was white. In the movie, it shows a family photo, depicting her mixed race family. Other than these glimpses, we don’t really acknowledge Maddie’s race or ethnicity.

To some, this may not even seem important — Who cares if she talks about race or not? That’s not what the story is about.

You’re right, it’s not what the story is about. But people of color are so used to being portrayed as a character that has to be hyper-aware that they are “different” than “everyone else," that when a character is introduced that is a POC but not outwardly struggling with it, it instills some power and hope.

Nicola Yoon even expressed how intentional the silent representation of Maddie's mixed race was when she talked to Hollywood Reporter:

“I didn’t really want to talk about race, but I wanted people to be represented just living their lives. My little girl has no notion that her family would be perceived as unusual. These are just the people who love her more than anybody else in the world, and that’s her reality.”

Frequently in mainstream media, when an interracial couple is introduced, it is either IMMEDIATELY pointed out as something different or used as one of the main issues within the plot.

This is a huge problem in the way we portray race and love because it teaches young black kids to believe that how dark their skin dictates who will love them and to what degree.

We constantly point out how a young black woman or an interracial couple is something to praise in movies and TV programs when, in reality, it should be seen as something mundane, something normal and accepted.

In the film (and the book), Ollie compliments Maddie’s beauty several times, calling her beautiful, smart, and a handful of other things, but what's significant is that they are NEVER race-related compliments.

As a person of color, there are times when the only compliments you receive are ones that pertain to your race — “You’re so pretty for a black girl," “You look so exotic!”, “Can I touch your hair? Do you wash it?”

These types of comments are way more damaging than people think.

It creates an "us" and "them" complex that lowers people of color’s self-esteem and inclusiveness.

Amandla Stenberg, famously known for her role as Rue in The Hunger Games, plays Maddie in Everything, Everything. And, being a woman of color herself, as well as working with other women of color on this production gave Stenberg the perfect perspective of why this silent representation of blackness is so important. 

Stenberg posted a clip from the trailer on her Instagram with a list of reasons why everyone should go see the movie, which included "natural hair and black beauty" and "the normalization of blackness."

Everything, Everything is the type of movie that we NEED in the media right now.

We need movies that show women and men who are proud of their natural hair, not ashamed, movies that show interracial love in a healthy light, and movies that show blackness as a prideful yet represented thing. That show that #blackgirlmagic

Believe it or not, but it means EVERYTHING.

 

 

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