It’s a badass outfit without the message. But the message…
Here’s Thandie Newton at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood event yesterday in a message tee that reads off the top:
Black women are killed by police too
And then a list of names.
At the bottom:
Can you see them? #SayHerName
Thandie explained her reason for wearing the shirt to USA Today. It was given to her by the African American Policy Forum:
"The reason I wanted to wear it today is that I think that in film we have such an incredible influence over the public, and influence in the world. And the stories we tell have the power to change people’s lives. And the women that are named on this t-shirt are dead women who were dead at the hands of police enforcement in this country. These women are our women. They are our fans. ... They’re no longer alive and in death they have got to have the power they deserve. And I just think that for the good of humanity as a whole, not just for people of color, we have got to dig out the poison of violence against women of color by our law enforcement."
Newton went on to say that the issue of police violence and the Black Lives Matter movement aren't just about male victims.
"It’s not just men that this happens to," she said. "But, you know, (women) need our own Fruitvale Station, we need our own 12 Years a Slave if we want to get historical. Because we have to see racism from the perspective of the female. We have to have a female perspective on that because really, cruelty against a woman is species suicide. And that’s why I see it all as being beneficial to humanity, not just to people of color."
She also noted that Hollywood has power to effect change through the influence of film.
"And I just think that we in the film industry have such an incredible privilege and influence and if we don’t use it for the betterment of our children and the future I don’t know why we’re doing it at all," Newton explained. "And I do really powerfully feel that it’s up to writers and directors and actors to be more progressive and more careful about protecting the story of women. We don’t hear them, we don’t see them enough, and it’s only because there aren’t enough. It’s always the male perspective, always, always, and I’m sorry, if we’re going to write our future that we want to step into we’ve got to make sure that the women’s perspective is as loud and clear as the men’s."
Remember, this was the event that Chris Rock attended too, as mentioned in today’s open. He’s been quite vocal about the lack of opportunity for black women in the business, and the lack of storytelling about black women in general. That topic framed part of his discussion in his cover story for the latest issue of Essence. And in order to achieve what Thandie’s hoping for, more men and women have to keep talking about. Is that what he’s going to talk about on Sunday night on stage?