Why All the Racist Comments on Black Actors in 'The Hunger Games'?

Some social-media users are buzzing that "The Hunger Games" has too many Black actors, and many of the comments are downright racist. Should consumer-facing companies, like producer Lions Gate, try to reflect the nation's demographics?

Despite a record-breaking $155-million opening box-office weekend, hit movie "The Hunger Games" wasn't a hit with all fans. The film's release last weekend was followed by increasing numbers of negative tweets and comments among social-media users. The basis for the controversy? Three important characters—Rue (Amandla Stenberg), Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi) and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz)—were played by Black actors.


The tweets, as various news sources like Yahoo and Jezebel show, were often racist: "why does rue have to be black not gonna lie kinda ruined the movie" and "Kk call me racist but when I found out rue was black her death wasn't as sad." Read more of these tweets.

Better Read Again

To answer why the producer, Lions Gate, made "all the good characters Black," as one Twitter user asks, fans simply need to read the incredibly popular trilogy, set in a decidedly multicultural post-apocalyptic society. Author Suzanne Collins describes the world of Panem's as a society where ethnicity is not defined as it is today and most people are of mixed race.

In the text, Collins clearly describes at least two of the characters in question as dark-skinned with thick, dark hair. (She also confirms that they are Black in a 2011 interview with Entertainment Weekly.) The book's heroine, Katniss Everdeen, is not your typical blond-haired, white heroine; she has olive skin with straight, black hair. According to racebending.com, the trilogy is one of the few young-adult books that have a biracial or multiracial protagonist.

Lions Gate has a history of films that deal with race relations and star multiracial casts. Examples include "Monster's Ball" (2001) and "Crash" (2004). "Monster's Ball" (starring Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry and Taylor Simpson) tells the story of a racist prison guard who falls in love with a Black woman; "Crash" (with Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock and Thandie Newton), which won Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing at the 2006 Academy Awards, follows a multiracial group of characters in Los Angeles over a 36-hour period and portrays the intense racial conflicts in the city.

Multicultural Awareness: From Films to the Workplace 

Movies like "Crash" and now "The Hunger Games" explore the notions of race. But with rapidly changing demographics in our country, it's a dialogue that all consumer-facing organizations have to handle.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, white people will become a minority in the United States by 2050 (about 46 percent), while Latino (more than 30 percent), Black (about 13 percent) and Asian (about 8 percent) populations will continue to grow.

As one blog states, "As a Black, female filmmaker I always notice when there aren't Black people and when there aren't women in a film cuz in my world ... it's just not normal." For movies to continue to resonate with and engage the American audience, screenplays will need to address these demographic shifts, as well as purposeful casting to ensure that all groups are adequately represented.

The workplace reflects the need for cultural competence/education and for demographics that reflect the changing population. Data from the DiversityInc Top 50, available at BestPractices.DiversityInc.com, shows that diversity-management initiatives such as resource groups and mentoring increase recruitment, promotion, engagement and retention of employees from underrepresented groups. Increasingly, companies with more workplace diversity better connect with the marketplace, our research shows.

Read these DiversityInc articles for more insight on how crucial diversity is to a business's connection to the marketplace:

Increasing Diversity in Talent Development

Find out how AT&T, Merck, Ernst & Young, Wells Fargo and Northrop Grumman find, retain and promote talent to achieve equitable representation in management.

Talent-Development Webinar

Get your entire organization to contribute to and develop a healthy and diverse management pipeline.

DiversityInc Innovation Fest! Presentation by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation: Ethnic ERGs and Marketing

How can resource groups save your company millions? Novartis' seven ethnically focused resource groups  have allowed it to take its customer research in house and have better, more culturally competent product development.

Case Study: Recruiting Women, Blacks

Target explains how its employee-resource groups and relationships with professional organizations benefit its talent development.

Employee-Resource Groups & Recruitment

What are best practices from six companies with the best recruitment results?

Diversity Recruitment Research

Five studies on the most effective means of recruiting Blacks, Latinos, Asians, American Indians and women.

 

What On Earth Is Becky Afraid Of?

Student who brings assault rifle to campus gets no arrest, no police shooting thanks to white privilege.

TWITTER

If Kaitlin Bennett wasn't white, you'd be reading about a dead Black student.

She graduated from Kent State University in Ohio, brought an AR-10 to campus the next day, and posted about gun rights on Twitter:

Having led a rally for campus open carry on a few weeks ago, Bennett said students should be allowed to carry to protect themselves, a message heard over and over at the recent NRA Convention. She also referenced the 1970 shooting at the school that killed four students. The day after graduation, she walked on campus with her family, escorted by a campus officer, to take pictures with the rifle.

She reportedly balked at the idea of her critics saying she had white privilege, and retorted that anyone who said that was racist, during a recent Fox News interview. She is also the President of the school's chapter of Liberty Hangout, a right-wing media outlet that has been known to promote racism in their posts.

But she had permission from the university to bring that assault weapon to school. What she and so many others fail to recognize is that permission to have a gun doesn't excuse Black people.

Philando Castile was killed by police in 2016 after he informed them he had a licensed firearm in the car. And, in 2017, Siwatu-Salama Ra, a black pregnant woman was jailed for protecting her family from deadly assault with an unloaded firearm. Gun rights are very different for Black people than they are for whites. Even the 19 year old Black female student, Aliah Kimbro knows that. She told Refinery29 that it was hard for her to support Bennett knowing her own gun rights aren't safe.

Yet crime statistics say that police are innocent when it comes to the situations with Black people being killed, assaulted, or jailed. CNN Reported that between 2005 and 2017, 35% of police were convicted of murder or manslaughter, while the rest were pending or not convicted, according to work by Philip Stinson, an associate professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Almost one quarter of the people killed by police last year and this year already were Black. Of the Hispanic victims, 18% were killed last year and 12% this year. People of color are being preyed upon.

Yet Bennett says her gun control is taking away her rights to protect herself. Would she prepare to use that rifle if some police officer wrongfully attacked a Black fellow college student? Probably not. So, by her logic, then all Blacks should be able to carry weapons.

Let's see the NRA get behind that notion.

Black Man Imprisoned for 3 months After Trying to Buy Breakfast at Burger King, Sues for Nearly $1M

"Nobody deserves to be treated the way that Emory was treated," Emory Ellis' attorney said.

REUTERS

As 911 calls are continually being made to authorities regarding Black people simply existing, a Black man's experience with racial profiling at Burger King is coming to light. On Tuesday, he filed a $950,000 lawsuit.

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Two Different Cups of Joe: How The Coffee Bean and Starbucks Handled Racism

In an age of increasing racial confrontations, a business must have zero tolerance for discrimination.

In the Trump era, there has been a proliferation of Islamophobic and racist incidents across the country. When discrimination occurs at a place of business, it's apparent if the company's leadership and workforce support diversity and inclusion. A Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf café barista refused to serve a racist customer; meanwhile, a white manager at a Starbucks called the police on two Black men for no reason.

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White Woman Calls 911 on Black Real Estate Investor, Cops Say She Might Go to Jail: Video

"This is what we go through. [I'm] a young, Black man out here trying to do what's right," Michael Hayes said.

In the continual reports of white people calling 911 on Black people for doing ordinary things, a Black real estate investor was reported to authorities for doing his job.

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Maxine Waters Attacked in Congress as she Sought to Protect People from Predators in the Auto Loan Industry

Racist smears and whitesplaining from "men." What's behind the vitriol? If racism is ignored by victims, does it go away?

On Friday, Reps. Mike Kelly and Maxine Waters debated over the House voting to roll back a Consumer Financial Protections Bureau rule meant to limit discrimination in distributing auto loans. Studies have shown Blacks and Latinos have systemically been charged a higher markup on auto loans than white borrowers, and class action lawsuits were brought against auto lenders as a result. Waters advocated for another look at how this vote would impact auto loan practices with people of color. But those on the right insist talk of discrimination is steering away from the country being unified.

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White Woman Notifies Security of Black Man Pushing His Son in a Stroller

A Washington, D.C., area father claims he was racially profiled while with his child in a park.

Donald Sherman / FACEBOOK

Amid almost daily reports from across the country of white people calling the cops on Blacks for activities like napping and buying prom outfits, a Black father claims that security was notified of a "'suspicious man' walking on the bike path with a baby" while he pushed his son in a stroller in a Washington, D.C., area park.

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Calls for Boutique Boycott After Black Attorney and Daughter Falsely Accused of Theft, Handcuffed

"My daughter, my baby, had to go through this and had to deal with all these lies and harm to her physical body, as well as to her emotional state," said Nancy Bedard.

Last week, the cops were called on three Black teens falsely accused of shoplifting at a Nordstrom Rack in St. Louis, Mo. And now there are calls for a boycott of a vintage boutique in gentrified Brooklyn, N.Y., where a Black attorney and her daughter were racially profiled.

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