I’m me and like nobody else

25 05 2010

Category: Politics

Lena Horne

Lena Horne, who died earlier this month at 92, spent her career shrugging off the labels everyone else tried to apply to her.

Her skin colour was, to many other people, apparently the most important thing about her. She was beautiful and talented but people couldn’t see beyond the boxes they wanted to put her in.

With her mixed heritage, black, white, native American; she was called ‘yellow’ to classmates at her black school, she was given dark make-up to appear in all-black productions, MGM described her as ‘Latina’ in a contract to try and get round the colour bar, her roles were restricted, she was forced to sleep on the tour bus in days of segregation. It was the labels that infuriated her:

I’m me and like nobody else.’ She said indignantly in her older years.

It’s a voice that the last Labour government failed to hear when it too was in its dying days and pushed through the Equality Act just before Lena Horne died. Read the rest of this entry »