Black Beauties Bracket Conclusion

VINCE: Let me just say that I still lament the Dorothy Dandridge first-round upset, and I was a huge proponent of Vanessa Williams making the Final Four. With that said, I think it’s incredibly telling that, even though we’ve spent the last few months looking at promos and trailers of Halle Berry in that ridiculous wig for The Call, we are still under her decades-long beauty spell. She came up in the early ’90s and just really hasn’t come down. I was copping a slice of pizza today and looked up on the TV and saw her spazzing on some paparazzi. The only thing I was thinking was, “Man, that’s one qualified dame.”

KHALID: I agree totally. Halle Berry is just a gorgeous woman, who over the last two decades wrote the book on female beauty. She, then, revised that book, rewrote it, increased its size, added gold stitching and linen paper to this book and sold it for a ridiculous price. She’s actually gotten more attractive as she has aged. “Black don’t crack” isn’t just a black community urban legend anymore; she’s making the phrase an international credo with every breath she takes. Her ability to combine refinement and unadulterated sexuality makes her, arguably, the most attractive woman in recorded history. Again, if she could act, or at least pick quality films, there’s no telling how far she could go. But before we go too far, can we discuss Naomi Campbell? Is there something I’m missing? When did she become “unfine” or at least objectionable? Can’t be because she has a crazy reputation, because Halle has the same thing.

VINCE: Honestly, I try to stay fairly plugged-in to pop culture happenings, even those of the trife variety and, until the voting crew started exchanging emails on all the candidates, I was unaware that Naomi was an Angry Bird. That doesn’t really affect how attractive I think she is. “When did she become unfine?” Ha. You know that’s your move;someone says they’d take Rae over Ghost and your response would be, “Since when is Ghost wack?!” Comical. As for Naomi, she’s an all-time great beauty; I just think Vanessa Williams is even more iconic and her beauty won’t quit. She turned 50, last month, and she’s still 10-below cold. She was definitely in my Final Four after I gave it some thought. While I’m at it, let me pause and drop this gem: Homegirl was cabbage-patching hard and mediocre on the stairs.

Before we get to the Final Four, let me ask this: Were we all being contrarians by kicking Beyoncé to the curb in the first round?

KHALID: Possibly. I’ll admit to going into the process with a slight anti- Beyoncé bias. I just feel like she’s ubiquitous, you know? We get it, she’s sexy, weaves and all, (By the way, I’m not anti-weave; just not pro-weave. I’m weave-moderate, but women definitely lose points for it.) but there are other women I felt deserved recognition. So maybe she should have had a higher seed; that’s a fair point. Still, nobody really has a beef with the fact that she lost to Stacey Dash, and that’s telling.

Back to Naomi. Uh, yeah, I need people to explain to me what the hell is going on. I got a bunch of responses saying she shouldn’t have been in the bracket at all. But when I ask why, they avoid the answer. I mean, I hope it’s not her complexion. Not in 2013, fam. She’s been a fashion icon… shoot, a sexual icon for decades. She, literally, gets paid to be fine. People askin’ questions, for realfor real?  

As for the Final Four, I think it’s perfect. I can’t see how anyone can have a legit beef with Nia Long, Pam Grier or Halle Berry. That is, unless he or she is a teenager, and doesn’t understand why we have so many women who aren’t on his or her local neighborhood twerk team.

VINCE: Speaking of which, I also dug that we didn’t include Rihanna, since she is clearly sexy and not beautiful. We had some tougher omissions. Can’t believe we gotearly-’90s Lisa Bonet in there. I’ve heard from some folks that it was criminal to leave off Gabrielle Union. She kinda got squeezed out by Lela Rochon. Folks forget how bad Lela was. She had a good five-year run where she was sinister. “Toes curl” is now in everyone’s lexicon, and it’s based off how her character put it on Eddie Murphy in Boomerang. What about the Gen-X slant of our tournament? You can tell we have an affinity for the ladies of the 1990s.

KHALID: It’s actually shocking that people haven’t been more up in arms about Rihanna being left out in the cold. I think it actually speaks well of our readers. They understand that her level of sexy, which is powerful, is more of a product than anything else. I think Keyshia Cole is sexier than Rihanna (not to mention Jill Scott who people sleep on) and it’s good that our readers are mature enough to understand. The only other beef I got from readers is the random idea that, somehow, we missed with our ranking of Angela Bassett. I don’t know what to say about that except, “so what?” I’m not trying to hear pushback on AB not making it farther in the tourney. She’s hot, but I mean, c’mon…Which woman should she have replaced?

VINCE: Back to the Final Four, though. It’s solid. Nia Long is probably my favorite of the crew. I’m not saying she’s the most beautiful of the four, just my favorite. Remember that interlude on Wu-Tang Forever? “Nia, when I see ya, I’mma long d*** ya!” That was so indicative of the place she held in that “bad women” convo back then, particularly, for men of color. You wouldn’t catch her in People’s “Most Beautiful” list, but that’s only because they’re too busy kicking a pile of rocks. There was always this unmotivated competition between Nia and Jada Pinkett. Nia and Jada weren’t competing, themselves, but that was a “Magic or Bird” convo. Some cats rocked with Jada; others, Nia. They ran the last half of the ’90s on that front. But here’s the thing: While cats were having the “Nia or Jada” debate, hovering over the discussion was an almost unspoken acknowledgement that Halle was still ‘The One.’ She was almost untouchable. From what the old heads tell me, that’s how Pam Grier was in the ’70s. She was slaying everyone. Plus, the same way Dandridge sort of ushered a minor amount of acceptance for black beauty, Foxy Brown came with sexuality. Ms. Grier was curvin’ and swervin’ all over the ’70s. Didn’t matter who you were – Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Jayne Kennedy, Tami Terrell – no one was really messing with Pam Grier. She might have had the most unquestioned, dominant run as ‘The One.’ I really wish her and Halle could have met in the Finals, but that’s not how the bracket shook out.

KHALID: I was a Jada Pinkett fan for most of the ’90s, but it was by the slimmest of margins. If anyone wants to make a claim that Nia Long should have won this, I’d be okay with that. In a lot of ways, she was my motivation for this list. You never see her gracing red carpets or on any legitimately major magazine covers. Her name doesn’t come up outside of the black community as a sex symbol, and that is unfortunate. A lot of the women in our bracket fall under the same umbrella – no-questions-asked attractiveness – and yet, totally ignored by the masses. Every once in a while, you have to celebrate the specificity of being black. We did that, and I’m really happy with our effort. Next time, we can really go in. Blow the hinges off the door and all that good stuff.




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