It seems like everyone wants “Klout,” but would you be willing to wear blackface to get it? Life is full of decisions about “job opportunities”–some we should take, and others we should turn down. In this week’s episode of The Axiom Amnesia Theory, Heit & Cheri examine two very different issues affecting job opportunities, social media influence and race. Topics discussed include the new Klout score that some employers are using to make hiring decisions and Zoe Saldana’s casting in the Nina Simone biopic.

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Segment 1

  • What is a Klout score? It is a number between 1 and 100 that is supposed to show your social media influence as calculated by Klout.com.
  • Heit & Cheri each have a personal Klout score that is about 30. Axiom Amnesia’s Klout score is about 60, Barack Obama is 99, and Oprah Winfrey is 91.
  • Cheri jokes that Heit is a “stats junkie,” and he’s been following our Klout score for the past few months. He wishes that he could have all of his stats in real time.
  • Employers are looking at Klout scores now. A company, Sales Force, is requiring that its new hires have Klout scores of at least 35. The message here is that your Klout score can even have an effect on whether or not you get a job.
  • Based on Sales Force’s requirements, neither Heit nor Cheri would qualify. People who engage with Axiom Amnesia have Klout scores of about 15 to 20 or so. They wouldn’t qualify for these jobs either.
  • The Klout is a proprietary algorithm, much like a credit score. We don’t even know how they come up with these numbers. All you know is that they say this score is a predictor of social influence. We have no clue how accurate this number is, yet more companies will probably begin to use it to weed out prospective employees.
  • Not only do you have to have an education, credentials, experience, look and dress a certain way, and pass background and credit checks, now employers want you to have social media influence as predicted by a corporation’s score.
  • Are there privacy concerns with monitoring Klout? This is getting into the zone where employers feel entitled to social media usernames and passwords.
  • What if you have a lot of experience, but you are not an avid user of social media. This is discriminatory against people who may not have access to smartphones and computers.
  • Discussion about how people cheat the system by buying Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers.
  • Discussion about Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone in a biopic. We’ve talked about this before, but recent pictures of her in costume have caused the debate to resurface. In the first photo that was released, Saldana emerged wearing a horrible attempt at an afro wig and darkened skin.
  • zoe nina simone

  • In response to the photos we saw, we posted a photo of our response. The photo caused a big debate on the subject. Many people suggested that Zoe was not in blackface because she is Black. Foolishness!
  • Zoe Saldana Blackface

  • There were plenty of Black people who appeared in blackface. Bert Williams was a Black guy who was famous for performing in blackface. Was it NOT blackface because he is Black? It absolutely WAS blackface, just as it is with Zoe Saldana.
    Bert_Williams_blackface_2
  • zoe nina simone

  • Zoe Saldana looks nothing like Nina Simone before and after her blackface transformation.
  • There are people who have told us that we should not discuss this issue because it is an attempt at “divide and conquer” of Blacks. But, we MUST talk about these things in order to raise awareness and allow people to decide their own position on the issues. It is not dividing us simply because we have different views on the subject. Silence doesn’t create a dialogue. We need to acknowledge what is happening to inform so that people can make their own decisions.
  • If Zoe is such a great actress, why is there the need to darken her skin?
  • Discussion about the choice to try to make actors look like the person they are attempting to portray.
  • When you have an opportunity for a dark Black person to get a role, why would you go outside of them–when dark actors (especially women) hardly get good roles in movies–to find a woman who needs significantly altered skin complexion and possibly facial prosthetics to play a role that a talented darker actress could play?
  • Dark-skinned actors continue to be relegated to roles as maids and butlers. Why do we continue to let this happen?
  • This discussion is not just about Zoe Saldana. Others brought up other actors who had significant complexion differences from the real life people they portrayed. Two such actors were Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin and Denzel Washinton as Malcolm X.
    idi-amin
  • How often do we see dark-skinned actors have their skin lightened for a role? The only time we can recall is Halle Berry’s portrayal of Alex Haley’s Queen. Queen was a biracial slave who was portrayed by a biracial actress.
    queen-halle-berry
  • Perhaps the transition via makeup for lighter skin is more difficult to achieve an authentic look.
  • Discussion about Halle Berry’s portrayal of Dorothy Dandridge. These two actresses looked alike, and this made Berry more believable in that role (Dandridge, left; Berry, right):
    halle berry dorothy dandridge
  • Zoe Saldana is going to have to work an acting feat to be able to pull off Nina Simone.
  • Discussion about the importance of Nina Simone’s Blackness to her.
  • Discussion about Zoe Saldana’s complaint about her difficulty as a non-white actress in Hollywood.
  • Discussion about Saldana’s racial background, and how she has not claimed her Blackness, but instead plays up her roots as a Latina. Indeed she is BOTH Black and a Latina.
  • Discussion about Black people who claim everything but Black, yet feel entitled to claim Blackness when it is convenient for them.
  • The issue is not with Saldana as an actress, but rather with her in this particular role. Simone’s daughter does not agree with Zoe or the film about her mother.
  • Discussion about the Black supremacist view that you should have nothing to do with other people. There is a race-based prejudice that is expected. We do not agree with that. We do not advocate prejudging people on the basis of something with which they had nothing to do, like their race.
  • Many of the people who are outraged by the film feel that it should not be brought to the table by non-Blacks.
  • Discussion about non-Blacks telling stories of Black people, with little influence from people who actually lived in those position.
  • There are so many facets to Blackness. Black people come in many varieties.
  • It could be a divisive issue if we let it, but we have to understand that Black people are not all going to agree. We need not be divided because we see things differently.
  • It is never wrong to bring important issues to light for discussion.
  • This is all part of acknowledging the issues we all face when it comes to the discussion about race.
  • If you feel like we shouldn’t talk about it, then don’t talk about it. If you think it is a distraction to discuss something, don’t get into the discussion. Can we really even say what is a distraction to someone else?
  • Blacks need to work on making our own movies and have our own award shows, and support those things.
  • Should Zoe Saldana be faulted for taking the role? Yes, because she should recognize that she was not right for this role. The fact that she doesn’t recognize it or possibly doesn’t care is a problem. She is using the Blackness to get the more mainstream, arguably white, roles. The is basically what Halle Berry did in her career as well. Her actions seem to say, “I will deny my Blackness until I can use it as a catapult into whiteness.”