Mariah Carey’s New Role as a Slave in Upcoming Film Causes Controversy

Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company
Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company

By: Amanda Anderson-Niles

Mariah Carey is all set to drop a new studio album very soon and with her single “#Beautiful” which features Miguel performing strongly on the charts,  her exit from “American Idol” just doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing her down any. In fact, Mariah nabbed a role in upcoming film “The Butler” as a slave. And her new role is already causing controversy, considering a lot of people don’t feel her skin complexion is dark enough to play the role of a “field” slave. Eurweb reports:

Lee Daniels’ highly-anticipated film “The Butler,” upset some people when a photograph of Mariah Carey playing the role of a field slave went viral. Daniels’ movie also features the character Eugene Allen (Forest Whitaker).

The picture caught a barrage of flak from those on social media who felt that anyone with a complexion like Mariah’s wouldn’t actually have to work in the field, therefore deeming the illustration inaccurate. Those with fair skin like hers were usually used as house slaves. Fans took to Twitter to express a desire to see a more dark-skinned woman in the place of Mariah Carey in the movie.

One critic tweeted “She wouldn’t even be a house slave, she could pass as white,” and another posted “Zoe Saldana is Nina Simone and Mariah Carey is in the fields taking good slave acting jobs from dark-skinned people.”


Of course the whole controversy has caused lots of debate in the African-American community, some suggest the director didn’t read up on his historical facts, while others claim slaves were never actually divided by skin tone. Regardless, perhaps the scandal will be enough to get people out to see the film in large numbers, something Lee Daniels wants more than anything else. But he should do that easily with an ensemble cast consisting of Oprah, Forest Whitaker, Mariah Carey, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Jane Fonda, Terrence Howard, and Lenny Kravitz just to name a few.


    1. Um, there was a lot of race mixing going on lol. There are people who are technically 1/4 African or even 1/8 and yet they consider themselves black. My mother’s side of the family was from South Carolina and they are very fair skinned with a finer texture to their hair.

      1. That’s great and all but that doesn’t answer my question. Mariah can’t act…whose idea was it to put her in this movie. Maybe I should have been more clear. I don’t care about the skin tone thing (no one knows what happened during slavery but the slaves), but I still don’t get why she gets acting gigs. lol

  1. Anything to get people to the theater. It’s marketing but it was a pretty stupid choice. I love Mariah though…

  2. Besides the whole complexion thing, I just feel like that’s another role a better actress got cheated out on. Mimi’s acting skills leave a lot to be desired.

  3. “Zoe Saldana is Nina Simone and Mariah Carey is in the fields taking good slave acting jobs from dark-skinned people.” >>>> This had me dying laughing. I’m sorry. They couldn’t been serious!

  4. Here we go with the skin tone debate. Yes, there were field hands that looked white/very fair skin. This shouldn’t be a shock to everyone and if it is, these schools aren’t doing enough to educate! Second, I’m gonna give Mimi a chance to prove herself on the acting part. I don’t know if she just got the part or had to audition so I’ll wait to judge.

  5. Come on now. Do people really believe there weren’t any light-skinned slaves in the field? Ain’t no massa got time fo dat! If those crops needed reaping, massa & his folks was out there reaping, too. They didn’t give a damn how “pretty” a slave was. All slaveowners weren’t wealthy so everybody had to work. Common sense, folks.

  6. Actually when most black people were taught about slavery in the school system, they were taught that the slaves were divided by their skin tones. In numerous publications, it was documented that those with lighter skin were “house slaves.” Here’s an excerpt of one piece:

    “House slaves were usually products of a relationship between a master and a female slave, so they tended to have lighter skin. The boss’s offspring would more than likely receive the special favor of doing work inside the house out of the hot sun. They’d eat better, often get taught to read and write, and enjoyed many of the liberties of nonslaves. Slaves with darker skin were usually stuck toiling in the fields. The anger over that old distinction has never quite gone away in African-American culture.”

    In many cases the house slaves were illegimate children of the slave owners & they wanted them in the house. Field slaves were usually darker. Most whites didn’t want blacks of darker skin in their homes. This photo shows Mariah as a field slave, that’s just not matching up to what most learned about slavery or what former slaves have documented in their experience. Some books claim slaves were given tasks by their level of skin tone and complexion. That’s where the whole house slave mentality label comes from & the skin tone issue amongst blacks. And very rarely did slave owners pick their own cotton. That was the point of having slaves. I believe Mariah would have been in the house but she wasn’t because someone either didn’t read up on slavery or they realized a lot of people wouldn’t know better anyway. Now it’s possible she was a house slave at some point, but was later demoted for some reason to a field slave. That happened as well according to some historians.

    But at the end of the day, there’s just not enough former slaves around to give accurate info. So who knows…but there’s no need to call people ignorant for remembering what THEY were taught about slavery. So many facts about slavery and the black culture have been lost.

  7. Light skin? Are you people blind?! Mariah looks like a flat out white woman! She’s mixed with Irish! Y’all know damn well she should not have been casted. I still don’t know what her role is…perhaps a share cropper? A flashback scene as a slave? I don’t get it.

  8. I don’t know which am I most offended by, you all wanting Mariah Carey in the house or wanting someone dark to be in the field. Slaves were put into the fileds of all skin tones. The house slaves were the offspring of their Masters. You people make me sick. Your predudice of your own race. You believe what you were taught but ignorant to the facts…..

    1. Shut up! You’re part of the problem! As a whole, information about slavery has been lost & most slaves are dead! You don’t even know yourself what happened back then. No one does because the government publishes the information it wants us to know and twists the facts to fit its agenda. Instead of putting your own people down over a stupid movie, be mad at the real culprit. People were taugh different things about slavery because the people who really remember what happened aren’t around and most couldn’t even read and write! No one knows all the facts on here. You mad at your own people for what was put in their heads by evil people?! Then you’re the idiot & predujice of your own people!

  9. I guess no one ever heard of the “white slaves” of Monticello, indentured servants, sharecroppers, or African Americans whose ancestry was so mixed that they looked white but still lived the life of the common slave, indentured servant, or sharecropper due to their “one drop” background! Get a history lesson people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. This post went downhill fast. One, people were complaining because Mariah doesn’t look like a mixed woman in their opinion. To many, she looks like a full fledged white woman. If you read the article, it states many were perplexed because in the photo, she’s out in the field, a place many don’t feel she would have been during slavery.

    I agree with the poster who said there aren’t enough facts for any one to of you to be so much more “educated” than anyone else on the subject. In most schools, people are taught very little about slavery. They barely make any mention about the Civil Rights Movement except for MLK and Rosa Parks. That’s why so many people didn’t even know who Emmett Till was.

    When I was in public school, some books said slaves were divided by some masters by complexion, off spring stayed in the house, and field slaves were usually dark and banished house slaves. Then there are some books that state differently. Considering that there are books saying different things, that lets me know our real history has not been documented properly and we will never have all the facts. I’m sure that was done on purpose. That’s just using some logic.

    My great great great great great great, etc. grandmother was one of the last standing slaves in TN. She was a house slave and her master put her in the house because she was fair skinned. That was told to me by older relatives. But not all slave owners operated the same I suppose.

    Share cropping was NOT slavery. Why some of you are bringing it up is baffling. My mother was a share cropper. She’d be annoyed this came up in a discussion about slavery.

    My point is there isn’t enough facts for some of you to be on some stupid soapbox. Black people don’t even have our own culture in this country, yet some of you feel you’re more in the know than the rest. Just stop it. You’re not. You’re just like everyone else on here, a product of what “some person” wants you to believe.

    I don’t care about this movie, what Mariah’s doing or anything else. But I hate how people get on here and pull that whole “I’m smarter than everyone else” card. No you’re not. But you definitely have a one up on being the most arrogant. Keep reading those books, penned usually by someone with an agenda. SMH.

  11. There is a wealth of information about Black & slave history available to anyone that chooses to seek it. The excuse that public schools teach/taught that fair skinned slaves all worked in the house is just that – an excuse. American schools do a janky job of teaching any history…why would we expect them to get our history right?
    Teach yourself, read some of the many scholarly texts on the subject or in this case, just use common sense. How many in-house jobs do you think were available compared to the number of mixed-race slaves? Is it reasonable to think they wouldn’t be put to work outside b/c their OWNERS thought they were too pretty for that? (These were folks that thought it was ok to OWN other people.) Ask yourself is it reasonable that anyone with a farm wouldn’t pull in all hands to help with the harvest? It’s a farm…farms today even hire out seasonal workers to help with reaping. I can’t see them paying white migrant workers before they pull in the “pretty” slaves and their own kids to pitch in, too. (Of course, I’m not suggesting they worked their kids as hard as slaves.)
    But then I also have an understanding of how things really worked b/c I studied the topic outside of public school.

    1. Another black person who thinks they know all the answers about something that has had conflicting accounts for YEARS. SMH.

  12. Sooo sad yes there were light skinned slaves the product of RAPE!!! people don’t make them selfs and we will for ever be divided because of this wake up people we are in the 21st century and still have the plantation mentality. my husbands grand mother was a slave yes her mother was raped by her owner, and guess what she was light skinned and did not work in the house!!! If you are half black society deems you BLACK!!!! learn your black history I am so sick of oh he or she is light skinned they are not really black . WAKE UP get off the plantation regardless of being dark or light if you weren’t free to leave the plantation then you were a SLAVE light, dark or in between….

  13. at one point black folks were offended that they were only casted as slaves and butler/maids…now they mad because a light skinned african american gets a role over a darker skinned african american…when will black folks leave color alone and advance PERIOD.worried about the wrong things all the damn time.

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