All Articles Tagged "colorism"
By now most African-American women are aware of the My Black Is Beautiful initiative by Procter & Gamble. Seven years running, the campaign presented a screening of Imagine a Future in conjunction with the Tribeca Film Festival, which is taking place now. The film aims to empower African-American women and addresses such complex issues as beauty, self-esteem, and skin tone.
“I didn’t look like what I saw in a magazine,” says Dover, Del., teenager Janet Goldsboro, who is in the documentary. “I look different from all my cousins. I had dark features, dark hair, dark eyes, big nose and big lips, and I used to get made fun of because of how I looked.”
She adds: “Boys say, ‘I like the light-skinned girls,’ or, ‘I like white girls because I want my baby to come out pretty.’ And that hurts you because it makes you feel like you’re ugly looking.”
The documentary was co-directed by Shola Lynch, whose documentary Free Angela and All Political Prisoners about Angela Davis is in theaters now and getting rave reviews. Record company executive Lisa Cortes co-directed and produced the documentary. Cortez was an executive producer for the Oscar-winning movie Precious.
The 30-minute documentary will screen on BET on July 5.
According to The New York Times, the filmmakers discovered Goldsboro through Black Girls Rock!, the Brooklyn nonprofit with programs including a summer leadership camp that Goldsboro attended last year, which has the annual star-studded televised event you’ve no doubt watched. Procter & Gamble supports Black Girls Rock! financially through My Black Is Beautiful.
The film also follows Goldsboro’s visit to South Africa and includes interviews with such dynamic women as writer/cultural critic Michaela Angela Davis, Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas, and Melissa Harris-Perry, the MSNBC host.
While in South Africa, the issue of skin color is also raised. “In the documentary, Ms. Goldsboro visits a market in Johannesburg with Lebogang Mashile, a poet, actress and activist, and says, ‘I heard that in South Africa that skin bleaching is a big problem here?’” reports the newspaper. To which Mashile replies: “It’s been a problem for a long time. It’s self-hate, it’s not having enough mirrors that affirm you.”
The Times notes that the film fails to mention that Olay, a Procter & Gamble brand, markets skin-lightening products worldwide. Their White Radiance is sold in such countries as Malaysia and Singapore; another, Natural White, is sold in India, United Arab Emirates and elsewhere.
And in South Africa, Olay just recently introduced a skin-lightening line called Even & Smooth. “A new commercial features Gail Nkoane, a singer and actress, who applies the product and is instantly bathed in light, giving the effect of her skin becoming several shades lighter,” writes the Times. Do you think this makes a difference? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.
More than just a film, Imagine A Future, is its own campaign that includes donations made to the United Negro College Fund ($100,000 worth), sponsorship of the Black Girls Rock! Queens Camp, workshops, and more. You can learn more about the campaign on its Facebook page.
Why The Discussion About Colorism Won’t Change Or End Unless We’re Honest With Ourselves And Deal With Our Own Pain
Aside from being a big topic of discussion after A$AP Rocky’s words about women of a darker complexion needing to pass on bright red lipstick, colorism was also the topic of discussion on Twitter a few weeks ago. And the question posed that intrigued me to the point of response was simply:
“Will colorism end without discussing it? Have things improved due to the relative silence over the subject?
I didn’t have to think very hard about that. Every discussion I had been a part of up to a few months ago and every discussion I silently watched unfold ended in hurt feelings and intense anger on one or both sides. For a long time I just chalked it up to years of, “Well that’s just the way it is.” But seeing the discussion get started on Twitter once again, I really got to the root of why I believed simply DISCUSSING colorism will not improve anything.
I grew up being called “high yella” and enduring jabs from classmates telling me that I was trying to be a white girl. When I wasn’t being dissed I was being asked, “Are you mixed? What are you?” People were genuinely interested when they thought I was some exotic mixture of ethnic blood. When I convinced them I was simply and awesomely black, interest was lost. I don’t have time to get into how that tug-of-war effed up my sense of self royally. Nor do I want to go into it. Why? Because there will always be a few who are darker than me who will be outraged by the fact that I even allude to struggling with color issues. And that’s fine, but the discussion about colorism will NOT improve or erase colorism because a great many people just DO NOT respect the other side’s struggle. And if there is no respect between dark and light, there can never be a discussion that will make things better. If there is no foundation of empathy and compassion, what good will a discussion do?
My sister is a few shades darker than me and for years we fought like cats and dogs. I had no real understanding of why. I thought she just hated me and I left it at that. Fine. I hated her too.
It wasn’t until last summer, both of us in our late twenties, that we sat and had a real conversation about it. She revealed to me that her whole life she felt people cared about me more because I was lighter and deemed prettier than her. It blew my mind because I never considered colorism in my own household with my own family. It was “out there,” but not “in here” in my mind. I just thought she had the devil in her when we fought. I had no idea how deep a hurt she was dealing with. But once I shut up and invited her to speak freely, I got it. I understood her and she understood me. But it wasn’t until we decided to drop our defenses and hear each other out objectively that a conversation about colorism would help us to progress. We had to grow up first. And that is something most folks can’t/won’t do. They want to stay stuck in their own little worlds of hurt ON BOTH SIDES of the debate and not acknowledge the pain and frustration on the other side of the line. That is and will always be counterproductive.
The other reason that a discussion about colorism won’t improve the situation is because no one wants to take self-inventory. It’s easy to say “I’m dark-skinned and I’ve been discriminated against” or “I’m light-skinned and been unfairly judged” and never look to see what part you might have played in the discrimination/unfair judgment by someone who isn’t on your side of it all. Were you a light-skinned child who teased and berated darker-skinned girls? Did you stand by and ALLOW it to happen even if you never partook in such behavior? Were you an insecure child of a darker complexion who bullied the child lighter than you because you felt inferior? Let’s get real. We all have hurt and pain, but how often do we dig deeper to see what hurt we’ve inflicted on others?
If we can be honest with ourselves first, and deal with our pain/pre-judgments, then a progressive discussion can happen. But not before. Take it from a sister who is still digging deep daily, learning about herself and others and striving to become better.
La Truly’s writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Check her out on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and AboutMe www.about.me/latruly.
‘I Don’t Want To Need Things… I Don’t Need Anybody:’ Zoe Saldana Tells ‘Latina’ A Man Is Not A Necessity
Colombiana actress Zoe Saldana looks stunningly fabulous on the May 2013 cover of Latina Magazine. Her brightly colored, bold ensemble seems quite fitting for the occasion, as Ms. Saldana comes off rather audacious and a tad bit feisty in her interview. The 34-year-old Star Trek Into Darkness star touched on everything from her alleged mental breakdown to the reoccurring discussion of why she should not have been cast to play Nina Simone in the forthcoming biopic. Peep some of what she had to say below.
On her mental meltdown following filming for Avatar:
“That was completely blown out of proportion. That was so exaggerated and so ridiculous. It’s no different than what a child does after you’ve had a birthday party for a child. The child has been so stimulated by everybody, in every direction, consistently, you feel depleted. You use so much serotonin that you feel, not empty, but you feel a little tired and depleted and you have to fill your well of energy and of happiness and you have to pay attention to you. That downtime was very welcoming and very beautiful, but it wasn’t like I got f****** depressed and I just wouldn’t get out of bed. That has never happened to me! I hate when you say something and then it’s like, ay dios mio…”
On whether or not she was affected by the Nina Simone Controversy:
“Yes, of course. I’m not made of metal. Things will resonate in you and they will move you whether good or bad, but you can’t let that define who you are and you can’t let that dictate the path that you’re going to take in your life. The reality is that nobody knows the story as to why this collaboration came to be—nobody knows the full story—and at the end of the day all I’m going to say is that every person that is a part of this project came together for no other reason than the unconditional love for Nina Simone’s music, her persona, her life, what she did, what she left for us, what her music still continues to do not only to women, but to Americans, and African Americans, and also people of color, just everything. On all spectrums, Nina Simone’s story is worth telling and with the members that it came to be, like it’s just…you have to give it a chance…Watch it and then make up your mind. I’m happy that we all held together and we went for it. No regrets.”
On growing up “color-blind:”
“I grew up in Queens and the Dominican Republic. It wasn’t easy, s*** was going on. But the kind of world that we had indoors, that my mom created for us, makes more sense to this day than what is out there. I would come home from school and go, ‘Mami, what am I? You know, cause I’m getting all kinds of things and people are mean.’ And Mami would look at me and go, ‘You’re Zoe.’ And I’d go, ‘I know, Mami, but what am I?’ and she would look at me and say, ‘You’re my daughter, your grandma’s granddaughter, you’re Zoe.’ My mom wouldn’t go, ‘tu eres una mujer de color [you are a woman of color] and always remember it, this world is going to be rough.’ My mom never f****** told us that, why would she? Why would she stop my flight before I even take off?”
On not needing a man:
“I don’t want to need things. I need water, you know what I’m saying? I need to exercise, I need to eat. To be with a man, should be a want. I don’t need anybody. And the people that I do need are just family, tu entiendes [you understand]? But a man is something that I want, I want be with a partner, because this partner is going to add or I’m going to add to this partner.”
Turn the page for more fabulous flicks from Zoe’s colorful photoshoot.
“It’s Almost Like A Color Blind Industry Where There’s Only One Type”: Kendrick Lamar Talks “Poetic Justice” Video
Kendrick Lamar has been hailed as one of hip-hop’s latest “saviors” with his razor sharp skills and ability to make the listener visualize the story he’s trying to tell. He seems keenly aware that he’s doing great things for the state of music.
K-dot, as he’s affectionately known, recently released a video for his latest song “Poetic Justice” and it featured a beautiful young lady named Brittany Sky. Ironically enough, she was not the original lead chosen but when Kendrick was finally involved with the process, he revealed a different vision. As he told Miss Info:
“We had another girl for the lead but I had an idea where I just wanted a little bit of a darker tone [girl] in the video. It’s almost like a color blind industry where there’s only one type of appeal to the camera.
“I give [Brittany] the credit, too, for just being there, and being a natural, genuine young lady. She wasn’t all in the open, trying to jump in [front] of the camera. She was cool, just chilling. I always kept in the back of my mind like ‘you don’t ever see this tone of a woman in videos. No disrespect, I love all women, period. But at the same time, I still feels like it needs that balance.”
Kendrick wanted to be clear that he wasn’t trying to add to the whole “light-skinned vs. dark-skinned” argument that often happens so he tweeted to Miss Info, who originally alluded to it being a “light vs. dark” issue:
“Not Light “Vs” Dark tho. More about “BALANCE”..Givn every shade of woman life, not jus what da industry thinks is “Hott” 4 camera. When u put the term light “Vs” dark continues it as a BATTLE. My point 4 poetic was to spark the idea of making it an EQUAL.”
He went on in his interview with Miss Info saying that he knows his video is just a drop in the bucket and he was just glad he could do his part to counteract colorism in the music industry.
Let That Baby Play Already! “Toddlers & Tiaras” Mom Won’t Let Daughter Play Outside For Fear That Her Skin Will Darken
After a little girl dressed up as the prostitute version of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, and we were introduced to Mountain Dew and candy bar loving Honey Boo Boo and her crew, I think it became clear to all that Toddlers & Tiaras is a haven for the hottest of messes. But possibly one of the saddest kids to appear on the show and have people talking is little Selena Cruz, 3, an up-and-coming pageant contestant whose mother loves her “natural, golden skin tone” so much that she won’t allow her daughter to go outside and play in the sun. Not for an hour, not for 30 minutes, not even for 10, because her mother is worried about her tanning and getting darker, which could keep her, in the mom’s mind, from excelling on the pageant circuit.
“She has to stay inside, so she follows the proper protocol,” says her mother, as the little girl stares sadly out of a window, nose on it, watching her brothers go at it at the basketball hoop in their yard. The little girl let it be known in her own little interview that she would really like to go outside and play like her brothers, and proceeded to do the oh-so cute but sad puppy dog face to the camera. But if it’s up to mom, little Selena is going to stay in the crib, Lord knows for how long, to ensure that she doesn’t get any darker than she is now.
Not only is this pathetic in the sense that she’s basically put her daughter in a situation where she might get older and be overly conscious of her skin and equate it as the preferred shade of black, but she might just be the first mom to want her child to stay in and not get out, exercise and play (and in a nice neighborhood!). Michelle Obama would be appalled. With so many kids trapped in the house with their faces glued to video games, the TV and phones, you have to get them out there and excited about being active early, or kids can end up child couch potatoes before you know it. Clearly this mom, who ironically is of a darker complexion, is trying to fulfill some sort of dreams she had through her child, but keeping little Selena trapped in the house like she’s Quasimodo in the bell tower sounds somewhat abusive. But that’s just my opinion.
You can check out the clip of this little girl and her mom talking about her oh-so precious skin HERE at the Huffington Post.
What do you think about her mom keeping her in?
By Ashley Brumeh
I’m a dark-skinned woman who is well aware of colorism. Before you deduce this post to the typical “Here we go again with the light, bright, and everything right mentality” I’m ready to throw a curve ball. I’m on the opposite side of the colorism debate. While I’m all for my lighter-skinned sisters, I actually think dark-skin is beautiful! I love my complexion. My husband loves it too. Even the suitors I dated before him thought my smooth, dark skin was gorgeous. Yet I find that people like to tell women of a darker complexion what colors they shouldn’t be wearing, what things don’t work for us, and try to make us feel that we aren’t accepted or swexy. (“You’re cute for a dark-skinned girl.”)
I have a healthy self-esteem and a pretty blessed life, yet somehow I feel like society thinks I’m supposed to wallow in self-pity because I wasn’t born with light skin. The majority of the online black community has seemingly become inundated with the theory that everyone wants to be light or date light. Where are they getting this from? Is it because Beyoncé is on virtually every cover of every magazine? Is it because certain black celebrity men publicly profess their adoration for those of a lighter hue? Or is it because almost every dark-skinned, female we hear, see, or read about blames their “early childhood low self-esteem” on their complexion? Newsflash! EVERY chocolate sister isn’t drinking from the same regretful, “I wish I was lighter” Kool-Aid.
Perhaps everyone’s fascination with light-skin is the attention given to it. I can’t tell you how many times my frenemies have referenced my dark skin in a negative way. Or how they frequently mention to me that most men prefer light-skinned women. Or that the majority of successful, black women, be it in films, television, print, or other avenues of life are light-skinned. I know this type of rationale is not only false, but it perpetuates the superior/inferior complex that so many of our people have. Are dark-skinned women who possess beauty, brains, and happy and healthy relationships difficult concepts to fathom?
I can’t help highlighting a few of the many high-profile women of a darker complexion with a slew of beauty, success, and notoriety. Michelle Obama is our FLOTUS. Oprah is the only black, female billionaire in the world. Gabrielle Union, Kelly Rowland, Rozonda “Chili” Thomas, and Nia Long makes the hearts of both men and women melt. Melody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments, a $3 billion dollar investment firm, is in a long-term relationship with the well-renowned billionaire and Star Wars creator George Lucas. Surely their dark complexions didn’t deter them from being successful. Can the opponents of dark-skinned women catch a clue from these high-profile celebrities and realize that triumphs come in all shades? Or better yet, can they leave us alone already?
Regardless of how much or how little attention someone is given, if our lives are not directly benefiting from said attention then what difference does it make in the grand scheme of things? Are those “hollas” on the street, shout-outs in songs, and spotlights in music videos paying the bills of everyday women? I think not. Feeding into colorism is inaccurate and illogical so please do us all a favor and just love the skin you’re in. You never know who might love it too.
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Kola Boof, Egyptian-Sudanese author and professional jump starter, has started a campaign against Timur Bekmambetov and Tim Burton, the production team behind Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, for their inaccurate portrayal of historical figure Harriet Tubman.
Releasing a statement through her Facebook page, Boof writes, “HARRIET TUBMAN…. is portrayed as “BIRACIAL” in the new “Abe Lincoln Vampire” movie…. TO ME….you have to really *HATE* Black people to portray Harriet Tubman as a Biracial woman. It reveals everything about White Supremacy and the “erasure” of Black People. Harriet was NOT Dutch speaking or Biracial. And this portrayal is really a “Betrayal”…. it does not honor her image. It OBLITERATES not only Harriet, but all Authentic Black Women.”
She also advised folks to call and write the studio and various production companies to express our displeasure about this misrepresentation. Said Boof, “We can’t change this particular movie….but we can let Hollywood know that we don’t like seeing the constant *Whitening* of Black images in films…that we DO want to see Black people in movies and not be disrespected like this. If we don’t speak up BLACK WOMEN, then nothing will change…”
Listen I know when folks hear Kola Boof’s name they instantly tune out. But while Boof may be many things to people – most of them not so nice – one thing she is, is honest as well as fierce protector of all things related to darker skinned women. And while this might be a hard pill to swallow for some, she has great reason to be.
Jacqueline Fleming, a Copenhagen Denmark born actress of African American (father) and Danish-German (mother) descent. You might have seen her on television in shows like “CSI: Miami” and “Treme” or on the big screen in movies Last Holiday and the sequel to Woman Thou Art Loose. She has also been casted as Harriet Tubman in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.
For those of you who have no idea who Tubman is, shame on you and the wack educational system you derived from. Tubman was born somewhere around 1803 to Ashanti enslaved parents and was bestowed the title as Moses for braving 19 trips into slave holding states and leading some 300 individuals to a new life in slavery-free territories – not an easy feat for a runaway slave, who had over $40,000 reward posted all over the South for her capture or death. Oh another thing about Tubman; she was dark-skinned. Dark enough not to pass for a light skinned woman of mixed ancestry. Which is why on one of her trips, she had to convince a light-skinned fugitive slave to pose as a white master transporting a group of slaves to a town further up the road.
Not too many people want to discuss this issue, which was evident by a column from my good friend Yvette Carnell, who recently penned a piece about this misrepresentation of Tubman in the film. For Carnell and I, who discussed this briefly on Facebook, Hollywood’s attempt to use Fleming’s image to whitewash Tubman was a no-brainer. And in a time when black folks are bombarded with distorted images of ourselves, we felt it our duty to call it out. However, not that many other folks didn’t see it that way and proceeded to blast her piece as trivial. They accused Carnell of being bitter, divisive and color-conscious. After all, it’s a stupid movie about Abe Lincoln being a vampire hunter and we all know that he wasn’t in real life. Likewise, we’re all black so it shouldn’t matter, which color of blackness she exhibits.
Well I’m here to tell you it does matter.
It’s nice to see a young black women my age doing something productive with their time, especially creating a community that supports positivity amongst black women. In the media it seems like black women in particularity are always tearing each other down, so it’s nice to see there are people who fighting against the stereotype. Blogging platforms like Tumblr have created great spaces for black women to come together and celebrate everything that has to do with being black and woman. For Brown Girls is a great example of this cross section. Showing off the beauty that is brown skin girls who don’t always feel validate, especially in a European beauty standard dominated society. Colorism is a problem that is still rampant in our community, as well as other people of color’s communities.
African-American children make up 30 percent of the 500,000 children currently in the American foster care system, despite being only 14 percent of the U.S. population. On top of being over-represented, these youths are less frequently selected for adoption compared to other kids.
Could the skin tone of black children play a role in whether they are chosen — especially if the family considering them is black? Mardie Caldwell, founder and CEO of the Lifetime Adoption agency, says this is true — and that this bias is exclusive to African-Americans.
“We’ve found that many African-American families have definite preferences for the type of children they want, whether it’s newborns [or older children], and also in terms of their physical appearance,” Caldwell told theGrio. The author of seven books on the adoption process, including her latest, Called to Adoption, suggested that the finicky tastes of black families made private agencies reluctant to work with them.
“A lot of organizations and other adoption professionals have actually stopped doing African-American adoptions. We’re one of the few centers, Lifetime Adoptions, that does African-American and biracial adoptions, and we’re one of the largest in the United States,” she explained. “When families come to us they will actually give us preferences and say ‘we want to stick with a child that looks like us, and we’re lighter-skinned or we’re darker-skinned.’ It does make it difficult at times.”
By contrast, “if we have families that may be biracial — one partner is Caucasian and the other is African-American — we can come to them with any black child, and they’re more open,” Caldwell said. “The same is true with Caucasian families, which is why you’re seeing more Caucasians adopting children of color, because they really don’t care about the shade.”
Read the rest of the story at theGrio.com.
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by Ramona X
When someone always brings something up, you know it’s a sore spot. Like your friend who is sensitive about other people mentioning their ivy league degrees. Yeah, you know she’s always bringing it up for a reason. On another somewhat related note, I don’t trust rappers who make a point of making a song about the beauty of dark women (ahem, ahem Mos Def). The point is if it’s not an issue, why talk about it all the time? Although differences in shade is a sensitive subject in the Black community, the way to get over it is to be conscious of keeping an open mind to all people. Right?
While the following celebrities may be coping with their hangups by talking about their sensitivity to colorism, we think they’re trying to communicate something different.