Many of us clutched our pearls when we heard Meghan Markle say that her royal family members had questions and concerns about how dark her child would be. But truth be told, if we’re being honest, we’ve been around other Black people who have uttered similar sentiments. Or even worse, we’ve been the Black folks to say those words.
We may try to run from colorism and pretend that it’s not an issue but everyday there are examples of it in every industry. Some of the stories make it to the mainstream, most never do. But colorism, the sneaky, sinister sister of racism is ever-present.
In an effort to address and combat society’s Eurocentric beauty standards, Dr. Yaba Blay created #PrettyPeriod, which is a play on the demeaning phrase, “Pretty for a dark skinned girl.”
Blay started the hashtag in 2013, when pictures of Lupita Nyong’o were all over her friend’s Facebook feeds.
She told Oprah.com, “I felt people were being disingenuous. For you, Lupita is the magic unicorn who fell out of the sky—a gorgeous dark-skinned woman! But I see Lupitas every day.”
Blay then created what she called a transmedia project, collecting images of mostly dark skinned Black women being their naturally beautiful selves. While the images were initially housed on a now defunct Tumblr page, you can still check out frequently updated #PrettyPeriod images on their Instagram page.
Since this movement began, Dr. Blay, a scholar-activist, public speaker and cultural consultant, has continued to spotlight the experiences of Black women, focusing on beauty practices and identity politics.
In addition to #PrettyPeriod, she’s launched #LocsofLove and Professional Black Girl.
Most recently, she re-released her book One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race, which discusses what it means to be Black when the outside world doesn’t readily perceive you as such.
You can learn more about her work, via her website: YabaBlay.com