Coffee Rhetoric: Colorism
Showing posts with label Colorism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Colorism. Show all posts

January 23, 2015

'Light Girls' - The Good, The Bad, & The Cringeworthy

Curious, but skeptical, I decided to turn to the OWN network on Monday night and watch the premiere of Bill Duke’s second documentary on colorism Light Girls, a follow up to Dark Girls—which explored the marginalization and ridicule darker complexioned Black women face. 
Light Girls continued the ongoing discussion about intraracial discrimination and presented personal anecdotes from more than 200 people on the opposite (most preferred) end of the complexion panorama; interviews with lighter- skinned Black and biracial (half-Black) women, including TV journalist Soledad O’Brien, actress Raven-SymonĂ©, glamour model Amber Rose, and “image activist” Michaela Angela Davis, among others.

June 25, 2014

Lupita Nyong'o and Mass Media's Conditional Terms for Black Beauty

Note: another version of this post is published on All Digitogracy.



Amid chatter about the time limit imposed on her fame following an Oscar win for 12 Years a Slave, and whether or not her allure amounts to nothing more than fetishistic curiosity for an enthralled white media machine, actress Lupita Nyong’o has proved that she’s here to stay and that she’s more than just an impeccably dressed red carpet darling and non-normative 'It girl.' When the buzz surrounding Lupita’s award-winning breakout role waned a bit, skeptical culture pundits wondered whether or not Lupita had the chops to offshoot with a varied film career, following her memorable portrayal of a slave named Patsey.

March 19, 2014

There's Something About Lupita

Why is it controversial to see a dark-skinned black actress achieve stardom? 



Lupita Nyong’o… the Mexican-born, Kenyan-raised, Yale educated actress and filmmaker took Hollywood and popular culture by storm, after her breakout role as Patsey in the film adaptation of the memoir and slave narrative, 12 Years A Slave. Making the red carpet rounds at various press junkets, social events, and awards shows, Lupita’s gracious demeanor and impeccable sense of style has taken people’s breath away. The media seems hooked and denizens of social media drool whenever images of her swathed in colorful couture, looking radiant, hit the internet.
Lupita is poised to become a bona fide Hollywood A-lister, and her growing popularity symbolizes the type of universality not often afforded to women and girls —especially working actresses — who exist in skin like hers and whose brand of black isn't 'exotic other'
And while most people, particularly black women, are finally glad to see the likes of Lupita Nyong’o take center stage to much fanfare, others in the black community expressed a myriad of dissenting opinions ranging from confusion and indifference, to flat-out unimpressed and insulting.

August 19, 2012

Taking A Tumbl: Regarding My Nina Simone/Zoe Saldana Post

A couple of days ago, I linked my post: (Mis)Casting Call: The Erasure of Nina Simone's Image to my tumblr page, and it was re-blogged by several people; a couple of whom took issue with the picture I used to accompany the post. To them, the image took precedence over the very valid issues I raised in the blog post. One tumblr-er noted...
"feeling some type of way about that particular picture of Zoe Saldanath that picture is rubbing me the wrong way its like [they] are trying to erase the fact that zoe is black zoe is a black women [sic] nothing is going to change that definitely not an over edited picture and im not feeling this oversexualized picture of zoe being paired with that picture of nina"
*sigh* 

August 17, 2012

(Mis)Casting Call: The Erasure of Nina Simone's Image

Nina Simone: pioneer, influential, volatile, classical music genius, revolutionary, regal and every bit the High Priestess of Soul.

If anybody is worthy of having her story brought to the big screen for posterity, it would, and should, most assuredly be Nina. Despite having to overcome racism and colorism, Nina left a legacy of music and activism that continues to resonate with her fans, lifelong and new.  

When it was announced in 2010 that a Nina Simone biopic—based on a script by TV writer, Cynthia Mort—was in development and that singer, Mary J. Blige was slated to play her, the public's interest was piqued, though some (including myself) were a bit skeptical about whether Mary had the range and right look to portray such a dynamic and complex figure.  And while Mary J. Blige emotes a similar feeling of consciousness about love and heartbreak in her own music, she doesn't necessarily harness the same sense of social awareness Nina did.  Nonetheless, some of us stayed abreast of the project, which was slated to start filming last year. Alas, it was stalled by a series of setbacks that delayed production and Mary J. Blige dropped out of the film, reportedly, due to funding. 

Folks were left to ponder who would play Nina, and bloggers and fans campaigned for the Black actresses they thought were better suited for the role – including Viola Davis, Lauryn Hill, India Arie and Adepero Oduye, who starred in the Dee Rees film, Pariah – so many were left with feelings of confusion and dismay when Afro-Latina actress Zoe Saldana was announced as Mary J. Blige’s replacement. With Saldana on-board to play Nina, suddenly the film’s financial setbacks were resolved and filming picked up momentum.

While Zoe Saldana is undoubtedly a capable actress and has amassed an impressive acting resume, people are understandably agitated and, of course, the ubiquitous online petition started circulating via Change.org, and chief among the petition's grievances:

"Getting light complexioned actors to play the roles of dark complexioned historical figures is not only a sign of blatant disrespect to the persons they are portraying, but it is also disrespectful to their families, to history, to the people who look like the persons being whitewashed, and to the intelligence of the audience. For too long Hollywood has gotten away with this practice of revisionist history."

 And it’s a very valid gripe that raises some important questions...

August 06, 2012

Bill Campbell's "Koontown Killing Kaper"

“Like rats to cheese, folks in Koontown are drawn to yellow police tape. It’s utterly irresistible. ESPN, BET, not even sex can break the hold that thin, plastic strip has on them.  And they come. I don’t understand it. I grew up in the suburbs. But I’d seen it all throughout my police career, and tonight is no different.”  So narrates the embattled heroine Genevieve “Jon Vee” Noir in “Chaptah Tu” of Bill Campbell’s satirical novel, Koontown Killing Kaper.
Not since Mat Johnson’s “Hunting In Harlem” has a book from this genre grabbed me from the very beginning and carried me stto the very end at such a rapid pace.

Rappers, purveyors of urban literature, and TV producers are being found murdered in gruesome fashion. Word on the streets of the besieged city of Koontown is that vampire crack babies are the perpetrators.  Former international supermodel-turned cop-turned private detective, Genevieve “Jon Vee” Noir is hired by rap impresario Hustle Beamon, to find out who’s killing off his business partners and top selling rap artists.  Together with her former Koontown Police Department partner Detective Willie O. O’Ree, Jon Vee navigates the dark, dank underbelly of Koontown; coming up against pimps, dubious record executives, secret sororities, disreputable politicians, and government conspiracies to get to the bottom of the savage murders plaguing the city, lest the crimes threaten the already fragile dĂ©tente between Koontown residents and the nearby gentrified neighborhood of Toomer Way.

May 08, 2012

Documentary Short: 'Shadeism' - A Global Look at Colorism



Bleached Kwaito singer, Mshoza 
"Shadeism" is a short 2010 documentary, written and directed by up-and-coming Canadian filmmaker Nayani Thiyagarajah (a young woman of South East Asian descent), and it details intra-racial discrimination experienced by young women of the Caribbean, South East Asian, and African Diasporas, as they navigate the trials and tribulations of having dark skin and the Colorism they face within their respective communities.

We often hear narratives from people who've experienced Colorism within Black-American communities, but Shadeism takes a more global look at the issue and its impact on young women of color. Intra-racial discrimination tends to be a hot-button issue whenever the topic is broached. It ruffles people's feathers because, speaking within the context of my own (Black-American) community, folks deny the prevalence of the issue, and the dialogue never extends beyond the superficial claim of it merely being a self-esteem issue. Colorism is institutional and it's structural. Darker-skinned people (women especially) are denied jobs, are subject to erroneous racial stereotypes, and are railroaded by the prison industrial complex.  

It's a destructive message that's notoriously perpetuated by the media, fashion and entertainment industries, and the cult of celebrity. Even casting calls for car commercials require that
only light-skinned Blacks need apply.

In India and various parts of the Caribbean and Africa, the skin-lightening cream industry continues to thrive, as people seek quick-and-easy ways to become the fairest one of all. 


Shadeism from refuge productions on Vimeo.

February 26, 2012

Coffee Rhetoric Redux-- If You're Black, Get Back!



In the wake of the latest foolery courtesy of a St. Louis-based promotional company, involving an ill-conceived marketing idea, themed: "Battle of the Complexions" pitting dark, brown, and lighter complected Black women against one another, I'm re-posting an essay I did in August, 2011 about Shadeism or what's also known as Colorism; which is still very much an issue in the Black-- (and other minority)-- communities, despite denials to the contrary. 
In perhaps, an equally as foolish attempt at insulting the collective public's intelligence, the promotional company responsible for the event released a convoluted apology (below), chalking up the idea as a tribute to Black History Month... 
MACK TV WOULD LIKE TO CLEAR UP THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF OUR CONCEPT FOR THIS PARTY...ITS NOT TO DEGRADE WOMEN OR DIVIDE SKIN COLORS. ITS SIMPLY TO SEE WHICH COMPLEXION OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN RACE REPRESENTS THE MOST (lightskinned, caramel-brown, or darkskinned) AS A WHOLE , MALE & FEMALE! I CAN SEE THE MISUNDERSTANDING WITH OUR PROMO.....WE COULD HAVE USED A BETTER CHOICE OF WORDS....WE DID NOT MEAN TO OFFEND THE OFFENDED
ITS BLACK HISTORY MONTH , SO WE MADE A PARTY THEME DEDICATED TO OUR AFRICAN AMERICAN CROWD. THE YOUNGER GENERATION IS LOVING THIS PARTY BECAUSE HERE'S THE FIRST TIME EVER YOU CAN COME OUT & BE PROUD THAT YOU ARE BLACK!! REGARDLESS OF YOUR SKIN TONE SORRY FOR THE CONFUSION & MISLEADING INFO.
ITS BLACK HISTORY MONTH , SO LETS BE PROUD OF THE SKIN WE'RE IN!! REPRESENT YOUR COMPLEXION! ...



If You're Black, Get Back!  
Originally posted August 8th, 2011

No rap lyric has incited Black women to chorus the way the beginning of Lil Wayne’s verse in Every Girl in the World, in which he expresses his desire for “a long-haired, thick Redbone, who opens up her legs to filet mignon” has.

Hair and skin-color continue to haunt my sistren. Deeply rooted issues of Colorism are extensively blogged and written about by mostly Black female bloggers and writers, who take rappers to task for preferring racially ambiguous looking, seemingly non-Black women to frolic with on and off the sets of their videos.
Recently controversial novelist, Kola Boof sounded off at Wale via Twitter, in a long, sometimes expletive-filled tirade about his video Pretty Girls not featuring enough Black women… that eventually culminated in a feud of sorts. Kola berated Wale (whose parents are Nigerian)- accusing him of prompting young Black women in Nigeria to want to bleach their skin in order to compete: “Wale is doing more than just dig light women. He [sic] selling AFRICAN CHILDREN on skin bleaching … making them feel BLACK is ugly…”

Additionally, Actor/Singer Tyrese also felt the backlash of frustrated darker-skinned women, confused as to why his video was seemingly devoid of obviously Black women. “So I’m getting tweets … why aren’t any “Black Women” in your video.  I had a 2 days audition.[Sic]  I welcomed ALL women and went with the BEST.” he tweeted exasperatedly.

When framed within the context of entertainers and their sex lives, Colorism is undeniable. I acknowledge that it thrives within this realm and influences the aesthetic of many Black men, however, I’m a bit flummoxed as to why Black women continue to look to entertainers and athletes to validate their worth and personal brand of beauty. I understand wanting to see more honest and diverse examples of Black beauty in music videos; But when do we stop holding rappers responsible for how we essentially should view ourselves? When do we stop allowing Lil Wayne’s preference for a “long-haired, thick Redbone” to bother us and realize that when Black men (many of whom are also darker-complexioned) punctuate their preferences with disdain for dark women, it’s their deep-seated issues… and has nothing to do with us? When some Black men reach the pinnacle of financial success, they get to dictate who keeps their mattress warm and comfy… and for some, darker skin just doesn’t suffice.  As frustrating as their self-loathing is, that’s just the way it is. Quite frankly, when I look in the mirror, I’m not wondering whether heavily tattooed rappers with platinum dental work and several children by several different women, think I’m too dark to be considered attractive. Black men who look down on women for having darker complexions… have soul searching to do. Black women who agonize over and doubt themselves on account of a troubled individual’s superficiality… have soul searching to do.

This is definitely not an attempt to trivialize the impact of Colorism… My hope is that Black women with darker complexions move away from seeking acceptance in empty, cold places and hold themselves in high regard, despite the odds stacked against them.
Prolific film director Bill Duke eloquently explores the issue in this 9-minute trailer for his documentary,  
Dark Girls





Original post

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