Colorism on Film: Yellow Fever by Ng’endo Mukii

Yellow Fever is an international award winning film by Ng’endo Mukii. This short film (less than 7 minutes) is a mixed media work of art. I think the film is unique in that it really zooms in (sometimes literally) on the unsettling emotional and psychological experience of internalized white supremacy.   Yellow Fever: FULL from Ng’endo Mukii on Vimeo.

Continue Reading

Colorism in Americanah by Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie released her most recent novel, Americanah, in 2013. Although I’m more than a year late reading the book, I think it’s worth writing about the issue of colorism as it appears in the story. Colorism in Americanah doesn’t rely on the standard melodramatic pity party or blame game. Instead the novel has a rather matter-of-fact tone on the issue, one that seems based more on observation than painful memories or emotion. I guess the story itself is so interesting and well-written that the discussion of colorism doesn’t seem forced—it just seems real. The public has discussed Adichie’s writing in connection to colorism before. People complained and even started a petition… Read More

Continue Reading
fighting colorism inside essence magazine

Fighting Colorism while Reading Magazines

Magazines are one of humanity’s greatest creative/business  projects. My mom used to work at a bank inside of a grocery store. As a girl, I’d grab all the house and home magazines off the shelves to pass the time until she got off work. Then, in high school I discovered black hair magazines and Essence. I can honestly say that these magazines helped shape my ideas of the world and of myself. It began with the typical impulse to collect pictures and stories of my favorite celebrities at the time, but it soon grew into something more. I came to view magazines differently, and they served a deeper purpose than… Read More

Continue Reading

For a Brown Girl: who committed suicide when her rainbow wasn’t enough

“& this is for colored girls who have considered suicide / but are movin to the ends of their own rainbows” —Ntozake Shange In 1975 the poet Ntozake Shange published For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf. In April 2014, the rainbow proved insufficient for one colored girl, Karyn Washington, creator of the online communities For Brown Girls and The #DarkSkinRedLips Project. Like most of her fans, I didn’t know Karyn personally, but we exchanged a few tweets and emails about our common interests in colorism, self-love, and empowerment. I got the news of Karyn’s suicide on Friday afternoon and struggled to fight back tears the rest of… Read More

Continue Reading

5 Lessons on Colorism from Lupita Nyong’o’s Essence Speech

The talk continues about Lupita Nyong’o. Over the past few days, however, it’s gotten deeper than just her Hollywood stardom and high fashion domination. Ever since Lupita’s powerful speech about the effects of colorism at Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood event, more people are weighing in on the issue. Some, like me, are openly excited about this moment. Some might be a little more skeptical. Others are probably unaware that anything is happening. Regardless of what we ultimately believe about Lupita’s role in fighting colorism, it’s clear that she’s helping to spark discussion about colorism in ways that very few other celebrities have. After watching and reading Lupita’s speech, I… Read More

Continue Reading

Colorism in the Media: Lupita Nyong’o on the Power of Images

In the following video, Lupita Nyong’o talks to BET about why media images were so important for her growing up and continue to be important for everyone today. Nyong’o is the 2014 Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress, and many believe that she’s the favorite to win. She has already been nominated for numerous awards and won several for her supporting actress role in the acclaimed film 12 Years a Slave, including a Screen Actors Guild Award, an NAACP Image Award, and a Critic’s Choice Award. In a previous post about how Lupita Nyong’o helps combat colorism in the media, I wrote that I didn’t know if she embraced her role… Read More

Continue Reading

Colorism in Relationships: Preference or Prejudice?

Why do we date who we date? What’s really behind our choice of marriage partners? Is love truly blind? And more to the point of this post, is there colorism in relationships?  If there is colorism in relationships, how can we tell the difference between a person who coincidentally falls for someone of a certain skin tone versus someone who is color struck? Here I present one perspective on this matter. Of course there are other viewpoints out there. If you’re new to this issue, I encourage you to explore those as well, after you’ve considered the following. Is there Colorism in Relationships? Yes. As Kola Boof says in this… Read More

Continue Reading

Historical Roots of Colorism, Part I: Early Spanish Origins

The Spanish cared about skin color. Whether on the European continent, or throughout the Spanish colonial world, ancestry, and the proscribed skin colors thus attached, mattered. Long before the formation of the United States, and even before the French recognized the light-skinned “mulâtre” (mulatto) in colonial censuses during the 1690s, the Spanish attached specific social and racial values to particular skin tones, and the degrees of mixture each one implied. As early as 1533, a debate arose in Madrid, Spain’s capital, over whether or not children of Spanish men and Indian or African women should be recognized by the Crown and educated as vassals of the empire. After some debate,… Read More

Continue Reading
colorism in hip hop ave by Scott W

Colorism in Hip Hop: Keeping it Real

The phrase ‘keeping it real” was coined by the hip hop world, a genre of music I’ve been known to enjoy. But many of the biggest names in hip hop are consistently guilty of NOT keeping it real. This applies to many aspects of hip hop, but for our purposes, we’re going to examine colorism in hip hop. The following are eight aspects of colorism in hip hop that we must be “real” and honest about. 1) Colorism in hip hop does exist. There’s debate about whether or not colorism exists in general, so we can expect controversy when discussing whether or not colorism exists in hip hop. Many have… Read More

Continue Reading