Tag Archives: Colorism

Ari Lennox and Teyana Taylor Are Beautiful Women Not Rottweilers

I was happily scrolling through social media when I noticed Teyana as a trending topic. I am a fan of her music so I click the hashtag. To my dismay, she was not trending because a new song or dope video had dropped. Teyana Taylor and fellow singer Ari Lennox were trending topics due to the viral tweet below:

Image result for ari lennox teyana tweet king kwasii"

Colorism, Featurism, and the Black Woman

I never understood or really got colorism. I was never called light-skinned until college when I became very aware of an invisible line of demarcation, separation, and mistrust between black women based on skin shade. I have grown to learn more about colorism and featurism via novels by Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, my own study minoring in African American Studies, articles, and YouTube testimonials based on lived experiences.

Merriam-Webster defines Colorism as:

prejudice or discrimination especially within a racial or ethnic group favoring people with lighter skin over those with darker skin. Source

For a quick cultural reference, see Spike Lee’s School Daze. There is a musical dance battle between the light-skinned ‘Wannabes” and dark-skinned ‘Jiggaboos’ that highlights the tension between black women who fall into those perceived categories. The idea is that women who are ‘light-skinned’ are seen as more desirable by men, specifically black men in this case, than darker skinned women.

There seems to a subcateogry of colorism called featurism. As noted by writer Nia Hernandez,

The official definition of featurism is “A form of architectural design based around certain accentuated features”. In other context, society accepting or preferring certain features over others (i.e. European features over African features). Source

In the case of Ari Lennox, she has previously responded to criticism of her nose or wide nostrils. Teyana Taylor has received similar critique of her facial features. If we are to keep it real, a lot of the ‘you so ugly’ jokes center around facial features that are more afrocentric or our misconception of what is afrocentric. (Africa is a huge continent of over a billion people in over 50 countries. African Americans are the decedents of enslaved Africans who mainly came from the African West Coast countries.) We typically associate wide noses, textured hair, and dark skin as African features and all of the negative ideas that have been linked to that. ‘Beautiful’ black women are those whose features align more with perceived eurocentric standards of beauty; slim noses, lighter skin, softer textured hair.

When a Joke is Not Just a Joke:

There is a  malignant  history of race-based pseudoscience associating black people to animals  which metastasized into racist eugenics ideology. The idea that black people are animalistic or subhuman affects their treatment by others in society  in many areas, such as, politics, education, healthcare, law enforcement.

I believe the ease at which other black people make these types of jokes is rooted in ignorance. Comparing a black woman to a rottweiler dog is not funny; it is also not benign. Clearly the young man making the comment and the many who cosigned his statement through likes and retweets have not heard of the Human Zoo built by King Leopold of Belgium to showcase the Congolese people to Europeans. This display only highlights the actual reign of terror and genocide inflicted by Belgium on the nation of Congo.

Funny yet? 

Comparing these two young talented women to a dog associated with being dangerous and aggressive is associating their aesthetic with danger and aggressiveness.  These are the same stereotypes surrounding unarmed black men who are shot and killed at  7 times the rate of unarmed non-black males. We cannot become complicit in our own dehumanization. There is a history of this behavior being acceptable and normalized.

In this new decade, we will denormalize it.

Let’s start 2020 out right by calling out disrespect and putting haters in their place –  the trash.

A Wrinkle in Wakanda

I am still on a high from Back Panther. Wakanda high, you ask? The kind that makes me wrinkle my nose at A Wrinkle in Time.

I am sorry to be the bearer of this news but A Wrinkle in Time was disappointing. Not that I expected much. I learned after shelling out the $13.25 for 3D tickets that Wrinkle surmounted to little more than beautifully shot, new-age syrup.

wrinkle

The characters are weepy and emotional. They stare at each other and breath deeply in Twilight fashion. But Wrinkle is not a teenage vampire love story. It is supposed to be about triumph of an abused, awkward child (Meg) who takes a journey through time to rescue her scientist father from the forces of darkness. It is a classic-tale in the age of bullying – given time, you will make it through the angst of youth into self-actualized adulthood as you defeat the darkness around you. It is difficult as a viewer to get to that place with Meg because the sap is so heavy to wade through.

The author of Wrinkle Madeleine L’Engle infused themes of Christianity into her work much like C.S. Lewis. The Disney interpretation swapped all of the Christian overtones for muddled new age mysticism. There is a lot of “become one with the universe” and “center yourself”. There is actually  a character, “The Happy Medium” who is a medium who centers on swivel stones. I kid you not. The motivation and message is muddled. Likely, because of the generic spirituality that attempts to usurp the original specifically Christian one.

Some media is trying to sell this movie as an ode to diversity, a la Black Panther. Pause people. Black Panther, with its dark-skinned, natural hair (and bald) say-it-loud-I’m-black-and-I’m-proud-ness, cannot be compared to the Disney version of blackness, which is always biracialness. Even today,  Disney movies feature a “black character” as biracial, meaning very light-skinned with curly, not kinky, hair. So Beth, the main character in Wrinkle, is the daughter of a biracial mother and a white father. Her hair is the type of curly black folk call “good hair”. (I think this was maybe a wig. It did not look “natural”). So, when she doesn’t believe that her hair is beautiful when her white paramour says it, I am not really buying it. Neither was the 15-year-old, brown-skinned black girl who saw it with me. I am not saying biracial or multi-racial people are not black. I am saying that there is nothing groundbreaking about a Disney movie, once again, choosing to represent diversity in one way – a light-skinned biracial version.

Ava Duverney is Wrinkle‘s saving grace. I saw the movie in 3D. It is visually appealing. There are floating flowers, and bouncy butterflies. Duverney is a master at capturing landscape and atmosphere. I really enjoyed The Middle of Nowhere and 13th. These movies are thoughtful and introspective. The meandering pace that works with the material. This aesthetic does not work in Wrinkle. What is missing is excitement.

I wonder if I would feel different had I not seen Black Panther prior to this film. Too late. The bar has been set. I really wanted to like this one. What do you think?

 

Latino and Black

There is a new PBS documentary, "Black and Latino." The issue of colorism among people of Latino descent is discussed.

I find this clip very interesting. A lot of the same issues of light skinned/dark skinned that are discussed among African Americans, in this documentary have a spanish twist.

 

And yes that is Laz Alonso looking all types of yummy in this video. lol

Suprisingly Latino:

1. My girl, Lola Falana. Her father was a Cuban immigrant.

2. Tatynana Ali – Panamanian and Trinidadian descent.