Lil’ Kim’s Lighter, Whiter Skin Is a Sad Indictment of Racism

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2019-07-14 01:20Z by Steven

Lil’ Kim’s Lighter, Whiter Skin Is a Sad Indictment of Racism

The Daily Beast
2016-04-26

Yaba Blay


Handout; Instagram

Why has Lil’ Kim seemingly lightened her skin? Because of the absurd, but very present, social advantage for black people that comes with having lighter skin.

There was a time when Lil’ Kim represented a brand of unapologetic self-love for black women. The kind that announced that we are sexual beings without shame or fear. She reflected what it might look like to be at once a woman, black, and sexually free. Visually, her body was a site for pleasure, most importantly her own.

Sonically, her lyrics offered us permission to explore our own bodies and our own pleasure. Lil’ Kim was our champion.

I’m not sure what she’s now championing. In a series of pictures she posted on Instagram, she is virtually unrecognizable.

While we have debated whether other celebrities like Beyoncé and Rihanna have actually lightened their skin or if the magazines that featured their images had photoshopped their complexions, with Kim, there surely can be little question.

It looks as though she has lightened her once black-girl-brown complexion to one that’s not so brown at all. Her hair is longer, straighter, blonder. Her once round nose now thin. Even her eyes sit differently on her face. She’s changed, in ways that words can’t even begin to capture. And it hurts…

Read the entire article here.

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Beneath the Surface: A Transnational History of Skin Lighteners

Posted in Africa, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, South Africa, Women on 2019-07-12 17:40Z by Steven

Beneath the Surface: A Transnational History of Skin LightenersBeneath the Surface: A Transnational History of Skin Lighteners

Duke University Press
January 2020
376 pages
85 illustrations (incl. 39 in color)
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0642-8
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0538-4

Lynn M. Thomas, Professor of History
University of Washington

Beneath the Surface

For more than a century, skin lighteners have been an ubiquitous feature of global popular culture—embraced by consumers even as they were fiercely opposed by medical professionals, consumer health advocates, and antiracist thinkers and activists. In Beneath the Surface, Lynn M. Thomas constructs a transnational history of skin lighteners in South Africa and beyond. Analyzing a wide range of archival, popular culture, and oral history sources, Thomas traces the changing meanings of skin color from precolonial times to the postcolonial present. From indigenous skin-brightening practices and the rapid spread of lighteners in South African consumer culture during the 1940s and 1950s to the growth of a billion-dollar global lightener industry, Thomas shows how the use of skin lighteners and experiences of skin color have been shaped by slavery, colonialism, and segregation, as well as consumer capitalism, visual media, notions of beauty, and protest politics. In teasing out lighteners’ layered history, Thomas theorizes skin as a site for antiracist struggle and lighteners as a technology of visibility that both challenges and entrenches racial and gender hierarchies.

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Whiter: Asian American Women on Skin Color and Colorism

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, United States, Women on 2019-07-12 17:39Z by Steven

Whiter: Asian American Women on Skin Color and Colorism

New York University Press
March 2020
280 pages
6.00 x 9.00 in
Paperback ISBN: 9781479800292
Hardcover ISBN: 9781479881086

Edited by:

Nikki Khanna, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Vermont

Whiter

Heartfelt personal accounts from Asian American women on their experiences with skin color bias, from being labeled “too dark” to becoming empowered to challenge beauty standards

“I have a vivid memory of standing in my grandmother’s kitchen, where, by the table, she closely watched me as I played. When I finally looked up to ask why she was staring, her expression changed from that of intent observer to one of guilt and shame. . . . ‘My anak (dear child),’ she began, ‘you are so beautiful. It is a shame that you are so dark. No Filipino man will ever want to marry you.’” —“Shade of Brown,” Noelle Marie Falcis

How does skin color impact the lives of Asian American women? In Whiter, thirty Asian American women provide first-hand accounts of their experiences with colorism in this collection of powerful, accessible, and brutally honest essays, edited by Nikki Khanna.

Featuring contributors of many ages, nationalities, and professions, this compelling collection covers a wide range of topics, including light-skin privilege, aspirational whiteness, and anti-blackness. From skin-whitening creams to cosmetic surgery, Whiter amplifies the diverse voices of Asian American women who continue to bravely challenge the power of skin color in their own lives.

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I’m Darker Than My Daughter. Here’s Why It Matters.

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2019-05-25 02:31Z by Steven

I’m Darker Than My Daughter. Here’s Why It Matters.

NYT Parenting
The New York Times
2019-05-21

Norma Newton

Norma Newton and her daughter at their home in Los Angeles.
Norma Newton and her daughter at their home in Los Angeles.
Carolina Adame

Breaching colorism with my little girl sent me reeling back into my childhood shame.

Our bedtime routine that night started off like so many others, harried but mostly sweet. After making our way through brushing teeth and getting into pajamas, my daughter and I lay down on her bedroom floor to sing songs, the final step before crawling into bed.

When I tried to curl up next to my 4-year-old, though, I sensed her hesitation. She wiggled her little body away from mine each time I inched closer. “Do you not want mommy close to you, sweetie?” I asked, assuming she was initiating a game to extend our nighttime ritual. Her light-brown eyes locked in on me as she brushed her honey-colored locks aside with her hand.

In a casual on-the-edge-of-sleep voice she cooed, “Your skin is dark. I don’t want you to touch me.”

My brown Indigenous Latina body stiffened; I labored to breathe, outraged and confused. She rendered me speechless…

Read the entire article here.

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UMaine artist explores the many shades of colorism in exhibit

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2019-05-04 20:05Z by Steven

UMaine artist explores the many shades of colorism in exhibit

Bangor Daily News
2018-02-21

Emily Burnham

It wasn’t until she moved away from her home state of Maine, the whitest state in the country, that visual artist Eleanor Kipping realized it isn’t just her mixed race that affects the way she moves in the world — it’s also her lighter skin tone.

Discrimination toward people based on the shade of their skin, with favor given to fairer tones, is known as colorism — related to racism but often practiced within a specific community of people of color.

“I knew that I was a person of color, but it was in exploring that that I discovered colorism and my light skin in relation to that,” said Kipping, 29, a native of Old Town now back in Maine as a graduate student in the Intermedia MFA program at the University of Maine….

…The images are mounted on frames, on the backside of which is brown paper. The “brown paper bag test,” for which the installation is named, was a real “test” administered by among black people in the late 18th and 19th centuries, in which skin the same tone or lighter than a brown paper bag was deemed desirable for acceptance into black fraternities or social clubs, and darker was not…

Read the entire article and watch the video here.

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Backlash Over Ad Depicting Naomi Osaka With Light Skin Prompts Apology

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2019-01-22 16:36Z by Steven

Backlash Over Ad Depicting Naomi Osaka With Light Skin Prompts Apology

The New York Times
2019-01-22

Daniel Victor


At left, a cartoon version of Naomi Osaka in an ad for Nissin, a Japanese instant-noodle brand; at right, the real Ms. Osaka at the Australian Open this month.
Nissin; Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Naomi Osaka, the half-Haitian, half-Japanese tennis champion, is the star of a new Japanese anime-style advertisement.

The problem? The cartoon Ms. Osaka bears little resemblance to her real, biracial self.

Her skin was unmistakably lightened, and her hair style changed — a depiction that has prompted criticism in Japan, where she has challenged a longstanding sense of cultural and racial homogeneity.

The ad — unveiled this month by Nissin, one of the world’s largest instant-noodle brands — features Ms. Osaka and Kei Nishikori, Japan’s top-ranked male tennis player, in a cartoon drawn by Takeshi Konomi, a well-known manga artist whose series “The Prince of Tennis” is popular in Japan…

Mr. Konomi and Ms. Osaka, who faces Elina Svitolina in an Australian Open quarterfinal match on Wednesday, have not publicly commented on the backlash to the ad…

Read the entire article here.

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Color Struck: How Race and Complexion Matter in the “Color-Blind” Era

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Campus Life, Economics, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, Social Work, United States, Women on 2018-12-03 03:34Z by Steven

Color Struck: How Race and Complexion Matter in the “Color-Blind” Era

Sense Publishers
2017
218 pages
ISBN Paperback: 9789463511087
ISBN Hardcover: 9789463511094
ISBN E-Book: 9789463511100

Edited by:

Lori Latrice Martin, Associate Professor of Sociology
Louisiana State University

Hayward Derrick Horton, Professor of Sociology
State University of New York, Albany

Cedric Herring, Professor and Director of the Language, Literacy, and Culture (LLC)
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Verna M. Keith, Professor of Sociology
Texas A&M University

Melvin Thomas, Associate Professor of Sociology
North Carolina State University

Skin color and skin tone has historically played a significant role in determining the life chances of African Americans and other people of color. It has also been important to our understanding of race and the processes of racialization. But what does the relationship between skin tone and stratification outcomes mean? Is skin tone correlated with stratification outcomes because people with darker complexions experience more discrimination than those of the same race with lighter complexions? Is skin tone differentiation a process that operates external to communities of color and is then imposed on people of color? Or, is skin tone discrimination an internally driven process that is actively aided and abetted by members of communities of color themselves? Color Struck provides answers to these questions. In addition, it addresses issues such as the relationship between skin tone and wealth inequality, anti-black sentiment and whiteness, Twitter culture, marriage outcomes and attitudes, gender, racial identity, civic engagement and politics at predominately White Institutions. Color Struck can be used as required reading for courses on race, ethnicity, religious studies, history, political science, education, mass communications, African and African American Studies, social work, and sociology.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction / Lori Latrice Martin
  • 1. Race, Skin Tone, and Wealth Inequality in America / Cedric Herring and Anthony Hynes
  • 2. Mentions and Melanin: Exploring the Colorism Discourse and Twitter Culture / Sarah L. Webb and Petra A. Robinson
  • 3. Beyond Black and White but Still in Color: Preliminary Findings of Skin Tone and Marriage Attitudes and Outcomes among African American Young Adults / Antoinette M. Landor
  • 4. Connections or Color? Predicting Colorblindness among Blacks / Vanessa Gonlin
  • 5. Black Body Politics in College: Deconstructing Colorism and Hairism toward Black Women’s Healing / Latasha N. Eley
  • 6. Biracial Butterflies: 21st Century Racial Identity in Popular Culture / Paul Easterling
  • 7. Confronting Colorism: An Examination into the Social and Psychological Aspects of Colorism / Jahaan Chandler
  • 8. How Skin Tone Shapes Civic Engagement among Black Americans / Robert L. Reece and Aisha A. Upton
  • 9. The Complexity of Color and the Religion of Whiteness / Stephen C. Finley and Lori Latrice Martin
  • About the Contributors
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Genesis of U.S. Colorism and Skin Tone Stratification: Slavery, Freedom, and Mulatto-Black Occupational Inequality in the Late 19th Century

Posted in Articles, Economics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Science, United States on 2018-12-03 02:54Z by Steven

Genesis of U.S. Colorism and Skin Tone Stratification: Slavery, Freedom, and Mulatto-Black Occupational Inequality in the Late 19th Century

The Review of Black Political Economy
First Published 2018-05-21
21 pages
DOI: 10.1177/0034644618770761

Robert L. Reece, Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Texas, Austin

Studies show lighter skinned Black people are advantaged on a number of social indicators—a phenomenon called “colorism.” These studies generally contend preferences for light-skinned and/or Mulatto slaves endured the postbellum period to shape social outcomes into today. Following this idea, other studies examine differences in social outcomes between Mulattos and Blacks in the 19th century, but few empirically connect antebellum life to postbellum Mulatto–Black stratification. With that in mind, I examine whether the socio-economic differences between Mulattos and Blacks varied across geographic space in proportion to places’ reliance on slave labor and the characteristics of its free African American population. This allows me to examine whether differences in economic status between Mulattos and Blacks are a result of Mulatto advantage in the form of privileged positions during slavery. My results reveal that Mulattos have higher occupational statuses relative to Blacks in places where slavery was more prominent and where free Mulattos were literate. This suggests the intraracial hierarchy established during slavery was more likely to be replicated in places where slavery was more important, and Mulattos were able to capitalize on freedom by leveraging their literacy into better economic statuses after emancipation. These results support the idea that skin color stratification was initiated at least in part by practices during chattel slavery and offers some plausible mechanisms for its transmission.

Read the entire article here.

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From Color Line to Color Chart: Racism and Colorism in the New Century

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2018-11-16 04:28Z by Steven

From Color Line to Color Chart: Racism and Colorism in the New Century

Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy
Volume 10, Issue 1 (January 2008)
pages 52-69
DOI: 10.15779/Z380C9X

Angela P. Harris, Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California, Davis

When my sister graduated from college in the mid-1980s with a degree in musical theater she moved to Chicago with her new husband in search of work in television commercials and the performing arts. To her frustration and dismay, however, despite her good looks, acting ability, and musical talent, she was rejected in audition after audition. Getting rejected for arbitrary reasons or for no reason, of course, is just life in the entertainment industry. After a while, though, my sister began to hear some repetition in the rejections she received. “You don’t look black enough,” is the apology she would get.

My sister is very fair-skinned, with hair that streaks blonde in the summer. Yet, at least to discerning eyes, she can’t “pass” for white: her features, her creamy skin, and her “African booty” distinguish her from the Scandinavian descent blondes that populate beer commercials and musical revues. For casting directors, then, she fell into a limbo: too white to play black, but too black to play white.

Today, my sister has a recurring role on a children’s television show (she’s Prudence the Musical Genie on “Jack’s Big Show,” produced by Nickelodeon, if you want to see her), and fortunes are changing not just for her but for many women and men in the performing arts who “read” as racially ambiguous, or racially “mixed.” To put it bluntly, the ambiguous/mixed look is now “hot.” Celebrities such as Tiger Woods, Mariah Carey, and The Rock discuss their mixed background with pride;’ television, catalog, magazine, and newspaper advertising is full of adorable light-brown children with flowing locks that are not quite nappy, not quite straight; and mixed-race.

Politician Barack Obama finds himself able to appeal to both white and African-American audiences. A recent essay predicts that in the future the most desirable aesthetic both in the United States and in Latin America will not be to look “white,” but to look café con crema.

Not only the aesthetics but the ideologies of race are undergoing a shift. Tanya Hernandez, who writes in the field of comparative race and racism, argues that the United States is poised to adopt the “multiracial matrix” that characterizes state and civil society in Cuba, Brazil, and Puerto Rico. Hernandez describes this matrix as composed of four beliefs:

(1) [R]acial mixture and diverse racial demography will resolve racial problems by transcending race; (2) fluid racial identity is an indicator of a form of racial progress that deconstructs the stability of racial categories and thereby brings society closer to a colorblind utopia; (3) racism is solely a phenomenon of aberrant racist individuals who inappropriately express their prejudice; and (4) discussing race or focusing on race is itself racist because it disrupts the harmony of race neutrality.

Judging from these indicators, perhaps the dream of finally achieving racial harmony through racial intermixing is about to become real. Hernandez and some other scholars, however, are worried rather than pleased about the emergence of the multiracial matrix. Some worry that despite the emergence of an anti-race public discourse, racism has not disappeared, but instead has retreated into individual cognitive processing systems, where it is inaccessible to legal intent tests (and, often, the individual’s own conscious mind), yet continues to shape the life chances of persons according to race. In this view, what is disappearing is not racism but rather our ability to talk about it. Others argue that in the new millennium traditional racism is indeed disappearing, but only to be slowly supplanted by colorism, in which the color of a person’s skin will take on more importance in determining how she is treated by others than her ancestry. In this Article, I speculate about the implications of this second possibility.

In Part I, I survey the critical race theory literature addressing colorism. This literature has examined how colorism fits (or doesn’t fit) into the existing apparatus of anti-discrimination law in the United States, and – as in Hernandez’s work – the relationship between colorism in the United States and in other countries. In Part II, I draw on a different strand of critical race theory literature to argue that the work of the performativity school offers a way to conceptually link colorism to more familiar forms of racism. In Part III, I speculate about the possible effects on society and anti-discrimination law of a drift away from ancestry as an important component of assigned race and towards a greater focus on color…

Read the entire article here.

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Color Crit: Critical Race Theory and the History and Future of Colorism in the United States

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2018-10-24 23:49Z by Steven

Color Crit: Critical Race Theory and the History and Future of Colorism in the United States

Journal of Black Studies
First Published 2018-10-16
23 pages
DOI: 10.1177/0021934718803735

Robert L. Reece, Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Texas, Austin

Critical race theory teaches that racism and racial inequality are constants in American society that stand outside of the prejudices of individuals. It argues that structures and institutions are primarily responsible for the maintenance of racial inequality. However, critical race theorists have neglected to formally examine and theorize colorism, a primary offshoot of racial domination. Although studies of colorism have become increasingly common, they lack a unifying theoretical framework, opting to lean on ideas about prejudice and preference to explain the advantages lighter skinned, Black Americans are afforded relative to darker skinned Black Americans. In this study, I deploy a critical race framework to push back against preference as the only, or primary, mechanism facilitating skin tone stratification. Instead, I use historical Census data and regression analysis to explore the historical role of color-based marriage selection on concentrating economic advantage among lighter skinned Black Americans. I then discuss the policy and legal implications of developing a structural view of colorism and skin tone stratification in the United States and the broader implications for how we conceptualize race in this country.

Read the entire article here.

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