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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So after a pregnant silence, she told me the story of how she met somebody just before she met the man I thought was my dad.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-03-25 03:26Z by Steven

In 2004, my mother and I were having an argument and she called me a “Black bastard.” And I’m like, even if you want to hurt my feelings, who says that? Call me stupid. call me whatever, but “Black bastard?” Where did that come from? So after a pregnant silence, she told me the story of how she met somebody just before she met the man I thought was my dad. She doesn’t really remember a whole lot about him; it was a short-lived relationship. But he was Black. African American. Of course, I was shocked. But I also had a sense of relief and affirmation. And while I was having a lot of questions—I wanted to know who this man was, I wanted some evidence—all these pieces just fell into place: why my lips were bigger, why my skin was darker, why I didn’t look like the rest of my family, and perhaps even why I gravitated to the people and things that I did. It just explained a lot of things that I had a hard time explaining to myself. And it made me feel like perhaps all the choices I had made were not necessarily mine to have made. Maybe in a strange way my biological father had been guiding me towards myself all along. —Zun Lee

Yaba Blay, (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race, (Philadelphia: BLACKprint Press, 2013). 92-93.

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Skin Color and Politics Focus of Dan T. Blue Symposium

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Communications/Media Studies, Live Events, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-04-10 01:16Z by Steven

Skin Color and Politics Focus of Dan T. Blue Symposium

North Carolina Central University
Durham, North Carolina
2017-04-03


Yaba Blay

North Carolina Central University (NCCU)’s 2017 Dan T. Blue Symposium in Political Science will take place April 10-13 with a focus on “The Politics of Skin Color.”

The conference is hosted by Yaba Blay, Ph.D., holder of the Dan T. Blue Endowed Chair at NCCU. Blay is a nationally recognized researcher and ethnographer who uses personal and social narratives to explore issues of race, class and culture. All events during the symposium are free and open to the public.

“Light skin versus dark skin: Which is more socially advantageous? Regarded as more beautiful? Considered more Black? Treated more favorably by the law?” Blay asks. “These are not as much questions of personal opinion as they are issues of power and politics.”

The symposium keynote event brings Blay on stage with CNN contributor and activist Michaela Angela Davis and Patrice Grell Yursik, whose online persona Afrobella is considered the godmother of brown beauty blogging, for a public conversation about colorism beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 13, at the A.E. Student Union.

Blay defines colorism as a discriminatory system of value based on skin tone that encourages people of color to opt for separation in place of unity. Photography from her 2013 book “(1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race,” will be on display April 10-13 in a pop-up exhibit at the NCCU Museum of Art, with an opening reception Tuesday, April 11, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.  Blay will present a lecture on her work immediately following the reception in the Hubbard-Totten Building Auditorium…

Read the entire article here.

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The Complexities of Skin Color

Posted in Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2016-07-20 19:25Z by Steven

The Complexities of Skin Color

Black Issues Forum
UNC-TV
Raleigh, North Carolina
2016-05-01
Running Time: 00:26:46

Deborah Holt Noel, Host

Inspired by the casting of Latina actress Zoe Saldana to play Nina Simone, the performer and activist known for her pride in her dark skin, Deborah chats with professor Dr. Yaba Blay, filmmaker Eric Barstow, and undergraduate student Ayana Thompson to delve into why so many people still knowingly and unknowingly participate in colorism – the assertion that light is better.

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Beauty and the Bleach: This Issue is More than Skin Deep

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2016-06-20 21:30Z by Steven

Beauty and the Bleach: This Issue is More than Skin Deep

Ebony
2016-06-20

Yaba Blay, Dan Blue Endowed Chair in Political Science
North Carolina Central University

Skin bleaching is a billion-dollar industry. Considering its global reach, Dr. Yaba Blay says we have to stop treating bleaching as just a matter of self-hate.

Over the past few years, social media has been abuzz with discussions of skin bleaching. In recent weeks, we’ve lamented Lil Kim’s ghostly shadow of her former self, ridiculed Ghanaian boxer Bukom Banku for denouncing his black skin, and dragged Azaelia Banks for becoming a virtual spokesmodel for Whitenicious by Dencia. While we talk amongst ourselves, a segment of a 2012 video investigating “unusual beauty trends” in Jamaica has resurfaced on Facebook. Viewed over two million times in less than one week, in that segment we see a soft-spoken blonde-haired European reporter “in the trenches” as she talks to a number of Jamaicans about their bleaching and offers requisite warnings about the dangers of the practice.

Whether from the perspectives of Black folks or from those of Whites, our communal voyeurism into skin bleaching tends to focus almost solely on the individuals who bleach their skin, and not the global institutions that make skin bleaching a viable option. And it’s a problem…

Read the entire article here.

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Meet Yaba Blay

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2016-03-09 01:33Z by Steven

Meet Yaba Blay

WUNC 91.5 North Carolina Public Radio
2016-03-07

Charlie Shelton, Digital News Producer

Frank Stasio, Host
“The State of Things”


Yaba Blay is the Dan Blue Endowed Chair in Political Science at N.C. Central University
Sabriya Simon

Growing up in New Orleans, Yaba Blay saw firsthand the different roles one navigates as an African-American. At home, she had to adjust to the Ghanaian culture of her parents, but outside the house, her dark skin set her apart from New Orleans’ light-skinned Creole community.

As Blay grew older, she began to explore how the ways in which she presented herself as a black woman defined her sense of self. Her work as a scholar, producer and publisher includes projects analyzing skin color in the U.S. and Ghana and hair care in black communities.

She is the author of the book “(1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race” (BLACKprint Press/2013), and she served as consulting producer for the CNN television documentary “Who Is Black in America?” She now serves as the Dan Blue endowed chair in political science at N.C. Central University in Durham.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Blay about growing up in New Orleans and her multimedia work.

Listen to the interview (00:48:10) here. Download the interview here.

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On Creoles, Colorism and Confronting our Triggers

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2016-03-01 01:27Z by Steven

On Creoles, Colorism and Confronting our Triggers

Black and Blewish
2016-02-13

TaRessa Stovall

By now everyone with media access knows of (and likely has an opinion about) Beyoncé’s new “Formation” video and Super Bowl halftime performance. She dropped the video on an otherwise slow news Saturday, February 6, and on the very next day, she symbolically won the Super Bowl by eclipsing headline halftime performers Coldplay and adjunct Bruno Mars, generating more headlines and conversation than the actual game.

The first wave of responses was a fairly unanimous rave by Black women for the I Love My Black Self, Family and Culture symbolism that season “Formation.” The second, post-Super Bowl, was dissecting Bey & Company’s performance nods to the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, which shares a 50th anniversary year with the Super Bowl and took root in the Bay Area, near the Super Bowl’s stadium in Santa Clara, California on the day when Trayvon Martin would have turned 21 and the weekend when Sandra Bland would have turned 29 had they not been victims of brutally racist murders…

…Beyond all the pro-vs.-anti Bey brouhaha, what got my attention was when Dr. Yaba Blay, a well-known expert on Black racial identity and colorism, shared her own responses to “Formation,” in Colorlines, and outed a truth with which many of us wrestle: how to balance our awareness of blatant Black-on-Black colorism when it’s embodied in otherwise enjoyable African American and (at least somewhat) affirming popular culture.

While we all know intellectually that colorism is global and in no way specific to African Americans, it doesn’t lessen the pain felt by those on the receiving end. My own admitted obsession with colorism moves me to call it out and confront it more often than is popular. I feel a strong kinship with Dr. Yaba, a respected leader in this realm, and others who believe the only way we can move past this internalized oppression and dimension of racism is to confront, wrestle with and move through it…

Read the entire article here.

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On ‘Jackson Five Nostrils,’ Creole vs. ‘Negro’ and Beefing Over Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2016-02-12 19:22Z by Steven

On ‘Jackson Five Nostrils,’ Creole vs. ‘Negro’ and Beefing Over Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’

ColorLines
2016-02-08

Yaba Blay, Dan Blue Endowed Chair & Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science
North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina

As you know, the video for Beyoncé Knowles’ “Formation” does the most, from invoking police violence, to flashing back to Hurricane Katrina, to celebrating Blue Ivy’s adorable afro. Here, Yaba Blay, a dark-skinned, New Orleans-bred scholar who researches skin color and identity politics, gets into a topic we’ve been avoiding: the message Beyoncé is sending about complexion and worth.

I was born and raised in New Awlins and never miss the opportunity to remind folks of that. So when Beyoncé’s video for “Formation” dropped on Saturday, I, like the majority of my homegirls, was hype.

I wasn’t excited because I’m a certified Beyoncé stan, because the video is visually stunning, or because this seemed to be the Blackest iteration of Beyoncé yet. I was hype because she seemed to be reppin’ New Awlins hard, and not in a tepid “I heart N.O.” kind of way, but more in line with our playfully defiant brand of Blackness. That she unleashed the video during Mardi Gras weekend? It just couldn’t get any better!

Until it got worse…

…I cheer Bey on as she sings, “I like my Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.” But I cringe when I hear her chant, “You mix that Negro with that Creole make a Texas bamma about her Alabama-born dad and her mom from Louisiana. This is the same reason I cringed at the L’Oreal ad that identified Beyonce as African-American, Native American and French and why I don’t appreciate her largely unknown song “Creole.”

Having grown up black-Black (read: dark-skinned) in colorstruck New Awlins, hearing someone, particularly a woman, make a distinction between Creole and “Negro” is deeply triggering. This isn’t just for me but for many New Orleanians.

For generations, Creoles—people descended from a cultural/racial mixture of African, French, Spanish and/or Native American people—have distinguished themselves racially from “regular Negroes.” In New Orleans, phenotype—namely “pretty color and good hair”—translates to (relative) power…

Read the entire article here.

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Join in the #LittleWhiteLie Twitter Chat with Filmmaker @laceyschwartz & More!

Posted in Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-16 18:12Z by Steven

Join in the #LittleWhiteLie Twitter Chat with Filmmaker @laceyschwartz & More!

#LittleWhiteLie, @lwlfilm
2015-06-16, 20:00 EDT (2015-06-17, 00:00Z)

An online discussion on Race, Identity and “Little White Lies”

Lacey Schwartz, Filmmaker (Little White Lie)
Brooklyn, New York

Yaba Blay, Author and Professor
(1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race

Collier Meyerson, Race & Politics Reporter
Fusion

Michelle Materre, Filmmaker and Professor
The New School, New York, New York

Jamil Smith, Senior Editor
The New Republic

For more information, click here.

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Fifteen Projects Selected for Tribeca Film Institute All Access Grants

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-22 20:53Z by Steven

Fifteen Projects Selected for Tribeca Film Institute All Access Grants

Filmaker
2015-03-19

Scott Macaulay, Editor-in-chief

Fifteen works — scripted, documentary and interactive — were selected today for the Tribeca Film Institute‘s All Access program, which offers grant monies and other non-monetary support to projects by creators from statistically underrepresented communities. The projects were chosen from a submission pool of 710 entries. In addition to the 15 projects, two filmmakers from the LGBT community were chosen to take part in TFI Network Market, a one-on-one industry meeting forum, with their feature films. They are Ingrid Jungermann, a 25 New Face appearing with her project Women Who Kill, and Hernando Bansuelo, with Martinez, CA.

The complete list of selected projects, from the press release, is below…

So Young So Pretty So White: Directed by Chanelle Aponte Pearson and Terence Nance; produced by Yaba Blay and Michelle Serieux. Weaving together the lives of several compelling men and women from across the globe, the film is a window into the world of skin bleaching, unveiling what drives people to lighten their skin and the complex factors that make it difficult to stop…

Read the entire article here.

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