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

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.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Michaela Angela Davis Strips Down For The “What’s Underneath Project,” Talks Racism, Insecurities

Posted in Arts, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2016-08-22 23:28Z by Steven

Michaela Angela Davis Strips Down For The “What’s Underneath Project,” Talks Racism, Insecurities

Madame Noire

Brande Victorian, Managing Editor

Michaela Angela Davis has long been everything and then some to us, and our opinion of the writer, culture critique, and activist has only skyrocketed after watching her strip down for StyleLikeU’s highly regarded “What’s Underneath Project.”…

…And we’re thankful for that. Here are the highlights from Davis’ interview:

On assumptions people make about her because of how she looks

“The first, sort of obvious assumption is that I’m mixed race– like one parent is white, one parent is Black — and it’s not so. Both of my parents are light-skinned and Black. Both of my parents are products of what I call the great horror story of America and the great love story of America. In order to survive, often families would marry other light-skinned Blacks to stay alive…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Whiteness Without Complex?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Social Science, United States on 2014-04-01 01:10Z by Steven

Whiteness Without Complex?

Anthropology While White

Sarah Abel, Marie Curie Fellow

A couple of weeks ago I attended an event called ‘Color Without Complex‘, featuring a public conversation between image activist Michaela Angela Davis and ethnographer and publisher Dr. Yaba Blay. The discussion revolved around Blay’s recent book and accompanying exhibition, (1)ne Drop, which looks at the faces and stories of individuals who identify as black, but do not necessarily fit with common prototypes of blackness in the US. By focusing on light-skinned individuals existing at the very outer periphery of blackness, the project tests the perceptual limitations and the social implications of the one drop rule in today’s post-segregation America – a country in which contemporary notions and benchmarks of ‘race’ are still rooted in cultural and legal traditions established under slavery, colonialism and Jim Crow segregation.

The theme up for debate was colourism, a hot internet topic over the past nine months in particular, and the object of a number of recent documentaries, chat shows and news articles in the US. While social prejudice against people ‘of colour’ – as well as the pathological tendency of the Western media to showcase whiteness not only as the norm, but also as virtually the sole domain of beauty – are perhaps two of the most visible social legacies of colonialism throughout the Atlantic world and beyond, these recent debates are bringing to light skin colour prejudices within the black community. Whereas, historically, light coloured skin was prized and aspired to throughout the Americas as a path to social ascension and a means of escaping the stigma of blackness, in recent decades pan-Africanism and a multitude of black pride initiatives have caused a shift towards celebrating and embracing blackness as embodied by a dark-skinned, African ideal. Meanwhile, in some cases light-skinned blacks have become the target of double-edged prejudice: stigmatised by whites for being black, and ostracised by blacks for apparently aspiring to be white…

…And yet, I think it is worth mentioning that there was also a significant minority of white women among the audience who turned up to listen to the debate. Looking around the room, I wondered what had brought them there, like me, to listen from the sidelines into a conversation to which we were not party. In the Q&A session at the end, the (white) woman sat in front of me, holding hands tightly with her (black) husband, asked a question about healing through empathy [at 00:45:43]. Some minutes later, a young (white) woman a few rows further down asked the following question [at 01:05:05]:

“How would you defend, or maybe not necessarily defend, but how would you address a woman who is of colour, but appears to look as white as I do? How would you talk to her or address to her what her place is in relation to colourism, for example? How does colourism apply to her, because she looks white but she is a person of colour, and identifies with that?”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Color Without Complex: A Conversation w/ Michaela Angela Davis & Dr. Yaba Blay

Posted in Anthropology, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2014-02-18 03:34Z by Steven

Color Without Complex: A Conversation w/ Michaela Angela Davis & Dr. Yaba Blay

New York University, Washington, D.C.
Abramson Family Auditorium
1307 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
Tuesday, 2014-02-18, 18:30 EST (Local Time)

Michaela Angela Davis

Yaba Blay, Ph.D., Professor of Africana Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies
Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

What exactly is Blackness? What does it mean to be Black? Is Blackness a matter of biology or consciousness? Who determines who is Black and who is not? Who’s Black, who’s not, and who cares? This discussion seeks to challenge narrow perceptions of Blackness as both an identity and lived reality.

Video streaming by Ustream

For more information, contact: NYU Washington DC Events at or 202-654-8300.

Tags: , , , , ,

Soledad O’Brien Explores Racial and Ethnic Identity in Provocative Black in America

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2013-11-12 02:16Z by Steven

Soledad O’Brien Explores Racial and Ethnic Identity in Provocative Black in America

CNN Press Room
Cable News Network (CNN)

Who is Black in America? Debuts Sunday, Dec. 9 at 8:00 p.m. & 11:00p.m. ET & PT
U.S. Encore: Sunday, January 27, 2013,  20:00 p.m. ET, 23:00 p.m ET, and Monday, 02:00 ET
International Debut on CNN International: Sunday, January 13, 02:00Z and 10:00Z (Saturday, January 12, 21:00 EST and Sunday, January 13, 05:00 EST). View regional schedules here.

“I don’t really feel Black,” says 17-year-old Nayo Jones. Her mother is Black; she was raised apart from her by her White father, and she identifies herself as biracial. “I was raised up with White people, White music, White food so it’s not something I know,” she says in a new documentary that explores the sensitive concepts of race, cultural identity, and skin tone.

For the fifth installment of her groundbreaking Black in America series, CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien reports for Who is Black in America? The documentary debuts Sunday, December 09 at 8:00p.m. and 11:00p.m. ET & PT and replays on Saturday, December 15 at 8:00p.m. and 11:00p.m. ET & PT.

Is Jones Black? Is Blackness based upon skin color or other factors? The 2010 U.S. Census found 15 percent of new marriages are interracial, a figure that is twice what was reported in 1980. One in seven American newborns were of mixed race in 2010, representing an increase of two percent from the 2000 U.S. Census. Within this context, O’Brien examines how much regarding race and identity are personal choices vs. reflections of an external social construct.

Tim Wise, an author and anti-racism activist believes in self identification, but says, in practice, society often will remind biracial people like Jones of their Blackness, “in a million subtle ways,” he says in the documentary.

As the hour unfolds, O’Brien follows Jones, and her best friend and fellow high school student Becca Khalil, as they take part in a spoken word workshop led by the Philadelphia-based poet, Perry “Vision” DiVirgilio.
Vision, who is biracial, says he never felt quite White or Black enough to fit in with friends who had parents of one race.  Vision identifies as Black, and says that identity is more than skin – that identity encompasses experiences and struggles.  Through his workshop, he encourages young people to think, talk, and write about identity, as well as the concept of colorism, which he blames for his early struggles with self-esteem and identity.
“Colorism is a system in which light skin is more valued than dark skin,” says Drexel University’s assistant teaching professor for Africana studies, Yaba Blay.  Blay tells O’Brien that, as a young African-American woman growing up in New Orleans, she felt discriminated against – often by lighter skinned African Americans – due to her dark skin tone.
Blay’s work focuses on how prejudice related to skin tone can confuse and negatively impact identity and self esteem.  She aims to help others also develop positive images of cultural identity – for African Americans of all shades.
Often complicating concepts of identity beyond multiracial heritage is skin tone.  Khalil, who has light-colored skin and two parents who are Egyptian in origin, identifies herself as African American.  She feels contemporaries dismiss her African American identity due to her light skin tone.  She says in the documentary that she wishes she had darker skin.
Writer, producer, and image activist, Michaela Angela Davis says she accepts that race is a social construct, but she feels it is important for people to name and claim their own racial identity: “You are who you say that you are,” she says in the documentary…

Read the entire press release here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Soledad O’Brien and three of the interview subjects from her docu discuss the fifth installment of CNN’s Black in America series

Posted in Articles, Interviews, New Media, Social Science, United States, Women on 2012-12-10 17:35Z by Steven

Soledad O’Brien and three of the interview subjects from her docu discuss the fifth installment of CNN’s Black in America series

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien
Cable News Network (CNN)

Soledad O’Brien, Host

The fifth installment of CNN’s Black in America Series focused on the question, “Who is black in America?” That single, seemingly simple question unravels the complicated, densely packed issue of racial identity in this country. To continue this important conversation, three of the interview subjects from the documentary: Fmr. Editor, Essence Magazine Michaela Angela Davis, “(1)ne Drop Project” Artistic Director and a consulting producer for the documentary Yaba Blay and poet and mentor Perry “Vision” DiVirgilio join “Starting Point” this morning…

O’BRIEN: Joining us to continue this conversation three of the subjects in the documentary, Mikaela Angela Davis is the former editor of “Essence” magazine, Perry “Vision” Divirgilio, a poet and teacher, and Professor Yaba Blay is the artistic director of the One Drop Project and she was a consulting producer on our documentary.

It’s nice to have you all with us. So why do you think this touches such a nerve? I mean, all you do is sit for a minute on my Twitter feed timeline, and realize like people were angry, freaked out, emotional about this. Why?

YABA BLAY, CONSULTING PRODUCER, “BLACK IN AMERICA”: It touches on our lived experience. I think, you know, I don’t know that I’m biased, but I think of all of the black in America iterations, that this is one that everyone can relate to, whether it’s them personally, as a mother, father, grandmother.

All of the feedback I was getting online, always included a personal testimony, how this reminds me of my grandmother, this reminds me of this, I have a story, and I think it’s one of those things that people tap into on a personal level, and it’s — there is an emotion there.

O’BRIEN: The documentary focused on two young poets in your class. You mentor both of them. How unusual were their story? They grapple with racial identity. You picked two people who were the dysfunctional ones. Is that — is that the case or do you think their quest typical?

PERRY “VISION” DIVIRGILIO, POET AND MENTOR: I don’t think it’s dysfunctional. I think what they are doing is very normal for teenagers just brave enough to throw it out there, let the world know this is who I am, how I feel. You heard these lot during workshops. You know, folks look at that’s a young black man or young black woman, were checking other, were not wanting to identify with race at all. I’m a man, woman, I’m human.

O’BRIEN: Many people actually also, I mean, on Twitter, who knows who many is. Listen, kumbaya real progress would be when we don’t have to talk about race it all. We’re just Americans.

MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, FORMER EDITOR, “ESSENCE MAGAZINE”: Acting like it doesn’t exist doesn’t heal and this incredibly emotional response as Yaba said. America as a family this is our taboo issue. This brings up so much — triggers a lot of black girl pain.

It triggers a lot of secrets and bias. It triggers emotional things in life. Any family — when we go into our history and say this horrible thing created this characteristics, people don’t like to look at it. This is the road to healing. The only way we’ll feel hole, we talk about where we’re fractured.

O’BRIEN: So John Berman is our token white man on the panel this morning, John Berman, in all seriousness.

BERMAN: I am white, all seriousness.

O’BRIEN: This conversation, was it one that you were ever aware of?

BERMAN: I was just thinking what makes this so interesting, the minute you put a question mark on it, you know, who is black in America or what is black in America, it makes everyone ask a question of themselves…

Read the entire article and watch the video clip here. Read the transcript here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,