One Drop featuring Dr. Yaba Blay and the Mixed Aunties

Posted in Audio, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2021-06-09 18:18Z by Steven

One Drop featuring Dr. Yaba Blay and the Mixed Aunties

Militantly Mixed Podcast

This is a very special episode of Militantly Mixed. I, along with TaRessa Stovall and Sonia Smith-Kang aka “the Mixed Aunties” sat down to speak with Dr. Yaba Blay, author of One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race about her work on the book and the term “One Drop” as it pertains to Mixed-Black identified people.

Listen to the podcast (01:05:02) here.

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Royally Racist: The Fear Behind the One-Drop Rule to Preserve Whiteness

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2021-03-13 00:14Z by Steven

Royally Racist: The Fear Behind the One-Drop Rule to Preserve Whiteness

Beacon Broadside: A Project of Beacon Press

Yaba Blay

Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are so done with the way the royal family has treated them. We wish the couple and their children all the happiness in the world. Photo credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The ripple effects from the truth bomb of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will take a while to settle. During their two-hour talk, the royal couple revealed the royal family’s concern with how dark the skin of their child, Archie, would be when he was born. Also, Archie will not be granted a title or protection. Put two and two together, and the reason is clear. Racism is a hell of a drug, isn’t it? Not even Markle’s perceived proximity to whiteness, granted to her as a biracial woman, can protect her son. We may live in the woke times of the twenty-first century, but the royal family’s “concern” is a fear is as old as the slave trade their ancestors took part in. As Yaba Blay writes in One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race, it’s a historical fear, steeped in colonialism, over preserving the purity of whiteness and the superiority ascribed to it.

The US Census reveals much about the country’s perspective on race. It counts people according to how the nation defines people, and historically, those people counted as Black have been those people with any known Black ancestry. Blacks are defined by the one-drop rule. No other racial or ethnic group is defined in this way, nor does any other nation rely upon this formula; the one-drop rule is definitively Black and characteristically American. It should make sense then that the origins of the rule are directly linked to the history of Black people in the United States, and as such, our discussion of the one-drop rule begins during the period of colonial enslavement…

Read the entire article here.

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Yaba Blay | One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race

Posted in History, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Videos on 2021-03-12 15:26Z by Steven

Yaba Blay | One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race

Author Events


Imani Perry, Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies; Faculty Associate in the Program in Law and Public Affairs and Gender and Sexuality Studies
Princeton University

Referred to by Michael Eric Dyson as “one of the most brilliant and committed critics and advocates writing and thinking and working on behalf of Black people today,” Dr. Yaba Blay is a scholar, activist, and cultural consultant. Focusing on Black women and girls through topics like personal identity and body image, she has launched a number of viral media campaigns, produced the CNN documentary Who is Black in America?, and is an internationally renowned public speaker. Her work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Essence, and EBONY, and she has appeared on CNN, BET, and NPR, among other media outlets. In One Drop, Blay questions conventional perceptions of Blackness in order to create and understand a more diverse worldwide community.

Watch the interview here.

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ONE DROP: Shifting the Lens on Race

Posted in Arts, Autobiography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2021-02-27 04:26Z by Steven

ONE DROP: Shifting the Lens on Race

Beacon Press
288 pages
9 x 9 Inches
ISBN: 978-080707336-0

Yaba Blay

Challenges narrow perceptions of Blackness as both an identity and lived reality to understand the diversity of what it means to be Black in the US and around the world

  • What exactly is Blackness and 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?

In the United States, a Black person has come to be defined as any person with any known Black ancestry. Statutorily referred to as “the rule of hypodescent,” this definition of Blackness is more popularly known as the “one-drop rule,” meaning that a person with any trace of Black ancestry, however small or (in)visible, cannot be considered White. A method of social order that began almost immediately after the arrival of enslaved Africans in America, by 1910 it was the law in almost all southern states. At a time when the one-drop rule functioned to protect and preserve White racial purity, Blackness was both a matter of biology and the law. One was either Black or White. Period. Has the social and political landscape changed one hundred years later?

One Drop explores the extent to which historical definitions of race continue to shape contemporary racial identities and lived experiences of racial difference. Featuring the perspectives of 60 contributors representing 25 countries and combining candid narratives with striking portraiture, this book provides living testimony to the diversity of Blackness. Although contributors use varying terms to self-identify, they all see themselves as part of the larger racial, cultural, and social group generally referred to as Black. They have all had their identity called into question simply because they do not fit neatly into the stereotypical “Black box”—dark skin, “kinky” hair, broad nose, full lips, etc. Most have been asked “What are you?” or the more politically correct “Where are you from?” throughout their lives. It is through contributors’ lived experiences with and lived imaginings of Black identity that we can visualize multiple possibilities for Blackness.

Table of Contents

  • Author’s Note
  • Intro
  • Introspection
  • Mixed Black
  • American Black
  • Diaspora Black
  • Outro
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgements
  • About
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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

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

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
Raleigh, North Carolina
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


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

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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