Etienne Rodriguez just penned a great piece yesterday over at Affinity Magazine entitled "Our Diversity Isn't Looking So Diverse" (from whence I snatched this great image above). In it he makes the same points we posted from Ms. Jaina Bennett, on the same day she made them...which was perfect.
Let me make this abundantly clear: we love, love, love Zendaya. And Candice Patton. And Kylie Bunbury. And Kat Graham. And Kiersey Clemons. And Angel Coulby. And Nathalie Emmanuel. And Nicole Ari Parker. And Megan Markle.
For a long time, we've all known about the "Black, but not too Black" rule. For centuries we've been well aware of White America's fetish with so called "mulattoes" and "octaroons." We see it all the time on TV, in movies, and in commercials, and we know the unspoken rule: it's okay to hire a Black woman, it's even okay to make her a central character and a love interest...but only so long as she adheres to a very specific aesthetic: light-skinned, thin-bodied, long straight hair (or very loose curls), light-colored eyes, and facial features which don't immediately remind viewers of the African continent. In other words, women whose appearances cast just enough "doubt."
And that's fine. By all means, may they all have long, successful careers. But let's not play dumb and pretend that this singular type of representation is okay - it's not. Like I said on my own Facebook page, White people may be content to trot out and watch the same variations of Brad and Becky over and over and over again, generation after generation, but we're not them. We will NOT be a Black Miss Teen USA 2016. We neither need nor want any parts of this here mess.
|I still believe this is all the same person.|
This reinforces the whole House Slave/Field Slave dynamic in which the light-skinned, mixed Africans were favored as cooks and maids and butlers, while the darker-skinned Africans were used to do all the heavy lifting. Here, the light-skinned, mixed Africans are acceptable representatives of beauty and fashion in music, movies, television, and magazines, while our darker sisters are accepted as sports icons (so long as they shut up, win gold, and then quietly stay out of sight afterward). Now you can argue, "But Ankh...what about Viola Davis? She's dark-skinned, in her fifties, stars on her own show, has multiple love interests, won an Emmy...." Well, yeah, and the New York Times called her "less classically beautiful" than her peers - remember that shitshow?
|"Bitch, I AM classic."|
|"No, but really tho...where my backstory???"|
I think I've made my point, so I'm just going to end with this: the next time Azealia Banks, Dencia, or Lil Kim talk about feeling the need to bleach their skin, do them a kindness and pause to remember this conversation before you drag them across the internet.
*I just remembered the drama in which light-skinned, Canadian born Marisa Dick was chosen over dark-skinned, curly-haired Trinidadian native Thema Williams to represent at the Olympics. So there are exceptions to THAT rule as well.
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