This time the the provocative question, “Who is black in America?” will be the focus. And if you’re wondering what’s up with that, so too, did Mediaite.
And as they say, the answer isn’t black and white.
Profiling a variety of young people who can be characterized as “black” for one reason or another, O’Brien tells Mediaite that she seeks to add a basic human element to a controversial topic like “colorism.”
Colorism is the form of prejudice that places a higher value — consciously or subconsciously — on lighter skin tones than darker ones. Within the black community, colorism creates a great deal of turmoil. A well-known cultural depiction of this problem was in Spike Lee‘s School Daze, which satirized the saddening process of black sororities and fraternities applying the “paper bag test” — if you’re skin was darker than the shade of a brown paper bag, you could not join. On the other hand, darker-skinned black people occasionally shun lighter-skinned people as not being truly black.
As such, most people might believe colorism is a discussion for only black people to have but O’Brien discovered that, whether or not they know it, white people are part of the conversation too.
“Most people don’t understand colorism,” she tells us. “But it’s a very important topic about how we as a country value race. It’s not just a black conversation, it’s an American conversation.” Drexel University professor Yaba Blay explains that colorism comes from a long history of “white supremacy” and “colonialism,” in which lighter-skinned black people are valued higher by white society. And so, O’Brien says, even though colorism is mostly something that affects black Americans, “it’s very much in the white community, because it comes down to white preference.”
Read/learn more at Mediaite.
Watch this preview of “Black in America”: