COLORISM: Through A Lens

COLORISM: Through A Lens

“The Beauty of Human Skin in Every Color.” Angélica Dass

Dass’s Ted Talk provides insight into colorism in Brazil and America as well as the development and purpose behind her successful project Humanae. Though Dass focuses mostly on her personal issues with colorism, her story provides insight as to how indoctrinated colorism is in society. Dass’s story is rather sad and evokes emotion in the audience. Because of this emotion, when Dass introduces colorism to the unaware audience, it seems more legitimate. Dass isn’t entirely objective because she has been emotionally influenced by the negativity of colorism. Her project, Humanae, has both good photos and good applications to my topic of study and was relevant. However, Dass’s story only provides one perspective on colorism so it is informative in a narrower context.

Dark Girls. Dir. Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry. OWN Network, 2012. DVD.

Dark Girls provided the most insight on the African American community’s colorism and how fragmented people have become because of it. The documentary used a multitude of means to communicate the negativity of colorism especially through personal accounts. Duke and Berry strategically incorporated stories from famous professors and actors such as Viola Davis to show the extent of the issue. Moreover, the documentary is divided into 3 succinct chapters: the history, the impact and the media. The directors used logos (poll statistics), ethos (university professors) and pathos (emotional accounts) to effectively explain why colorism is still taboo amongst the African American community and how it grew. The documentary provided evidence and statistics that were meaningful additions to my narrative. However, the documentary limited me in that it used its statistics and accounts to portray colorism in one perspective.

Fihlani, Pumza. “Africa: Where Black is Not Really Beautiful.”

Fihlani provided insight to colorism by not only establishing it as an issue but also by providing dermatologist expertise on the harm of skin bleaching. Like Dark Girls and Dass, Fihlani used a woman’s personal struggle with her skin color to establish sympathy felt by the reader. Fihlani had the most well rounded statistics from the World Health Organization and a Dove study to show how much skin lightening creams are currently being used and the degradation of self-esteem amongst teenagers. The statistics provided were very relevant to my narrative as I focused on how colorism has impacted millennials and young adults. Fihlani wrote an informative article covering all aspects of colorism.

McFadden, Joshua R. “COLORISM.” Joshua Rashaad McFadden.

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McFadden’s photography and the preface written before his gallery informed me that the harm of colorism is not only limited to self-esteem and beauty but also to other aspects of life that are not battles within. He mentions that colorism is an issue as it can prevent females with darker skin from getting jobs, proper housing and fair treatment in a work environment. This informed me that colorism is harmful to a point not just beyond self-esteem but it also limits women from receiving opportunities just because of their skin tone. McFadden’s photos were also a good addition to my presentation as he took pictures of all types of African American women with varying skin tones and features. McFadden’s photography and preface is limited though because he only provides one aspect of colorism without my context or concrete evidence.

“Skin Color is an Illusion.” Nina Jablonski. TED,

Nina Jablonski provided the most concrete and scientific evidence out of all other sources. She was very strong as a source because she provided the most evidence that proved scientifically that there is no difference between skin colors besides a presence of more melanin in one than the other. She argued that skin color is an illusion, which also limits her because she did not argue for the elimination of social stigmas based on skin color but more argued that skin color should not be considered a dividing factor because differences don’t exist. Jablonski was more abstract in the evidence she provided. However, her scientific conclusions added more concrete depth to the claims made in my narrative and therefore legitimized that there is no reason to judge one’s abilities based on skin color.

Yellow Fever. Dir. Ng’endo Mukii. Yellow Fever.

Yellow Fever is a short film produced by Mukii who recounts a story when she sat at a hair parlor getting her natural hair ‘relaxed’ as she looked at a woman who had a fair face and fair hands but the rest of her had a darker pigmentation. The film then goes on to show how advertisements for skin lightening creams had forced her to believe to be beautiful she must be fair. The video includes interpretative dance scenes as she explains her conflicted emotions. The short film varies from the other sources as it incorporates other mediums of expression beyond written word and documentaries. By having interpretative dancers as she explained the emotions she had felt the audience understands that she had an inner battle as she questioned her own value over her skin color. This short film strengthened my understanding by providing more evidence to show how conflicted millennials were. It also shows just how young some of these girls are when they realize they aren’t considered beautiful. However, the short film does not have much evidence and instead worked to strengthen my understanding on the domestic circumstances of colorism.


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