Bias Against Dark-Skinned Women within the Black Community, also known as “colorism” has reared it’s ugly head again.
There’s been another attack on Black Women by one of our own! Diddy‘s CIROC Vodka sent out a cattle call looking for and I quote, “White, Hispanic and Light-skinned African American” women to represent his vodka. By specifying the type of Black woman, Diddy’s ad campaign exec has reached back to the racism of the early 1900’s brown paper bag mentality.
The brown paper bag test was for admittance to Black social societies and certain, so-called, upscale parties. If a woman was darker than a brown paper bag, she was not allowed to join certain social groups. This type of segregation within the black race can be seen in old Black movies (usually in black and white). You’ll notice that almost all of the black women in these movies were light-skinned. Diddy’s Dumb Deed shows us that although some progress has been made, real CHANGE has not occurred.
Imagine the anguish Black women have experienced and continue to experience in this industry — Those whose skin color is a shade darker than a brown paper bag hoping that if they wear lighter foundation or bleach their skin they might be able to pass for being light-skinned enough to be selected. Or what about those whose skin color is a few shades darker than a brown paper bag knowing they can’t get the job because they’re just too dark; this easily leads to self-hatred. Conversely, imagine the thought processes in the waiting room with all the White and Hispanic women feeling superior because they are NOT melanin enriched and Black women feeling less confident because they are in doubt about their beauty and worth because of the color of their skin.
Furthermore, what would Diddy and/or his staff do when a dark-skinned woman showed up? Would “they” be rude and angrily reiterate that the requirement was for light-skinned Black women ONLY, and then she’d be shamed and embarrassed in front of the crowd of other women because she was told she wasn’t good enough due to her dark-skin?
What would Diddy do if Halle Berry showed up? She is technically a dark-skinned bi-racial woman. What about the beautiful Gabrielle Union, or modeling pioneers Grace Jones, Beverly Johnson, or Iman? Would they be turned away because their skin was too dark?
And the biggest slap in the face would be the denial of our First Lady, Michelle Obama! She would, too, be turned away because she is not light-skinned, White or Hispanic.
The entertainment industry continues to overtly employ racist policies that are considered taboo in other industries. Are the movies, videos, and TV shows that match Black men (with any useful skills) with non-Black women catalysts for the lack of Black love within the Black race family? This propaganda campaign is using the age-old trick of dividing in order to conquer. How long are we going to fall for the same old tricks???
The only solution is to boycott racism in all forms. This means that under the current conditions with high amounts of single Black woman/mothers, Black women should NEVER support anyone, especially Black men, that want to maintain the status quo. The media and marketing executives will soon learn that to continue to devalue Black women will NOT render them much sought after profits.
And please, no one use the “it’s all about the money” excuse. Hell, slavery was “all about the money” and how many of us condone that behavior? Racism is racism, even when it’s racism within the same group, now called colorism. This is a form of self-hate.
Well let’s use their motivation to our favor, “if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense (cents)!” Don’t allow your hard-earned dollars to be used for anything that promotes division in the Black race.
There’s no acceptable excuse for Diddy. He purposely precluded dark-skinned women from being selected for his ad. The black and white TV ad for Diddy’s vodka currently airing only includes light-skinned women. Diddy’s actions are astounding because his twin daughters are dark-skinned. Can’t he connect the dots and see that he is devaluing his own daughters and insulting his own momma!
Now, this falls right in line with the marketing of Diddy’s perfume too. As I was shopping in Macy’s over a year ago, I saw a large advertisement for Diddy’s perfume with Diddy in the middle of two non-Black women. I thought to myself, I guess my money isn’t good enough for him because that ad didn’t speak to me; as a matter of fact, it was insulting that he CHOSE NOT to use, AT LEAST, one Black woman in his ad.
Don’t these fools realize that Black women are their MAIN market and will support a Black male, especially one in the music industry, in a quick second IF THEY FELT CARED FOR? Well according to the US Census Bureau, there are about 112 million White females and only 20 million Black females, so if this marketing of Black men with non-Black women WORKED, then why is today’s Black music sales by Black men so dismal and declining fast and in a hurry?
If non-Black women were truly ALL INTO BLACK MEN, then why are these types of marketing strategies NOT rendering higher sales figures? There are about 130 million non-Black women and I just don’t see the omitting of Black women in the lives of Black men working and equating to more sales. It seems MOST of “them” don’t realize Black women are Black men’s BIGGEST supporters. As a matter of fact, sales figures are doing the opposite, they are declining!
BlackMediaReview.com has been reviewing and tracing the sales figures of so-called Black movies and record sales for the past two and a half years. Spike Lee, who is usually a shoe-in for making a profitable movie, failed miserably with his Miracle at St. Anna’s, where he promotes the heck out of Black men swooning over White women; so much so that I simply walked out of the movie in disgust. The movie is his biggest loser to date.
Then examine the careers of Taye Diggs, Cedric the Entertainer and many others who made shows/movies featuring non-Black women. They, too, were huge flops! Terrence Howard, who dissed Black women in an interview in Essence Magazine, released his debut album. His record sales were so low that many didn’t even check to see if he could sing. Black women just didn’t care and apparently, neither did non-Black women. His sales didn’t reach 60,000.
And since many people failed to realize that Michael Jackson suffered from the skin depigmenting disease, vitiligo, and seemed to have few Black friends, his sales were declining for decades before his tragic death.
It seems even Whites respect people who respect themselves. Check out who Americans elected President with the most votes in Presidential history? The “sell-out” doesn’t work well for Black folks! Damn it, even proud sell-out Larry Elder, got canceled due to his low TV and radio ratings.
Yes, people watched Will Smith‘s movie, Hancock in large numbers, but he didn’t end up with that White girl at the end of the movie; besides the special effects and the magic of Will Smith’s charm works under nearly every circumstance, except for the movie, SEVEN POUNDS, where he is matched up with self-proclaimed Latina, Rosario Dawson (her last name sounds Black American and she’s quite dark-skinned as well). SEVEN POUNDS is one of his weakest films in recent history!
My “sistas” are finally waking up and no longer making excuses for self-haters. Black women have always purchased Black music, jerseys, and tennis shoes for their sons. Ladies, the proverbial “they” obviously believe we don’t have value, so we can keep our value in our purses. Why give money and power to those who don’t have value for you or, worse yet, don’t like you?
Well, the time has come to make a loud strong statement to celebrities, athletes, executive decision-makers, and anyone else NEEDING to please loads of people, that if you don’t like us, we don’t like you, or better yet, we’ll spend it on people that are showing some signs of support for our community and we’ll pay their bills.
We can forgive, but only with ACTIONS!
Pearl Jr. is an American author, activist, journalist and producer. Pearl Jr. is the author of three books, one documentary and has successfully run four websites (award-winning) and serves as the founder and owner of Elbow Grease Productions (EGP) and Pearl Jr. Publications. She is best known for her work in the African-American community. Pearl Jr. graduated from Cal State Northridge and majored in Radio, TV, Film with a minor in African-American Studies.