Many people of color face implicit and explicit racism in their daily lives. A byproduct of that reality is something called “colorism.” In short, colorism is the discrimination against people who have darker skin. And Chika Okoro, a Stanford University graduate student, recently gave a TED Talk encouraging corporations to do something about it.
So far, 2016 has been a wonderful year for Black woman seizing their own opportunities. Early this spring, Kelly Rowland announced that she plans on starting a makeup line for dark-skinned women. Shea Moisture is taking a stand against the racism in the beauty industry. Recently, it was announced that Kerry Washington and Viola Davis are launching independent production companies. Take a moment to embrace all this Black girl magic.
Earlier this year, Pierre Jean-Louis, an artist based on the East Coast, posted a photo of a Black woman’s hair that he reimagined as a piece of art that looked like a perfectly coiled galaxy. Since then, Jean-Louise has continued to post artistic renditions of Black women’s hair on Instagram, and every photo is as beautiful as the last.
Although she did not aspire to become a professional ballet dancer, Tuany Nascimento never stopped practicing ballet while in Brazil. Whenever she practiced, groups of young girls always followed her, wanting to learn and emulate her skills as a dancer. Nascimento not only taught these young girls, in 2013 she opened the dance studio, Na Ponta dos Pés, and started teaching young girls ballet.
Seven weeks ago, En Pointe Studio, which is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, made their first post on Instagram, and ever since then, they have dedicated every post to celebrating young Black dance talent. A week ago, they released a photo of all their talented dancers. En Pointe Studio is shattering the imposed color lines in the dance world, and it is truly inspiring.
In 2012, when I found out that the Mindy Kaling landed a show, I was ecstatic. At the time, I was still in the Scandal and Nicole Beharie in Sleepy Hollow bliss. When I first started watching Kaling’s show, The Mindy Project, I was willing to ignore some of the jokes that didn’t land or the undeveloped characters because it’s still a struggle for people of color to be represented on television. Now almost four years later, my enthusiasm and dedication for The Mindy Project has disintegrated. I am left wishing that the show was canceled because it doesn’t even try to confront race.
Black lead character Abbie Mills (played by Nicole Beharie) died during Sleepy Hollow’s season three finale last week. As audience members, we learned that just because a show has people of color does not mean that it is people of color friendly.
Her death was the final blow in the show’s treatment of her character. After her death, we are left to decide what to do with shows that have no respect for their characters of color.
In a thirty second video, an elementary student from Texas breaks down the classist structure of America’s criminal justice system. His take down of the system occurred during a school debate, and so far this viral video has received over 66,000 retweets.
Last week, Harvard University officials announced a plan to create a plaque commemorating slaves who were forced to work on the campus during the 1700s. The Boston-based institution follows in the footsteps of fellow Ivy League member Brown University’s Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, albeit considerably later. Yet they are far outnumbered by the army of institutions who, Ivy League or not, remain steadfast in their decision to continue operating under the assumptions that their institutions came to be without complicity in American slavery.
In their first commercial, Shea Moisture is breaking down the barrier between the “Beauty Aisles” and the “Ethnic Sections” in stores. While the products that are aimed at white women fill every single beauty aisle with pictures of blonde women smiling, the “ethnic sections” are only allowed to have a few dusty shelves.
The separation of products between “beauty” and “ethnic” is a reflection of the standards of beauty that many people and corporations still believe. Many people don’t believe that women of color can be beautiful. In the new commercial, Shea Moisture shows that women of color (especially Black women) are tired of being told that there is not a place for them in beauty.
This commercial is monumental because it openly discusses the racism that runs rampant in the beauty industry. It proves that products aimed at women of color belong in the “Beauty Aisle” because we are beautiful too.