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Sage’s Rage: Soledad O’Brien’s Show wasn’t enough about Colorism

Posted on: December 10, 2012

black in american 12-12last night i watched Soledad O’Brien’s latest installment of the Black In America series on CNN.   the show was supposed to be about colorism, which is the idea that lighter skinned Blacks are more favorable than those with darker skin (hair texture and facial features also play a part in colorism).  hundreds of tweets were floating through cyberspace discussing how important this issue is for Black America and America as a whole.

all in all, i give soledad a thumbs up for trying to tackle this issue at all.  she highlighted young children, teens and adults.   there were experts, artists and educators providing their point of view. it was thought provoking and well executed.

but i left feeling like something was missing…i left feeling like things got swept under the rug…i admit, i didn’t expect a major network to get down, dirty and into the laundry that many Black people would like to hide. but i know they could have done better.

my concern is that the focus of the show seemed to revolve around issues of identity; in particular bi-racial/multiracial identity.  this is an important issue in itself, which frankly deserve’s it’s own segment.  maybe i was wrong but i thought the show was supposed to be about colorism in the black community.

the fact that ALL the main characters in the segment were bi-racial/multiracial was a shame. this is something that is so deeply rooted in the history of african americans.  since slavery, the concept of light skinned vs. dark skinned as a symbol of status is a painful story that is still a huge part of the psyche of black america.  while i don’t disagree that people of biracial decent deal with these issues, i’m pretty sure it’s an issue for people with both parents that are black.  but where were they on the show?  

plainly said, i didn’t hear enough about colorism- i didn’t hear enough from the girls/women who were taunted because of the color of their skin. i didn’t hear from men who pass over women because of the thickness of their hair or the shape of their facial features.  i didn’t hear from the families who were divided over marriages that weren’t sanctioned because someone went ‘dark’ in choosing a partner.  i didn’t hear from the person who chose to ‘pass’ as white and denied their black families. 

yes there were mini segments and small references to colorism but quite frankly it seemed like an after thought.  as painful as it was to watch the kindergarten teacher try to teach her black 5 & 6 year students about the paper bag test. as heart wrenching as it was to hear the beautiful girl say how much she hated her dark skin.  those are the stories that bring colorism to the forefront. but they were hidden behind the discussion about identity.

racial identity is an important topic no doubt but it’s not the same as colorism.  i beg the Black In America series to try again.  do a part II, this time going deeper and really taking this Colorism issue to task…


CNN’s Black In America will encore on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 8:00pm EST 

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1 Response to "Sage’s Rage: Soledad O’Brien’s Show wasn’t enough about Colorism"

Good one sage….didn’t see it but important to discuss all the facets of this issue.

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