What Kind of Representation?: Part II

 

Over the past few years, the way in which I use Facebook has changed drastically. I no longer use it as a way to keep in touch with friends, post pictures, or anything like that. Instead, it’s part of the way I get my news. I follow several news and cultural websites and spend quite a bit of time digesting the articles every day. This week, my Facebook newsfeed was covered in articles about the new music biopic Nina. The film is supposed to tell the story of Nina Simone, the famed jazz musician and civil rights activist featured in the picture to the left below. All the articles I read expressed intense dissatisfaction with the actress chosen to portray Simone — Zoe Saldana, featured in the picture to the right below.

I heard this issue a while ago, but the trailer just came out this week. Previously, I wasn’t sure how the film was going to handle the obvious difference in their skin tones. Were they just going to have Saldana play Simone as a light-skinned woman and completely erase a big part of who she was, of what she fought for? Or were they going to darken Saldana’s skin? (I don’t even know which one is worse). Well, the trailer answered the question for me: they darkened her skin. And it looks absolutely ridiculous. It’s so distracting and makes me so angry. I can’t even.

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Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising. There are so many issues with racism and colorism in Hollywood. And it goes way beyond #OscarsSoWhite. Hollywood is obsessed with whiteness and lightness, and it has been for a long time. Think about Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, Laurence Oliver as Othello, Natalie Wood as Maria in West Side Story, John Wayne as Ghenghis Khan, Johnny Depp as Tonto, and the list goes on and on. It’s not just Hollywood either; indeed, the same effect is seen in India’s Bollywood.

All of this takes me back to the question I posed in my blog post last week: what kind of representation is acceptable? I think it is fantastic that someone wanted to tell Simone’s story. She was a remarkable, talented, and powerful woman; she deserves to be recognized and remembered in this way. But it is offensive to her name to cast someone who does not resemble her at all (and her family agrees); choosing Saldana takes away an important part of Simone’s life experience — of who she was. While it’s not as bad as blackface, it still reeks of the same thing. It’s Hollywood’s way of pretending it’s not racist because, you know, they’re still casting a Black woman in the role. But it’s like a backhanded compliment because it still feels like they don’t think darker-skinned women are good enough. This is not acceptable representation.

I think darker-skinned women are best suited to play dark-skinned women. And there are so many talented dark-skinned actresses who could have portrayed Simone. One of the things I kept hearing in the #OscarsSoWhite discussion was that many artists of color were frustrated because they felt that there were not many roles written for them. This could have been one. It is so sad and frustrating when POC continue to be overlooked and cannot even play historical figures that look like them. This is not acceptable representation.

Finally, I’m really disappointed in Zoe Saldana. I’ve seen some of her movies, and she is definitely talented. But she should have known better. I think back to my first post this semester when I talked about how light-skinned individuals need to check their privilege and make sure they leave space for their darker-skinned counterparts. Zoe has not done that at all. In fact, her response to the controversy is horrifying:

“I didn’t think I was right for the part, and I know a lot people will agree, but then again, I don’t think Elizabeth Taylor was right for Cleopatra either. An artist is colorless, genderless … It’s more complex than just, ‘Oh, you chose the Halle Berry look-alike to play a dark, strikingly beautiful, iconic black woman.’ The truth is, they chose an artist who was willing to sacrifice herself. We needed to tell her story because she deserves it.” –Zoe Saldana

Just because something was done in the past doesn’t mean it should continue to be perpetuated when it’s wrong. The status quo isn’t great, and if we continue to believe that artists are colorless and genderless, we will continue to allow only a few types of artist to have all the roles, excluding other amazing talent. This is not acceptable representation. The truth is, they chose an artist who would sell because … racism. It has nothing to do with sacrifice. It has everything to do with power and privilege.

P.S. If  you want to learn about Nina Simone, check out the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone on Netflix. In the process of writing this blog post, I finally started it (it had been in my queue for a while) and it’s great! It uses real footage of Simone herself and includes interviews with her family.

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What Kind of Representation?

I came across an article this week about a television show I watched as a child, The Proud Family. In the article, the author discusses the prevalence of colorism within the television show. She ultimately argues that despite the show’s goal of depicting an African American family and community in a positive fashion, the characters that met Eurocentric beauty standards were associated with wealth, beauty, intelligence and socially appropriate behavior, while characters with more Afrocentric features were associated with the antithesis of those positive characteristics (Knight, 2016).

In the article, the author supports her thesis by contrasting the protagonist, Penny Proud, with her classmates. What stood out to me most was the author’s comparison of Penny to the Gross sisters, featured in the top right picture below, and Dijonay, the darker-skinned girl in the left picture. Knight (2016) discusses how the Gross sisters’ complexion is dark blue, which is a reference to the derogatory blue black term associated with darker-skinned individuals. Their features, with their braided hair and bigger (or smaller) body types, are not meant to be considered attractive under European ideals. Their role in the show is as the school bullies — the deviants (Knight 2016). Dijonay also has features not associated with Eurocentric beauty standards; she has bigger lips and a thicker build than Penny, the light-skinned girl in the picture with Dijonay, who better fits into the Eurocentric mold. Knight (2016) stresses that Dijonay is loud and aggressive, never receives attention from her love interests, and  is relegated to side kick status for Penny. Penny, on the other hand, is the character who is the most fully developed and has the most depth; she is seen as beautiful and the audience is meant to relate to her and like her (Knight, 2016).

This critique of The Proud Family was so interesting to read. As I mentioned above, I loved this show as a child. Other than Susie on Rugrats, I could finally see someone that resembled me in a cartoon. That was important for me, and, I’m sure, a lot of other Black girls who grew up in the 1990s/2000s. But, I never realized how this show perpetuates racist and colorist stereotypes, specifically with regards to female beauty standards. In a show arguably made for a Black audience and by a Black man, why is that only one type of Black individual is elevated? Is it internalized racism that drives this? Is it misogyny/misogynoir? It’s probably both and that’s deeply troubling. This is a show made for children, and, as Knight (2016) aptly discusses in her literature review, “prolonged exposure to television impacts [children’s] understanding and beliefs about the world” (p. 57). Even if children do not, as I did not, consciously understand the colorist aspects of this show, they may subconsciously internalize some of its ideas and themes. This can likely lead to lower self-esteem for those who are depicted negatively and the further perpetuation of damaging colorist stereotypes.

Even before reading this article, I’ve been thinking a lot about the representation of people of color in the media due in part to the fact that the Oscars are coming on this weekend. While we’ve certainly come a long way (e.g., Viola Davis’s amazing performance in HTGAWM), there’s so much more work to be done. It’s not enough for one type of person of color to be elevated, while others remain flat characters. I think I sometimes get so excited about any type of diversity in the media that I overlook thinking critically about what kind of representation it actually is. Representation should be about quality of characters in addition to quantity. In media studies, there is a test that addresses sexism in the media called the Bechdel test. Fiction narratives pass the test when they present two or more female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man. I wonder if there’s some sort of test that exists to describe the representation of people of the color in the media. Are actors of color only token minorities or support characters? Are dark-skinned characters strictly playing characters with socially inappropriate behavior? Are all the light-skinned characters the ones with money? The list of questions could go on and on. Regardless of whether this test exists, this article reminded me of how important is to be a critical consumer of media. Even if racist or colorist messages aren’t explicitly stated in shows, the appearance, development, and role of characters often hold hidden messages about who society views as powerful and worthy.

Steele, C. K. (2016). Pride and Prejudice: Pervasiveness of Colorism and the Animated Series Proud Family. Howard Journal of Communications, 27(1), 53-67.

The Oppressor Within

Excerpt from The Black Notebooks by Toi Derricote (pp. 59-60)

December.

Reluctantly, reluctantly, I become what he is in restaurants, in hotels, reluctantly. I try to beat him to the counter so that the woman won’t give us a room in which they put the niggers. Reluctantly I become what he is, again and again, reluctantly.

Niggers and flies/I do despise/but the more I see niggers/the more I like flies.

You might think I learned that from a white man, but I didn’t. I learned it from a black man, one of my uncles, who sang it to me, laughing it up close to my face, a taunt, a joke on somebody he thought wasn’t him. Wasn’t it about him? About us? Or were we held apart, separated by some invisible skin, not exactly color — because so many who sang that song were dark — but by some kind of thinking that certainly white people couldn’t see. If we just kept singing it, then it would happen, like cream separates from milk, we children in a circle, clapping our hands, dancing the funniness of it into our bones, knitting it to the marrow, so that we might have to be killed to draw it out, split in two, eviscerated. My uncle coming up close with his “nigger” face, a horrible mirror. I see a black man walking down the street and I recoil. It is he that is more despicable, not I.

(He is a blur of color, a slight hue, a pigment that falls like a shadow on the eye. am something different.)

Didn’t my ancestors pray for something like me, wanting a way out of their nightmares? My uncle warning, “Don’t bring any of those dark boys home!”

My mother’s mother took breakfast to her daughter on a silver tray, figs and cream, down into the cellar where they slept, so that my mother would grow up thinking she was just as good as the rich white daughter.

If you white, you all right; if you brown, stick around; if you black, get back.

Somewhere the tables got turned, and the very ones who sang that song in their dark skins  realized what they were singing, the ones who loved to comb and brush my “good” hair, and they blamed us. 

Slowly I am changing, like something touched with love must change from the inside, like rot changes one, or the discovery of one’s soul.

This is an excerpt from The Black Notebooks, a compilation of journal entries and writings by Toi Derricotte, an American poet. After our class on racism, I picked the book off of my bookshelf. It’s a little worn as it traveled with me on many subway trips over the summer. But I never got through it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliant piece of work (as I’ve been realizing over the past few weeks), but it was a little too hard for me at the time. It hit a little too close to home. In this collection, Derricotte focuses on her own personal journey and struggle with her skin color, highlighting her lived experience as a light-skinned woman and her inner demons or biases against those darker than her.

You can see this struggle in the excerpt I chose — a section that resonated so strongly with me this week as I read it. At the beginning, she talks about her reluctance to be seen with her husband, someone she loved, because of his darker skin. She discusses this at first within the context of losing something of value to her — privilege. I thought to myself, have I done this? And I realized I probably have. I think back to college and how I essentially refused to allow myself to get involved in the Black student groups. Sure, some of it had to do with the childhood experiences I’ve discussed before and my fear of rejection. But I think I also wanted to maintain my individuality. I think I feared deep down that if I associated with the group, that’s all people would see — that’s all I would be.

By the second paragraph, Derricotte goes even deeper. And I went with her. She talks about seeing a black man walking down the street and the first reaction she had of disgust and her tendency to separate herself from him and those who look like him. Even though she was also Black, she was different in some way. And I thought to myself, have I done this? And I realized I probably have.

This is why I put the book down over the summer. When reading works by Black authors in the past, I had only encountered two narratives. The first was the Black struggle — slavery and racism through the ages. The second was how being Black is awesome (thanks to my mother who always tried to show me that). I had never come across a Black person’s inner struggle to confront what her own Blackness means to her. I had never come across anything so vulnerable, so exposed, so raw. And as I read this summer, I realized I wasn’t ready to acknowledge that I, too, had these horrible thoughts sometimes. I wasn’t ready to acknowledge that having these thoughts maybe reflected some real negative feelings towards my own race — and myself. I ultimately wasn’t ready to confront the oppressor within me.

But now I have to be ready. I enrolled in social work school because I wanted to reflect on these issues and work with individuals who have been marginalized because of the many isms in society. I’m taking this class because I want to do the work well. But maybe I’ve been holding back because I’m afraid of starting a war within myself. I’m afraid of what will come out and not only what others will think about me or if I might offend others, but also what those things mean about what I think about myself. But maybe that’s what I need. For it all to come out. Indeed, Derricotte starts off her book with a quote from Jesus in the Gnostic Gospels, “If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.” I don’t want to be destroyed by the thoughts I have in my mind. Derricotte was able to process through her writing, and I’m hoping the remainder of this class and my time at CSSW will enable me to think hard about (and talk about!!) all of the isms – how I perpetuate them and how I can fight against them.

At the end of the excerpt, Derricotte wrote, “Slowly I am changing, like something touched with love must change from the inside, like rot changes one, or the discovery of one’s soul.” This line spoke to me because it captures so eloquently where I am in the processing stage. So much of how I view my work deals with love. And as I continue to learn to love myself and love others no matter where they come from, I am changing for the better.

 

 

 

Happy Black (Drunk) History Month!

Last semester, I attended Breaking the Silence, which was an event hosted by several CUSSW caucuses to discuss power, privilege, oppression and all the ISMS. During the event, the guest speaker, Professor Z, discussed various topics and the issue of colorism came up. We were talking about the Civil Rights Movement and she brought up several figures we all knew – Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, you know, the usual. But then she asked if we had ever heard of Claudette Colvin. Most people had not. Professor Z explained how Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on a bus before Rosa Parks. She told us that Claudette Colvin was the first person arrested in the bus segregation struggle in Montgomery, Alabama. According to an NPR article, she was a party in the civil rights lawsuit that eventually declared bus segregation unconstitutional in Montgomery. But most of us had never heard of her. Why not?

The first set of pictures should look familiar. It’s Rosa Parks. The second set is Claudette Colvin. Rosa Parks was light-skinned. She was older. She was married. Claudette was dark-skinned. She was a teenager. After her arrest, she became pregnant and she was not married. The activists of the time did not think Claudette would be a good representative to push the movement forward because of colorism and ageism, among other things. How could they get people to take a child seriously? How could they get people to sympathize with someone so apparently immoral? Rosa Parks’ social location was much more appealing to the movement; her light skin, for example, made her less intimidating to the White people from whom the activists needed to garner support and understanding. In an NPR interview, Colvin mentioned that Rosa’s “skin texture was the kind that people associate with the middle class. She fit [the] profile.” Claudette did not fit the profile.

When I was doing some google searching about her this week, I came across this Drunk History video that briefly explores Claudette’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

I love the concept of Drunk History because it explains history in a lively and entertaining way. Though I love history, I know some people find it quite dry. Drunk History is so great because it’s comedy; it kind of tricks people into learning something. The fact that it is easily accessible on TV on Comedy Central and social media means more people will have access to it, especially youth.

And how empowering could the story of Claudette be to young people (obviously the drunk aspect couldn’t be shown in schools, but her story could be shared in another interesting way)? Even though she was young, Claudette was able to stand up against injustice and have an immense impact on the Civil Rights Movement. It reminds me of how so many students of color today are rising up and fighting injustice all over the country. It’s amazing to watch! But, then I think of my students, who in their adolescence, are still trying to understand their identities. For some of them, they are wrestling with what it means to be Black and Brown. They talk about inequality. They talk about police brutality. They talk about not seeing themselves represented in the media. They’re right. They aren’t represented in the media, and they’re not represented sufficiently in the history books either. They don’t get to learn of the many contributions Black people of all shades have made in this country and beyond. The same unfortunately goes for other groups of color as well.

It’s so unfair! Students deserve way more than what they are getting. This, of course, is not to belittle the impact that Rosa Parks had on the Civil Rights Movement and Black history. I just think we have to revise curricula so that students learn more about their histories in schools. Let them learn about Rosa AND Claudette! It doesn’t have to be either/or; it can be both/and. As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, let’s commit to learning more than we were taught. Check out #HistoricPOC and http://blackhistoryalbum.tumblr.com. These are both collective, photography-based projects that ask people to submit pictures of people of color, particularly Black people, living daily life. It’s such an amazing effort to use social media to spark people’s interest in history and combat the singular story of Black life we learn in school.

Colorism Gone Global

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I realized over the past few weeks that I’ve focused on colorism specifically as it relates to African Americans. But it is important to recognize that colorism is not exclusive to that population. Unfortunately, colorism plagues many communities of color, both domestically and internationally. In several Asian countries, such as Thailand, this is evident when considering the prominence of skin-lightening beauty products. This is a still from a Thai advertisement for skin-lightening pills. It’s just under one minute, so go watch it really quickly. I’ll be here when you get back.

Okay, so this reminds of me of something Sydnee mentioned in her blog post last week. How in the world did this get approved? I can’t even deal with this ad. It’s so horribly offensive both in what is seen visually with the model donning blackface and the words actually spoken (which I understood thanks to the English subtitles). The ultimate message of the ad is that whiteness makes you win, but what stuck with me most is the concept of “investing” in whiteness. Being light/white is so important that people spend so much money and effort changing themselves to conform to society’s ideals. And we don’t just see this with skin color. We also see it with body parts, hair, clothing, etc.

 

I read that the ad has since been pulled by the company, Seoul Secret. Obviously this is great, but then I looked at their apology statement.

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In their apology, Seoul Secret wrote “what we intended to convey was that self-improvement in terms of personality, appearance, skills, and professionality is crucial.” What is that even supposed to mean? The ad was overtly racist and problematic because of the blackface and the slogan that whiteness makes you win. But doesn’t the underlying sentiment in the apology still convey that being lighter — whiter — is better? Let’s break it down. Appearance is important. They’re selling the  pills because they “improve” one’s appearance. The pills make your skin-lighter — whiter. The “improvement” therefore comes from the whiter skin. It’s the same concept just said in a more covert and coded way. The problem isn’t this one racist ad, it’s that there’s a system in place that makes it such that Thai women with tanner/darker skin are not valued as much in society. The problem is still white supremacy.
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Colorism and racism have created a market for “investing” in whiteness. Basic economics explain why these skin-lightening pills and creams exist and why businesses still sell them. Why wouldn’t they? Businesses need to make money. There is a demand for this type of product, so businesses continue to produce and promote it. We need to do more than to call for racist ads to be taken down. That doesn’t change the system of oppression — it just makes it harder to find and identify. We need to celebrate individuals of all complexions in all cultures around the globe. Fortunately, some people are starting to work on that in Thailand. The “white is winning” narrative is being challenged by a new magazine that glorifies tan skin. This is awesome! I hope it leads to a bigger cultural and societal shift because we really need to be telling young children to invest in themselves — their hobbies, their education, their dreams  — not in whiteness.

 

Gendered Colorism (feat. Drake)

 

This week, as I was perusing the internet, I came across the memes/videos posted above. Together, they paint a picture of how colorism affects some men in the Black (and lion) community. This isn’t something I’ve thought about much in the past. For me, I’ve experienced colorism as a woman, where I’ve felt the effects most strongly as they relate to society’s standards of beauty. As I saw these memes/video, I noticed the existence of this same theme for Black men. Mufasa, as a symbol of a light-skinned Black male, for example, functionally tells Simba that ugliness is impossible for those who look like them. The memes/videos also create a division between light-skinned and dark-skinned men based on their actions. Drake, as an archetype of a light-skinned Black male, is portrayed as doing something traditionally associated with females, which is frowned upon by many in our patriarchal society. In the video, a Youtube star parodies how light-skinned men are perceived in society by depicting them as overly vain and sensitive. Other memes, such as the one featuring Prince, further characterize light-skinned Black men as effeminate. Ultimately, light-skinned men are seen as unmanly and soft, and dark-skinned men are viewed as the opposite: “real” men.

I wanted to know more about this, so I turned to a trusted source that’s proved quite useful with my high school clients this year: Urban Dictionary. Even though I’m only about six years older than most of my clients, I often find myself a bit confused in our sessions. Now, this isn’t because I’m not listening to what my clients have to say; it’s because the slang they use is just so unfamiliar to me. I ask my students to explain terms to me so much that some of them recently started to offer synonyms automatically (even for words I understand!). Anyway, I decided to look up “light skinned ni**a,” the name of this type of meme – certainly not my personal word choice. According to Urban Dictionary, a light skinned ni**a is “the antithesis of a ‘real ni**a’” and exhibits character traits such as:

extreme vanity, narcissism, physical and emotional frailty, low intelligence as their sense of entitlement relies on their looks rather than mental or academic rigor, a strong aversion to any strenuous physical labor that may mar or otherwise dirty their meticulously selected outfits (pajamas included).

As I digested this definition, I had a few thoughts. All of these characteristics are negative and create a false division between Black men. And many of the traits, such as “emotional frailty,” “lower intelligence,” and “aversion to any strenuous physical activity” are commonly associated (wrongly, of course, but still often associated) with females. This was triggering for me. Why is it still the case that the worst insult a man can receive is that he is like a woman? Why is it still the case that these types of negative and ridiculous descriptions are still associated with being like a woman? Though my questions are rhetorical in nature, we can thank the good ‘ol patriarchy for creating a system that continues to keep women and anything associated with us at the bottom.

Stereotypes likes this are dangerous. Just in reading the comments (always a mistake) under the video, some people believe these stereotypes to be true. One girl commented that she thinks light-skinned men make better partners because they are sensitive, and dark-skinned men make bad partners because they are more likely to beat women up. Obviously that is ridiculous, but seeing this type of media, even as a parody or meme, validates these stereotyped thoughts for some people. I think even hearing people say these types of things to each other can be destructive. Black men need to understand that by equating their light-skinned brothers to women in a negative fashion, they are putting down the Black women in their community (and all women, in general). On the flip side, by saying that dark-skinned men are “real men” because they are “tough,” men (and even women) prescribe that there is only one way to be a man and it involves being dominant. In both of these situations, people are ultimately upholding the values of the patriarchy. These values hurt women, perhaps in more visible ways, but they also harm men. They make many men (of all colors) believe that they must be “macho.” They make many men (of all colors) believe that it’s wrong for them to be emotional. And the list goes on and on.

There’s too much at stake in the fight for liberation for there to be divisions across not only complexion-based lines but also gender lines. We need more Black male feminists (like the guy featured in this link) and allies of other names to call people out for behavior like this which, while seemingly harmless, can actually be quite divisive and destructive to many causes. We also need women who date Black men to stop perpetuating these false ideas.

 

 

 

 

Check Your Privilege, Girl.

I was born a lighter-skinned Black girl and, by extension, granted the privileges that come with it. As we often see with white people, it is easy for those in a privileged position to dismiss issues they are seldom confronted with. After all, it’s unlikely that there are too many dark-skinned Black women who would claim they haven’t been touched in some way by the realities of colorism. Oftentimes, they were forced to confront it daily—especially all throughout childhood—as society constantly told them they were not pretty or attractive based on their skin color. Women like myself, however, were not.

Read more: http://www.forharriet.com/2016/01/black-women-who-benefit-from-colorism.html#ixzz3yCNKcHCW

This is an excerpt from an article I found this week on For Harriet, a blog site I follow that focuses on issues relevant to women of African ancestry. As the title suggests, it discusses the need for light-skinned Black women to recognize the privilege afforded to them by society due to their skin tone. Including this article as the first entry in my Isms Portfolio is an intentional act. As I start this journey of curating a blog on colorism, I wanted to be up front about the fact that I have benefitted from it in my life. So many factors led to my relatively light, “sun-beige” (according to my pantyhose shade) skin tone. My maternal grandparents are from Panama and Costa Rica via Jamaica and India (and apparently Scotland somehow), and my father is a mixture of Black, Native American, and White (his family’s history is not as well-documented, so I am unfortunately unaware of the specifics). Regardless of the intricacies of my racial makeup, the world sees me as Black, and that is how I’ve always identified.

Recognizing I have privilege as a light-skinned Black person has been hard and, admittedly, something that only clicked for me over the past three or four years. When I was younger, it was rarely my White peers who commented on my skin color in a negative fashion. Instead, it was other Black children, invariably darker than I, who called me names like Oreo and high yellow; some even went as far as telling me I was not really Black. Understandably, this was confusing and quite painful for me as a child. I was Black. I am Black. I felt ostracized by my own community, so I clung to those who accepted and welcomed me: my White peers. Perhaps this is why, to this day, I can count on one hand the number of Black friends I have. I assimilated, never looking back or stopping to think about how I was benefitting from a system that favors lighter skin over darker skin. I was simply the pretty Black girl everyone liked; I overlooked the fact that no one took the time to recognize the beauty of the darker-skinned girls in my class.

Sometimes I beat myself up for how naïve I was for thinking I was the only victim for so long. But then I am reminded of the fact that the false divisions we see amongst ourselves in the Black community are based in historical oppression. As the article discusses, for example, agent actors actively separated Black people by their skin color during slavery to create house workers and field workers. This colorized division and the associated intra-racial distrust and mistreatment has persisted to this day. I think of the importance of the theoretical feminist practice of unity-diversity, which emphasizes the strength in diversity in that it can lead to different perspectives and reveal more avenues through which we can dismantle oppressive systems. Just as the feminist movement has been limited by infighting and its inability to be inclusive of the important stories and needs of women of color and transwomen, the fight for racial justice is also limited by oppressor-made false separateness. When we are fighting with each other, the oppressor benefits. But when we come together, we become a much stronger force in the fight to disrupt the status quo — white supremacy.

I think articles like this are so important. Indeed, an article like this was exactly what awoke my consciousness and enabled me to recognize my own privilege a few years ago. These articles need to be shared. Repeatedly. Because it is easy to forget about privilege. It is easy to forget about responsibility. For me, this article is a welcome reminder of how I must work through the pain of my childhood and any remnants of internalized resentment and bias that may still exist. It is also a call to action of how I must listen to and work to elevate the voices of those who do not benefit from colorism — those whose access to various platforms is less than mine.