CNN Contributing Producer Probes Lingering Pain of the ‘One Drop’ Rule

Posted in Articles, Interviews, New Media, Social Science, United States on 2012-12-07 19:20Z by Steven

CNN Contributing Producer Probes Lingering Pain of the ‘One Drop’ Rule

ColorLines: News for Action

Akiba Solomon, Columnist, Gender Matters
New York, New York

Keep the concept of privilege-clinging in the back of your mind as you check out the work and words of Dr. Yaba Blay, the driving force behind “Who Is Black in America?” the fifth installment of CNN’s “Black in America” series. Using Blay’s Kickstarter-funded multimedia collaboration with photographer Noelle Theard as a starting point, the show focuses on how people of African descent practice colorism, enforce identities based on appearance and the challenges of self-definition for multiracial people who aren’t recognizably black. I caught up with Blay, an assistant professor of Africana Studies at Philadelphia’s Drexel University (and, full disclosure, a Facebook-buddy-turned-friend), a few days after she co-hosted a special screening of the program on campus. Here, an edited, condensed version of our discussion.

So what’s the origin of the (1)ne Drop Project?

Oftentimes we do research that’s reflective of our lived experiences. So I’ve been personally impacted by colorism growing up as a West African, dark-skinned girl in New Orleans where you’ve got [self-described] black, white and Creole [cultures] and skin color politics are at the forefront of our social relationships there. I’ve always been very aware that I’m dark-skinned, in fact very dark-skinned. … I looked at colorism from the standard direction as far as how we look at the disadvantages of having dark skin in a racialized society. But there was always a part of me that wanted to explore the other side of this. … And actually, the first iteration of this project was called “The Other Side of Blackness,” but “(1)ne Drop” just emerged [as a] more catchy name. I’ve always known that light-skinned people were having their own experiences with skin color politics, but I wasn’t necessarily sure how to approach the question. There are black people all over the world, but the imagery connected to [blackness] has been more nebulous. If I take my students on study abroad, say in Brazil, will they be able to recognize the black people? Or are they just living with the idea that the black people are the ones who look familiar?…

Read the entire interview here.

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A Lesson from Philadelphia’s Little Film Festival that Could

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2012-09-10 01:59Z by Steven

A Lesson from Philadelphia’s Little Film Festival that Could

Colorlines: News for Action

Akiba Solomon, Columnist, Gender Matters

For a four-day event that began as a small assortment of screenings, there were plenty of major moments at Philadelphia’s inaugural BlackStar Film Festival last week. Curated in less than a year by producer and filmmaker Maori Karmael Holmes, this new celebration of film by and about people of the African diaspora featured more than 40 works from four continents including the Philadelphia premiere of Byron Hurt’s Kickstarter-assisted Soul Food Junkies; the U.S. debut of Berlin filmmaker Oliver Hardt’s The United States of Hoodoo, a sold-out screening of Nelson George’s Brooklyn Boheme, and a candid talk about African American filmmaking outside of the Hollywood system by Sundance-prize winning director and organizer Ava DuVernay…

…While the biggest crowds filled Philadelphia’s International House for screenings of nationally publicized works such as Brooklyn Boheme and Soul Food Junkies, lesser known films also attracted audiences. For me, the highlight was a German import, Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992.

Written, directed and produced by German feminist publisher and professor Dagmar Schultz, the documentary provides an intimate portrait of the poet, professor, activist and cultural organizer who died of cancer in 1992 at age 58. Through never-released video, photographs and (sometimes hilarious) interviews with Lorde, her partner, Gloria Joseph, and a tight-knit group of Afro-German activists and writers, The Berlin Years tells the story of Lorde the genius facilitator.

When Harlem-born Lorde arrived in Berlin in 1984 as a visiting professor, she immediately sought out Afro-Germans—who were then known only by pejoratives like “cross-breed,” “mulatto” and “brown babies”—and taught them how to see themselves outside of what she observed as “the pain of living a difference that has no name.”

The anecdotes are rich. For instance, at the end of a 1984 poetry reading, Lorde asked the white women to leave the room and the black women to remain until they had spoken to at least one other black woman. “Her intention was to make us feel: No matter what you do, you are not alone,” recalls one Afro-German activist who was in that room. “You must work together! Make yourself visible and raise your voice, each of you in her own way.”…

Read the entire article here.

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