Colorism in the Media

The media is full of beautiful and talented women that possess extraordinary skills and killer looks. There are many faces of African American women throughout media platforms, however, is there a sense of biased toward certain shades of black women being shown on the big screen?

Colorism has been an issue in the African American community for centuries, and it is still alive and well today. While it is a very sensitive topic for some people, it has to be addressed and talked about. This matter of “light is right” has taken over the community in more ways than one may think. Acts of colorism are thrown at our faces left and right everyday, and it is overlooked many times because of how desensitized the world has come to it, almost as if it is accepted. A prime example of colorism in the media starts with the show My Wife and Kids. Jazz Raycole, who originally played Claire Kyle, was soon replaced with Jennifer Freeman, an actress that looks nothing like Jazz Raycole in the least bit. Jazz is a short, dark skinned actress with short length hair, while Jennifer Freeman is a tall, mixed actress with long, curly hair. Many acts of colorism were shown through My Wife and Kids, with many darker skinned actresses being replaced by their lighter counterparts throughout the shows run on television. The same thing occurred on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, with Janet Hubert being replaced an Aunt Viv by Daphne Maxwell Reid after the first three seasons. These casual character changes along with many more show that we have fell accustomed to this outright act of colorism and accept it like it’s okay.

Many faces in the media are aware of this privilege, such as actress and singer Zendaya who said during an interview with Essence that “I am Hollywood’s, I guess you could say, acceptable version of a Black girl and that has to change.” There are a number of roles in movies and television shows given to lighter skinned women because they fit Hollywood’s ideal black girl, and it will no longer be tolerated. Accepting only European standards over African features, especially in the black community, is a problem. Having a certain look just to become a face in media is problem. You shouldn’t have to have long, curly or straight hair to be noticed and praised. This systematic approach to  colorism has divided the African American community for long enough, and it is time for a change in the agenda.