The War at Home

The War at Home

Dr. Yaba Blay discusses the history of 'the color complex' and how we can work to destroy it

Chris Williams

by Chris Williams, February 20, 2013

The War at Home

Dr. Yaba Blay

that you’ve been taught these things. They’ve been bombarded with these images from media sources that are so-called Black. This is just a start, but we have to start having honest conversations.

EBONY: How do we begin the process of healing and loving the skin and hair we’ve been given and overcoming colorism?

YB: It’s a challenge. There’s a frustration that people feel especially with my work because it’s like, ‘Here she goes again. She’s talking about colorism. How long are we going to talk about this?’ When I check social media and see the different links that people are sharing, even with the Black in America documentary, it’s the idea that people don’t want to talk about this anymore because there’s no solution. I get it. It’s frustrating, but for me, I don’t have a solution other than for us to talk about the issue. We have to talk about it in different ways.

We’re all Black and we’re all having an experience inside a racialized society that teaches us many things about our own value and our own skin color whether we’re light skinned or dark skinned. For me, it’s about having a different kind of conversation because while we’re pointing the finger at each other, White supremacy gets off scot-free. When people think of solutions, they tend to say ‘How do we get rid of White supremacy?’ That’s not really my framework or the direction I’m going in. We’re in a space now where we can’t avoid living in a White supremacist society. We can’t control White supremacy, but what we can control is our participation within it. It’s about learning how to ask different questions. We can’t ever stop talking about colorism. We have to stop internalizing and imploding and start holding other people accountable.

EBONY: What are some other projects you’re working on focusing on colorism?

YB: As part of my work on skin bleaching, I'm co-producing a documentary on transnational skin bleaching. The documentary will be directed by Terence Nance, award-winning director of An Oversimplification of Her Beauty. The doc will examine skin bleaching in West Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and the United States, and will pay particular attention to the economic dimensions of the phenomenon via manufacturing and export/import policies and practices.

Chris Williams is an internationally published writer. You can follow him on Twitter @CWmsWrites.

Stay in the Know
Sign up for the Ebony Newsletter