Your Blackness Isn’t Like Mine: Colorism And Oppression Olympics | HuffPost – Williams’ speech was profound and emblematic of what it means to be “truly woke,” yet for some it wasn’t enough. While many tweeted their adoration for his message, there was a vocal group of people expressing their frustration that Williams — a light-skinned, biracial Black man, was being given center stage as “the face” for the Black Lives Matter movement. While criticizing his appearance, they conveniently ignored that there are plenty of prominent Black folks with darker complexions who haven’t said a damn thing their entire lives about social justice, stars with platforms even bigger than Williams. Samuel L. Jackson spoke after Williams, but his speech paled in comparison. Now, I love me some Sam-You-El, but let’s be real: he had the same opportunity to speak out against racism and injustice and chose not to do so. While not present at the awards, the iconic actor Denzel Washington, arguably one of the most popular actors of the latter part of the 20th century, has to my knowledge never embraced social justice causes, at least publicly. He may have played Malcolm X, but it appears Washington does not possess the desire to speak out on these issues. In Hollywood and real life, dark skin does not determine one’s capacity for wokeness any more then having light skin symbolizes one’s complicity with maintaining a racist, White society.
Jesse Williams, Zendaya, and Our Issues With Colorism – by Jenn M. Jackson · July 18, 2016
I recently edited an article for another publication that was met with ire and frustration from many Black readers. All of this was because it talked about colorism – the discrimination and hatred against people with darker complexions.
The subject matter was Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams’ BET speech. From people angry that we even brought the topic up to others claiming that our doing so “distracted from the importance” of Williams’ central points, it became clear to me that merely acknowledging our differences within our racial groups was seen as contentious, malicious and undermining to many Black people. This seems odd given that some stars themselves have discussed the privileges they experience because of their skin color.
In an interview with The Guardian in October 2015, Williams explained that, even though he grew up below the poverty line, he experienced issues with being treated as though he wasn’t a Black man.
“My parents were both activists and I really connected to the social justice movement. Growing up in Chicago, that was a big part of the community that we were in and the people that were in our house,” he says. “I also lived below the poverty line for my entire childhood.”
Rodney Harrison Questions Colin Kaepernicks’ ‘Black’ Identity | Essence.com – Former NFL star Rodney Harrison is adding his two cents to the conversation about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protesting the national anthem in a show of support for ending police brutality against African-Americans, and his comments are causing quite the uproar.
During a recent iHeartRadio interview, Harrison was blunt, adamant and sadly misinformed while voicing his opinion that Kaepernick — who was born to a white mother and a Black father — isn’t Black enough to truly understand the struggles of African-American men. “I tell you this, I’m a black man. And Colin Kaepernick—he’s not black,” Harrison said.
Colin Kaepernick can protest against racism even if he has white parents | Rebecca Carroll | Opinion | The Guardian – Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade said: “Let’s be honest, he was adopted by two white parents, he was well supported. He is a great athlete, I’m sure he worked hard, I also heard his grades were great.”
The underlying assumption – that Kaepernick was being ungrateful to white America by protesting against racism – is as troubling as it is offensive. Why would the race of his adoptive parents be relevant to his protest? Are we to deduce that if a white couple agreed to adopt a black or biracial child, then systemic racism isn’t a problem?
Kaepernick, whose white birthmother wasted no time in tweeting her disapproval of his activism, continued: “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
In addition to his birthmother, who re-emerged in Kaepernick’s life at the height of his career four years ago, conservative pundits and public figures alike have criticized his decision to stay silent during the anthem as unpatriotic.
The Star Spangled Banner, which as John Legend pointed out, isn’t even that good of a song, concludes with the infamous lyrics: “The star spangled banner / In triumph shall wave / O’er the land of the free / And the home of the brave!” Land of the free. Home of the brave. I think we all know who ended up free and who is still out here trying to be brave.
Jesse Williams’ Acceptance Speech And The Role Of Colorism – This line of thinking is problematic at best and incredibly dangerous at worst. This is a method of silencing black people, similar to gas-lighting as a tool to silence abuse victims; by denying blackness, you can delegitimize a person’s experiences and avoid having to address his complaints or comments. While the black people calling Williams too light to know racism may not be denying the existence of racism altogether, the white people taking part in this most certainly are. It may seem like a slippery slope, but requiring a litmus test for blackness silences important voices in the struggle for racial equality and is just unnecessary. What exactly do we gain by requiring black people to qualify their blackness? All colorism does is allow racism to break through our ranks and turn us on one another. In his speech, Williams’ said “…systems built to divide and impoverish us cannot stand if we do.” He is absolutely correct; colorism which is designed to divide us, cannot stand if black people refuse to engage in it.
The topic of colorism, of course, also brings up the discussion of privilege or lack thereof. There is inherent privilege associated with being light skinned, with having features similar to those of Europeans. Even if a person isn’t white, often being white-passing can afford a certain amount of privilege. If Williams’ were darker, would he have been as well received? The answer is: probably not. However, that answer makes Williams’ speech even more important in a number of ways, the first being that his light skin provides him access to a platform he may not have had otherwise. Williams’ has consistently used that platform to criticize systems of racial oppression and injustice and has never once hidden behind his privilege when his “wokeness” became uncomfortable.
Stacey Dash Calls Jesse Williams a ‘Hollywood Plantation Slave,’ Says His Powerful BET Speech Was an ‘Attack on White People’ – “You’ve just seen the perfect example of a HOLLYWOOD plantation slave!” Dash continues. “Sorry, Mr. Williams. But the fact that you were standing on that stage at THOSE awards tells people you really don’t know what your [sic] talking about. Just spewing hate and anger.”
Dash took issue with the 34-year-old actor’s words criticizing those speaking out against the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job, all right? Stop with all that,” Williams said on Sunday. “If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest — if you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.”
“You my man are just like everyone else hustling to get money,” Dash responds. “But your cognitive dissidents has you getting it from THAT BYSTANDER whom YOU DON’T NEED. Yes. BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION is WHITE OWNED.”
Dash also responded to Williams’ words on cultural appropriation.
Why We Shouldn’t Let Colorism Overshadow Jesse Williams’ Activism | – Ignoring the overly popularized Justin Timberlake tweet, discussions commenced on Williams light-skinned appearance. Williams, who identifies as a Black man, is the son of an African American father and White mother. In an interview with The Guardian, he was quoted acknowledging his privilege in saying, “I have access to rooms and information. I am white and I am also black. I am invisible man in a lot of these scenarios,” Williams said, referencing the Ralph Ellison novel. “I know how white people talk about black people. I know how black people talk about white folks. I know I am there and everyone speaks honestly around me.” In the same interview he recalled an interaction of a non-black parent saying “I remember a mom of a friend of mine in the suburbs made some comment about a black person and—I had to be 12, about 60 pounds—I said something and she said, ‘Oh no, not you. You are not black. You are great.’ It was real. That f-king happened. And she meant it. And she meant it sincerely and sweetly. She was paying me a compliment,” Williams recalled.
Williams, now 34, has continuously acknowledged and owned his own privilege throughout his rise in the advocacy for Black lives. Conversely, Monday morning, a slew of news commentary and social media discussion aroused on the validity of Williams plight because of his light-skinned and blue eyed appearance. Many wondered if Williams was ‘Darker’ skinned would he be so widely popular or well received? As we approach the 1 year anniversary of Viola Davis’s ground breaking Emmy win for Best actress in a Drama series, the first of any Black actress, she too accompanied her award with a passionate speech. “The only thing that separates women of color from anything else is opportunity,” Davis stated. However, in her response, although widely well received by the public, did not overwhelmingly center around her darker complexion, but rather her advocacy for representation of Black women in a less than diverse Hollywood. Now fast-forwarding to Williams moment, it became evident in a true revelation of how important and necessary it is for continuous critical conversations to heal the black community of the didactic cancer that is colorism.