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I don’t know if it’s PC (political correctness) to post this here. But I thought I’d share this with my fellow actors.

Recently, I had a discussion with another black actor about skin color and the movies. We agreed that lighter skinned black actors are favored over darker actors. Take a look at mixed race actors like Halle Berry and Terrence Howard. They get more work and better roles.

I remember the first time I saw the late Bernie Mac on a sitcom. He had a small role in which he was ridiculed by another black person because of his dark complexion.

It’s like this, when you say ‘black’ we black actors tend to get lumped into one group. But in reality, we have been broken down into several based on our skin tones. So for instance, in most commercials and magazine ads you will see lighter blacks used. But in ghetto scenes they go for darker skinned actors. Black villains are also darker.

I have heard some film folks justify using light skinned black actors or not using blacks at all. The excuse, “It’s difficult to light black people especially if they are in the same scene with whites”. So, what’s the real problem? Is it that people don’t want to take time to work on lighting? Or is it really something subtly engrained into people’s minds?

Now, why are blacks different shades? It’s mostly because of the legacy of slavery. African slaves being forced to bear their white masters children and then being brought up believing that lighter is better. People opted to have light skinned babies believing that they would have a better life. In most black families you will find people of different shades with different hair textures as well (and hair texture is another issue). If you want proof, just look at photos of real African slaves and what their descendants look like. The slaves were much darker while their descendants are lighter. The lighter you are the more mixing there was. I know people don’t like talking about slavery, but it is part of our history and should not and cannot be ignored or forgotten

But it’s not just the way that whites see us. Even we black people have issues with skin tone. Again, it’s because of the legacy of slavery. The ‘high yellow’ lighter skinned blacks were treated much better than the darker blacks. This is highlighted in Spike Lee’s film School Daze.

Well, I’m just grazing the issue today. I’d love to hear your views.

Tags: Black, skin, slavery, tone

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A comment on the term of "Light Skin Black"

It is often a surprise for people to learn that, in reality, there
is actually No Such Thing As a "Light Skinned Black" person.

The term "Light Skinned Black" is really nothing more than a
racist oxymoron that was created by White Supremacists in an
effort to forcibly deny those Mixed-Race individuals, who are
of a Multi-Generational Multiracially-Mixed (MGM-Mixed)
Lineage, the right to fully embrace and to also received
public support in choosing to acknowledge the
truth regarding their full ancestral heritage.

The people who have been slapped with the false label and
oxymoronic misnomer of "Light Skinned Black" person are
simply Mixed-Race individuals -- who are from families
which have became and have remained continually
Mixed-Race throughout their multiple generations.

It should also be noted that no one is saying that having
a light skin complexion is the 'only' or even a 'required'
proof of being of a continuoously Mixed-Race lineage.

What is simply being said here is that it is just one
of the clearly-visible and openly undeniable forms
of proof that a person is of a Mixed-Race lineage.

For more information on MGM-Mixed lineage, feel free to
view the information at the found at the links listed below:












I am an American of Mixed-Race Lineage.

And thank you for asking -- as, I do not
consider the question to be disrespectful
at all and I appreciate your interest. =)

Amazing posts Allpeople.

There are so many un-truths and falsities out there...you never know what is true. It's like Orwell's 1984...how through time truths change, and change, and change, until you're not sure what is truly accurate.

We all suffer from this informational deformity...either due to the fact that we weave things the way we want them to be remembered, or we simply get the facts wrong. Either way...that's life.

I just don't like it when uneducated, ignorant people spout history and what they think is fact...when in actuality they are totally incorrect. I'm not at all pointing fingers...I mean this in general. Nothing is worse than information spread by ignorance...especially from offspring to offspring--the perpetual wheel of misinformation and bigotry.

As long as we all do our own research. Use our own minds. And keep an open mind. There is far too many beautiful things about ALL the human race, it's a shame to focus on something as irrelevant as skin tone.
There are lots that I like about this thread, mostly the fact that it has opened a dialogue that many people don't have.

There was a comment of racism being ingrained in all of us at some level. I don't agree with that. As children we only know what we know. I had an experience with my son when he was young where he pointed out a black man and made a comment about his skin. At first my stomach tensed, the man smiled, and then I realized...that comment came from a place of pure innocence. He had never seen a man with black skin (living in Vermont where I am, doesn't present a cultural mixing pot). The part of us that learned to be ashamed of speaking out from innocence comes from generations of people struggling with ignorance. It is learned behavior passed along from generation to generation that we hope to undo.

I like to keep things simple in my life. I take care of me and my family and encourage them to be the best they can be and to be respectful. If more people made an effort to simply respect the people around them, the issue of race loses it's power.

The simple fact is anger is easy to hold onto. It takes no effort to give into raw emotion and often times we lash out at people and things that are completely unrelated to our anger. How many people here picked a fight their partners just because of a bad day. Sometimes situations can be made so much better by smiling when you want to scream. Easier said then done, I know...that's why we try.

This has gone on a bit of a tangent here, I apologize. For me frankly, I don't care much about skin color (only that it's an issue for others). It doesn't really matter what you look like. The real barrier that I find from time to time in dealing with people are cultural barriers which often can be over come with simple questions. You might feel ignorant for asking seemingly simple questions, but you'll only have to ask it once! And the answer goes a long way toward us all knowing a little bit more about each other.

For what it's worth...:)
I'm surprised and pleased at how this discussion has reopened. Brian, thanks for sharing. I've had white kids touch me and wonder why the color did not rub off, or why my hair was soft and did not feel like steel wool! yeah in the 2000's! I did not get mad because I realize it's lack of education on why people have different skin colors and hair type.

When I was in Taiwan with a group of female African journalists, we went on a field trip to a museum. There were some Taiwanese school children therepointing, laughing, excited and squealing if we waved at them. They had never seen real black people before.

But, let me tell I was embarassed when I lived in Tanzania, East Africa. A white English woman who was a dear family friend came to visit. My toddler son started screaming and crying out of fear of the white person. He was born in a European country but was too young to remember. So he's two and see's a white person in the flesh and starts screaming and crying and I had to take him away, without getting to talk to my good friend. I don't remember saying anything bad about white people to him, but he was used to seeing only Africans and we had no television then.

Then televisions were allowed. We got a TV and I put a Jane Fonda exercise video on. My son ran out the house! He went to the side and looking at the TV through the window still scared and then finally he realized he wasn't going to be hurt, I guess and came back inside. Or maybe he came back in because he was hungry. He overcame his fear of white people long before we came this way to America.

But it's interesting in Africa when a car driven by a white person goes by the kids run after it saying, Mzungu (white person)! But they don't mean it in a negative way. But, I've been in a car going through some white neighborhoods here in the USA and been called the N-word by white kids and one even beat the car we were in with a stick!
Chemi great post.... as sick as this world is.... we have taken some baby steps in the right direction to right a very few of the many wrongs of what white people have done to blacks... its a long slow process and sad that it has taken this long..... but the whites have done so many other harms to the indians and chinese, japanese etc.... it's so sad.... but when White Neo Nazi Facists run this whole world...... What can any of us do?

but ya gotta remember for every good black man/or women.... theirs always gonna be someone out there like an Al Sharpton (just another guy trying to appear helpful and concerned, but in actuality, all he want's to do is: PROMOTE AL SHARPTON!..... And that attitude is really heartbreaking that men like him use human suffering to position themselves for a power base and political career!

but dont forget Chemi.... there are quite a few great black actors in movies today (and they are very Dark skinned).... i admit.... there should be more..... but we also could use many other actors of all NATIONALITIES!.....

Especially more of those damn mafia killing Italians.... we hardly get to see those nice, loving, wholesome types of characters on tv at all unless they are murdering someone!.... hahahahahahahahaha

smile.... keep on keepin on,
On the light issue, I did talk to a guy who does the lights for major Hollywood productions. He said that black people had to be lit differently than white people. He wasn't rude but was pointing it out and even showed me a little on how if different colors were lit the same the film would look odd. And that also explains why some people look dark in some films and light in others. He did not say that black people were hard to light.

But, I was talking to a student at a prestigious film school who was told to use white people in her student film because blacks were hard to light even though her script was about black people. I told her, blacks are not hard to light but the crew felt lazy to do the work!
Well, presumably black actors haven't suddenly become harder to light today than Sidney Poitier was, or Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Woody Strode, James Edwards, Diahann Carroll, etc., were. Somebody managed to light those people pretty well. I don't think our modern cameras and lights have gone backwards. So anybody who uses technical issues as an excuse for not trying, is being both lazy and ignorant of film history at the very least.
Steve, I couldn't agree with you more!
Chemi you leave little to debate here, and I dare not dispute your truth. So, though I did not read all the comments and replies to your post, I want to appreciate the positive (non negative) comments made by members. Many appear to honestly be unaware of the skin discrimination, should it truly exist. I think we may be more sensitive because we are wanting the roles we see other actors getting. Note: the lighting in the picture I'm using here washed out a couple shades of my blackness. I, like you, don't see this as a barrier, but as stronger determination to attain my goals. Let's get to work!
I think this is something that comes from your background and so weighs on your mind. As a white person for 55 years I have never heard tone or degree of darkness discussed among my peers or those of my parent's generation.

I think we all know why those who live on the African continent have more pigment but your rancor is understandable and should not be forgotten by the descendants of America.

Often it has perplexed me how men can sell their children into bondage. Maybe that is further evidence of how the slave economy degraded our American founding fathers and destroys the humanity of those who would "own" and trade human beings.

Off Topic - Visit my page and read the script and see shots for the film we want to make. We are still casting and input will be appreciated. Al R.


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