« WHO looks kindly on genomics | Gene Expression Front Page | Educational Hell »
January 18, 2003

Antwone Fisher

Just went to see Antwone Fisher today. Good movie. But there was one thing that kind of confused me....

Look at this picture of the two actors that play the main couple in the story:



Now here is a picture of Salli Richardson-the half-Irish actress that plays Denzel's film wife:



Antwone's aunt, who was portrayed in a good light, was of medium brown complexion, but his mother, who was not depicted with any great sympathy by the film's conclusion, was played by a very dark-skinned woman.

I just bring this up because the film addresses black color consciousness-as Antwone says: "First the light-skinned girls were adopted, then the light-skinned boys, and then the dark-skinned girls, and finally the dark-skinned boys." Antwone recalls how his foster-mother would compare him unfavorably with his half-white foster brother ("He has good hair & skin & is better than you!").

So in light of all this, the stereotypical portrayal of light-skinned women as the ideal mate or relative seems out of place. But perhaps it was just me that noticed it (though the two light-skinned actresses were in my opinion very attractive, so I'm not complaining about that)....

Posted by razib at 07:07 PM




i agree.. this seems to be a recurring theme in black society...

blacks try to express pride in 'blackness'... but then they will find the most lightskinned partner they can get...

pick up the latest copy of Ebony.. there is a big article on whether black women should be worried about black men dating white, asian or hispanic girls... (and apparently its all the fault of the advertising industry that keeps thrusting white, asian and hispanic women onto black men)...

what i find weird is that often in the daytime talkshows or on BET talkshows... when a black mother is talking about her son or daughter, she'll mention off handedly whether the child is dark skinned or light skinned...

i was recently watching a talkshow (either Ricki or Jenny Jones)... where these school kids were facing off each other in a rap contest... and there was this black girl rapper... when she finished.. one of the black boy rappers said that she would never make it as a rapper because she was too dark... imagine!! apparently you can be too dark to be a rapper too!!

Posted by: go figure at January 19, 2003 09:37 AM


Light-skinned blacks have long discriminated against darker skinned blacks--this probably goes back to the days when the "house slaves" were envied (and usually lighter) by the "field slaves" for obvious reasons.

"Good hair" and "good skin" are euphemisms in the black community for straighter hair and lighter skin and have been for awhile (my grandma would talk about it).

Posted by: David at January 19, 2003 09:52 AM


light vs. dark racism have been common in the black (and just about any community aside from northern europeans probably)-i found it strange that they would reenforce it even though they talk about it having a negative effect on the protoganist. mixed messages? or would they figure no one would notice.

Posted by: razib at January 19, 2003 11:39 AM


Why except northern european? "Swarthy" = ugly and probably evil predates the English encounter with the outside world.

Posted by: Dick Thompson at January 19, 2003 01:21 PM


yeah, but what is swarthy to northern europeans is pretty light to other groups-so i think "dark" often meant hair color, rather than skin.

Posted by: razib at January 19, 2003 04:02 PM


A good book about this is "Our Kind of People" (can't remember the author and too lazy to look it up), about the black upper class. It talks about the "paper bag" and "ruler" tests, the perils and pitfalls of passing, etc. Fascinating read...

Posted by: jimbo at January 20, 2003 09:52 AM


Jimbo:
"A good book about this is "Our Kind of People" (can't remember the author and too lazy to look it up), about the black upper class. It talks about the "paper bag" and "ruler" tests, the perils and pitfalls of passing, etc. Fascinating read..."

The paper bag test- I could believe. But, the ruler test seemed more dubious. I am sure that there are people of African descent who have hair (without the use of artificial straightening agents) who could pass. But, there are probably few with more than 50% 'black' blood that would probably pass the ruler test.

I am not an expert, but it just seems this way when I look at half black biracial kids and see their (usually more kinky) hair type.

Posted by: -R at January 20, 2003 01:57 PM


most of the asian/black mixes that i've known (generally korean-black) have naturally curly rather than straight hair-though not as kinky as the normal among african americans.

look at tiger woods-he's only 1/4 black, but his hair is curly (though again, not kinky). for some reason when humans classify, i suspect they lump curly hair with kinky, rather than with straight (though most people would lump wavy & straight hair together *).

* by most definitions, my hair is rather straight, but one thing i noticed from pictures of me when i'm a toddler and my mom let my hair grow out some, the hair will curl up a bit at the tips. so though on visual inspection my hair is as straight as my chinese or korean friends' hair-form, it is only because i have a typical short male hair style...it is actually a bit wavy

Posted by: razib at January 20, 2003 03:18 PM


a good book to read is our kind of people when talking about light skinned black
when I was little some of my relatives would always tell me don't stay out in the sun too long because you do not want too be too dark I never really understood why though I think the origin of light skinned blacks came from slavery time when the master would put the light skin blacks in the house with them which we called house slaves and the darker slaves would stay out in the fields because whites felt more comfortable around light skin blacks than dark skin blacks they felt that the lighter you are the better and when the light skin slaves were house slaves they adapted some of their characteristics in their lifestyle of living I think that's how the black upper class came to have some of their characteristics and I guess that's how some of the lighter skin felt like they were better than the darker skin blacks because lighter skin blacks felt like the straighter your hair is the better and the the thinner your nose and lips is the better, also the was a period when the paper bag test existed meaning if you were darker than a paper bag you could not be a part of the upper class black elite this includes especially the black fraternities and sororities and sad to say that some of these beliefs still exist today so as my conclusion I have only a few words to say we are all black it does not matter if you are light skin, brown skin ,or dark skin so let's stop it with the prejudice in the black community aganist one another because when it all bowls down to it black is black

so let's stop going by that old saying that states
if you're light you're all right
if you're brown stick around
but if you're black get

Posted by: tunka21 at March 16, 2003 08:41 PM


The ruler test was very real in LA, where multiple generation mixies (i.e. not bi-racials) known as Creoles of Color were much like light/white Latino people today. Their hair was often straight and their skin was relatively light. However, many of their other features, such as their noses, lips, etc. were not always so European. Today, most have mixed with other Blacks or with whites and are no longer so physically distinct.

Posted by: Louisiana Resident at April 11, 2003 11:43 AM


white chixxxxxxxxxx are hottttterr
take it 4rom a brada;;;hahahhahhhahhahha

Posted by: at April 12, 2003 05:29 PM


here in england they just say:

black is bad and white is right! you cant be black successfully over here, you have to be whiter than the whites to make it.

Posted by: rocpig at April 17, 2003 04:46 PM


White chiks arent hotter! We have the best skin color! And how would u like it if I said white guys are sexier?

Posted by: Makal at April 29, 2003 03:22 PM


Interesting topic. I'm proud of my skin color. Not dark but not light either (i think its caramel or something) but light skinned vs. dark skinned is really dumb. My dad is realllllllll dark and my mom-if you sae her you'd mistake her for a white woman because she's got bright green eyes and reddish-brown hair but she's black. I just came out a mixture of the two.

Posted by: Shayna at May 7, 2003 06:37 PM


Why is there a color barrier among us? Light skin Dark skin.... Who gives a damn, we are all of the same ancestors, and the same day to day struggles, just for BEING black, light skinned or not. Lets come together instead of finding reasons to pull apart. White folk got us thinkin we aint beautiful if we aint "red" or "high yella" we come in all different shades, we are ALL beautiful, have pride brothas and sistas, we came a loooooooong way.

Posted by: tashi at May 20, 2003 05:26 PM


When I saw the movie, Antwone Fisher, I thought the female roles were curiously miscast. "That's just Hollywood," I thought. "Surely, this is an oversight," because casting lighter skinned actresses in the positive roles somehow trivializes the major theme of the film. Why would a film speak so loudly about the legacy of the "slave community" and deliberately fall victim to it? On second thought, I came to realize that that is part of what makes the film so good. Black folks often give lip service to the truth without living it at all. Although we say that we are all black and beautiful, we don't believe that for a minute. There are those of us who are insightful enough to see that beauty is more than skin deep. In real life, Denzel, Samuel L., and a few other brothers who broker financial and political power married round-the-way girls, true sisters that look like real women, not glamour girls that aspire to be the next media fantasy. But let's face it, we still have a long way to go. Freedom came, segregation ended, and we still behave the way "massah" intended.

Posted by: robbob at August 17, 2003 04:49 PM


I use to feel bad about my dark skin tone. Because dark was always considered unattractive. Now at 20 I realized I am beautiful no matter how dark I am. I also have a problem with all the light-skin girls on music videos. Where are the dark skin girls at. I'm sick of light being beytrayed as beautiful. I've seen alot of ugly light skinned people men and women.

Posted by: Darknlovely at September 12, 2003 12:33 AM