I’ll See Your Post-Racialism and Raise You Polyethnicism
My mom wanted me to write about the newest Tea Party scandal. I wanted to discuss Kobe Bryant and how his outburst made me consider my views on free speech. So, I propose a compromise. Popular brand Carol’s Daughter has the internet going nuts over it’s newest advertising campaign. The company recently announced it’s newest spokeswomen, Cassie, Solange and Selita Ebanks. The trio graced the cover of a magazine, with the headline “Beauty in Diversity”.
And they did it seriously. No snark, no shade (no pun), but was this a typo?
Of course the irony is that the three women on the cover look like sisters. Where’s the diversity? According to Carol’s Daughter, the three women are a celebration of polyethnic beauty, a celebration of “what America’s really becoming”. And there it is again, racism’s ugly cousin, colorism, showing up when we least expected it. “
There is something to be said for celebrating Black women that self-identify as polyethnic. By all means. But for me, the cover brought up two questions. First, in this “post-racial” society, what exactly does diversity mean? And second, is colorism the new racism? To the first question, the idea of expanding our definition of diversity seems absurd. In American culture, cultural pluralism and multiculturalism aren’t celebrated or encouraged as much as assimilation is. The Melting Pot that we call our country doesn’t exactly welcome differences as much as it forces assimilation and celebrates likeness. That distinction is rarely discussed. This is why colorism has flourished. In a society that celebrates and in some ways requires likeness, it follows that people of different cultures fit in as much as they resemble the dominant majority culturally, economically, and in the case of colorism, aesthetically.
We don’t normally talk about colorism outside of the Black community because admitting that it exists might further puncture the flawed notion of a post-racial society. Is the Carol’s Daughter campaing a celebration of the beauty of polyethnic Black women? Or is this yet another instance of the media and companies telling us that “If you are light, you are all right. If you are brown, you can stick around. If you are black, get back”?