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OWN's Black Love Called Out for The Glaring Absence of Dark-Skinned Black Women in Promo for New Season

Illustration for article titled OWNs iBlack Love/i Called Out for The Glaring Absence of Dark-Skinned Black Women in Promo for New Season
Screenshot: @blacklovedoc (Twitter

The creators of Black Love, an OWN docuseries which says it aims to tell the stories of Black couples and increase representation, spent the weekend fielding backlash from Black Twitter after releasing a promotional trailer in which dark-skinned women were made all but invisible.

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Released on Friday, the teaser for the fourth season of Black Love appeared to be teeing up viewers for stories that were almost exclusively about Black men in partnerships light-skinned women:

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Twitter immediately reacted to the total absence of dark-skinned women in the trailer, as well as the lack of representation for LGBTQ Black relationships:

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Though previous seasons of the show have featured relationships which include prominent dark-skinned women, like Viola Davis and Ryan Michelle Bathe, the tone-deaf trailer felt like a confirmation of a truth dark-skinned Black women (like myself) know from lived experience: colorism exists, and one of its many functions is to tell us implicitly and often explicitly that we don’t deserve to be loved by men who look like us.

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Another way that colorism functions and is perpetuated in our communities is through the denial that it even exists and is not only about preferences but is also about racism. Ironically, this is similar to the gaslighting that white people like to practice when Black people say that racism is still a thing that impacts our lives (or not so ironically, since colorism is a branch from the racist tree).

Maya Angelique, the dark-skinned young woman who continues to be harassed by Talib Kweli for accurately pointing out on Twitter that many married Black male public figures (like those in the trailer) prefer their Black women with less melanin, also called out this gaslighting:

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“We show Black men and women of all shades in loving relationships - we even show them in relationships with someone who isn’t Black,” the people behind Black Love initially said on Twitter, in response to the onslaught of comments regarding their problematic trailer, seeming to practise some of this gaslighting.

“Some folks are mad. It sucks. But we still still show US being loved,” they added.

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By the next day morning, they seemed ready to acknowledge the problem of ostensibly advocating for Black representation while contributing to the erasure of dark-skinned Black women—intentionally or not.

“For 3+ years we have shown a diverse representation of Black men & women and this teaser didn’t reflect that or the upcoming season as a whole,” they tweeted.

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The new season of Black Love premieres on September 5th on OWN.


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Writer, speaker, finesser, and a fly dresser. Jamaican-American currently chilling in Chicago.

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DISCUSSION

I was JUST talking about how film and TV STAY perpetuating imagery depicting Black men with lightskinned/exotic/white women as a subversive tool to keep more melanated women at the bottom of the dating totem pole. I’ll wait while you compile a list of Black couples on TV that are roughly the same skin tone. Sure, it does not always shake out so equally in real life either, but take an extra second to process the “diverse” imagery in everything from pharmaceutical ads to even the latest and greatest Lovecraft Country. You cannot unsee this dark/light couple trope once you begin looking for it.

Meanwhile, if people would actually watch American Gods, they’d know that the wondrously melanated Bilquis/Queen Sheba is the most powerful being on the planet. Seriously, Asian males and Black females on these dating apps are essentially algorithmically sorted downward, so it does NOT surprise me that OWN is guilty of pushing the same types of imagery.

*Coughs in Greenleaf*

*Coughs in Spike Lee’s entire filmography*

*Coughs at most music videos, except Peaches and Cream*