How do you define a racial identity? Can “blackness” be defined simply by a person’s skin tone, hair texture and facial features? Can we define it by the way someone walks or the way they talk? Can it be a product of someone’s cultural affinities, regardless of what she looks like?
These are the questions that Dr. Yaba Blay and photographer Noelle Théard encourage us to wrestle with in (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race. Featuring the perspectives of 58 people who identify as part of the larger “racial, cultural, and social group generally referred to and known as Black,” the book combines candid memoirs and striking portraits to explore the complexities of Black identity and celebrate an individual’s right to self-identify.
(1)ne Drop’s title derives from the “one-drop rule” — a (successful) attempt to define blackness in America as one drop, or at least 1/32, of Black ancestry for the economic, social, and political purposes of distinguishing a Black person from a White person. I say “successful,” because the one-drop rule still holds cultural weight today, especially with regard to how we value light and dark skin. For this reason, Dr. Blay aims to “challenge narrow yet popular perceptions of what Blackness is and what Blackness looks like.”
Follow policymic on Tumblr