Now Reading: Where Are All The Dark Skin Characters on ‘Grown-ish’?


Where Are All The Dark Skin Characters on ‘Grown-ish’?

January 4, 20184 min read

In late 2016, it was announced that ‘Blackish’ would get a spin-off starring Zoey (Yara Shahidi). The series would be called ‘Grownish’ and it would be focused on Zoey’s transition into college. When the cast photo was revealed, there was clearly one thing missing: dark-skinned leads. Despite this being a show that is led by black main characters, none of them are dark-skinned. Now, this isn’t a debate on whether the characters are “black enough”, but more on commentary how the color of their skin isn’t showing full representation. Some might say Trevor Jackson’s character is dark-skinned, but he’s brown-skinned. When we talk about dark skin, we are talking about Lupita Nyongo’s complexion. If you watched, you probably asked yourself “do dark-skinned women go to college?” By the looks of ‘Grownish’, no they don’t. In the real world, though, plenty of dark-skinned women do go to college. The show fails to reflect that; it centers more on the characters who are lighter-skinned.


Many people were outraged by this:

Well, at least they’re black right? No. This reflects a longer issue in Hollywood. Time and time again, dark-skinned women are snubbed when it comes to true representation. It seems as though Hollywood has a problem where the main actors who are black are usually light-skinned. The biggest movies featuring black leads last year were mainly light-skinned, from Tessa Thompson (‘Thor: Ragnarok’) to Zendaya (‘Spiderman: Homecoming’ & ‘The Greatest Showman’). Despite Viola Davis playing a lead in ‘How To Get Away With Murder’, it’s only one show out of the many on TV. She is the exception, and unfortunately, not the rule. Black people barely get roles in Hollywood blockbusters, but when they do, they’re usually light-skinned black people. This is all due to colorism. Colorism is the prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group. Colorism is why dark-skinned women from youth question whether they’re beautiful or not, constantly being bombarded with derogatory comments about their dark skin, being compared to burnt objects and being pressured to bleach.

‘Grownish’ is reinforcing colorism. People even complained that the extras weren’t dark-skinned as either. Just to emphasize, ‘Grownish’ is still a great show just like ‘Blackish’. Yara is a very outspoken woman who stands up for the right things, and this isn’t her fault at all. The long-term effects of not seeing fair representation on TV are lasting, to look at the TV and not see anyone who looks like you is damaging. The cast of ‘Grownish’ is a clear representation of the contempt Hollywood has for dark-skinned characters. They feel as though dark-skinned characters are “too rough” — looking for overall just not attractive.

‘Grownish’ is only in its first season, so I know as they progress the cast will be improved and it will soon include more hues of black instead of just light-skinned. Should people just accept the lack of representation as it is? No, people should continue asking for more than just the bare minimum.

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