Whereas the academic discourse on skin color politics tends to focus primarily on the sociopolitical disadvantages associated with having dark skin in a racialized society, (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race explores potential disadvantages related with having light skin, particularly among people of African descent – racial ambiguity and contested racial authenticity.
Often times, we live by stereotypical notions of “Blackness” and believe that “Blackness” is (or should be) a homogeneous identity – one that should be visually identifiable. In this way, we think we know what “Black” looks like. Consequently, when confronted with people who self-identify as “Black,” but do not fit into our stereotypical model of Blackness, many of us not only question their identity, but also our potential relationship to them. Whether it is their skin color alone, or the combination of their skin color with any number of physical characteristics, something about their particular physical appearance compels us to call their Blackness into question.
(1)ne Drop seeks to challenge narrow perceptions of Blackness as both an identity and lived reality. Featuring the perspectives of 58 contributors representing 25 different countries and countries of origin, and combining candid memoirs with simple, yet striking, portraiture, this multi-platform project provides living testimony to the diversity of Blackness. Although contributors use varying terms to self-identify, they all see themselves as part of the larger racial, cultural, and social group generally referred to and known as “Black.” They all have experienced having their identity called into question simply because they don’t fit neatly into the stereotypical “Black box” — dark skin, “kinky” hair, broad nose, full lips, etc. – and most have been asked “What are you?” or the more politically correct, “Where are you from?” numerous times by various people throughout their lives. It is through contributors’ lived experiences with and lived imaginings of Black identity that we are able to visualize multiple possibilities for Blackness above and beyond appearances.
Featuring the work of well-noted photographers Noelle Théard, Ayana V. Jackson (France), Akintola Hanif, Richard Terborg (The Netherlands), Rushay Booysen (South Africa), Janet E. Dandrige, and Guma (Brasil), (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race takes the very literal position that in order for us to see Blackness differently, we have to see Blackness differently.
To learn more about (1)ne Drop and to view the online exhibition, please visit http://1nedrop.com