Viola Davis on complex women of colour on the screen… and colourism.

Viola Davis, SAG’s Best Actress in a Drama for ‘How to Get Away With Murder’:-

“I’d like to thank Paul Lee, Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Bill D’Elia, and Peter Nowalk for thinking that a sexualized, messy, mysterious woman could be a 49-year-old dark-skinned African-American woman who looks like me.”



“You think dark is just one colour but it ain’t. There’re five or six kinds of black. Some silky, some woolly. Some just empty. Some like fingers. And it don’t stay still. It moves and changes from one kind of black to another. Saying something is pitch black is like saying something is green. What kind of green? Green like my bottles? Green like a grasshopper? Green like a cucumber, lettuce, or green like the sky is just before it breaks loose to storm? Well, night black is the same way. May as well be a rainbow.” –Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

My two cents (and admittedly, knee-jerk reaction) to finding about the existence of the “Dark Girls” documentary

This is the problem that I see here, “Dark Girls” documentary and all: Western society’s “dark” is the SKIN TONE of the AVERAGE black person on the PLANET EARTH. I don’t consider myself dark. And you sure as hell won’t find me starting to, either. I’m average.


On the few occasions when I’ve heard people say to my face that I’m “dark-skinned”, I literally have to stop and take stock, because it’s like they said something in a foreign language I haven’t learned. It doesn’t compute, or impact. Other than to irritate. As in tolerating an improbable asshat comment.

I’ll tell you why.

In my family, I’m the average skin tone. In the Caribbean, I’m the average skin tone. In Trinidad where I grew up, with its virtual 1/2 Black 1/2 East Indian population, I’m STILL the average skin tone.

Ditto Africa.

So now that I’ve gotten my knee jerk reaction off my chest, I’ll rest.

(EDIT: adding that I did not grow up being, and still am not, accustomed to being referred to by the colour of my skin.)

Hope the fact that I’m actually average doesn’t come as a shock to y’all.

If so, tough.