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Colorism In The Watermelon Woman

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Throughout the course of production, literature and media have served as a medium for capturing diverse experiences. When queer and trans identities have been concerned, the material has provided meaningful content. Specific selections in this genre have portrayed the experiences of queer and trans characters as they intersect with race and gender. Nella Larsen’s book Passing and Cheryl Dunye’s film The Watermelon Woman both maintained the theme of colorism, specifically emphasizing its impact on queer women. The oppressive ideology has historically been maintained through pigmentocracy, a system where people with lighter skin benefit and are regarded as more valuable. Through close analysis and comparison of a historic text with a contemporary film, it is evident that colorism has been in place…show more content…
This media captured the story of Cheryl, who embarked on a mission to discover the history surrounding a black actress. In the midst of this pursuit, she encountered Diana, a white lesbian who she became romantically and sexually involved with. This film explored the theme of colorism when portraying relationships in marginalized communities. Cheryl was given the opportunity to date Yvette, another black woman. However, she instantly dismissed her, pursuing Diana instead. The disapproval Cheryl experienced from her friend Tamara was interesting as well. Tamara accused her of wanting to be white and questioned her pursuit of a “wanna be black girlfriend.” This intracommunity rejection and internalized oppression was evident with the character Bob as well. He displayed a colorist mentality by favoring Annie, a white woman, over Cheryl and Tamara in the workplace. He held the black women to higher expectations and scrutiny while prioritizing Annie’s needs. Hence, it is essential to note that this film captured colorism as a phenomenon that operates both outside and within communities of
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