Friday, April 10, 2009

We Are Respectable Negroes Flashback--the Color Matching Game Revisited: What’s Up With Waxy Michelle? Is She café-au-lait?

So exactly what shade of respectable negro is Michelle Obama? I would say Mocha-Mania.

Hat tip to the Root:

What’s Up With Waxy Michelle?

Madame Tussauds has immortalized the Obamas. Cool. But since when is Michelle café-au-lait?

No doubt about it, Michelle Obama’s on a roll right now, coming fresh off her triumphant G-20 It Girl World Tour: Hugging the Queen. Swarmed by schoolgirls in London. Air-kissing Carla Bruni Sarkozy. The Daily Beast’s Tina Brown asks, “Is Michelle the New Oprah?” and compares her to Princess Di. She’s been dubbed the hugger in chief, Mighty Michelle, a first lady whose popularity soars with a 72 percent approval rating. And now, she’s been immortalized in wax, standing right alongside her husband at Madame Tussauds in Washington, D.C.

The basic details of her face, though not quite pretty enough, are there: the curve of her nose, the almond tilt of the eyes, the radiant smile. Her normally bouncing bob is a little stiff, not surprising, since it’s a statue. The pearls are there, along with the trademark sleeveless dress and cardigan. All in all, it’s Michelle Obama.

But what’s up with the café-au-lait shading? The wax first lady looks a good couple of shades lighter than her biracial husband. She’s immortalized in a honey hue that has absolutely, positively, nothing to do with her richly mahogany reality...

The story continues here.


Our very own Gordon Gartrelle provides a helpful guide to answering this question (one far more handy than walking around all day with a paper bag against which to test one's hue).

I recently had my place painted, so I’ve been looking at nothing

I recently had my place painted, so I’ve been looking at nothing but color samples for weeks. As I pored over the bizarre but creative color names (lazy afternoon?), I had a stroke of inspiration.

Brilliant minds have wrestled with the implications of colorism in America, and we are grateful for their contributions. The problem? Their color distinctions aren’t stratified enough. What’s worse, these rough distinctions (e.g. “light, medium, dark”) have no flair.

Thus, in the spirit of Benjamin Moore and Wu Tang, we would like to provide a public service to Social Scientists and any others who may be interested in race: a formal, yet playful classification of black folks’ various hues, complete with punchy, memorable names. Who knows? Given our recent discussion about light-skinned educational and political elites, perhaps this classification tool can aid Affirmative Action for darker black folks:

Now that we have our color categories, I want to invite our readers to play The Matching Game. To play, simply choose a few black people who best represent each color and post them in your comments. We’ve suggested some prominent black people below. Of course, feel free to choose your own color representatives or create your own color categories. Early next week, we will reveal our lists (including where each of us falls on the color spectrum).

**Clarence Thomas**Morgan Freeman**Gwen Ifill**Biggie**Jasmine Guy** Jay Z **Soledad Obrien**Ben Jealous**Angela Bassett**Jesse Jackson**Reverend Wright** **Julian Bond** Don Cheadle**Lena Horne**Denzel Washington**50 Cent**Vin Diesel **Beyonce**Miles Davis **Harold Ford**Wesley Snipes**Muhammad Ali** Oprah **John McWhorter**Malcolm X**Nia Long**Angela Davis**Common**Will Smith **Stanley Crouch**Flava Flav** Michael Eric Dyson**OJ**Whoopie Goldberg/Lil Wayne (has anyone ever seen them both in the same room?)** Halle Berry**Michelle Obama **Barack Obama**


Vittoria Falconer said...

Personally, I'm between Mocha-Mania(summer) and Cafe accompli(winter)... thats only my momma is between Bougie Beige (summer) and High Yella ( winter) and my dad's Native Amurikan.

Nuff sed.

Vittoria Falconer said...

Which ALSO means Its hard as h*ll for me to find makeup to fit my complexion... (dag nabbit)

The Author said...

HA, I knew it! I thought the same thing when i saw the wax Michelle!

* Now, brother Malcolm seems like a hard one to categorize. His red hair and skin throws one off. But if I had to choose, I would go with Cafe Acompli, using this classification tool.

But I move to add a new categorization that encompasses a reddish, burnt orangey, brown color. Perhaps, Brown Jig (associated with Irish country dance music – alluding to the reddish tint). And I nominate brother Malcolm to represent that category!

Lady Zora, Chauncey DeVega, and Gordon Gartrelle said...

Brown Jig--that is classic.

If folks are mad about Obama fried chicken, they will crucify someone over that new Revlon color--damn imagine that one in a Walgreen's or CVS!

chauncey devega

Anonymous said...

It's not suprising they would lighten michelle, when the world calls the son of a white woman a
"black man".

The one drop rule is White supremacist ideology.