East Africa Today: An interview with Yaba Blay
In Episode 17, East Africa Today speaks with Dr. Yaba Blay, an Assistant Teaching Professor of Africana Studies at Drexel University and Consulting Producer for CNN's Black in America 5-Who is Black in America? Who is Black? Who is African? Is America really living in a post-racial world or was that completely naive for people to think after the election of President Barack Obama? These are just some of the questions we discuss in a fascinating conversation with Dr. Blay about race, colorism and identity in the 21st century. We discuss Dr. Blay's (1)ne Drop Project, how it started and what it means in the context of defining 'Blackness' and 'Africaness.' Dr. Blay tells us more about the skin bleaching phenomenon among African women and why it is a growing, but dangerous, trend. We also try to understand the perceived divide between Africans and African Americans and why there is a tendency to see the difference between the two groups rather than what binds them together.
Dr. Blay's research interests lie within Black identities and the politics of embodiment specifically with respect to hair and skin color politics. As she mentions in the podcast when we discuss skin bleaching in Africa, her dissertation Yellow Fever: Skin Bleaching and the Politics of Skin Color in Ghana, relied upon African-centered and African feminist methodologies to investigate the social practice of skin bleaching in Ghana.
As a recipient of the 2010 Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grant, Dr. Blay was able to pursue her now well renowned (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race. The project is inclusive of a full-color portrait essay book, online exhibition, travelling exhibition and lecture. It seeks to explore the nuances of skin color politics and Black racial identity, who has the right to classify different identities? Who is to say someone is Black or White for that matter? These are some of the issues Dr. Blay explores.
Dr. Blay has a degree in Psychology from Salisbury State University and an M.ED in Counseling Psychology from the University of New Orleans. She received her Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University
You can follow Dr. Blay on Twitter: @fiyawata
Photo: Yaba Blay