In an effort to find out, I decided to ask two women who’ve been the subject of a lot of backlash: Gaby, a Brooklyn artist who uses skin tones to showcase her work and Sarah, who works at the gallery of which Gaby is the executive director.
In each case, I asked them, “How do you feel about the response you’ve received?”
The first person to answer said, “I think people have really lost their minds over this.”
The second person said, in response to an initial question, “It’s so sad.
I think it’s so hurtful.”
Both agreed that it is incredibly disappointing and unfair that it’s been taken as a sign of empowerment when so many people are not only ignorant of the reality of how black people are treated in this country, but also that they’ve had to make the choice to choose to remain black.
In Gaby’s case, she’s been asked to erase her skin tones by other black people because she’s white.
In Sarah’s case—she’s a woman of color who works in the visual arts—people have been sending her racist and sexist messages, including one that said she looked “like a white woman.”
They’ve even threatened to physically harm her.
And because these messages are being spread across social media, Gaby said, they’re often repeated on the news.
But for Sarah, it’s even worse.
“People are really upset that I’m a woman and they don’t like my skin,” she told me.
“The backlash has really gotten to me.”