Brené with Dr. Yaba Blay on
One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race
In this episode, I talk to Dr. Yaba Blay about her new book, One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race. It’s an honest and raw conversation about identity, grief, transformation, history, colorism, and taking responsibility for change. I continue to reflect on this quote from Dr. Blay: “Identity is nuanced. It’s complicated. I think it’s hard to define. Sometimes I think it’s dangerous to define, depending upon who’s doing the defining.”
Dr. Yaba Blay
Dr. Yaba Blay is a scholar-activist, public speaker, and cultural consultant whose scholarship, work, and practice centers on the lived experiences of Black women and girls, with a particular focus on identity/body politics and beauty practices. Lauded by O Magazine for her social media activism, she has launched several viral campaigns including Locs of Love, #PrettyPeriod, and #ProfessionalBlackGirl, her multi-platform digital community.
Widely respected as one of the foremost thought leaders on Black racial identity, colorism, and beauty politics, Dr. Blay is a globally sought-after speaker and consultant with an extensive client list of over two dozen academic institutions including Harvard University, Duke University, Spelman College, New York University, to name a few; and such corporate entities as Netflix, UniLever International, SheaMoisture, Estee Lauder Companies, Procter & Gamble’s ‘My Black is Beautiful,’ and the #meToo. Movement.
Dr. Yaba Blay earned a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in African American Studies (with distinction) and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies from Temple University. She also holds a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology from the University of New Orleans. The former Dan Blue Endowed Chair in Political Science at North Carolina Central University, she has also taught on the faculties of Lehigh University, Lafayette College, and Drexel University, where she served as the Director of the Africana Studies program.
One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race by Yaba Blay explores the extent to which historical definitions of race continue to shape contemporary racial identities and lived experiences of racial difference. Featuring the perspectives of 60 contributors representing 25 countries and combining candid narratives with striking portraiture, this book provides living testimony to the diversity of Blackness. Although contributors use varying terms to self-identify, they all see themselves as part of the larger racial, cultural, and social group generally referred to as Black. They have all had their identity called into question simply because they do not fit neatly into the stereotypical “Black box”—dark skin, “kinky” hair, broad nose, full lips, etc. Most have been asked “What are you?” or the more politically correct “Where are you from?” throughout their lives. It is through contributors’ lived experiences with and lived imaginings of Black identity that we can visualize multiple possibilities for Blackness.
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