It’s Time to Call Out all the Light-Skin Bias on Instagram

TK Saccoh is using social media to start a crucial conversation

By Sage Howard

TK Saccoh is using social media to start a crucial conversation
TK Saccoh is using social media to start a crucial conversation: “Are Black people just virtual beings?” Photo by Elias Williams for Huffpost

Earlier this year, when news broke that the AI-generated robot rapper FN Meka“signed” with Capitol Records Music Group, social media all but lost it. With all the exceptional living and breathing talent in the U.S., it made no sense that a major record label would give a sims-like character an opportunity that human artists would die for. A short glance at any content featuring the character was enough to know the move was, once again, about the profitability of Black culture backed by harmful stereotypes about my community. 

In the days following the hype — which ended with FN Meka being dropped after a day of social media backlash — TK Saccoh, founder of The Darkest Hue, an Instagram account designed to create community and call out colorism, used her social page to start a crucial conversation: “Are Black people just virtual beings?” she asked her followers. Through the examples of FN Meka and other famous avatars such as Shudu, Saccoh argues that the perpetuation of light-skin bias is evolving in an insidious way.

FN Meka, an artificial intelligence created rapper

Right away, FN Meka’s virtual presence was a trigger for me. It brought up feelings similar to when a therapist once asked me how I would feel if my skin color was indeed the reason I wasn’t being presented with the same opportunities as my white and lighter-skinned BIPOC counterparts. I’m still unsure if she was expressing her own discriminatory beliefs or if she was just being honest about how colorism works against people with skin darker than her own. 

In 2022, our society appears to thrive off the illusion of equality. Experiencing colorism from people inside and outside one’s community, and recognizing it as anti-blackness feels like a gut punch that leaves me quietly gasping for air. It’s an experience that is difficult to put into words, so more often than not, people choose not to. 

“Colorism is so isolating. So many other people are experiencing it, but there’s a stigma about being vulnerable about it. You just suppress it and keep it to yourself,” said Saccoh when I asked her about her motivation to focus her online presence on combating colorism.

Two years ago, Saccoh launched the profile as a safe space for Black and brown dark-skinned femmes to discuss their experiences — she found they weren’t sufficiently represented on social media. 

“I’d keep scrolling, keep scrolling, keep scrolling, and I’d see one type of Black person or one type of racially ambiguous person,” she said. “I started to curate my feed following dark skin girls, and my feed quickly became filtered to serve me, and my needs.” 

There is such an over-saturation of a “certain type of Black girl.” And that was by design, of course. 

Saccoh designed her Instagram account to create community and call out colorism.

Saccoh designed her Instagram account to create community and call out colorism.

Saccoh, now 22, migrated to the U.S. from Sierra Leone when she was 5, first moving to Washington state (where she recalls first experiencing observable racism) and then to Philadelphia when she was 8 years old. Before moving, she recalls looking forward to being in spaces with people that looked like her, but she quickly found herself on the receiving end of dark-skin and xenophobic jokes by other Black people. 

“I would get very explicit comments from classmates like, ‘oh you’re too Black, you’re ugly,’ there was no need to read between the lines,” said Saccoh. Around this time, she also became more aware of the widespread use of bleaching cream in her home country, Sierra Leone. “I internalized these things even before I had the language of colorism.”

As an adult, I still struggle with finding words to explain colorism when I am experiencing it, and often question whether I am overreacting. A misconception often passed around when discussing colorism is that it is based on “preference,” making it difficult to call out. However, preferring lighter skin is an indelible symptom of a colonized mind where Eurocentric standards of beauty reign and darker-hued skin is seen as undesirable. 

Dr. Seanna Leath, an assistant professor of psychological and brain science at Washington State University in St. Louis, emphasizes the roots of colorism as a tool used by white supremacists during slavery to create dissension amongst enslaved people. 

“These were practices like only allowing lighter skin people to work inside the house, or giving lighter skin people certain privileges that then led to a division amongst Black folks,” said Leath. 

However, the stench of these white-centric practices continues to show up in the content we consume today, from music to beauty tutorials that teach us how to contour our noses to look more narrow. 

“When you ask how colorism is different than racism, I think that you are trying to tap into the notion that colorism exists within the Black community and other communities of color, where Black folks can’t be racist towards other Black folks, but we can show prejudicial beliefs or bias to one another,” said Leath. 

This intra-racial prejudice is just one of the critical issues Saccoh looks to address using her platform. 

“It started with me just talking about colorism, but I think colorism is an entryway for us to talk about other intra-racial violence,” said Saccoh. This violence includes sexism, featurism, fatphobia, queerphobia, ableism, and so on. “It’s been really interesting to have this digital space that is a little controversial, but I think that’s why my space is unique because there is a lot of accountability building.”

Fostering open dialogues about colorism is essential because of the ways colorism affects people in real life. These biases often show up not just on the ’gram and TikTok, but in the lack of access to safety, education, and care for dark skin femmes and poor, queer, fat and disabled people. The most recent trending example of this is the case of Pieper Lewis ― the 17-year-old girl Iowa courts ruled to pay $150,000 in restitution for killing her accused rapist.

Saccoh’s platform points out the toxic intricacies that lead to such detrimental consequences. “I’ve been able to highlight the interpersonal struggles of dark-skin women and girls, while also highlighting the structural consequences,” she said.

The author, Sage Howard, says she still struggles finding words to explain colorism when she is experiencing it, and often questions if she’s just overreacting.

The author, Sage Howard, says she still struggles finding words to explain colorism when she is experiencing it, and often questions if she’s just overreacting.

Growing up, I first became aware of colorism sitting in the hair salon and talking about what I experienced in the salon with my grandmother, an Afro-Latina from Panama. I would tell her how the women in the salon handled clients with deeper skin tones and complexions as if they were a burden, while women with lighter skin and looser curls were treated tenderly and taken ahead of other clients. 

My grandmother would listen and tell similar stories — specifically about catching people speaking poorly of her or other darker skin people in Spanish. “Sé leerlo, escribirlo, y hablarlo,” ― “I can read it, write it, and speak it,” she would say when people were surprised she understood. 

There is a stifling type of damage that lingers when something as toxic as white and light-skinned supremacy is a part of your childhood. In the digital age, these feelings are complicated by the notion that an algorithm determines everything. How do you fight a monster that is hidden in plain sight? For Saccoh, the birth of FN Meka, was a timely and crucial opportunity to call it out. 

The computer-generated rapper, who amassed millions of followers and views on TikTok, was created by Factory New, which claimed to be a futuristic music company. When news of the deal went public, Ryan Ruden, Capitol Music Group’s executive vice president of experiential marketing & business development, told told Music Business World that FN Meka “is just a preview of what’s to come.” 

Former Factory New co-founder Anthony Martini said, “Think about the biggest stars in the world. How many of them are just vessels for commercial endeavors?” These comments are nothing short of jarring when you consider FN Meka’s content: video game-like reenactments littered with harsh stereotypes about Black people, the n-word, and disturbing depictions of things like police brutality. 

In one post, Saccoh puts words to what we were experiencing. She points out the way technology is reducing ― and sometimes, even erasing ― the identities of people with brown skin to empty vessels meant to produce products that non-Black people profit from. She also points out how the internet has made surveilling darker skin communities, spreading stereotypes and exploiting darker-skinned bodies more familiar.

NNPA CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis to Interview Sophia the Robot at First Tech with Soul Virtual Conference

chavis interviews sophia the robot

By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire

chavis interviews sophia the robot
At 8 p.m. EST, Dr. Chavis will engage Sophia the Robot in what Johns called a timely and pivotal dialogue on automation and robotic advancements affecting Black America and global society.

From Civil Rights to Space Rights, that’s the motto of National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., who will take the next step into celestial spaces when he interviews the famous Sophia the Robot at the inaugural Tech with Soul virtual conference on Tuesday, January 4.

Tech This Out News and Digital Mind State plan to join We Are Digital to present the first annual Tech with Soul conference featuring Dr. Chavis, Sophia the Robot, and an all-star lineup that also includes Dr. George C. Fraser and Fivio Foreign, who plans the first NFT dance, the Woo Walk.

“I am pleased to participate in the first annual Tech with Soul conference. I look forward to the upcoming fireside chat with Sophia the Robot,” Dr. Chavis remarked.

“This will boost Black people and The Black Press of America even further into the AI and digital space.”

Tech with Soul counts as the premier destination for people of color, including tech leaders, designers, innovators, corporate and government leaders, and scholars to gather to address today’s issues in the tech sector during this year’s CES.

The conference goal is to educate and raise awareness of the lagging participation and opportunities offered to the BIPOC community.

The conference has been designed to propel and “future-proof businesses,” said Mike Johns, the founder of Tech with Soul and the CEO of Digital Mind State.

“What separates Tech with Soul from other events is our appeal to people of color. This is the first of many to come, Las Vegas and CES is the perfect destination to host such an iconic event,” Johns stated.

He added that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated investments in automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence on a global scale, simultaneously creating a range of complex challenges, including questions surrounding job security risks and equity.

At 8 p.m. EST, Dr. Chavis will engage Sophia the Robot in what Johns called a timely and pivotal dialogue on automation and robotic advancements affecting Black America and global society.

“I think this will be important,” Dr. Chavis insisted. “They have rarely allowed such interaction with Sophia the Robot, and this will be a pivotal moment because it’s not just about today, it’s about our future.”

Johns said he thought it essential that Dr. Chavis and Sophia the Robot discuss automation and its importance for African Americans in particular.

Tech with Soul 2022 also promises to bring together the best and brightest in tech and to create a “unique space for people of color technologists to exchange ideas, share their professional journeys, and network with like-minded business and tech professionals,” Johns added.

“This is the first of what will be an annual event,” Johns stated.

“Tech with Soul was really created out of the need that businesses are future-proof and that people of color understand the importance of how to maneuver in the world of technology, especially in this data-driven world.”

“Data can be used for good and bad,” Johns continued.

“It’s very important with technology like AI and algorithms and the interpretation of data that we are in the room and included in those conversations. If we’re not, manipulations will happen at a fast rate, and we will be left out.”

The conference begins at 3 p.m. EST.

To register for the live stream, send an email to events@techthisout.news.

PVAMU Becomes First HBCU to Host American Society For Engineering Education Gulf-Southwest Section Conference

University

_The conference will be held March 16-18, 2022, on the campus of PVAMU._

PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas Prairie View A&M University will begin its spring semester on a high note, as the first HBCU to host the 2022 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Gulf-Southwest (GSW) Section conference. PVAMU’s College of Engineering is nationally ranked as a top producer of African-American Engineers and was most recently recognized as one of the best engineering programs for the 2022 school year by U.S. News.

The theme of the 2022 conference is “Engineering Education for Productive People: Preparing Students for the Changing Work Environment.” Members of the ASEE conference will participate in professional activities at the local level and form regional networks of educators with common interests and goals.“

The 2022 ASEE GSW conference being held at PVAMU will give us a great opportunity to showcase our research work and facilities to engineeringstudents and faculty members from the states of Texas, Louisiana, and New Mexico,” said John Attia Ph.D., PE, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at PVAMU and conference chair.

GSW Section activities include:    

  • Conducting an annual section conference.    
  • Conducting workshops and professional development activities forfaculty members and administrators. 
  • Sponsoring awards for professional excellence.    
  • Issuing newsletters.

2022 Denton Black Film Festival Announces Call for Vendors to Tech Expo

denton black film festival (1)

DENTON, TX– As part of the launch of the eighth annual Denton Black Film Festival, organizers are hosting the “DBFF TechXpo,” showcasing innovative technologies from leading Black, women-led, and minority-owned companies alongside influential leaders in innovation and technology with a global reach.

The 2 ½-day exhibit, taking place January 27-29, 2022, is expected to have up to 5,000 attendees for the expo and up to 10,000 attendees for the festival.

“The expo is one of the many ways DBFF is extending its reach,” said Harry Eaddy, one of the festival’s founders and organizer of the tech expo. “We want to offer visitors a hands-on, interactive experience and get a peek into the latest technologies.”

DBFF is looking for a wide variety of companies, including software, film-related technology, gaming, AI, VR, XR, AR, Big Data, data analytics, data visualization, Smart Cities, energy, automotive/autonomous driving vehicles and visual art to exhibit and participate in panels and speaker sessions.

If you’re excited of the prospect of participating, reach out at techexpo@dentonbff.com. You can also contact Brian Diggs at 713.480.0454 or Harry Eaddy at 940.368.6918.

What’s on miles’ mind: “BRAINHACK”

Brain hacks

By Miles Jaye

Recently a hacking gang by the name of Darkside hacked the Colonial fuel distribution system creating a panic and a weeklong fuel shortage on the East Coast. Darkside won a $5 million ransom for restoring the system.

Think of hacking as the unauthorized accessing or seizing of a digital operating system or network. It’s hijacking someone else’s computer system. Imagine you’re on your computer, attempting to access word processing but for some reason you can’t.

Someone else is typing a message to you. “We’ve taken control of your computer and shut you out. Nice bank account, nice pictures, nice contact list.” It’s scary stuff! Hacking is the primary tool or weapon of what’s now referred to as Cyberterrorism.

Hacking can begin as innocently as misusing Napster’s music sharing platform and making free long-distance phone calls, to crossing the line to identity theft by charging purchases to a stranger’s credit card, i.e. ordering pizzas.

More ominous uses of hacking pose quite a serious threat to government agencies, military, as well as global corporations and monetary systems. Technically, the Cyberterrorist is capable of taking control of a nation’s banking, telecommunications and infrastructure, leaving essential means of daily living hamstrung. Imagine the C.I.A., F.B.I., D.E.A., N.S.A. D.I.A., NASA, and the Federal Reserve hacked.

The brainhack I’m referring to is much more insidious than even a cyberterrorist could concoct. It’s the modern-day genocide — 21st century eugenics. The brainhack would allow me to render an entire population threatless to anyone but them- selves.

First, a bit about the brain. Most of us are familiar with the left and right hemispheres of the brain and their functions. What are somewhat less familiar are the prefrontal cortex (PFC), the amygdala, and the cerebellum. These three components of the beloved human brain perform or control specific functions or behaviors– processing, analysis, cognition, recognition, memory, happiness, sadness, etc.

In the 1900’s the frontal lobe region of the brain, found to be responsible for moods and behavior, such as depression, anxiety, and violence, was commonly treated with a procedure called the lobotomy, or psychosurgery– the early brainhack. This was at a time when mental illness was misunderstood and barbaric; controversial treatments such as electric shock and the frontal lobotomy were common.

The amygdala is associated with emotions such as fear and aggression. Cerebellum is associated with language, attention and focus, and motor skills or movement. These three regions of the brain develop at different rates, thus, the stages of human development, the most compel- ling of which for the purpose of this brainhacking exercise is adolescence.

If I can successfully brainhack this group by freezing their development into a terminal state of puberty, ages 13 to 23, I can not only predict, but control their behavior. I can render them intellectually and psychologically disoriented and emotionally and spiritually empty– devoid of self-awareness and any viable or potent life force. The brain- hack– a mass lobotomy!

Some characteristics of adolescence may be familiar to you. A negative sense of identity, a lack of impulse control, defensiveness, argumentative, isolated, self-absorbed, and prone to violence. Statistics show that 1 in 5 adolescents suffer major depression episodes and 1 in 6 contemplate suicide, at least once. Sound familiar? Have we been brainhacked?


That’s what’s on my mind.
Website: www.milesjaye.net
Podcast: https://bit.ly/2zkhSRv
Email: milesjaye360@gmail.com

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