The film based on the campus of Morehouse College speaks volumes to the historic colorism in southern Black beauty pageants.
In the upcoming short film Brown Paper Pageant, filmmaker Maame-Yaa Aforo highlights the continuous need and importance of Black female storytellers and directors.
The film project also highlights the HBCU, Morehouse College, and its prestigious “Miss Maroon & White” pageant that takes place during Homecoming week activities. Touching on the socio and campus politics that run rampant, and how white supremacy manifests in the Black community, the film sheds light on how it unequivocally affects Black women.
Maame-Yaa Aforo is Ghanian-American and Spelman alumni raised in Minnesota. She created this film in hopes to share her experience with entering a pageant and all the complexities associated with a pageant entrenched in deep southern tradition. Although Brown Paper Pageant has its hilarious moments, it still speaks to the seriousness of colorism happening in the days of yesteryear and today.
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If that isn’t reason enough to look forward to watching this film, here are five more. The film:
- revisits the historical discrimination against darker-skin Black women competing and winning in southern beauty pageants, whereas their lighter-skin counterparts were favored.
- reveals the constant neglect Black women receive while on production sets regarding non-Black hairstylists’ and makeup artists’ lack of knowledge of Black skin and hair.
- touches on the “Brown Paper Bag” test that was historically known to play a huge part in choosing prospective members to join sororities like Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. at HBCUs.
- displays how Black women are overly-sexualized and fetishized by men, especially of other races, disregarding their intellect and natural beauty.
- speaks to the challenges of Black women choosing between keeping their integrity despite societal pressures, or conforming to popularized views and ideologies of what Black beauty is.
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