Although adopted and enforced by white supremacists at the beginning of the 20th century in Tennessee, the ‘one drop of black blood rule‘ seems to prevail in today’s society. In many instances, the old-fashioned rule is the determining factor IMO (is it?) in racially identifying who is black and who isn’t, especially in the United States.

Yaba Blay, Ph.D., an Africana studies scholar, and Noelle Théard, a photographer, are research collaborators on this issue and more, in the photo essay/documentary (1)ne Drop: Conversations on Skin Color, Race, and Identity. The project, an exploration of “the ‘other’ faces of Blackness – those who may not immediately be recognized, accepted, or embraced as Black in this visually racialized society”, has 16 days to go in its fundraising campaign through Kickstarter.

From the Kickstarter campaign page:

(1)ne Drop documents the thoughts, feelings, opinions, perspectives, and experiences of a variety of people of African descent from around the world. Their shared experience? Seeing themselves as Black and identifying as Black, yet having their Blackness questioned for any variety of reasons. “What are you?” is a question that many of them have been asked repeatedly. Africana Studies scholar Yaba Blay and photographer Noelle Théard have traveled extensively to photograph and interview 40 individuals representing 20 countries about their own racial identity, their connection to Blackness, and their experiences with skin color politics. Through candid personal narratives and beautifully captured photographs, (1)ne Drop provides living testimony to the fluidity of Blackness and provokes new thinking and new conversations on race, skin color, and identity.

(1)ne Drop = (1)ne Love

Through this project, we intend to raise social awareness and spark community dialogue about the complexities of Blackness as both an identity and a lived reality. We seek to challenge popular notions of what Black is and what Black looks like –- if we can recalibrate our lenses to see Blackness as a broader category of identity and experience, perhaps we will be able to see ourselves as part of a larger global community.

In the end, (1)ne Drop hopes to awaken a long-overdue and much needed dialogue about racial identity and skin color politics.

This is an interesting study, an issue that I ponder upon often. For those who do not exhibit obvious African features (skin tone, hair etc); is embracing blackness and/or African ancestry, or better yet, just identifying themselves as black, enough to be considered/embraced as black? Is it a state of mind?

I think this subject often veers into the who’s black enough and who isn’t territory. Interesting nonetheless.

Watch the campaign trailer below: