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Brown Bag Project

Numa Perrier


I created the brown bag photo series to encourage dialogue about the knowledge of brown bag parties in American history. Brown bag parties were secret events exclusively for African Americans who were lighter in complexion than the brown bag taped to the entrance of the party. I sought to learn of who knew about these parties in the past and what it was like for them. One of the methods to achieve the desire and status of brown bag beauty and acceptance has been skin bleaching. Technological advancements have made it possible to attain skin tones several shades lighter in pursuit of this "elite standard. Today the brown bag party exists in covert as well as overt ways, the bag may no longer be taped to the door, but it is now imprinted on the minds of individuals and expressed in the ad campaigns of every industry and product on the planet. The entire African Diaspora bears this reality and suffers from its effects. The brown bag photo series serves as an illustration of its impact.


brown paper bag; color complex; skin color politics;

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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