This is meant to be worn as a mask.

Chalk Pastel and Gouache on brown paper bag.

The “brown paper bag test” was a ritual once practiced by certain African-American and Creole fraternities and sororities who discriminated against people who were “too dark.” That is, these groups would not let anyone into the sorority or fraternity whose skin tone was darker than a paper lunch bag, in order to maintain a perception of standards. Spike Lee’s film School Daze satirized this practice at historically black colleges and universities.

The “brown paper bag test” form of colorism is also believed to have been used in the application process to the prestigious Historically Black College Howard University. The University once required students to submit a photograph of themselves, most likely to ensure that the majority of the Universities students were of lighter complexion. Along with the “Paper Bag Test,” guidelines for acceptance among the lighter ranks included the “comb test”, which tested the coarseness of one’s hair, and the “flashlight test,” which tested a person’s profile, to make sure their features measured up, or were close enough to those of the Caucasian race.

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  • Abe Jackson
    Abe Jacksonover 4 years ago

    Excellent image and writing….I remember those days….

  • paintingsbycr10
    paintingsbycr10over 4 years ago

    Beautiful work.

  • Elisabeta Hermann
    Elisabeta Hermannover 4 years ago

    Please join our Group and add this piece, and more of your wonderful PAINTINGS to our Gallery!

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