Salon Series: ONE DROP Shifting the Lens on Race
February 24, 2021
What exactly is Blackness and what does it mean to be Black?
Is Blackness a matter of biology or consciousness?
Who determines who is Black and who is not?
Who’s Black, who’s not, and who cares?
In the United States, a Black person has come to be defined as any person with any known Black ancestry. Statutorily referred to as “the rule of hypodescent,” this definition of Blackness is more popularly known as the “one-drop rule.” One Drop explores the extent to which historical definitions of race continue to shape contemporary racial identities and lived experiences of racial difference. Featuring the perspectives of 60 contributors representing 25 countries and combining candid narratives with striking portraiture, this book provides living testimony to the diversity of Blackness.
NYU Washington DC welcomed back author and scholar-activist Dr. Yaba Blay in dialogue with photographer Noelle Flores Théard.
DC Dialogues is a promotional partner for this event coordinated by the Institute of African American Affairs and Center for Black Visual Culture.
Flashback: Check out our 2014 "Created Equal" series with Dr. Yaba Blay and Michaela angela Davis
Dr. Yaba Blay, scholar-activist, public speaker, and cultural consultant
Dr. Yaba Blay is a scholar-activist, public speaker, and cultural consultant whose scholarship, work and practice centers on the lived experiences of Black women and girls, with a particular focus on identity/body politics and beauty practices. Lauded by O Magazine for her social media activism, she has launched several viral campaigns including Locs of Love, #PrettyPeriod, and #ProfessionalBlackGirl, her multi-platform digital community.
In 2012, Dr. Blay served as a producer on CNN’s television documentary, “Who is Black in America?,” and has since been named one of today’s leading Black voices by ‘The Root 100’ and Essence Magazine’s ‘Woke 100.’ She has appeared on CNN, BET, MSNBC, BBC, and NPR, and her work has been featured in The New York Times, EBONY, Essence, Fast Company, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Colorlines, and The Root, to name a few. Her commentary is featured in A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond, a permanent installation exhibited in the National Museum of African American History and Culture; and she is the author of the award-winning One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race.
Widely respected as one of the foremost thought leaders on Black racial identity, colorism, and beauty politics, Dr. Blay is a globally sought-after speaker and consultant with an extensive client list of over two dozen academic institutions including Harvard University, Duke University, Spelman College, New York University, to name a few; and such corporate entities as Netflix, UniLever International, SheaMoisture, Estee Lauder Companies, Procter & Gamble’s ‘My Black is Beautiful,’ and the #meToo. Movement.
Dr. Yaba Blay earned a Master of Arts and PhD in African American Studies (with distinction) and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies from Temple University. She also holds a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology from the University of New Orleans. The former Dan Blue Endowed Chair in Political Science at North Carolina Central University, she has also taught on the faculties of Lehigh University, Lafayette College, and Drexel University, where she served as the Director of the Africana Studies program.
Noelle Flores Théard, educator, arts administrator, and photographer
Noelle Flores Théard is an educator, arts administrator, and (former) photographer.
She is Program Officer at Magnum Foundation, a nonprofit that expands creativity and diversity in documentary photography through grants, fellowships, partnerships, and public programs.
In addition to her role at Magnum Foundation, Noelle is part-time faculty in the BFA photography program at Parsons having taught thesis, photography and social justice, and race and representation. She also teaches African diaspora art and global hip-hop cultures online at Florida International University. Noelle is a co-founder and the board chair of FotoKonbit, a non-profit organization created in 2010 to engage, educate, and support Haitians in the telling of their own stories through photography.
Noelle has served as a juror for the Alexia Foundation, World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass, Photoville, YoungArts, and the New Jersey Council of the Arts, and as a mentor in the Women Photograph program. She has been a reviewer at the New York Times portfolio review, FotoFest Houston, the Bronx Documentary Center portfolio review, Chobi Mela in Bangladesh, and Photo Kathmandu. She also moderates public talks with photographers, which have included Jamel Shabazz and Joseph Rodriguez at the Brooklyn Museum, Clayton Patterson at Overthrow, Alex Harsley and Eli Reed at Magnum Foundation, and Devin Allen and Ruddy Roye at the Open Society Foundations.
Noelle holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, an MA in African Diaspora Studies from Florida International University, and an MFA in Photography from Parsons School of Design. She worked as a contract photojournalist for the Miami Herald from 2003-2008.