black (snl) history

Drake, I totally loved that isht the other night.  While I appreciated the black bar mitzvah skit immensely (it prompted this post after all), the Katt Williams! Oh my Jesus…. the Katt Williams.  Great night for SNL!88310f8ba419c42692e4dbd7d1019c0d.467x259x1

Saturday, Jan. 18 was a big night for Saturday Night Live. Not only did rapper Drake host and serve as a musical guest, but it was also new cast member Sasheer Zamata‘s first time on the show….The former Canadian actor-turned-rapper talked about having a Jewish mother and a black father in the skit where SNL cast member Vanessa Bayer (who is known for her recurring role as Bar Mitzvah Boy) played his mother and Jay Pharaoh played his father. Read more

Ok. That hilariousness has been noted.  Now let’s take a look back in Black SNL history. We all know there’s not much of it, so this shouldn’t take too long. I like what Bond and Morris did.  I don’t like the fact that colorism is alive and well.

Julian Bond Regrets his 1977 ‘SNL’ Skit on Light Skin Vs. Dark Skin (Video)


With all of the talk surrounding “Saturday Night Live’s” new African American female cast member and writers, Julian Bond has come forward with a column in The Hollywood Reporter lamenting a skit he did during his hosting turn 37 years ago.

The civil rights leader was chairman of the NAACP board of directors from February 1998 to February 2010 and now is chairman emeritus.

Below is his column in its entirety, followed by a clip from the “SNL” sketch.

I hosted NBC’S Saturday Night Live back in April 1977, during its second season. I used to say that I was an SNL host when it was a comedy show, and people would laugh. More recently, I had taken to saying that I hosted SNL when it had black people on it. So as a former host, I was happy to read the news that an African-American woman (Sasheer Zamata) and two black female writers (LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones) were hired for the show because people of color, especially women, have been conspicuous by their absence.

I’m a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, so I’m delighted that Zamata is a UVA grad. But I’m also a civil rights activist, so I’m appalled that the circumstances of their hiring would lessen — in some viewers’ minds — the talent and skills they bring to the program.

There are sure to be those who think that their race, not their talent, won them their jobs. The women were hired after an explosion of outrage at SNL’s shameful record of minority employment. Before Zamata was hired, in the 39 years since SNL began in 1975, the show had 137 cast members. Only 14 of those were African-Americans, and only four of those were women. The tally for Latinos is even more negligible — only three in the show’s history, all of them men.

Looking back at the episode I hosted, I felt discomfort with a skit we did. Appearing as myself on a mock television interview show about black issues, I told Garrett Morris, one of SNL’s original “Not Ready for Prime Time Players,” that light-skinned blacks are smarter than dark-skinned blacks. Morris, who is darker skinned than I am, did a perfect double take. I felt squeamish then but did the skit anyway, and I feel uneasy about this joke even today. I believed it treaded dangerously on the fine line between comedy and poor taste.

But that always has been SNL’s fine point, the line delineating comedy — and especially satire — from tastelessness. I always have believed that a skillful comedian — or comedienne — can make a joke out of anything. No subject is immune. Comedy is crucial in our lives, especially political satire. The ability to make fun of life’s vagaries helps us deal with them. That may be why there are so many black and Jewish comedians and why their presence on the air is so important.

SNL used to be on the cutting edge. Let’s hope Ms. Zamata helps restore some of its sharpness.

is this ok?

When I first read this article yesterday, I came to the conclusion that it was all in good fun and why take everything so seriously…  Then I watched Oprah’s Oprah Presents Master Class on OWN last night and she spoke about her little six year old self being made to sleep on the porch because she was the unfavored dark skinned child of the house.  I wanted to cry.  Oprah did.  I felt guilty that I have light skin.  I wanted to inflict harm on the light-skinned woman who inflicted this harm on my Oprah.  (I’m back on the Oprah kool-aid, btw. Loving the Oprah Winfrey Network.  LOVING. IT.)  Anywho, after I grounded myself in the reality that Ms. Winfrey’s just fine now, I thought about this article, this game, and I changed my mind back to “I don’t like it.”  I think.  I’m not sure.  It’s still a major issue.  Maybe making fun of it is the way to take the charge out of it.  Maybe not.


Light Skin Vs. Dark Skin Dodgeball Tourney

by Adrienne Samuels Gibbs, Senior Editor


Yes, you read that headline right: Light skin vs. dark skin dodge ball. Of course it helps that the spirits were flowing for hours before the color-charged dodgeball tourney commenced on the top deck of the cruise ship.

Beneath the clear blue skies and in between tremendous gusts of wind, Kid N’ Play were the live sports commentators, selected because they’re fun and also because they represent both sides of the skin spectrum. Both took turns at the mic to recruit, commentate and poke fun at those who dared take to the greens during the second day of the Tom Joyner Morning Show’s Fantastic Voyage.

Many onlookers went out of curiosity. Some went as a form of anger management
therapy. In the end though, it was good colorful fun. Team Light Skin recruited
a few White people and a Portuguese lady. Team Dark Skin wound up with lots of
brown skins and one light skin who said she wanted to be affiliated with her
darker brothers.

Kid, who rooted for team light skin but told EBONY he still loves a dark sista,
took to the mic between games and started singing odes to Pebbles and
Christopher Williams – classic singers who some felt best represented Team
Light. Play, on the other hand, yelled “Nino Brown wins!” when Team Dark threw a
final ball that clinched the tourney.

Off on the sidelines, the spectators got rowdy. Each side began chanting. Then
the guys started taking off their shirts. As for the women? They sat down to
watch the light and dark men go at it with each other. Things got rough as one
ball hit a light guy, richocheted, flew over the edge of the ship and floated
away.  Then a dark guy hurt his ankle. Comedian Damon Williams entered the fray,
ready to add some points to Team Dark’s score.

To be sure, many onlookers shook their heads, not sure what to make of such a
tourney. The Black community has a long history with light-dark issues, most of
which stem from post slavery trauma. The commentators didn’t get into all that,
instead leading the group to poke fun at what is often a deadly serious topic.

Who won? Who knows. It all ended with fun and jokes and hugs.