Is Olympian Harper Being Ignored Because of Colorism?

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Clutch magazine's Stacia L. Brown says that U.S. hurdles champion Dawn Harper can't compete with her Olympic teammate Lolo Jones when it comes to press, and wonders whether the African-American athlete's complexion has something to do with the attention discrepancy.

Is it possible that, because Harper (or her publicist) hasn't found a way to market her effectively to the press and the public, her athletic successes are being eclipsed by Jones' personal life? Or is the reason even shallower: Does Jones fit the U.S. media's standard of mainstream beauty more than Harper does? More specifically: Might colorism be to blame for Harper's media snubs?

It's no secret that, in terms of marketing and advertising, complexion factors into casting. In an April 2012 article in The Philadelphia Tribune, A. Bruce Crawley reports that a recent casting call for an Acura television commercial specified its desire for an African-American man, "friendly, but not too dark." The incident was leaked and a larger discussion ensued about the public's persistent associations with dark skin as untrustworthy, suspicious, and unfriendly …

Could the pervasiveness of colorism in advertising be a factor in rerouting the endorsement deals that could be Harper's to the lighter-skinned Jones? It's an idea worth considering, as is the idea that she isn't "interesting enough" off the track to warrant the non-sports enthusiast's notice …


Read Stacia L. Brown's entire piece at Clutch magazine.

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