When CNN’s John King used the term “dark-skinned” to describe the individual that he thought was an alleged suspect in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, he was widely criticized for not being descriptive enough and also for using a charged phrase that carries with it racial connotations.
“There are some people who will take offense for even saying that,” King said during the live broadcast in April 2013. “I understand that.”
With regard to his reporting, King turned out to be dead wrong: The perpetrators of that terrorist attack were two white Chechen brothers; but more importantly, the incident revealed how arbitrary the phrase “dark-skinned” can be and the power of language.
In The Root TV segment above, The Root staffers Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele and Diamond Sharp explain why they have a personal vendetta against the term and why more descriptive vocabulary like “chocolate-complexioned” should be used to describe individuals with brown skin tones. Plus, “dark-skinned” seems to suggest that white, porcelain skin is the starting point when discussing skin hues—and that’s not the case.
Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features expert advice for TV and film’s most complex characters. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.