So. One random afternoon I went out with a friend to grab a beer. Or rather HE got a beer and I got booze because Imma just keep it a buck with y’all and tell you that booze > beer and the only time I MIGHT choose beer over booze is if they have SOURS and this bar didn’t. I’ll tell you what else this bar didn’t have: the beer that my friend wanted to have. But because this dude was a good bartender, he asked what kind of beers he liked so that he could try something comparable.


Friend: I like dark beers.

Bartender: How dark?

Asshole & Bartender::::: looks at me::::

“Friend”: Darker


ANYWAY. I’m telling y’all this completely ridiculous story about skin tones (and I guess black ones* in particular) to STILL not talk about the Oscars. Not because I don’t have a fact (because I do and it’s a gimme per usual), OR EVEN because there wasn’t a lot to work with ‘cause there were only 5 black nominees this year – down from 15 last year and I guess we can all go back to runnin’ our business since they gave so many black people nominations LAST YEAR and that should be plenty to show that the Oscars aren’t racist  #SOWHITE right? Because it’s not like the Oscars and the Movies haven’t been biased down to the very FILM from the very beginning right?

Wait. What?


Today I learned that if you developed film between the 1940’s through 1990’s (which was 30 years ago!) the accuracy of your photos were based on this photo or a photo like it with some random white woman.


This photo is called a color reference card. Also known as a Shirley card. Interesting. Not Becky or Karen. Okay. Alright. (But can I just say that whenever I think of Shirley, I think of HER not this woman in her graduation photo wrap? No?)

ANYWAY. After that card became an industry standard, many color reference cards began to be known as “Shirley cards.” These cards generally showed a single white woman dressed in bright clothes, and color film chemistry at the time was designed with a bias towards light skin. IMAGINE THAT. The bias towards skin with higher reflectivity meant that there were often exposure issues when shooting non-white folks.

Things started changing in the 1970’s when WOOD FURNITURE AND CHOCOLATE MAKERS BEGAN COMPLAINING THAT KODAK FILM WASN’T CAPTURING THE DIFFERENCE IN WOOD GRAINS AND CHOCOLATE TYPES*. (NOT. BECAUSE. OF. PEOPLE. :::rage screams into the void:::: clears throat:::: Coincidentally, film and TV industries ALSO began becoming more diverse.

In 1995, Kodak introduced a new multi-racial skin color reference card that featured a Caucasian, Asian, and African woman with different skin and clothing colors:

everyone card

Kodak also began advertising its films as being able to capture darker tones in low light.

Color film and digital color sensors have a much broader dynamic range, and many of the technological biases have since been corrected, but the LEARNED BIAS toward lighter skin in technology (and film, and loans, and education, and housing and jobs) still exists.

*tbh, describing my skin tone in beer color is way better than describing in chocolate or wood. Unless, of course, it’s this wood..