Segments in this Video

Introduction: One Drop Rule (05:04)


This system was used to identify slaves at the turn of the 17th century. It created a class-structure among black people that continues to affect black people today. Black people discuss skin color and how it feels to be categorized.

Shades of Black (04:13)

Lighter colored slaves were brought into the house to work while darker slaves stayed outside. Many black people see lighter skinned people as being better and getting more advantages; they are also seen as pretentious. Darker black people are often viewed as trouble makers.

The Dark & the Light of It (04:27)

People who have lighter complexions have more opportunities because people are more comfortable with them. People, especially men, with darker complexions are seen as more threatening and scary. People approach light and dark-skinned black people differently.

Are You Black? (04:21)

People may be uncomfortable when people do not know what ethnicity someone is. Light skinned black people describe being told racist jokes and having to convince others they are black. Black people are expected to be friends with other black people and act a certain way.

Black Culture (07:32)

No matter their complexion, black people want to validate their blackness. They code switch depending on what group they are hanging out with. Black culture is a plethora of things: skin color, dancing ability, background, ancestry, features, attitude, personality, heritage, clothing, hair, etc.

Dating (06:22)

People share their feelings on black men dating white women. One reason given is that it leaves black women who are waiting for black men with no one. Some white men will not date a white woman after she has dated a black man.

What About Kids? (07:30)

Some people say they do not agree with interracial dating because kids born to mixed couples will get bullied. People share their experiences and list some of the names they were called. One woman says she wanted to marry a white man so her kids would have lighter complexions.

The Mating Game (03:10)

People from black families are told not to date white people or people darker than they are. Many people do things to look whiter: bleach skin, color hair, straighten hair, get a weave, etc. People recall being told to get inside to avoid becoming darker; one was washed in Tide soap by his grandmother and told to squeeze his nose to make it thinner.

Media Influence (04:37)

Mainstream media is having an effect on the way black people view themselves. Thanks to black models, black women are more accepting of their shapes, sizes, hair, and complexions. Black people are more confident about who they are in contrast to decades ago.

Credits: One Drop Rule (01:26)

Credits: One Drop Rule

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One Drop Rule

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Exploring a recurring and divisive issue in African American communities—skin color—this film is candid, sometimes painful, but also often funny. It intercuts intimate interviews with darker-skinned African Americans, lighter-skinned African Americans, and interracial children of black and white parents.

Length: 50 minutes

Item#: BVL165963

Copyright date: ©2001

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video, Dealer and Publisher customers.