VaNatta Ford Talks Lil Wayne, Colorism, and Black Men’s Perspective in New Orleans

By Shayna Hall
Photos by Demetrius McLester

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, VaNatta Ford, professor at Williams College, spoke in the Integrative Learning Center Communications Hub addressing the practices of colorism in hip hop music with a main focus on rapper Lil Wayne.

During the lecture "Color Talk in LouWEEZYana: Lil Wayne, Colorism, and Black Men's Perspectives in New Orleans," Ford touched upon the colorist language that has been used throughout Lil Wayne’s time as an artist and how his particular language not only affects how his listeners portray the colorism of black women but how his lyrics are a product of his upbringing in New Orleans.

Ford also shared the results of her focus groups that were held in New Orleans. She was able to reach out to black men from the ages of 18-35 and ask questions based on hip-hop music and how the lyrics they consumed everyday changed their view on what skin color was more preferred amongst black women.

From these focus groups, Ford found that lighter skinned black women—who were often sung and rapped about in hip-hop music—were preferred. Ford also discovered that men in New Orleans had several forms of colorists labels that were used to differentiate women in the area.

Ford’s talk was upbeat, informative and allowed all in attendance to view hip-hop in a way they may never have before. Ford’s use of music throughout her presentation and overall knowledge of hip-hop was exciting, powerful and eye-opening.

Shayna Hall is a senior double-majoring in communication and journalism in the sports concentration. Demetrius McLester is a sophomore double-majoring in art and sociology. They are both currently working in the Office of News and Media Relations as diversity social media assistants.
  • VaNatta Ford
  • VaNatta Ford