Pre-Woke Watching

I’ll Never Stop Quoting Coming to America, but I Can’t Ignore Its Colorism

When you rewatch old favorites years later, sometimes you realize how much you used to overlook. In this short video series, based on the recurring segment from Slate’s Represent podcast, viewers revisit their personal classics and evaluate how they look now.

The beloved 1980s classic Coming to America tells the story of an African prince who travels to Queens, New York, to find his wife. Slate designer Derreck Johnson has always loved the movie, rich as it is in quotables, but watching it two decades later, he noticed a particular dichotomy between the two biological sisters in the movie: the light-skinned sister is poised and desirable, while her dark-skinned counterpart is boisterous and slutty. The movie made him realize how pervasive colorism is in many of his old favorites. Watch more above.

Derreck Johnson is a Slate web designer.

 

Shirley Chan is a Slate assistant video producer.