The Mela.nin Éclat is a series of images, sounds, perspectives, and demonstrations (performances included) that represent the eclecticism of black people, and other communities of color.

NJERI RUTHERFORD, 21, CHARLOTTE, NC. 

GOODSTEPHHow do you feel your skin tone/complexion has affected your experience as a human being?

NJERI: When I was younger I truly hated my complexion. The reason for this is that when I was about 6 or 7 I was at church with my grandmother who is very fair skinned and a girl in my Sunday school class said I couldn't possibly be related to her because we were two completely different colors. I then began to question everyone in my family and that was my first introduction to colorism and skin tones that I had never paid attention to before. As I've gotten older however I have fallen madly in love with my skin. So much so that I take care of my skin more than I ever have. I try to avoid any blemishes so that it's chocolatey goodness remains unscathed. It makes me feel empowered, beautiful, and strong. Like maybe being brown somehow brings me closer to my ancestors.  I also have learned to appreciate the various skin tones of the people I see no matter their ethnicity. I find myself thinking "his/her skin is gorgeous" and being thoroughly intrigued by the complexity of melanated skin. 

"Somehow, however, black people continue to thrive. We overcome each and everything that attacks us and we are better for it. Black people persevere and rise against any battle and it has been that way for centuries."

GS: Culture evolves in time and space. Can you think of one thing about black culture that has remained consistent throughout time?

NR: A constant that has always been apart of black culture is resiliency. Blackness is more often than not scrutinized and made out to be ugly or inferior. Everything associated with black culture has some sort of negative connotation. Somehow, however, black people continue to thrive. We overcome each and everything that attacks us and we are better for it. Black people persevere and rise against any battle and it has been that way for centuries.

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GS:  Do you feel the current state of black music/art is imitating, perpetuating or creating culture?

NR:  Black music/art is always creating culture. Everything "popular" and "trendy" is the result of something that was created by black culture. Any imitations would be from something our own people did years ago in which case it's really paying homage, not imitating. Black music/art however is often imitated by other cultures, but never duplicated. 

Photos by GOODSTEPH. Taken in San Diego,CA