An analysis of Laila Haidarali’s scholarly article “Polishing Brown Diamonds” might center on the link between the slight labor advances among Black women and the proliferation of “Brownskin” images in mass media. Between 1940 and 1950, Haidarali writes that the number of Black women employed as domestic workers diminished and the number of Black women employed as clerks increased a little. As the trend continued, the move from working in historically Black spaces to working in historically white spaces “augmented the already heavy burden carried by women.”
Now, due to their new positions, Black women faced the “onus” to prove that their race was “worthy of social integration.” It could be interesting to analyze how whiteness becomes synonymous with “clean, respectable, middle-class femininity.” Perhaps delve into how commercialized images were used to buttress this racialized relationship. Maybe explore how Haidarali presents the increased marketing towards Black women as concurrently liberating and constraining. It shows that femininity and respectability isn’t exclusive to white women. Conversely, it proves problematic because it reinforces racist and sexist notions about women and people of color.
An analysis of Patrizia Gentile’s essay “Contesting Indigenous, Immigrant, and Black Bodies” will probably explore similar themes. With Gentile’s article, which appears in her book Queen of the Maple Leaf, one could discuss how Canada’s pageants utilize beauty ideals to provide some visibility and access to historically marginalized women. At the same time, these contests tend to preserve Canada’s racial and sexist tropes as they pertain to ethnic, immigrant, and Indigenous women.