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It Rubbed Salt in a Very Deep Wound in Our Community’; Woman from Lance Gross’ Infamous Holiday Photo Speaks Out

Avatar • Jan 18, 2017

Over the holiday a couples photo of Lance Gross, his wife Rebecca and their friends went viral, sparking widespread debate on color and gender. In the photo, Gross and Rebecca sit with three other couples, all featuring light-skinned women. At the end of the line is a dark-skinned woman sitting by herself. The photo was later revealed to be an inside joke, but it still spread like wildfire.

In an expansive interview with Madame Noire the woman from the photo is speaking out on how it came to be, and what she thinks of the reaction. LaNaadrian Easterling is a long-time friend of Gross’, and has a doctorate in psychology.

On her relationship with Gross, and how the photo came to be;

Even though the trip has been an annual tradition for more than 10 years, I started attending about six years ago. With the exception of Lance and Rebecca, most of the people who came on the trip were single. Over time, most of my friends have gotten married and had children, so the trip has evolved from a group of friends, to a family vacation.

Years ago, the actual picture started out with a bunch of single people and evolved into a couple’s photo when people started bringing their significant others. The first year I noticed this, I jokingly told my friends, “Y’all aren’t going to leave me out of the photo just because I didn’t bring a date this year!” So I joined the picture and hugged myself. Every year, we continued to take this silly picture, and I tried to outdo myself from the year before by making a really awkward face or hugging myself. It was all in good fun.”

On whether she is single;

Yes, I have a boyfriend, and he is an amazing, intelligent and successful Black man. However, at the time of the trip, we had only been dating for about six months, and he had not met my daughter yet. As her mother, I am extremely protective, and I do not introduce her to men that I am dating until the relationship has progressed to a point where I feel like it is appropriate for that introduction to take place. The Big Bear holiday trip was not the time nor place for that initial meeting to occur.”

On the reaction to the photo;

I think it rubbed salt in a very sensitive, deep-rooted, painful and complex wound in our community, especially for Black women. I noticed several recurring themes in the responses: Questions about my relationship status and questions about why I would choose to attend a couple’s trip if I was single; Thoughts about why the “dark girl” was single and why the “light-skinned girls” had a man; Debates about whether or not the other women in the photo were Black or Black enough; Suggestions that my friends and I staged this photo on purpose, with the intention of emphasizing that I was single because I have a darker complexion than the other women.

I want to make it very clear that I 100 percent understand colorism, and many other issues that we face in the Black community. I know that self-hatred, or what I refer to as negative self-identity development, is a serious problem in the Black community that has plagued our families for centuries. The assumption that my complexion is the reason why I may be single and unhappy is an unfair mischaracterization and further perpetuates the colorism that many were upset about themselves. Colorism impacts all people of color on both ends of the spectrum. Many of the women in the photo have been told their entire lives that they aren’t “Black enough” and have been rejected from people in our own community, sometimes facing this issue within their own families. Furthermore, it really bothers me that in 2017, people are still angry with who Black men choose to date. Black men and women have the right to date or marry whoever they want to marry, and to love whoever they want to love. As a Black woman, I couldn’t care less who my brothers choose to marry, whether that be a light-skinned Black woman, a White woman, an Asian woman, a Latina woman, or a man! Who they date or marry doesn’t make me any less beautiful, attractive, or desirable”

Go to MadameNoire.com for the full interview.

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Interested
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Interested

Hmmmm

Locs Girl
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Locs Girl

My sentiments

Erin Scott
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Erin Scott

And she completely mIssed the point. Lol not surprised though. Yes Black men can date who they want and yes light skin woman can be black BUT black woman (mainly dark skin) with our negative image we really need to be aware of how we represent ourselves in the media and our day to day. Yes this is a inside joke BUT it looks bad and it represents us poorly. The same why shows like Empire represent us poorly. We have little control over how we are displayed in the media we can at least send a positive image of… Read more »

jayroe44
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jayroe44

You completely missed the point. This woman is not here to impress you, motivate you, or represent a whole race or color of people in this photo. This was a family/friend photo that she says is a tradition. Black people have to worry about enough in this world and now you’re saying that she needs to be conscientious of how she takes photos with her friends and family because it makes YOU uncomfortable? Look inside yourself and fix whatever it is and maybe you won’t need ANYONE to represent you.

Kimmy Bee
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Kimmy Bee

Thank you!!! We as a people have to learn to own our stuff and not try to place blame where it doesn’t belong. She felt some type of way behind seeing the picture so automatically, blacks felt what she felt. The sad truth is so many of us subscribe to this type of behavior and see no fault in it.

LadyLike
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LadyLike

I never said she has to what I said was we should be cautious of how we display ourselves in the world because no one is going to fix black woman image but ourselves. If she doesn’t care about fixing black woman image then that’s fine she doesn’t have to but like I said for those who do like my self I would NEVER take a photo like this.

cjack418
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cjack418

I didn’t hear anyone say they felt uncomfortable with the picture. Most felt sorry or sad for the single girl being shaded by her pals. Since it’s all good, the woman in the picture should’ve not even responded.

Tonya
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Tonya

Jayroe44 — My thoughts exactly!! I totally agree with everything you said.

Janay
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Janay

Agree!!! People jumped to conclusions SO FAST about this photo and made it into something it wasn’t. Lord have mercy that woman must be exhausted with explaining herself for a pic that was supposed to be harmless fun between her and her friends.

SL
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SL

Agreed

RichBrownbeauty
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RichBrownbeauty

Erin you have a lot of control over how black women are portrayed in the media. Social Media!!!! Tv shows and films have social media pages. If thousands of black women posted their comments and concerns about how we’re portrayed we’d make waves of change.

Riak Mary
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Riak Mary

I agreed with her until she said something about why we still care about who black men date. First of all, we do and we all should coz alot of black men have self hate issues and date outside of their race coz of it and fetishising of mixed kids. In the process of dating someone outside their race, they belittle and dehumanise black woman when there is no need for that. Black men treat black woman the way white people treat black people. They don’t listen to them and look upon them when we’re literally the only ones who… Read more »

LadyLike
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LadyLike

Honestly I see it like this as long as you aren’t disrespecting us date who you want just don’t drag black woman in the process. I see black men who IR date the same way I see gay men “undateable”. Lol

SL
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SL

So true… This picture invites us to discuss barriers and division within our race. This is not a funny picture to those who are affected daily when they are looked down upon because of there darker skin tone. We as a black people represent each other, whether you like it or not.

Susie White
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Susie White

Why is she the one explaining and doing PR for the black men in the picture? why are we black women always so quick to do damage control for black men when they hardly do the same for us? and if she is a single mother with a boyfriend while all these other light skinned and/ or non-black women in the picture got dark skinned brothas to wife them then she is proving the point of all those who criticized the image no? i really hate it when people pretend that colorism isn’t a huge issue in our community with… Read more »

Margaretcnb :3
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Margaretcnb :3

Why does every single picture needs to be a racial issue? We don’t even have the entire context: What if her boyfriend is white? Everybody would be cheering her ass. Who knows if the guys have been in a serious long term relationship with a dark skin girl before? Oh, and the other girls are only liked because of their skin? Being lightskin is not black for you now? The problem is dark skin black women ask people to change for them or to fit their expectations. No one owes you anything. Life sucks some guys actually are fucked in… Read more »

Jaz
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Jaz

I read a study my friend conducted of Black males in her college and asked them (if they were in an interracial relationship) why they were with that person and if they weren’t in a relationship, why they would date/marry non-Black women. 95% of her findings in a group of 150 Black men showed that they were dating/would date outside their race because of Black women’s “attitude problem”, fetish for the other race, light skin children and looking less “dangerous” to other races. I was kind of shocked by that and kind of not. It’s just sad. Even though 150… Read more »

Kaye
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Kaye

It’s been brewing for a long time, percolated nicely by a white-agenda, aided by the mainstream media and years of conditioning on both sides. Here’s the result. The data’s no surprise; in fact it confirms what is becoming more and more obvious. The insecurities of black men have found an outlet in this phenomenon.

K
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K

And not one man apologized.
And not one man stepped forward.
And not one man explained why they all just so happen to meet fall in love with and marry a certain “look.”

I mean they don’t have to do these things . Of course. But neither did she.

Alex
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Alex

In reply to K: Exactly!! Why didn’t Lance and all the guys come out and say something about a coincidence of them all dating girls with a certain look (thats different from the men). I know she said and others mentioned that the other girls are black but I don’t really believe that. One out of 4 of the girls (the one wearing all black) look biracial(mixed w/ black), the others look I wouldn’t even think had any black in them. Her story just seems weird. And she never mentioned them having kids on these trips before, but now mentions… Read more »

M
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M

Lance Gross did comment on the picture and explain the same thing as her. As black people we judge other black people harshly if that was a group of people of another race would the photo have been judge so negatively. As a black woman I understand the challenges that we face, but I understand the point that she is making about she does not care who her friends choose to marry. If you love someone it should not matter the color of the skin. Love is more important than skin color.

Linda
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Linda

I had to look at the picture twice to see why all the commotion„„„it seems the way she is sitting separately from them and her body posture is what makes it look uncomfortable.

LonelySista
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LonelySista

Some people can laugh, but yes I’m sure some are crying. Why tears? Well, all too often, this is the case for many Black women…and it seems like the older you are the worse it gets. Sad. Guys only want the young, thin, pretty light skinned or white women with long hair. Seems like no man of any race wants to give Black woman over age 50 a chance. Too many negative strereotypes out there hurting us. 🙁

Kaye
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Kaye

Please take heart and know that you’re worth a thousand of them put together. Don’t let others’ opinion and issues get you down at all. That photo and what you’ve experienced is the evidence of something wrong with society — not you. Value who you are and start to love yourself more. Be comfortable in your own skin. There’s nothing more attractive than that kind of confidence. You’re worth it dear sister. Stay sweet.

Patrice Lee
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Patrice Lee

We are all the human race and since the Creator of the universe created us all has designed the one color we exemplify that is brown and transformed that color into many shades which adds to the beauty of humanity. Instead of being imprisoned by misconceptions press on forward by looking deep within to one self and find self sustaining power that produces inner beauty and personal empowerment.

bellovely
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bellovely

My two cents.… Lance Gross is a celebrity , followed by many presumably black women. He posted a picture for his fans. His fans were not there. He posted a picture , he states was a joke for them, but unfortunately not to a lot of women. If it was a private joke , he should have posted a caption made it a meme , included us in. He didn’t. So the picture is no longer private and the public who was made privy to it have a right to respond. I don’t understand why it was even funny. I… Read more »

Tru Palmer
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Tru Palmer

Um, there’s nothing “complex” about it … Photo screams ‘Black men have issues’, nuff said.

A black girl
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A black girl

Pictures speak a thousand words. She didn’t need to add to it.

RichBrownbeauty
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RichBrownbeauty

Its not a mischaracterization that in general dark skin black women get no love from black men.
Did she really expect us to assume this photo was “all in good fun”?? This photo doesnt look like theyre having fun. She sure doesnt.

Either way, colorism is a huge problem in the black community that we refuse to address. And seeing colorism in Hollywood IE: commercials, tv etc doesnt help the epidemic.
Black women need to speak out against the prejudices against dark skin black women in the area of beauty by emailing the advertising agencies.

Dee
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Dee

I’m not buying it, it was MEANT to hurt Black women Lance wanted a reaction!

Rachel
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Rachel

As a dark skinned woman who is happily settled with a black man, I also found this picture to be derogatory! Whatever inside joke or humour they’re claiming was totally lost on me, and I would never have allowed that photo to be publicised, because it basically says to me that black men don’t value darker sisters — to the extent that they’re happy for her to be the butt of this ongoing joke. Nah. Not buying it. Not supporting it. Not turning a blind to it either.

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