For part 1, visit https://eyeswitnessblog.com/2017/06/11/lets-talk-colorism/
Recently I was in a discussion about colorist ideals. At the time I couldn’t necessarily break down why the concept of colorism doesn’t negatively effect lighter-skinned individuals so I decided to educate myself further. Last time I talked about this subject, I dove into its background. I spoke of how its original purpose was to separate Black people for hundreds of years by creating dislike and distrust within the community.
Now, this goes deeper than just an “I don’t like darkskins”. It is the association between dark skin and belligerence that leads to the ignorance that is that statement. It is that which has been systematically and systemically manufactured to view lighter skin as an asset. It is what has been engrained into our minds, internalized and spewed back out. Not only that, but it is what has been engrained into our justice system which makes it that much more difficult to erase.
Light skinned people get “shamed” for being light. HOWEVER, The shame lighter skinned people experience for being light skinned is not equivalent to what is experienced by darker skinned individuals. Let’s run it back to 2013 light skin pose and “Drake is sensitive..probably because he is light-skinned” days. Light skin is typically associated with sensitivity. (Yes, annoying for those of us who consider ourselves strong-willed and even more annoying for those who actually are emotional beings and it’s knocked as being an attribute of our complexion) but dark skin is associated with aggressiveness. Correlating dark skin with hostility is at least problematic, and at most internalized self hatred. Sensitivity is seen as a human trait, therefor light skin is closer to purity in the eyes of society. It is closer to femininity…to fairness , hence why lighter skinned women are more “desirable”, hence why a mixed baby with blue eyes is perfection… right? wrong.
All Black People experience oppression…that is a fact. However, not all Black People experience the added dealing of being a dark skinned individual. (And what we’re not going to do is dismiss the hardships of our brothers and sisters.) It is like I explained in part one: A black person is more likely to go to prison for the same crime as a white counterpart regardless of skin tone. We know that. We are mad as hell about it, and want reform. Absolutely. Now, let us look into the issue of discrimination in sentencing even further. As prior mentioned in Let’s Talk Colorism, “Darker skinned defendants are twice as likely to receive the death penalty for crimes involving white victims than lighter skinned defendants. In the aspect of employment, Studies found that employers prefer lighter skin tones to educational background and experience, thus making it easier for light skinned black people to land jobs.” It is a dark-skinned actress being replaced with one of a lighter skin tone in order to increase viewership.
And this creates division even further in the community. This creates resentment. As a Black person, you already fear for your life, but the likelihood of something happening to you INCREASES when you are dark-skinned. It isn’t just a kids are making fun of you or the girl you like doesn’t like light skinned men. While that is problematic and a mindset that needs to be fixed, colorism is a bigger context. It is “why are darker skinned women frowned upon?”, “Why is the myth of the Black rapist alive?”, “Why are darker skinned men seen more often as abusers?” It is that dark skin being seen as problematic is a deeply engrained societal belief. It is not just how does it hurt one’s feelings, it is how it affect one’s people as a whole.
As a metaphor, it is like this. White supremacy is the murderer, and colorism (among other tools) serves as his weapon, the knife if you will- the tool which divides blackbodies even further, the tool which continues our oppression.
As I said, I am not completely sure how to eradicate colorism, but the first step in solving any issue is identifying it. As lighter skinned individuals, we have to acknowledge our privilege. As Darker skinned individuals, do not let the mistreatment you have experienced drive you to hatred of your community. As Black people, we must protect our unity. Somehow, some way, we must do away with colorism.