Colorism: My Reflections On The Elephant In The Room

 

“I’m not Black, I’m brown”, I told my grandmother. I was four. I don’t know where I’d gotten the perception from, but Black was ugly. Black was evil. Brown wasn’t the ultimate, but anything was better than Black. A few years passed and it became less of an issue to me. My childhood circle of friends and I shared the same hue, so the jokes flew, but were dismissed as quickly as they were launched. So, why are these scars still here?  I thought I’d reconciled those feelings about skin tone during my “woke” phase in college. Yet, whenever a dark-skinned, Black woman is attacked, I feel as though the dart pierced me. I become angry, defensive and lately, disheartened.

W. E. B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey had the blueprints for liberation and were possibly derailed from collaborating on them due to colorism. In the past month or so, we’ve seen former NBA player Gilbert Arenas, suggest that dark-skinned women aren’t attractive on one end of the spectrum and blogger Luvvie Ajayi, imply that light-skinned Blacks are using social awareness to make up for their lack of melanin on the other. Fewer decades removed from slavery, it’s easier to conclude that the Garvey and Du Bois colorism beef was a product of it’s time. However, Arenas’ and Ajayi’s comments can be ascribed to willful ignorance, considering our history and the resources that exist to inform us of it.

There’s no quick solution for an internalized issue, but today’s advantages are the multiple platforms we have available to address colorism. The least we can do is examine why we have preferences and prejudices, avoid generalizing based on complexion and be cognizant of the language we use regarding skin tone. You never know what wounds your actions or words may open.

9 thoughts on “Colorism: My Reflections On The Elephant In The Room

  1. Hey, J. Do you know that I had no emotions about different tones of our skin until later on in live? I was born in Africa and maybe the first 7 years in the live of a person are really crucial when it comes to our emotional growt. An advantage I guess! Everyone around me looked like me. My skin tone was the norm; and I never heard anyone being described as light skinned or dark skinned. I have never described a black person by their skin tone…I always say something about the shape of the face or some other important characteristics…. 28 years in USA and still amazed at the damaged caused by slavery!

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    1. Hey, Eco! Thanks for reading! I’d say it was definitely an advantage. You weren’t indoctrinated like some of us here, so you’re able to view people through a different lense. The Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome is pervasive. Sometimes, I momentarily forget how deep the impact has been until an issue like this jars me back to reality. Being transparent about it has been therapeutic for me.

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  2. This is indeed a serious issue in our society. Where I’m from you would walk on the streets of downtown Kingston and you would see some women and men dressed up in layers of dark clothing….their face is so white from the bleach…. they have no regard for the damage that is being done to their skin all they know is ‘light is right’ it’s so sad…Hon. Marcus Garvey had a plan to unite us all….its sad that that didnt happen

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    1. Thanks for reading and weighing in. You’ve enlightened me on Kingston. Saddened to learn that bleaching creams are multi-billion dollar industries in some countries. Indeed, Garvey had the blueprint. More of us would do well to revisit his philosophy .

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  3. This will always be a constant issue in America. I wrote about this topic months ago. Most of us are not aware of the phrases we use that meets colorism head on. We have to work harder on breaking that ‘ism.

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  4. This will always be a constant issue in America. I wrote about this topic months ago. Most of us are not aware of the phrases we use that meets colorism head on. We have to work harder on breaking that ‘ism. We shouldn’t isolate ourselves based on skin tone in the black community. Even saying #TeamLightSkin or #TeamDarkSkin is a divide meeting colorism head on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and giving feedback! I agree with your assessment, especially on the hashtags, which may seem harmless for some at first glance. I’d like to read your piece on colorism. I searched your blog, but I may have overlooked it. If possible, can you link me to it?

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  5. Thanks for the piece! I also wrote an article on colorism a few weeks ago. It’s sad that in 2017 this is still an internal problem for black people globally.

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    1. Thanks for reading and responding! Much like racism, it will continue to be a problem if not fully addressed. I’m interested in reading your article on colorism. If possible, can you link me to it?

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