Unless the question of colorism…is addressed in our communities and definitely in our black “sisterhoods” we cannot, as a people, progress. —Alice Walker
I want a long haired thick Red Bone, I would rap to the top of my lungs along with Lil Wayne.
I, and plenty of other women, chased after that. If you couldn’t get the light skin, soon came in the *coughs* long hair bundles. He pretty much said what men have been saying and showing for a long time. Light skin women are in, and have been for a long time. Countless guys have told me in late night phone convos that they prefer light skinned women and/or that they are known to bag the baddest red bones. *Facepalms*
As if bagging a red bone is a trophy. However, society has put us here. Lighter skinned individuals in the black race do see different opportunities because the skin complexion is closer to white skin. And we know how certain individuals feel about possessing the fairer skin.
Honestly, as a young Robinette, I was flattered. Not so much that my skin was lighter, but because I felt like a top contender. Dating is dog eat dog. Shit, I was in demand. I didn’t want to do the extra work, personality etc lol. I could let the light skin do the work…I was mixed with something waaaayyyyy on down the line. And it was peaking through in my skin. It was like an automatic pretty and acceptance in a society that I and others have strived to be accepted in. And I didn’t have to work for it.
Intraracial discrimination or “colorstruck”
Before I could even say what interracial discrimination or being colorstruck was, as a little girl, I noticed a difference. In Pre K, there was a girl name Jaleesa. Jaleesa was light skinned and she had silky, long hair. I was a four year old girl and I am 28 now and still remember how the teachers just doted upon her out of all the other kids in the classroom. I can remember being envious because she got a lot of attention, and her damn hair was so long. I was barely getting hang time in my lil balls and barrettes. Statistics back up treatment of lighter skinned students. They are favored more and Black Female students with dark skin were three times more likely to be suspended at school than their light skinned African American counterparts.
Or how as kids we were reminded not to stay in the sun too long. Not because the sun’s rays are harmful and can cause cancer, but for more “aesthetic” reasons. If you stay in the sun, you are going to get black. When I would see a lil tan, it was time to go inside.
And all of this came from the community. I never really experienced this out the mouths of whites (their job was done) as much as I have experienced it first hand from family, friends. We were spitting out hundreds of years of hate of our color.
Colorism is so deeply ingrained in the fabric of this nation that we are all implicated and infected by its presence. And the sad thing is, for many people the lessons of color bias begin in the home.–Writer, profound yet unknown
I grew up saying “She’s pretty….for a dark skinned girl.” (As if darker hued women aren’t beautiful as is.)
Or my favorite:
That’s an ugly light skinned girl. (The audacity for a light skin girl to waste her “pure skin” on ugliness.) These are terms that I have heard, and ignorantly used coming up.
Although this was years ago, colorism is alive and well in the eve of 2017. Riding along in my light skin world, the issue came back to light in my life with the rapper Young Thug’s recent antics. Now, I know I shouldn’t be referencing a rapper, but admittedly, I was a fan of his music. He had an altercation with some women at an airport and used the terms nappy, said that the women looked African (compliment), and later referred to the women as burnt. He just struck me as someone who is so out of touch with history and himself. Because truth be told, if a white man had said this we would be up in arms. But a black man gets a pass. All will be accepted. This is how colorism in the community has been able to persist. Because people are not held accountable. He gets a pass because he is a black man who said things that are historically hurtful insults to dig at the self confidence of black women. A Twitter user said it best, “Colorism. Misogynoir. Anti-Blackness. Young Thug’s tweet just shows the attitude some men have towards black women”–@Novelistprice
I have always noticed this persist in the media. The black men are almost always paired with light skinned, “good haired” women. Now yes, these women are just as Black as another women, but it is when you see something so much, you start to take notice. I know that there are many dark skinned talented actresses. Even going on to one of my favorite shows, “Martin.” I grew up thinking that Pam was ugly!!! Only because of the harsh jokes about her and her “beady beads.” Pam was made to look like the whatever while Gina never had to endure the jokes that have hurt black women in the past. Seeing the show with my new eyes, Pam was (and still is) a baddie!
Do lighter skinned women have privileges? I would say yes. I have benefitted from them. People believe light skinned women “are prettier and smarter than dark skinned women.” A damn shame
“Lighter skinned Black women often have more access to wealth and social capital than their darker skinned counterparts—a closer proximity to whiteness meant social elevation and a chance to assimilate and find success. “
So how does a community overcome this? As I was writing this piece, I swear I witnessed two individuals state that mixed babies are cuter, smh. I think it is definitely educating yourself and teaching the next generation that no matter their skin color, they are beautiful. And to especially teach our black boys that getting with a light skinned or fair skinned women is not the end all be all. That beauty comes in all different shades. We should welcome and appreciate that.