F*ck Colorism to Hell

Color me surprised because I didn’t think colorism still had such a grip on Black communities. My sole issue with colorism was white media’s representation of Blackness as only light skin with curly hair. But I thought that within our community — a community I love and cherish — we were smarter and better prepared for one of the oldest divide and conquer tactics wielded by white supremacy.

Colorism — or the method of treating lighter skin folks more favorably than darker skin folk — quite literally started on the plantation. White slave masters, viewing slaves as property and unworthy of human civility and respect, were raped, thus creating a mixed-raced mulatto class. These children, given their proximity to whiteness, were still viewed as property, but were given slightly more privileges than darker slaves.

As a means of survival, Black slaves soon embraced the belief that lighter skin was a means to a better life, a notion fueled by white racists who sought to quell camaraderie amongst the growing Black population. This belief, growing in hostility between generations, took a germinal life of its own in Black communities.

Soon, paper bag tests were used as a method of Black exclusion. Those with skin lighter than a brown paper bag gained entry to Black social clubs, fraternities, and sororities. Relative social gatherings for dark skin Black folk were created in response.

The tension between light skin and dark skin Blacks continued to grow, especially as white media opened some opportunities to white-passing light skinned Black entertainers. The European standard of beauty also aided in this tension. Given the patriarchal environment, where woman were valued on their looks, light skinned and dark skinned Black women were most vulnerable.

And here we are today. Where faux-revolutionaries and Black folk trapped in mental slavery, shout past each other in a divisive attempt to buy in to a barely-guised white supremacist tool.

Very rarely do I write about colorism (because I don’t buy in to it, and it doesn’t deserve my labor), but yesterday I published an article about Dark Girl Trauma; that agony particular to dark girls in a society that views our skin as valueless.  It was a loose follow-up to this piece, where I examined pro-Blackness within interracial relationships. Both pieces were (thankfully) well received, but I did get some backlash.

Both my dark skin and my agency to speak on Dark Girl Trauma were challenged because I don’t appear dark enough in my pictures. With natural sunlight and no filter (and like … physics), my skin appears lighter. Apparently, that’s not good enough, and is indicative of a mystical self-hate that I do not possess.

Light skin Black women reached out to me to express their appreciation. Some even offered the idea of Light Girl Trauma, that particular pain of being picked on and bullied by dark skinned Black women who thought them stuck-up.

Lordt.

I usually discredit privileged folks who think they suffer from discrimination. But I had to pause. Because honestly, I know I’ve held and acted on prejudices against light skin Sisters, namely my cousin who I was raised with for close to 20 years. Fortunately, with my reaffirmation of pro-Blackness and Black Love, we’re closer than we’ve ever been.

And sometimes, I still have my visceral suspicions. When I see light skin Black revolutionaries in racial justice spaces, I quell that minimal resentment. And, in love and selflessness, my light skin Sisters courageously voice that they hold an emblem of privilege — that their vocal radicalism is better received because of their lighter skin. And then we get back to work with this truth and honesty in mind.

The Traumas are uneven, but both are valid.

I find it odd, interesting, and sad that colorism is most beholden to Black women. But I get it. Colorism is a function of both racism and patriarchy. Racism and patriarchy are both interweaving systems of white supremacy. And Black women — the most harmed, vulnerable, and targeted of these systems — bear the brunt.

And I wish it would just stop because it’s futile. Even in writing this, I’m frustrated and annoyed that colorism, literally a visibly bold form of white supremacy, still reverberates so soundly.

We gotta start healing y’all. Quickly. Dark skinned Black girls who hate or distrust their light skin Sisters need healing. I know I needed it, and I got it, and I’m happier and stronger than I’ve ever been.

Light skinned Black girls who think they’re better than their dark skinned Sisters … get over yourself. You’re not. And to devalue a Black body speaks to your mental slavery and spiritual weakness. Do better. Heal. Grow. Learn.

Light skinned Sisters who recognize the limited privilege they hold … speak up. It’s always up to the privileged sect to change the system.

All Black people … remember the enemy. It’s white supremacy, and it deserves our unwavering, unrelenting attention. And please, for the love of Black Jesus, let’s not pass this colorism bullshit to our children.

This is all I have for now. I’m mentally exhausted trying to string together all my thoughts on this ridiculous issue. I didn’t get into the global elements of colorism because …no. I didn’t analyze men — both Black and otherwise — who buy in to colorism because … ugh. And I’m sure, when I revisit this post in a few weeks, I’ll develop new opinions and insight.

But for now, all I know is my family. We literally come in different shades, hair types, eye colors, etc. And we’re all beautiful. We’re all strong. And it is with this personal experience, that I write.

*Feature Image Credit: www.afamcolorism.tumblr.com

photo 1Arielle Newton, Founder/Editor-in-Chief. Get at me @arielle_newton. Get at us @BlkMillennials.

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8 responses to “F*ck Colorism to Hell

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. I actually just got finish speaking at a .Black Love forum at my school about the same subject. This mind frame that black people have about light-skin dark-skin arguement, actually came from something called the Willie Lynch Letters. These letters were written to advise slave owners on how to keep black people enslaved for years after physical slavery was removed. One of the ways he said to do that was to “turn the lighter against the darker” (paraphrasing of course). As we can see today our people are still enslaved. It’s crazy because a child cannot chose what color they are, just like they cannot chose their biological parents. And once we as a people stop focusing on colors and shades, and start realizing that our fellow sisters and brothers (because some of these guys are on this light-skin vs. dark-skin campaign as well) are still enslaved, then we will be getting somewhere.

    On a side note, I looked through your blog and I LOVE it. I’m a new blogger and I have already found you as an inspiration!

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    • I believe that it is both. But you have to refer to time and place when saying that. From what I have researched, heard, and seen with my own eyes, there are some whites that believe in this “the lighter the better” aspect. As I said in my post, the “plan” was to turn one against the other. White supremacy and those who follow it do this through things like commercials on T.V. For example when they show you a Chinese person living in the jungles of China as a relaxing experience her face is usually painted paler. In reality there are dark skinned indigenous people living in the jungles there that live just like those in Africa.They have afros and kinky hair, the only difference is thier chinky eyes. But they show the lighter skin women because they know what people think of lighter skinned people. They are continuing to advertise that lighter skin is better; they are continuing to support what Willie Lynch advised all those slave owners to do way back then. And because the black community does not know these things, because they don’t know REAL history, they take the ignorance of “light skins be like…” or “dark skins be like…” and keep it going. Granted not everyone is like that, and some are enlightened in their own ways, but most aren’t, if that answered your question

      Liked by 1 person

      • Speaking of enlightenment…chinky=not okay. Mentioned in the spirit of information not judgment.

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  2. I never understand why people are shocked by colorism. Of course its sad that it happens but its not shocking at all. The dark girls and light girl documentaries were made to bring light to this very real issue in the world, so I don;t understand why its shocking to anyone. Yes it stems from white supremacy , we do see it every day in the black community, we see memes that say “light skin girls be like ” “dark skin girls be like”, its something we see every day. We see it in music videos, we see it everywhere. Studies show light skin people are quicker to get hired for positions than a dark skin person because white people feel more comfortable around the complexion (true study). So we can say fuck colorism and play oblivious to it but why should anyone turn there head to something that affects people. Colorism debates always miss the point. Lighter skinned people have privilege all over the world. It opens up spaces for people–in education, government, etc. (especially for black women who want power—look at all the lighter wives of Haitian presidents, for example) which is why skin lightening cream is a billion dollar industry. Kendrick is allowed to marry whomever…and people on the internet are allowed to have divisive opinions because they are hurt by the constant degradation of dark skinned people. Remember when Wayne said, “beautiful black woman, I bet that bitch look better red.” So, I think it’s good for black women to develop contrary opinions, even ones that seem violently opposed to the norm. It’s a great survival technique—violent subversion of norms. Anyway, y’all still bought the Wayne albums and sung the song, I think you’ll get over this too. Lets remember acknowledging an issue does not mean that you are endorsing or agreeing with it, it is simply say this really happens in the world and different black women have different experiences so canceling out or watering down someone elses opinions or experience can’t be right. As a dark skin woman who has truly always been comfortable in her own skin but still aware of the world, I can tell you that Everything is not some sort of trauma, sometimes people are just truly speaking out on what they see and feel.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. White supremacy has spread through almost every single country. In India they have a power structure that purports that white skin is inherently better. Go on youtube and look up India white skin(Cuba, China, Japan and on and on). And this story that we’ve ALL been force fed has no basis in logic, reason or truth. It’s so the power structure is able to keep the masses infighting and to keep women silenced and powerless.

    Being light skin, I know has made my life easier. I was constantly reminded of my light skin by both black and white people(Which bah annoying for anyone of any color, yes I have a mirror). Some days it means that I don’t understand the struggle of my fellow dark skinned humans. It’s true I don’t know first hand. However, I have seen darker people (beautiful as they may be) shamed and degraded. It’s just so ridiculous, I think people are afraid to face up to how ridiculous it is, because it means that they have to search for truth and beauty outside themselves through their own actions, and power won’t just be given out right. That ego will get us every time. People don’t like to give away their power.
    But I wish you would have brought up black men( I know that you said you may in a future post) because IMO many black men play a whole lot into colorism toward black women. That’s why it’s always refreshing to see dark women celebrated in black media and, or in the media as a whole. And I loathe it when black women are portrayed as just video hoes, and mistresses, and as needy, helpless or disposal. But it’s an all too prevalent trend in hip hop, which inherently is supposed to uplift and incite the masses.
    And a woman being boiled down to the color of her skin, is dehumanizing. I’m tired of seeing worn out tropes of the pretty, fresh, never farts and is never interesting light skinned girl
    and tired of the bitter dark woman. Give me some dimension, more dark women please. The images the media shows are extremely powerful and we need to admit that, and vote with our time and our $$.

    So Yeah, F*ck the Patriarchy( BFF D Mendoza shout out) and F*ck Colorism!

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  4. I know that this is true. This existed in Latin American countries as well. My mother being one of colorism’s victims told me about her mulatto mother’s self hatred. I learned to love black skin as a result. I look Hispanic so I don’t get treated this way. However, people always asked if I was black because you can tell I have inherited some traits.

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  5. Pingback: Prezi Presentation Project | rashidatorres·

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