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Imagine living in a world that immediately judges you from the color of your skin. Imagine being unfairly treated by your family members just because  the color of your skin may be a few shades darker . In my community we called it ,”color struck.” It has since been given the name, Colorism. Colorisim is what happens when you discriminate against a person who is a darker color than you , mainly in the same ethnic group.  Colorism exists more than we realize and the fact that it is being more and more widely accepted is troublesome.  I have experienced colorism in my life. I was the darkest child born to my parents, and possibly the darkest grandchild too. I knew very early that my color was different .Not that my parents pointed it out or treated me differently but there were other people who made it a point to let me know that my fair skinned red head brother was their favorite. I was called names very early in life and as I grew up I realized that in this world that I am in , I either have to be the best at what I’m doing or just not do it at all .

Remember the quotes that we used as children ,

“If you’re black, stay back;
If you’re brown, stick around;
If you’re yellow, you’re mellow;
If you’re white, you’re all right.”

” the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice”

These seemingly innocent sayings shaped the image of our complex color schemes for a lifetime .  If we were to study the history of colorism you will find its origins in the slavery period ( for African Americans I’m sure the origins are similar for other ethnic groups too).  It is widely known that that the darker skinned slaves worked in the field or outside and the fair skinned slaves worked in the house. The reason behind this treatment is that most of the lighter skinned black slaves were probably family members of the slave owners. And though they never said , this slave is my daughter , son , nephew they did give them perks that they didn’t give the other slaves. Consequently being a lighter skinned slave means you were a hot commodity. If that means anything , considering you were still a slave. Needless to say this pattern of colorism followed us throughout history.

If you were to study the history of the Europeans the same can be true. Except the fact that they were not slaves . The lighter skinned people were the aristocrats because they didn’t go outside to work , well they didn’t have to work .  Sometimes the way the Aristocrats showed their wealth was to paint their face whiter including their hair. And those who had tans were peasants. And in those times you could easily distinguish who had money and who didn’t have money by the color of their skin . Now in 2018 it would probably be the opposite.

Here’s the thing …after slavery ended pretty much the entire idea of colorism ended.  By that time we were all just black and trying to make it in the world . So while we were trying to get jobs and such something happened, they only begin to hire the fair skinned black people. Pretty soon the entire black middle class was light skinned blacks . And in our own community we started thinking that the elite were just the lighter skinned black people. With our new wealth we of course started our own social clubs , to get in these clubs you had to pass the paper bag test. That is you had to be lighter than a brown paper bag to get into many of these social clubs. Now I have not measured myself against a paper bag but I highly doubt that I would have passed that test.

(sigh) We actually allowed someone else determine who was best in our own communities. Not realizing that a fair skinned black could possibly have a dark skinned black and then the tables would turn .  Things were so bad at one point in our history that when people filled out for jobs they listed light skinned as an asset to get the job. So where did that leave the darker skinned people? You guessed it…factories and sharecroppers and maids .  White people actually thought that darker skinned people were distrustful and not able to relate to .  We definitely see this pattern repeat all throughout our history . Ever wonder why they accepted Thurgood Marshall and not Martin Luther King?

Currently in our community a fair skinned black girl is seen as beautiful and the dark skinned girl …well she’s cute to be black.  Take a look at our celebrities as they bleach their skin and lighten their hair to be more accepted. Or look how a darker skinned women is portrayed in a movie. She’s generally a loser, underachiever, mean , harsh , tactless  and more . If you don’t believe me watch the Haves and the Have Nots. At this point you are probably thinking about Halle Berry and her fame. Since you’re there already … pair Halle Berry with Viola Davis , they are the same age . But Viola has never been the love interest in a movie and she is just as beautiful  . You see where I am going .

We as a community should take back our authority as a people and stop allowing people to define what and who we are…basically

 

Tesha

19 thoughts on “Colorism”

  1. This is my first time to hear about colorism and I have never know that it’s all about discriminating others by the color of their skin. I do have a fair skin and I hate those people who are defining a person by their looks.

  2. This post truly connected to me. I have a very mixed racial family and I have had fight with some family member who were judging my cousins solely due to their skin colour difference. Thank you for spreading awareness

  3. Love this post, very powerful message. I don’t like how much focus there is in skin color and try so hard to keep my kids from worrying about this in hopes that they’ll grow up to focus on other features on people, like their hearts or manners perhaps.

  4. I have never heard of any of these sayings before. I think things are still changing and we still have a way to go for full equality. As a parent with young children, they are taught to respect all races and colours of skin

  5. This is such a well written article. Colorism is such a huge problem in many communities. It is sad how someone can be judged based on skin color. I know this feeling first hand and have noticed different treatment compared to a lighter skinned person.

  6. I have fairly dark skin for the country I live in and when I was little people used to call me “gypsy”. However, I do love my skin and I would not get it brighter. In fact, I love to be tanned, so I get my skin even darker every summer.

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