Colorism in the Black Community

Tibria Sparkman, Contributor

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A topic that really interests me is colorism in the black community. This may not interest our whole school, but I think we can agree that our school is predominately black. Therefore, it can relate to the majority. This isn’t another story about racism in our country or “black power.” Believe me I’m very much interested in that too, but I feel like colorism is the thing that no one talks about or explains.

Many people make colorist comments without realizing it. A popular comment I’ve seen is “She’s pretty for a dark skin” or “She’s only pretty because she’s light skin.” I’ve always been the type of person to look deeper into things, so to me those are colorist comments. It’s the same as saying that if said person was a darker skin tone, she/he would be less attractive. Many people try to stick up for dark skinned females by tearing down light skinned ones, not realizing that that’s colorism.

I went to social media to find examples. One female left a comment under a light skinned girls post and said “This [female is] really famous for being mixed. Big slap in the face for ACTUAL black girls, y’all are making black girls with beautiful TIGHT curls, feel like they are not pretty because they aren’t watered down with some Caucasian genes. Disgusting.” And followed up with the hashtag “blackgirlmagic”. Just because this isn’t directed toward darker skin tones does not mean it isn’t colorism, people of lighter skin can be victims too. Being that I’m light skin I felt personally offended by the “actual black girls” bit. I myself have been told that I’m not actually black and that I shouldn’t do or say certain things. Black is black. It doesn’t matter what shade of “black” you are. African American is African American.

A lot of people might not understand what “preferences” have to do with colorism, I’m referring to the preference of skin tone when it comes to relationships. Another thing I see on social media is how a black man is colorists because he’s attracted to lighter skinned women more than darker skinned women. (I’m speaking on men because I’ve never personally seen it happen to a women) I don’t think its right that a man can not have a preference without being accused of being colorist. I do believe that it’s a possibility that some of the people that express their “preferences” can very well be colorist but that’s not always the case. I know that black men have degraded black women countless times. Regardless, you can’t let a small percentage represent the whole community. I myself have said countless times darker skin is more attractive to me, that doesn’t mean I have anything against lighter skin, that’s just a preference.

I asked a friend to give me a second opinion on the topic. I simply asked how she felt about colorism and preferences, she responded “People like to judge other people based off of their personal preferences. I don’t agree with that at all. We all like different things. No one has the right to judge/discriminate others based off of what they prefer. A simple thing such as ketchup or mustard on your hotdog could make someone break out into a full-fledged argument. Imagine what dating someone outside your race/ethnicity could do. Why is that? Love is love. No matter gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity. Love who you want to love, choose who makes you happiest. Disregard people’s personal opinions if you feel happier than ever with that person. Colorism exists, and it is alive and well, but don’t confuse colorism and personal preference.  Personal preference goes on every day from clothes to lunch item options, colorism is discrimination plain and simple. Love is love, don’t let anyone take it away from you.” Honestly, I couldn’t agree more. It’s a shame that people are labeled as colorists just because they’re with who they love.

 

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