Colorism

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Article by: Josiah Meekins

Racism is a concept that can affect many different types of minority communities.  Being apart from the African American community I know all too well how racism can destroy communities.  As minorities, we have a unique power to also destroy the community from the inside.  Colorism is a prejudice that has affected the black community for decades.  Colorism is prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a ranging from light or dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.  Colorism exclusive in the black community has been an emotional and psychological battle for many apart of the collective.  This ideology of colorism stems from the period of slavery.  This dates back to when lighter skinned slaves worked in the houses of the master while the darker ones did labor in the fields.

 

Many slave owners were more found of light-skinned slaves because they were often family members. Many slave owners forced slave women into sexual intercourse, and have light-skinned offspring.  Light skin offspring were indicators of sexual assault.   The majority of slave owners never took ownership of their mixed-race children.  Instead of taking responsibility they gave them privileges that dark-skinned slaves could not have experienced. Hence why light skins became viewed as an asset in the slave community.

 

Colorism has been through so many generations that there is an old saying that contributes to this idea.

 

“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.”

 

This old saying still has corruptive power in today’s society.  Colorism did not disappear after slavery ended in the U.S. In black America, those with lighter toned individuals receive different types of stereotypes than and darker toned blacks.  These stereotypes include very emotional and not as black as their darker counterparts.  Some lighter toned black people might enjoy the privilege of the stereotypes of not being that black.  This could be seen as a privilege because of the negative connotations that some people hold towards the black community.

 

Today colorism still plagues the community.  Colorism can be subtly played out on social media sites.  This can be seen with hashtags like #lightskin or #darkskin.  These hashtags are to indicate that one’s actions or thoughts are linked to stereotypes relating to that certain skin tone.  Not only does colorism stifle the ability to have a black community it also affects the lifestyle of those are in the community.  Studies from the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality and the National Survey, conducted in 2007 shows that white men earn more than men that are of color, but lighter toned black men earn more than those with darker skin as well.  This issue and being addressed by activist and celebrities alike.  Many hope our society can drop stereotypes all together and make a more unified human race.


 

Photo Credit : affinitymagazine.us/

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