Definition: -prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.
The subject tires me out mentally. I remember my ex-husband having a conversation with his sister years ago, when we initially met. He had been basically telling his sister that he had met me and he was in love blah blah…. When I almost choked on my drink after hearing her ask him the question; “is she light-skinned?” Well, let’s just say that during our marriage, I didn’t bother to reach out to her or invite her around much. To be fair, she never made special effort either, apart from a few occasions that I can count on one hand.
Besides being totally surprised by the weird and somewhat offensive question, I didn’t really think much of the subject of colorism until years later. When my daughter and I were on a vacation in Berlin, Germany and she returned to the hotel room in tears. She had been denied entry to a club because she was darker than her friends, who were all white and mixed race and whom were all admitted into the club and left her at the door to deal with “her problem”. So much for friendship, but anyway after this incident, I had read about colorism in America and how darker skinned girls paid a little bit more of the entry charge than the lighter girls to get into a nightclub. I had also heard of children teasing each other for being too dark, I recall overhearing a kid on the bus once describe another kid as “blue-black” and laughing hysterically about it. To my relief, some of the other kids didn’t quite find it funny and defended their friend.
Nowadays, we hear via media, about how light skinned women get first preference for acting roles in the film industry. In the modelling industry, light skin models are favorite to their dark-skinned counterparts who happen to be called “exotic” if they are chosen. We read about stories in parts of South America, where dark skinned black people are not highly regarded and marrying white people is encouraged so that lighter babies are bred.
Lighter skinned black people are generally readily accepted because they are closer to being white, which is admirable for those that believe so. However, it is with great sadness that we are forced to acknowledge that the ideas that some black people have, that white skin is superior to dark skin derive from their own lack of wisdom and understanding of the history behind colonisation, slavery and how black people were treated; this treatment being the direct result of how our fellow blacks become classified according to their colour. I encourage anyone reading this to do their own research when they have time and educate/inform themselves on this issue. On that note, I finish by adding that Colorism:
– causes black people to suffer the impact of discrimination twice, firstly by whites and other races, secondly by their own kind,
– causes favouritism in families, with the light skinned child being treated better than the darker child. This no doubt causes self-esteem issues for the darker child, maybe to the extent of self-hate,
-breaks families up by bringing animosity, distaste, breaking of trust, causing distance/rifts between family members and rivalry,
-breeds …shame and embarrassment for being dark skinned,
and is the reason behind why so many women opt to whiten/ lighten/bleach their skin with skin bleaching lotions in order that they may afford themselves opportunities within the work industry, general acceptance in society and sadly, in relationships because light skin is associated to beauty. This is probably why my ex-sister in law asked her brother what my complexion was all those years ago. She was probably concerned about what colour babies I would have because to her, me being dark for her, probably paralleled to me being ugly. Unfortunately, it is such kind of ignorance in African communities that makes colourism an unchallenged norm. Astonishingly, colourism is not seen as something negative by some black people. I do appreciate that people say that times have moved along and all that, however, I often wonder how far along we have really moved.