I’ll be honest, the following is quite uncomfortable to write. However, other than vent/make sense of it, I wanted to help deconstruct a problem.
So this past Saturday my mom sees me and says: “Oh no, you’re getting darker”. Implying that being darker is bad. That one sentence disrupted a lot in mind. So, now I’m going to talking about colorism.
Being Haitian, colorism is unfortunately…common. I know it’s something a lot of Black folks don’t talk about. But we have to. I’ve talked with my mom about this ugly thing created by whiteness & proximity to it before. But I failed somewhere. Rather I feel like I failed. I know that this is her mess but I can’t help shake the feeling.
I spoke to her this Monday morning in a better frame of mind regarding her words. She deflected/avoided it entirely…as she’s been doing since her nearly 60 years of live. See my family calls out each other on BS, so that’s not sufficient. I’m not here to demonize her in anyway. But what makes this worse is my mom is a lighter skin Black woman. So, the hurt cuts deep.
What’s unfortunate is that this is so embedded in us and multifaceted. Many assume they’re doing nothing good. It literally has us place value on someone based on how light they are…
The following is a good read on the how and why we Black folks can/do discriminate among ourselves based on our skin tones.
Why black people discriminate among ourselves: the toxic legacy of colorism
You cannot separate the often painful stereotypes of colorism from misogyny and the sexual exploitation inherent in…
Just hearing “I’m getting darker” as if it’s something bad, undesirable, and ugly. From my mom…I can't quite put into words. I’m 33 but it doesn’t matter, words mean things. You’d only need to hear certain words from someone to just question your self-worth.
I already deal with enough telling me I don’t belong spaces/places/industries due to my beautiful skin tone on a daily basis. I just keep it to myself and deal.
Speaking of skin tones and employment/jobs. Reports show that the lighter we are, the more intelligent we are perceived by white job interviewers (oh that’s great).
Study: lighter-skinned black and Hispanic people look smarter to white people
As long ago as 2005, an ABC News report on colorism called it "an open secret in the black community." Two more recent…
Now, I’ll be damned if I take part of any practice/ideal/system that devalues Black (Brown and other PoC) folks. Everything written here and many other thoughts came to mind when realized what was going on — all at once. It was far from a pleasant feeling.
Colorism does enough to harm but it even affects our pay rates. I.E the lighter your skin the more you earn…sigh
The effects of skin tone, height, and gender on earnings
Using a theoretical approach grounded in implicit bias and stereotyping theories, this study examines the relationship…
Why am I sharing something personally and hurtful? Well, unfortunately ugly experiences don’t exist in mere self-contained vacuums. Ideally, I don’t want anyone to deal with this or any of the far extremes. The person that taught me to be Black & proud harbors may not mean exactly what I thought.
Whiteness is something else huh, it even has us hate our own Blackness. A must watch on this subject is the Black-ish episode “Black Like Us”. The family addressed colorism and it’s rough (very). I believe it’s necessary to get a grasp on it, so we can talk.
So I ask you to do the following. If you notice that anyone places a higher value mainly/only on lighter skin, you have a conversation you need to tackle. My family like any, covers the entire spectrum of beautiful Blackness, I’ve recognized that for my entire life. Please, don’t let anyone Black and or otherwise feel lesser than because of their melanin.
The main reason I wrote about this is because I don’t want this to pass on. It would break my heart if I had a child & they tell me grandma thinks they’re ugly for being darker. So, let’s do our part and deconstruct all the systems that devalues our Blackness.