All wounds aren’t physical. Some are emotional and spiritual, which some would say are even harder to heal from. Firstly, you can’t heal what you don’t address, and as Black folks, there are several unaddressed issues and concerns were have a community.
Although many of our issues stem from socio-cultural and economic oppression, it is part of our job as a people to heal from the inside out. And that all begins with acknowledging the self-hate that is still so prevalent in our society: like colorism. Grant it, it’s not just Black people who deal with colorism. Both the Asian and Latino communities have been that the more white, the more bright. But for some reason, African-Americans are still having a difficult time acknowledging the segregative cancer that plagues our self-esteem, damages our spirits and makes it difficult to rise as a whole.
It makes gorgeous Black women like Lil Kim, feel as though they needs to change everything about themselves.
Specifically anything that made her “look Black”.
In a 2000 interview with Newsweek, Kim sadly revealed:
“Guys always cheated on me with women who were European-looking. You know, the long-hair type. Really beautiful women that left me thinking, ‘How can I compete with that?’ Being a regular Black girl was not good enough.”
Colorism has been going on since the slavery days. We all know the history about how lighter skin slaves were allowed indoors and were more favored than the darker slaves who were forced to work in the fields all day. That same mindset has continued down the cultural lineage, so much so that even in 2019, we’re still having conversations about dark skin vs. light skin.
Colorism In Television & Film
There’s a reason why most of the darker skin Black women on television are portrayed as sassy, loud or ghetto. While the lighter skin women are seen as softer, more feminized, a trophy to be sought after. Just take Gina and Pam on Martin for example. Pam never had a man, while Gina got to have a whole love story and higher paying job. Look at Aunt Viv. When the character was played by Janet Hubert, she had a voice, an opinion. She wasn’t just Uncle Phil’s wife and the kids mother until Daphne Reid took over.
There’s still a colorism issue today with Young Hollywood. For every Amandla Stenberg, Zendaya and Alexandra Shipp, there’s only one Letitia Wright. And even then, it’s a rarity to see someone of a darker complexion playing the light hearted, funny, romantic roles.
Stop Hiding Colorism Under “Preference”
Let’s just be honest here. As human beings, we all have preferences. But dating someone based on their skin color and hair texture is evidently linked to racism. Take someone like Chris Brown for example. He caught the wrath of Black Women Twitter (again) earlier this week over a song lyric claiming that he only liked “Black women with nice hair.”
As we all know, the term “good hair” or “nice hair” has sparked controversy since Black folks have been in America. In the Black community, good hair usually refers to hair that is fine, loose curls, straight. Basically anything that’s not coarse, tightly coiled, or reminiscent of African in any way. So to claim that as your preference subconsciously tells younger, dark skin girls that they aren’t good enough. By hiding under the excuse “it’s just my preference” just further shows ignorance and self-hate. America feels safer around Black people of lighter complexions, apparently, so do some Black men.
Colorism In Music
As millennial men and women, how many times have you heard Lil Wayne talk about his love for Red Bones, or Kanye give advice to all his n***** “impregnate Bridget/ Soon as she have a baby she gon’ make another nigg.” Even Mathew Knowles says colorism is the reason why Kelly Rowland hasn’t been as successful in the states as Beyonce. To this day, YG can’t go anywhere, including Nipsey Hussle’s funeral, without reminding people about his love and respect for “pretty light skin girls”. Rapper Cassidy once said that the reason they cast light-skinned/exotic women is because of the way the light hits their faces, you can see them and their expressions from far away.
Interesting how Black men who feel this way don’t consider their own dark skin as a symbol of something unattractive and ill-favored, or even their moms in most cases. It’s only when it comes to procreating with a darker skin woman that it becomes something negative.
Consequences To Colorism
According to a Villanova University study of more than 12,000 African-American women imprisoned in North Carolina, lighter-skinned black women receive shorter sentences than their darker-skinned counterparts. Research by Stanford psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt found that darker-skinned black defendants were twice as likely as lighter-skinned black defendants to get the death penalty for crimes involving white victims. As for love and romance, fair skin is associated with beauty and status, which means to light-skinned black women are more likely to be married than darker-skinned black women.
Having these conversations are super important in order for us to move forward as a community, as a people. And to learn new ways to love ourselves without the influences of others penetrating our beliefs — because united, we stand. But, divided, we fall.