This morning I received a message on Instagram from someone who was frustrated with the lack of response of children featured with a darker complexion. I would love to classify it as a baseless rant but in our community, Colorism is a very real part of our experience. Personally, I have dealt with Colorism my entire life- from being teased in school to having Black men tell me I have either been too dark or not dark enough for them to consider me as a serious dating partner. The truth is, Colorism is like a dis-ease spread among our community. It is an internal form of racism that we as Black people place upon ourselves. It can yield the question, “Am I Black enough to be considered Black?” while making another individual feel as if they are too Black to be accepted by Black people.
Colorism is an internal form of racism that we as Black people place upon ourselves.
In the world of social media, the fetishism of Black skin is very real but how does that translate into real life? Do we glorify Lupita Nyong’o’s skin on camera but laugh at those around us who share her complexion? Colorism, in that sense, can then be compared to cultural appropriation in the ways that it is deemed acceptable to love Black skin as a trend until an individual has to love Black skin in real life and what all comes with being a darker individual in the Black community. When you see these two images below, what do you see?
Photo Credit: Instagram
Photo Credit: Elle UK
Do you see both as beautiful?
On The Flip Side…
Most have heard about the Colin Kaepernick situation but even more so about the recent inflammatory comments made by retired football player, Rodney Harrison. Harrison goes on interview in an angry rant saying (loosely quoted) that Kaepernick is not Black enough to understand the Black experience. He went on to denounce Kaepernick’s Black existence all together. As classic foot in mouth politics go, Harrison has since apologized for his derogatory statements. This begs the question, is there a sliding scale for Blackness? And if so, who makes the rules for just how Black you have to be in order to share a respectable opinion regarding our race?
Is there a sliding scale for Blackness?
Because we are so used to talking about oppression from a heavily melaninated point of view, those who have lighter skin tones are often left out of the picture or are only referenced when it comes to naming them as the villain when it comes to Colorism.
Photo Credit: Ebony
So where does this leave us? Of course, I have my thoughts on the social injustice of this imperfect world that we live in. I am also aware that Colorism and Color Complex are not just a Black issue but an issue that many around the world face in different cultures. I am aware of the effect that social constructs like slavery and beauty standards have had on the minds of people but what are your thoughts?
This is a conversation piece so go ahead and share how this all really makes you feel below. Let’s talk about it.