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Colorism

Colorism

Youth are the future of our communities, therefore we are committed to giving them the opportunities they need to grow and become the leaders of tomorrow. Our Youth Development Program gives them the necessary support and tools to initiate a change and speak their minds in a proactive way. This series of editorial pieces featured in the next couple of weeks, are the result of months of work from these young adult independent minds ready to take action and eager to be heard.

*The views and opinions expressed in the following piece are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of IBA.

ByNameka D., Annika S., Aidalitzy H., Isaiah A., William L.

Colorism is an issue that many refuse to acknowledge the existence of. By definition, colorism is “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group” (ric.edu).

The first thing many people think about when they hear the word colorism is the colorism that goes on in the Black community. Though colorism happens more frequently in the Black community, please be aware that the Black community isn’t the only community that faces colorism, as well. Numerous minority communities struggle to overcome colorism, a few being the Asian community (China, Cambodia and India face it more severely), the Hispanic/Latinx community, and more.

In our families, colorism looks like some of your family members treating you or another family member differently because one of you is of a darker skin color. In school and on social media, jokes will be made against you if you’re darker. In society, you’ll have more privileges if you're light-skinned, and you’ll be society’s desired “type.”

Colorism happens frequently in the Black community, but it’s not completely the fault of the Black community. Colorism goes back as far as slavery; The white slave owners often decided that light-skinned slaves would work in the house, while those of a darker skin tone were forced to work on the plantations, no matter the weather conditions. However, the terms “darkskin,” “brownskin,” and “lightskin” have been heavily popularized within the Black community, and more often than not, these terms take on negative connotations when used in a negative way.

Society tends to bash women with more melanin, but praises those that lack melanin. Why, might you ask? Because Black women have always been considered to be more “masculine” “dirty,” and “ugly,” while White women have always been considered to be more “feminine,” “fragile,” and “in need of protection.” Between darkskin and lightskin women, who most resembles white women? Exactly. This toxic mindset is harmful, immoral and more than degrading towards women with more melanin.

The Black community has a lot of work to do to stop using terms and stereotypes that were started by white people, because it’s been tearing our community apart ever since. We are responsible for holding colorism in place, and years later, we are still giving these people what they want: separation amongst ourselves, so that we will forever be under the white men. Perhaps, if we broke these structures down, we’d be able to start effectively seeing a change in the many systems that have forever held us down.

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