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Colorism

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Based on your comments, it seems that you all agree that Dark Girls (http://vimeo.com/24155797) is bound to make a big contribution to our ongoing discussion about self-acceptance. My blog primarily focuses on hair and identity but skin color is also a strong identity marker. I love the fact that we are discussing these topics! One thing that was also brought to my attention was the fact that light-skinned Black women also encounter colorism (discrimination based on skin color), being treated as “less Black” in some instances, oftentimes by other Black people. A post from Tamara Harris, one of my high school classmates illustrates this point:

“The Color Game is alive and rearing it’s ugly head in full force! As a product of a “blended family” my skintone/hair texture/etc was, and IS, an issue for some people. My family never even discussed color/race as we are all shades from white to brown. No one was any more special than the next. Everything I know of racism I learned from the black community once I left the comforts of home/family. Growing up it was made clear to me by others that I was “different” and they never missed an opportunity to point it out…and make their assumptions based on my shell without getting to know me. Sadly, the only people that felt the need to treat me differently were people of color…my own so-called people. Unfortunately, for some, it never goes away; the giving and receiving of “color hate” (my own term). I was at work not too long ago having a conversation with a coworker (who is brownskin) and another lady we work with walked by and said hello to my coworker (by name to make it clear who the intended was). I mentioned that the lady had NEVER said so much as hello to me. The response: “That’s cause you aren’t really one of “us”…most people aren’t sure what you are.” (said with laughter and a smile, of course) But, even at my age, it was hurtful because there was more than a little bit of truth in her statement. Perhaps I’ll never fully understand the reason behind the color barrier within the race, but I certainly know what it feels like to be treated differently simply because of the color of your skin.


I also had an Indian woman proclaim that colorism is a HUGE issue in Indian society (see my earlier post where I talk about skin bleaching in India: http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/04/why-talk-about-ethnic-hair.html). I’m sure we all have our theories about what led to colorism amongst African-American people: field Negroes versus house Negroes, economic access, social mobility, education, ability to pass versus inability to pass, etc. I love to dig into history to understand the present. However, I am keenly interested in how we can overcome these issues. What do you think? Will we ever be able to overcome colorism and discrimination based on hair texture?

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