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Colorism: Within Our Own

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Imagine being in a job interview for your dream job. You’ve been waiting forever for this moment and opportunity. You have more experience than anyone else being interviewed. You killed the interview and left feeling great. A few days later the employer called and informed you that you didn’t get the job. You were so confused as to how that was possible. You decided to drive up to the workplace and as soon as you stepped in you immediately knew. All eyes drew to you because you were the darkest-skinned person in the room. You looked around and didn’t see anyone with deeply melanated skin. But it unfortunately was true. You didn’t get the job because you were of a darker skin complexion. Colorism is a form of prejudice or discrimination usually from members of the same race in which people are treated differently based on the social implications from cultural meanings attached to skin color. Our country’s history of racial hierarchy is the basis of colorism. Lighter-skinned slaves were allowed less strenuous jobs, while darker-skinned slaves were assigned hard labor.

We have this battle within our own community of colorism. It is years of being brainwashed by non people of color. I conducted a poll on 2 of my social media platforms to try and determine if people were aware of colorism and what it was. The results were unappealing. 66% of African American females did not know/had never heard of colorism. 82% of African American males didn’t know/had never heard of colorism. Because African Americans had been brainwashed there is this idea that lighter skin meant that one was more intelligent and superior to darker-skinned people. I interviewed three African American women and asked them a few questions. 

VOX ATL: Have you ever experienced prejudice as a result of colorism ?

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Kay Hawk: “Yes, I have experienced prejudice as a result of my having darker skin.”

Daya Brown: “No, I personally haven’t experienced colorism.”

Tiffany Nunnally: “I was once told by a young black girl that she was surprised that I was an A.K.A. because of my dark skin and that she didn’t think she could ever be one because of it. 

Have you ever witnessed prejudice as a result of colorism in the black community ?

Kay Hawk: “Especially in the black community because I am of darker complexion, and people wondered how I had such a light skinned baby. They wondered if  my husband had a child with another woman.”

Daya Brown: “I have witnessed black on black colorism because of men having a certain preference. When I was younger, I saw a black boy choose another girl due to skin complexion. He pointed out that the other girl was too dark for him.”

Tiffany Nunnally: “I believe that many of our black men prefer women that are lighter skinned or not black because they believe they are prettier or a prize. This seems to be the case especially for black men who have reached a certain level of success.”

Do you think black people with lighter or darker skin pigmentation face more challenges within our own community?

Kay Hawk: “If you are lighter skinned in the black community you are considered better because many think it is closer to white”

Daya Brown: “As black people we will always be black. We can’t change that about ourselves or how other people view us. I think we can see that people with lighter skin face less challenges than others. But at the same time we are still black and that cannot be changed.”

Tiffany Nunnally: “Yes, our people often tried to pass off as white to survive.”

Why do you think colorism exists within our own community ?

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Kay Hawk: “We have this battle within our own community of colorism. It is years of being brainwashed by non people of color. When the slave master brought the light skinned slave in the house to cook, clean, and tend to the kids and let the darker ones outside to do the hard labor and tend the fields the separation began. From there it was forced on us that if you light you are better and if you are dark skinned then you are worth nothing but the scraps.

Daya Brown: “I think colorism exists in the black community due to how this country was built upon. Which is racism. We have been taught about the history of our ancestors, discrimination, segregation, and so much more. However Segregation plays a big role in this because we have our own segregation in the black community. Not only the skin color plays a role. But our social & economic class has a role in this”

Tiffany Nunnally: “Just plain ignorance and a dislike for ourselves that comes from what the world tells us through images of beauty etc.

Colorism is the one of the worst forms of prejudice. That is because it is rooted in one’s community. It is a product of deep rooted self hatred. As Black people we need to realize that the pigmentation of our skin isn’t a weakness. Regardless of dark or light skin African Americans have great minds and are valuable human beings.

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VOX ATL is Atlanta's home for uncensored teen reporting and self-expression. If you are a teen interested in joining us. Hit us up at editor@voxatl.org....

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