Colorism in Our Culture

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock
Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

Growing up, one woman learned that there was a stark difference between darker and lighter skin colors in the African-American community. The Root DC contributor Marita Golden, author of Don't Play in the Sun: One Woman's Journey Through the Color Complex, says that despite the strides blacks have made in America, both those in her generation and those younger are still at odds with colorism in contemporary culture.

"When I was in high school a girl told me I acted like I didn't know I was dark-skinned, and wondered where I got my pride and dignity from," one said.  The other told us about her daughter, who has been mistaken for every nationality from Greek to Spanish: "My daughter hears all the time from black boys that they would never marry a girl darker than she is." My friend's daughter also attends a respected HBCU and has shared with her mother stories of female classmates physically assaulting one another in the wake of verbal colorist insults.

And long before our dinner other sisters shared similar stories with me: 

"I was shocked to learn, the day after my grandson was born, that my daughter had been, as she said 'praying that he'd come out light, like his father, not dark like me.' "

"As a light-skinned woman, brown-skinned women tell me all the time that I'm not a ‘real sister,' and sometimes even that I can't be trusted because I'm light."

Read Marita Golden's entire piece at The Root DC.

Editor's note: A previous version of this post stated that this essay appeared in the Washington Post. However, the piece appeared in The Root DC.


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