Issues

Light Skinned Girls and Colorism

By: Taylor Lamb

When discussing “problems in the black community” many black people like to claim that we are the ones holding ourselves back. They say we as a race have a variety of problems that make it impossible for us to advance. A commonly touted idea is that we are too divisive, always finding hindrances to prevent us from coming together. An example often used to point this out is the light skinned vs. dark skinned debate.

People claim that “it’s stupid, it’s petty, we’re all black and should embrace that”, but this debate is not just a petty way for black people to hate on each other. This is much deeper than that, and has been an issue for centuries. It’s colorism, and it’s not a two way street. I’m a light skinned girl and I benefit from colorism.

Colorism, the preference of lighter skinned people over darker skinned ones, is rampant in the black community. It is a problem for men and women alike, but in this article I’m going to speak on the experiences of women because that is who gets the worst of it. if you’re an avid user of social media I’m sure you’ve seen examples of this first hand.

Often times men are seen making jokes about how they’ll never date a dark skinned woman, comparing her to terrible things, saying they would fight her in the street, etc. The most shocking thing about this is many of the men saying these things are dark skinned themselves and have dark skinned women in their families. Despite this, they manage to use 140 characters to fire the most heinous insults against people they should be supporting

Some light skinned girls are probably reading this and getting annoyed, thinking, “Wait, colorism negatively affects us too!” But no… it doesn’t. Think about the most common light skinned girl joke. People say we have a ton of people texting us and we never text back. The joke is that we’re so desirable that we have a bunch of suitors trying to get at us and we just can’t take the time to respond. This isn’t an insult.

Don’t get me wrong. I watched the Light Girls documentary. I know that some light skinned girls have had problems while growing up like being excluded on the playground by dark skinned girls, among other things. I’m sorry if that happened to you, but colorism is more than playground bullying. Colorism is more than just the hurt feelings, the insults, the mean tweets. Colorism, like racism, is a systemic problem.

So far, I’ve mostly spoken about the way men play a role in colorism, but dark skinned women’s lives, like all women’s lives, don’t revolve around men. Colorism shows its self in other places. For example, dark skinned women with the same work experience as light skinned women are less likely to be hired. Dark skinned women who commit the same crimes as light skinned women serve longer prison sentences. Colorism is institutional. Just like white people do not experience racism, a hurt feeling on a playground isn’t comparable to what dark skinned women suffer through.

Colorism is just a function of racism. It’s racism’s black cousin, and as a black person it should offend you. At the root of it, when people complain about someone being too dark, when they compare dark skin to dirt or to roaches, what are they saying? Blackness is ugly. Blackness is stupid. Blackness is wrong. People say dark skinned people are “too” black, but what’s wrong with being black?

You should be offended by colorism because they are insulting your blackness. They think you’re an “acceptable” level of black but don’t stay in the sun too long girl, or they’re coming for you too. Colorism should offend all black people, and we are the last ones who should be perpetuating it.

Everything I know about colorism I learned from listening to the experiences of dark skinned women and nothing I’ve said here hasn’t been said before by a darkskinned women. But often times when dark skinned women do share their experiences they are often labeled as being bitter, petty, or jealous. So light skinned girls, we need to step up! What can you do? Well for one, delete #TeamLightSkin from your twitter bio.

Don’t make colorist jokes, don’t laugh at them, call someone out if you hear them make one. If you’re getting into a relationship with a black guy who says he’s only into light skinned girls or tears down dark skinned girls when he has the chance, then get out of it. He has his own internalized racism issues he needs to work through.

Most often, black women are the only ones supporting black women. That’s why it’s so important that light skinned girls don’t let their dark skinned sisters get thrown under the bus. Every time you silently let a colorist joke pass you by, you co sign your approval. You agree that blackness is ugly. Blackness isn’t ugly. Black is beautiful. Dark skin is beautiful. We need to help to make sure everyone is recognizing that.

Leave a Reply

20 Comments on "Light Skinned Girls and Colorism"

Leave a Comment


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Guest
1 year 8 months ago

Thank you for this article. I get very upset with black women who are light skinned when they whine about colorism effecting them just as negatively. It’s a silly lie and quite insulting to our dark skinned sisters.

http://www.maniacalmarie.com

Guest
1 year 8 months ago

Very true and well said.

Guest
Shelly
1 year 8 months ago

As a light skinned black women colorism does negatively affect us. I hate the color of my skin and wish I was darker. I don’t want my kids to be light skinned. People question my blackness EVERY DAY. My bi racial friend has gone to tanning beds to get darker. Sounds like there is self hate on both sides. No side is “better”. We all deal with issues they just manifest themselves differently.

Guest
Taylor Lamb
1 year 8 months ago

I’m light skinned as well and have dealt with similar issues. However like I said in the article, colorism is systemic. Although it is very upsetting the way people question my blackness (although to be fair, the same happens to dark skinned girls who don’t “act black”), I feel as though that isn’t comparable to getting denied jobs and getting longer prison sentences. I’m very sorry you don’t want your kids to be light skinned, I hope that you’re able to overcome that and learn to love yourself. However, most of the issues we deal with are a function of… Read more »

Guest
Shelly
1 year 8 months ago

I agree it is not comparable but the things ALL black women experience can be mentally damaging. Its not a lie or made up. It is real. Institutionally I have privilege and I know that. However when talking about appearance I don’t agree. I don’t think light is better, it’s worse.

Guest
torre
1 year 8 months ago

I feel that this article assumes because light skinned women like myself have privelege we don’t have any problems. Both white and black question us and doubt us and refuse to claim us. Pretty lonely privilege to have.

Guest
Taylor Lamb
1 year 8 months ago

I think you’re referring specifically to biracial light skinned women. There are many light skinned women who are not biracial and therefore don’t need white people to claim them. Sorry, just wanted to establish that. But also, that was definitely not my intention! I am a light skinned woman and as I said in there, light skinned women have been bullied, which is definitely a problem. But like I said, bullying =\= an institutional prejudice. It’s still wrong but it’s not the same.

Guest
torre
1 year 8 months ago

I don’t mean biracial and I don’t mean they need to be claimed. I meant light skinned in general you don’t fit in. It’s not easy or privilege

Guest
Taylor Lamb
1 year 8 months ago

Well as a light skinned woman I disagree but I’m very sorry that’s been your experience! I hope you’re able to find more accepting people in the future.

Guest

Thank you for this article, as a dark skinned black girl, this felt nice. Explaining racism to white people is hard but it is WAY more frustrating explaining colorism to light skinned people and sexism against black women to black men I always end up crying or just getting emotional in general. When your own people sound EXACTLY like white people when you explain these oppressions, it hurts because it’s like experiencing anti blackness but TWICE as hard. It’s like damn you can recognize racism but you can’t recognize THIS?! Especially colorism because it’s the LITERAL child of racism, it… Read more »

Guest
1 year 7 months ago

You’re very welcome. I’m so sorry you have to experience that. I definitely know what you mean when referring to having explain sexism against black women to black men. When I get in conversations like that, and they don’t understand it, it’s always like… damn the people who are supposed to be there for you, the people who are supposed to get it, and they don’t? You have to go through that way more than I do when talking about colorism and I’m really sorry for that. You’re most welcome.

Guest
Maya
1 year 5 months ago

Dark skinned women have so many insecurities that they take out on light skinned girls. Yet they always want to say “I’m not jealous.” Yeah, you ARE jealous of light skinned girls. Dark skinned girls tend to automatically judge us without getting to know us, then they treat us like crap for no good reason! They also cast us out as arrogant even when we’re NOT! The nicer and more educated you are the worse they treat you. If you’re a light skinned “ghetto” girl they have no problem with you. Then they want to turn around and scream “colorism”… Read more »

Guest
etta
1 year 2 months ago

It is not insulting to dark skinned sisters to say that light skinned women suffer from colourism. We do and we not only receive it from white people but also dark skinned women too. There is a better way to solve this than to hate light skinned women.

Guest
R
1 year 1 month ago

It seems kind of contradicting to say that its more than just “hurt feelings” it can be flipped and said about darker women too that they’re just “hurt.” Personally speaking i never saw myself as separate from darker black people i always saw us as one but the darker black people made it very clear that i wasnt black enough for them and that i was a mutt and constantly kept separating us. mentally its very damaging trying to find ways to validate your blackness and people assuming u have to be mixed to be light or have long hair.… Read more »

Guest
Mirah Mir
1 year 23 days ago

To the young lady Maya….I apologize if this sounds rude but the way you worded your comments just seems ignorant. You seem defensive and hostile…Which is part of the problem now. Telling a dark woman to learn to love her dark skin and saying that dark women hate light women for no reason is just silly. I doubt if one hates you because your light or mixed. I don’t know you at all but if I had to take a guess I’d say people probably don’t for your demeanor. It’s seems like you think you’re privileged for having lighter skin… Read more »

Guest
11 months 12 days ago

I recently uploaded my latest documentary ‘Being light Skinned’ within Black and Asian Cultures Being Light Skinned features men and women from Black and Asian cultures discussing the misconceptions of being light skin. There is a arguably a general view within Black and Asian cultures that light skin men and women think they are better than dark skinned people and they are more successful as actors, musicians because they appeal to a mainstream audience and they have ‘good hair’. In this documentary it challenges this perception and also enlightens audiences on the challenges they face being light skin, their opinion… Read more »

Guest
10 months 29 days ago

Studies of dating sites have shown that if a mixed black woman is on a dating site and a one race black woman is on the same dating site, typically rhe mixed race black woman tends to get more nonblack men initiating contact with her, not just more black men. With black men, the difference is not a big one. More nonblack men though send messages to mixed race black women than they do to one race black women. Though this may not be true in every case. You probably have some one race black women who get more men… Read more »

Guest
Concerned
8 months 15 days ago

This article is very interesting and hits on some points that some “light skinned” Women and Women have known, but will not confess in public. Being on the brighter side myself, I have witnessed Men in my life comment on my skintone and deep down inside I felt desired and ashamed at the same time. Light Skinned blacks are favored more by society, but, that does not mean that light skinned blacks are not subjected to harsh treatment by white supremacy it just means that penalties “may’ be less severe but by know means are light skinned folks given a… Read more »

Guest
Elizabeth
5 months 18 days ago

Whatever this article is shit if you ask me, I am light skin and I have a kinky hair and a wide nose and I got treated badly just as bad or worse than my black friends. The system is racist and that has nothing to do with colorism — colorism is the mistreatment of a person based on their skin within that community.. not all light skin girls has slick curly hair or pointed noses that give off white features.. I’ve been called ugly while my dark skin friends are called pretty.. how dare you take my pain as… Read more »

Guest
Anonymous
2 months 25 days ago

How can we continue to “back up” darker skin women when they continue to show jealously, refuse to get to know you, be friends with you one minute then shun you the next!. We all are born into how we are, and I for one am sick and tired of being made to feel hated because I am a skin tone then upsets you!. I have been physically attacked because of jealously, given dirty looks etc etc why cause you hate yourself. Everyone whatever you are love yourself and stop hating on others because you see beauty in them that… Read more »

wpDiscuz