Shades of Blackness: Introduction

The subject of Colorism among African Americans is a difficult topic, one that I’ve personally been reticent to discuss. My reticence does not stem from the psychological trauma that this issue brings to the surface for me. Rather it’s a result of the reaction I’ve received from other African Americans when I attempt to express what I and other dark-skinned black women have gone through. My voice is shouted down with the scorn and hostility of those who’d prefer to deny my existence and my experiences. At best dark-skinned women are accused of extreme paranoia, lying and jealousy. At worst we are told that we somehow deserve to be maligned and made invisible in our own community.

Frustrated with the level of scorn I’ve received for simply saying Colorism exists, I’ve tried to leave it alone. But events of the past seven months have shown me that it won’t leave me alone. No longer the timid girl I was at sixteen years old-when I struggled with this issue constantly-I realize it is time to speak my truth on this. I gain nothing by maintaining my silence and allowing others to intimidate me into going along with their denial. I will share my story in a series, as addressing it in one blog post isn’t possible. I will tell the story of how I went from being a proud dark-brown girl in 1986 to an insecure, self-loathing girl who prayed for green eyes and light skin in 1992. In retelling and reflecting on my experiences I hope that my readers will gain an understanding of life on the bottom of Black America’s caste system.

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A native Seattleite and East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been.

3 thoughts on “Shades of Blackness: Introduction

  1. Colourism is very real and exists in every nation that has ever seen slavery or European occupation. We cannot deny the use of light colored weaves, coloured contacts, and the rampant use of bleaching creams by Caribbeans, African-Americans, South Americans and Asians. Those who deny colourism and the privileges of lighter skin simply aren’t paying attention.

    1. “Those who deny colourism and the privileges of lighter skin simply aren’t paying attention.”

      Most definitely Emelyne! It seems quite obvious but people willingly deceive themselves at times. When I attempt to discuss Colorism at times I’ve heard African-Americans use the same tired arguments that are used to shut down discussions of racism.

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