jackmeoff182 asked: Do you feel like in the black community there's favoritism over "light skin" rather than "dark skin"? Btw I love your blog. :)
Hi, thanks for the blog compliment!
Absolutely there is preference for light skin over dark skin, and not just in the Black community but globally. The fact that people who are darker skinned in their particular culture tend to be poorer, more imprisoned, have more bleaching products marketed to them, are considered less attractive (or the flip side is fetishized but not truly appreciated), and are regularly dissociated from “beauty” and “goodness” is only the tip of the iceberg with this issue.
Alice Walker defined colourism (also spelled colorism) as “prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color” in In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens. Colourism prevails intraracially and interracially for Black people because of the same reasons; the dominance of Eurocentric beauty myths via White supremacy, external racism by Whites and internalized racism by Black people, and rigid notions of femininity and masculinity as it pertains to race and complexion. White supremacy and anti-Blackness.
In the Black community specifically, yeah, we have a lot to regularly unpack and deconstruct around colourism, how we proliferate it ourselves and how it impacts us when proliferated by Whites and hegemonic norms. Both things impact this favoritism. But to be clear, this is oppression and it is institutional and not solely interpersonal favoritism. Colourism is NOT just dark skinned Black women being “jealous,” not solely about the cishet Black male gaze, not solely about dark skinned Black women being “mean” to light skinned Black women or any obtuse simplification meant to reduce the fact that it is oppression and it is institutional for dark skinned Black people. It is NOT solely about cishet Black men not wanting to date dark Black women. And I get really angry when this complex global oppression is reduced to “jealousy” of light skinned Black women and dating cishet Black men versus the full nuanced picture that it is.
When someone Black says that Black people treat them worse than White people do regarding having dark skin, they are telling a true story. That actually does happen sometimes to some Black people. But…they have to include in that story that White supremacy is the parent of colourism, Whites have the luxury of fetishizing dark skin without consequence, Whites may be interpersonally more nice but still be involved in discriminatory hiring practices, perpetrating stereotypical norms about beauty in media/legislation and supporting a State that regularly commits violence against Black bodies, especially dark skinned ones. So them not playing the dozens and insulting dark skin in the way someone Black might (as the latter has internalized White supremacist thinking because of oppression) does not remove their culpability in colourism as a system of oppression. They benefit from anti-Blackness even if they think dark skinned Black people are “hot.”
Something else to consider; while because of sexism and misogynoir, colourism tends to impact Black women more than Black men, colourism does impacts Black men. Like…there’s a reason why when you look at a collage of Black men who’ve been extrajudicially killed, they’re usually dark. While any Black men can deal with racial profiling and police abuse sanctioned by the State, the myth of the “violent thug” and “brute” is more closely associated with dark Black men and their bodies. I also mentioned how colourism shapes Black men in media when I wrote about the film Fast & Furious 6 and discussed Ludacris’ character versus Tyrese’s character. Also think about the Black men in Black films like Sprung and Poetic Justice; who were the “good” ones? Who’s usually “good men” in Tyler Perry films?
Check out some of my past essays and posts specifically on colourism or ones that include its impact with other factors mentioned:
- 6 critical reads on colourism [X]
- Dark skinned models and short hair [X]
- Beyoncé, colourism, success and the music industry [X]
- Black Women Do Not Need Black Men’s Permission To Control Our Hair/Bodies
- Colourism and young Black girls [X]
- "Preference" for dark skinned Black women [X]
- How Anti-Blackness Shapes Heterosexual Black Men’s Dating “Preferences”
- A Review Of The Documentary “Dark Girls”
- Black Women Do Not Have To Reject Any Mention Of Beauty To Be Womanist/Feminist
- Black Couples In Television/Film - Casting and Colourism
- F*CK Nude And Flesh-Toned
- Black Women and Erasure
- Before Whites Wag Their Fingers At Colourism and Black Hair Politics…
- Black Girls, Black Women and TV Commercials
Also see this essay list: On Beauty Politics
(There’s a good HuffPo article by @blkgirlwithapen: "You’re Pretty for a Dark-Skinned Girl": The Continuing Significance of Skin Tone in "the Black Community" that mentions not just beauty politics/media which I discuss a lot, but has some links to CJ issues, marriage etc.)
Hope this information helps! Take care. ❤