Colorism: Black People and African American Community Essay examples

Submitted By Kimberly-Streeter
Words: 1572
Pages: 7

SOCI 4460
Research Essay #1 Tupac once said “the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice,” but society says “lighter is closer to whiter (Goff).” Colorism, an expression coined by award winning novelist and activist Alice Walker, has been present in the American community since slavery years. Defined as the “prejudicial or preferential treatment of the same-race people” (Walker 290) colorism is used within ethnic groups as a method of discrimination as well as a form of privilege based on skin tone. According to the Intersecting Axes of Privilege, Domination, and Oppression, colorism is recognized as a privilege if an individual is light/pale. But this is concluded by whose standard? It is simple to see that traditional American history is to be attributed to this idea, as dated back to ancestries of field and house slaves. Yet, countless years after the end of slavery this issue is especially is one of the leading barriers within African American culture today that continues to divide the race. Because of the historical beliefs that lighters complexioned blacks were genetically superior, a form of internalized racism within the black race developed (Bielitz & Wade). Depicted daily in media, entertainment, among family, and in social environments, the occurrence of colorism is ever present in the African American community’s social construct. America’s typical female beauty standard, as complexion among many other things are concerned, is being white or having lighter skin tones. While I feel as though many would say that whites are our biggest oppressors I believe that the division within the African American race currently can be attributed to intra-racial disarray. In a society where lighter skin tones are made to be more desirable than darker skin tones colorism has helped to create a color obstacle in the African and African American community globally. Is it not enough that we are already an oppressed people contingent of our race, but to also be oppressed within the race because we have become color stuck is utterly disturbing.
The more unfortunate part in all of this is that the issue of colorism is more focused on the Black female community. Used back in the early 20th century to determine classes of distinction and socio-economic class, skin color played a hefty role even as gender was concerned (Pearson-Trammell 8). There is more pressure placed on the African American female when it comes to colorism practices. Skin tone, in areas such as dating, getting married, attractiveness, attitude, intelligence among many other things can be a direct effect of why or why not these events do or do not take place. Because of preconceived notions that society has been taught to form about the darker female there are now self-worth as well as self-esteem issues within the African American population forming at a greater rate (Hill). Being of a lighter complexion, I felt that it would behoove me to look into the everyday life of a darker toned female to be able to truly give a personal testament of this vastly growing issue. In researching, I decided to study a colleague’s daughter and was unsettled at just how big a deal skin tone really played came to some very disheartening discoveries. A high school student and star athlete at predominately white St. Agnes Academy, Destini seems to be one of the most confident among her peers. However when around her peers both white and black it was clear for me to see whom it was that this young lady could most identify with. Although she confirmed that she had not ever been a victim of what she believed to be discrimination of any form by her Caucasian peers, Destini is in some ways affected by her darker complexion when it comes to her racial counterparts. Stating “When it comes to me I get mostly insecure with my appearance because the darkness of my skin reminds me that I am different from them but they never seem to mind. On the other hand