BHM: The Color Complex by Kathy Russell

The Color Complex was an eye opener. When I was a sophomore in college I began extensive research on the coined term Colorism. Colorism is discrimination and prejudice based on skin tone. It baffled me how many people are oppressors and oppressed by this crippling belief. When I opened the pages of this book, I learned dark secrets about African American history, my history, that were reprehensible to say the least. Instead of sticking with each other we turned against one another based on our skin tone. Lighter-skinned blacks who coined themselves as the “bonafides” or “blue bloods” were allotted more opportunities than their darker counterparts during the years after slavery ended. They separated themselves from other blacks with degrading tests such as the Brown Paper Bag and Comb test which denied entry to anyone who didn’t have light enough skin or straight hair. They were determined to keep their status in society and win favor among whites. The book goes on to explore the business of skin lightening and colorism in modern day. It was very hard to read these things, but I was enlightened more so about my history and the off-putting things blacks had to do for acceptance and survival.

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