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.
Black History Month is one of my favorite times of the year and this years theme is A Century of Black Life, History and Culture. I love my history! When I was about 10-years old my aunt took me to the Schomburg Museum for the first time and I was able to see actual slave shackles that wrapped around the legs and hands of my ancestors as they came over to the Americas from Africa. I was moved by that moment and made every effort to learn and understand the plight of African Americans. To commemorate this year, I plan on sharing some of my favorite African American literature, which I’ve read throughout the years that not only enlightened me but changed my perspective on race, race relations and my role as a black woman in it all. Enjoy!