Colorism

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The below excerpt is my first attempt at writing about the issue of Colorism, during my sophomore year in college. I’ll share with you the first three pages of this 20-page research paper. This essay along with a few others eventually helped me win the Excellence in Communication Award at Penn State. If you decide you would like to read more about Colorism, please read the book The Color Complex, it’s one of the most thought provoking books I’ve ever read regarding this issue:

Colorism

April 2008

If you’re black get back/if you’re brown stick around/ if your light you’re all right.

Being Black or being White has historically separated people in America and around the world but what many people fail to realize or even acknowledge, is a gap has been bridged within the black race as a result of the differentiation and discrimination based on skin tones. Colorism is the coined word to describe the dirty little secret that our community perpetuates through its idealizations of Eurocentric beauty standards and denouncement of Afrocentric standards of beauty. Skin complexion, hair type, and body image have always been conscious issues for African American’s but it is the root of self-loathing and low self-esteem as well. This form of intra-racism has proved to be psychologically detrimental to African Americans sense of self. Colorism is immoral, unethical and undeniably one of the reasons why black people do not feel accepted within their own race. It promotes insecurity and inequality because people are no longer being judged by their intelligence or capabilities; they are being judged by the lightness or darkness of their skin. If we are going to successfully progress into a bright future we need to learn and understand our history. If more African Americans took the time to understand their troubled past they would understand that colorism is essentially a construct and does not dictate the type of person you are, nor does it dictate your self worth. Understanding the dark history behind colorism is one of the first steps towards progress. The next step towards progress is acceptance. The internalized self-hate one feels towards oneself because other members in society deem them inferior is one of the reasons why we may never advance towards a society that does not judge people based on the color of their skin. Accepting that being black is not necessarily a dilemma but an armor you should wear with pride is foremost. Continue reading “Colorism”

Celebrating Black History

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It all happened pretty quickly. On Jan 9th, I talked casually to my friend about the state of being black in America. We addressed everything from slavery, to affirmative action, to the downfall of Bill Cosby. As black women we have to think about these issues through two lenses, race and gender. The intersectionality of race and gender is what the intellectuals in academia call it. The following week, I went to see Kevin Powell speak at the Brooklyn Historical Society and was enamored by his thought-provoking conversation. I was also very proud that he spoke about the same things my friend and I talked about just the week before. From there, I decided to delve further into my knowledge of black history. Not that I don’t know enough as it is (I know enough to make my little mind go insane), but I wanted to dive just a little deeper. So I took the plunge. I spent the last few weeks, reading, writing, watching, and conversing about black history and the current state of black men and women in America. It was then that I understood how important the conversation is to have.

This February is going to be very significant for the Lifestyle By Ky Blog. It marks the start of Black History Month, a special month filled with pride and remembrance of what my ancestors did for you and I so we could have a better life. From enduring the harsh ramifications of slavery to the senseless violence of the Civil Rights era, they sacrificed for us so we could have the freedoms that we enjoy today and will continue to build on in the future. Continue reading “Celebrating Black History”