Sevon Michelle Moreno is an Afro Latina/Carribean. She writes to raise awareness about social justice issues regarding people of color.
Is Colorism Real?
Colorism is discrimination against darker skin tones, typically among people of the same racial or ethnic group. People with darker skin tend to get treated differently than those with lighter skin, and it needs to stop. Yes, colorism is very real. Just because certain people of a lighter complexion have yet to experience discrimination based on their skin tone does not mean colorism is not real.
In elementary school, I was told I was "too black," that I looked like a "burnt cookie," and that if I were five shades lighter, I would be "extremely gorgeous." People can argue with me and say this is just a case of children being mean. That may be true, but it's definitely deeper than that. If darker skin were represented and shown love in the media just like lighter complexions, why would a child think anybody is "too black"? The idea that somebody is too black comes from the lack of dark skin representation; anybody who is dark-skinned doesn't fit the image of that is portrayed by the media. Don't you think that's a problem?
How Did Colorism Start?
According to the article The Roots of Colorism, or Skin Tone Discrimination by Nadra Kareem Nittle, colorism started back in the slavery days.
"In the United States, colorism evolved when the enslavement of people was common practice. Enslavers typically gave preferential treatment to enslaved people with fairer complexions." (Nittle, paragraph 2).
Could this be the reason why people of lighter complexions are still treated better than darker-skinned people? The idea that whiter is better and lighter is better has been engraved in our brains since slavery. Lighter-skinned women are society's acceptable version of a person who is black, Latino, or Asian.
"Colorism is real. My youngest sister, who is darker than me, was looking sad one day. I asked her what’s wrong. She said, “nothing.” I asked her again. She told me she was being made fun of at school because she has dark skin. She was in the 7th grade at the time. It pains me to know that my sister has to go through that. That that is, in fact, a stage in every dark-skinned black girl's life. I had to fight my mom to stop buying my sister lotions that promise to lighten her skin."
— Patience Zalanga, "Colorism is Real"
Why do you think places like Africa, India, Korea, and the Middle East promote the use of skin bleach so often? They're letting their darker-skinned people know that lighter is better. Why do you think the Latin community doesn't proudly show off us Afro-Latinos like they do white Latinos and Mestizo Latinos? Because “lighter is better.”
“If you're black, stay back; if you're brown, stick around; if you're yellow you're mellow; if you're white, you're alright.” (Big Bill Broonzy)
This same mindset has emerged from slavery and followed us for years. It's even in music! Rappers often refer to lighter-skinned women as “redbones” and praise them as well as white women, leaving darker-toned women left out. For that reason, I refuse to support a music artist who is a colorist. Women are beautiful, powerful creatures, and we should all have recognition. I will not support those who praise one skin tone and not another.
People of Color Are Beautiful
People of color come in all shades, and it's beautiful; we are versatile and come in a variety, and we all should all be appreciated, but it starts with yourself. Acceptance is the first step to making a difference. I and anybody who feels they're not enough because of the color of their skin needs to erase that from their mind.
Loving the skin you're in makes a difference because it fights against every negative stereotype about skin tone. It is the first step to self-acceptance. Loving yourself means every bit of yourself, being confident, and knowing your worth. I love the skin that I'm in, and I don't live for friends, men, or anyone but myself. When you live to impress other people, you will never be 100% satisfied.
Once you start doing things to please the opposite party, you're not gonna be happy with yourself, which is why we should support and accept other people of color— people of all skin tones. This makes a difference because it shows love to all people of color. We all came such a long way, and we should be proud; our skin tones do not matter.
Colorism has once affected my views on myself because it made me feel I wasn't good enough for my own race (black) and my own ethnicity (Latina). It made me feel my dark skin was not what society saw as beautiful because of the lack of representation and the negative stereotype surrounding dark skin. I had to learn that no one will be perfect in the eyes of society and that society's beauty standards should not matter. I'm unique, and I'm beautiful. I am a dark chocolate Caribbean mami, and I'm proud.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2019 Sevon Michelle Moreno