Colorism 2012: Will We Ever Love The Skin We’re In?

November 26, 2012  |  

“I like a long haired thick red bone. . .” – lyrics from Lil Wayne’s song, “Every Girl”

“#handsdown Light-skinned women usually have better credit than a dark-skinned woman…Broke a** dark hoes…Lol” – A tweet from comedian, Kevin Hart

“I just don’t think that really dark girls are pretty.” – a quote from a “friend”.


What did you say???  Did these statements really come from the mouths of black people living in the 21st Century?  Or have I been whisked into a time machine that’s taken me back to Spike Lee’s movie School Daze where the “Jiggaboos” and “Wannabes” battled it out.

Yes, modern mamas – colorism still exists in the African-American community.  This hateful throw back from the days of slavery when white masters gave preference to their light skinned offspring still clings to us like a nasty virus.  But my question is why?  Why does this type of behavior that offends black women of all shades still exist in 2012?

I believe it’s because we – modern Black moms – allow it to exist.  According to the Chicago Citizen:

Colorism is present in many of our own families.  We allow family members to show favoritism to children in the family who are lighter, while slighting the children who are darker.  And we support entertainers like those mentioned above who say this horrible comments about black women.

The reality is that if we aren’t a part of the solution, then we’re a part of the problem.  And because of our apathy, the problem will continue for generations to come.  Here are some ways that I’m personally working to stop this crazy legacy:

  • I’ll check myself.  I’ll watch my own behavior to make sure that I’m not subconsciously favoring one shade of person over another.  Especially when it comes to my own family.
  • I’ll speak up for my sisters.  The next time I hear someone say “She’s pretty for a dark girl” or anything like it, I will stop them dead in their tracks.  With the utmost respect, I’ll explain to them how this backhanded compliment is really an insult.
  • I’ll support those who are making a difference.  Checking out the documentary “Dark Girls”, a movie about colorism,  ( ) is a great way to start.
  • I’ll educate my daughter.  I’ll make a point of emphasizing to my daughter that her shade of black is beautiful and so is her cousin’s, her friend’s and every other black girl’s that she meets.

I’m sick of this archaic behavior in our community.

Do you believe colorism still exists?

Words by Yolanda Darville

Yolanda Darville is a mom, writer, communications strategist and blogger focusing on philanthropy and empowering women.  Learn more about her on her blog .

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  • hassla wa mtaa

    thanku 4 preaching that am dark skin too and i love it

  • Sammy Sosa

  • I wish we could hit a reset button and undo all of this colorism in our community and while we are hitting that reset button lets reset a sense of responsibility for ourselves and other. We need to let all of foolerly disipate.

  • I think one of the best things that you could do is to limit your exposure to pop culture. Kevin Hart and Lil’ Wayne aren’t exactly purveyors of progressive thought, are they? Who cares, really, what those two think? You need only take one look at the most powerful man in the world and who he chose as his wife to know that colorism isn’t an issue for many and it doesn’t have to continue to be an issue for you or your children.

  • right on

    I don’t know what world I’ve been living in. I’ve never considered my dark skin to be a bad thing. Never had a problem with dating. I am fiercely proud of my nappy hair and dark skin. I am mid 40,’s no wrinkles. My white friend, same age, is very wrinkled with saggy skin. I certainly would not want to be white or even light skin. It doesn’t age very well. Black women please stop paying attention to what you see in the media.

  • Drew Smith

    Get your life in order, Jason. You — obviously — know nothing about black men and hair. Cats texturized their hair… IN THE EARLY 90’S! A wave cap merely keeps the hair in place; thus, giving the hair a better chance of retaining the wave. Thanks for being enamored enough to comment, though. SMH

  • Nene

    I agree. I blame the media for why we hate ourselves. Little do a lot of black women know we were once and will always be king and queens in Africa.

  • Nene

    I agree 100 percent.

  • kikky

    You are right! Currently living in Europe(Germany) but do read African-American Empowerment On-line magazines often and that’s when I notice this is a sensitive topic in America. Every time I read about ballers marrying light skin women and for real it breaks my heart,that’s when a stroll on the streets is needed and on seeing there are men that appreciate our skin,it lifts my spirits e.g That Baller from Germany*Dirk Nowitzki* married a dark skinned lady,have a friend who plays Basketball here and when they are practising or have a game, most of them have dark skinned women by their sides,he himself being one of them.
    African-American men are either weak or whatever..most who are soldiers stationed in Germany do the same,place them on a pedestal till they are cheated on,that is when they realise sisters exists.All hope is not lost, if only we give others who will appreciate us a chance and not on grounds of race.Seeing is believing!

  • wepo1

    When was the last time you seen a white man with waves in his hair?

    Wearing waves is a black hair style just like braids, locs, and other haircuts!

    Black man is not changing his hair texture, or skin color to imitate white men!

    I have not seen any straight black men wear a justin bieber, but I do see black women wear every style white women wear!

    Look, as soon as BW address the self hate they have the sooner the problem can be fixed!

    Bw are in denial and seem to be addicted to the white standard of beauty so much you mad a silly argument about black male hair!

  • Jason

    Go to any AA barbershop. Most of them will wear wave caps to change their hair texture and they will put wave grease in their hair to change the texture. And some get that curl process…. They want the hair I have, but hate that they are stuck with that nappy shyt. Black men in America are self-hating and everyone knows it. But of course, it’s not their fault.

  • wepo1

    Black men learn their colorism from the black women they grow up around!

    Plus men don’t wear weave and perm!

  • rainbow

    …and black men aren’t? They (some) hate themselves but express it in different ways. The ladies do it by obsessively wearing other people’s hair and the black men doing by constantly dating non-black women. Has nothing to do with “they attitudes”. It is much more superficial and yet deeper than that. Black men wear their “beckies” on their arms and black women wear their beckies on their head, same sh*t

  • rainbow

    I am sick of it too. It is all over B-SSIP and sometimes those trolls would slip their trolling behinds here. The sickest racism is intra-racism and yes them Indians are sellouts too. In the Caribbean, Africa, and some out here, they bleaching (India too). People need to accept the skin and hair they are given

  • Nene

    I blame the willie lynch syndrome for this mess. The darker the flesh the deeper the roots. We need to get over this whole light vs dark bullcrap. It won’t die if we as black people don’t kill it and the self hate. Beautiful people come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder in Europe the white men all the men over there love dark skin black women. This is an American thing.

  • Nene

    I wonder what kind of continent would Africa be if it wasn’t for the white man. I recommend everybody watch a documentary called “hidden colors” its amazing. It tells how everything started out black and is going to end black. This don’t shock me this young handsome man is African all of them smart. We as a people are smart. We started it all.

  • Funnygrl

    They have the same problem in India but at a larger scale. The lighter they are the better job, relationship, and over all status. In my own family I have a brown skin child & a light skin from the same father. My husband is light & I’m brown so we got one of each. When we go out every says how cute the lighter one is, and leaving my oldest who is only 4 to wonder wonder why no one acknowledges him. It bothers me all the time but I tell him I love him all the time and I tell him he is handsome everyday. I almost feel blessed that I he is a boy and not a girl whom would have it even harder with colorism. I’m a brown girl and have heard that same “cute for a black girl” comment and it doesn’t bother me. I’m confident in my skin and There are plenty of men who accept me as me.

  • Yolanda D.

    Won’t it be great when we get the place where pretty is just pretty — no matter what shade or color!

  • Tabu Gif

    No one EVER wants to talk about this. I agree there is a huge issue with light being right or preffered by even our own I live this. I am black and hispanic and I have often been told I am pretty for a brown girl….. smh