Encountering colorism personally did not spark my interest in advocating against it. While teaching I witnessed colorist comments and actions among students which were damaging, humiliating, and possibly life altering; shaping the way they view themselves and potential relationships with other Black people. I was fortunate to not be damaged by my experiences, primarily because my positive experiences outweighed the negative.
Teaching has made it apparent , that what I once considered to be no “big deal” has grown into an even greater and ongoing campaign to scoff and belittle those with dark skin, particularly women and girls. The views and remarks of colorists have not faded out but in fact become amplified and projected sources of influence for our youth; the genesis of a greater divide.
I have lost count of the amount of dark skin jokes that have lead to students going from hysterics of laughter to poker face in a matter of seconds. I became frustrated with the way I’d over hear little black boys clown on little black girls when they were the same shade for cool points with non-Black students. Perhaps it was sparked by the lectures I’d give on the beauty of darkness after having to stop a little Black girl and boy (both dark) from going at each others necks about who was “a black ass”(often started by the boy), restoring the pride that mockery had taken and how ludicrous it is to belittle another Black person for their complexion, something beyond their control.
My breaking point was when I witnessed the non-Black students of the class in what appeared to be a crappy attempt to “act Black” emulate the same colorist behavior displayed by the Black students of the class, on Black students. “Is being colorist perceived to be apart of “Black Culture””, a question I had ask myself. Have we blatantly ignored Colorism for so long that it has surpassed being a social norm in our community and is now being replicated and socially accepted ? This is currently occurring with “others” feeling entitled to say n!$$@.
I think it is vital to consider that while there are those that perceive this social issue as minuscule in our community, please understand that your children are often different people in their “own” social circles. Therefore, you may not be able to see the way colorism is impacting the youth directly; as teachers we are observers of these social interactions and I can attest that colorism has a significant role in our divide and begins early on. Are you raising your children to be an ally or a perpetuator be it sub/consciously.
Combating colorism collectively can alleviate the toxic norms that have been accepted by us and now imitated by others. How many times have you laughed at a colorist joke even if you weren’t the person saying it, or listening in on a conversation where someone was being “dragged” for being “too dark”and not speak up.Do you become flattered by being preferred over the darkest person in the room.
Have any of you ever treated a dark skin black person the same way a non-Black would? You know, avoiding eye contact, afraid to speak, presuming they will inflict harm or incite a crime. Now consider that some of these behaviors are passed down. I can recall having a conversation with a gentlemen he was a lighter fella, he told me a relative of his told him to never trust them “dark n*$$@%” and more recently one of my coworkers made similar remarks about another coworker. Colorist behavior is passed down to the youth. If we do not begin to cognitively correct the misfortunes of our tolerance for colorism in our community I can assure we will have a great disdain for what is to come in terms of the relations between dark skin men and women, dark and light skin black women, and the representation for what it means to be Black in America.
A' cylo ( ˈā/ˈsil/ lō) – “I am a writer with a passion for using my voice to speak on the issues many refuse. My hobbies include writing, dancing, and gardening. A fan of all shades of blue; with a slight addiction to popcorn, chips and salsa. I teach but more importantly I learn; continuously. Did I mention I'm a writer; and I'm serious about my content?!”