The Dark Side of Colorism

So it is Black History Month… now what.

I am struck by and a tad stuck on the issues of “colorism”

.Colorism, a term coined by Alice Walker in 1982, means discrimination based on skin color, or colorism, is a form of prejudice or discrimination in which human beings are treated differently based on the social meanings attached to skin color.

I am a mother of two sons and a daughter. We are dark skinned Black Americans.

im black yall

I brought my children up as I had been. To love my complexion, it is a badge of honor.

The unscathed, unbroken symbol of a great and mighty people. We are the descendants of those who fought to survive.

I gave them family pride, cultural pride and racial pride, and more importantly personal pride.

So keeping this in mind I have recently been inundated with studies that document that racism and colorism entitles and privileges those who are not darker and punishes and deprives those who are darker.

The study—entitled “The Relationship Between Skin Tone and School Suspension for African Americans”—found that darker-skinned African-American students were more likely to be suspended than those with lighter skin tones.

Specifically, the researchers found that a young African-American female with the darkest skin tone was 3.4 times as likely to be suspended compared to the one with the lightest skin.

The darkest skin African-American males were only 2.5 times as likely to be suspended as those with the lightest skin tones, but the study notes that African-American males—for whom the “controlling image … is of a dangerous, criminal predator”—experience higher rates of suspensions than females overall, the study states.

The findings show that the broad categories of race that are often used are inadequate to capture the various forms of discrimination that impact African-Americans of different hues—from school discipline to more serious matters, such as capital punishment.

“This is important because it’s a way in which the idea of race and racial hierarchy plays into all different kinds of aspects of life,” said Robert DeFina, Professor and Chairperson Department of Sociology and Criminology at Villanova University.

“And what this (study) does is it kind of complements the idea of race itself in these kind of racial categories that we use,” define said.

To do the study, DeFina and his colleagues—Lance Hannon, also a sociology professor at Villanova, and Sarah Bruch, a sociology professor at the University of Iowa—mined data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which in 2010 began using a measure of “interviewer-assessed” skin tone in its National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The measure involves 10 shades of skin color that correspond to a 1-to-10 “color scale.”

The study’s findings of a positive correlation between darker skin and higher suspension rates held even after other factors were taken into account, such as the socioeconomic status of the students’ parents, delinquent behavior, academic performance and other variables.

No one wants to discuss this.disgusted no

This is beyond Bill Duke’s #EpicFail in Dark Girls and the longer/sadder Light Girls.

This is the systemic reinforcement of strata and class defined by color based upon enslavement, segregation, and rape.

Lets take a moment and recall how gradation of black complexion developed in North America.

MULATTO  (1927) by Langston Hughes

I am your son, white man!
Georgia dusk
And the turpentine woods.
One of the pillars of the temple fell.
You are my son!
Like Hell!
The moon over the turpentine woods.
The Southern night
Full of stars,
Great big yellow stars.
What’s a body but a toy?
Juicy bodies
Of nigger wenches
Blue black
Against black fences.
O, you little bastard boy,
What’s a body but a toy?
The scent of pine wood stings the soft night air.
What’s the body of your mother?
Silver moonlight everywhere.
What’s the body of your mother?
Sharp pine scent in the evening air.
A nigger night,
A nigger joy,
A little yellow
Bastard boy.
Naw, you ain’t my brother.
Niggers ain’t my brother.
Not ever.
Niggers ain’t my brother.
The Southern night is full of stars,
Great big yellow stars.
O, sweet as earth,
Dusk dark bodies
Give sweet birth
To little yellow bastard boys.
Git on back there in the night,
You ain’t white
The bright stars scatter everywhere.
Pine wood scent in the evening air.
A nigger night,
A nigger joy.
I am your son, white man!
A little yellow
Bastard boy.

As lighter skin blacks were a product of rape,

as no enslaved person can consent to sexual intercourse,

and an educational system which routinely punishes blacks more than whites and dark skin blacks more than other lighter blacks is unequal and toxic,

and this educational system is also part of a prison for profit pipeline,

we are regulating darker skinned Black boys and girls to a life with fewer legitimate options than lighter Blacks and whites.

schol to prison pipeline

I then have to look at my precious children and wonder, what protected them?

God, and ME

There is a reason why I was discouraged from participating in the life of my children by every bureaucratic cog and nutjob.

Because you can’t destroy my child in my face.

I have a great sense of gratitude for this revelation.

My mother protected me fiercely.

She would be proud of me.

The proper education of our children is essential.

And systemic racism, colorism and sexism and the other “isms” and antithetical to a healthy educational environment.

Author: pdeedixon

Woman. Mother. Lawyer. Black. RaceWoman. Womanist. Feminist. LBGTQQPIA ally. divorced

3 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Colorism”

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