Colourism

Is Colorism still an issue in today’s society and how does it have an affect on darker skinned women?


We’ve heard it all before, the battle between dark-skin and light-skin people within the black community. It has been going on for as long as I can remember. We write hashtags about it: #Teamdarkskin, #Teamlightskin, #Melaninpoppin’ are just a few examples I can think of. I can’t help but wonder if all these labels have been put in place as a means for us to prove our worth.

Are darker skinned women equally as desirable as lighter skinned women? Or do our men still view us as second class citizens?

My name is Ebony. My name means dark. When I first saw Ebony Magazine as a child, it made me feel important and definitely not less than. However, I had a complex upbringing that resulted in me having deep insecurities and even despising the shade of my skin. I believed I was pretty only when I was told so by my  peers, but I didn’t feel pretty inside. I also didn’t feel completely loved or accepted by my mother who was several shades lighter than me, because I had inherited my dads dark skin and they weren’t together anymore. 

As I grew older and became a born-again Christian my perception of myself began to change and knowing that I am completely accepted by God has made me generally a lot more confident. However, every now and then society decides to throw a curveball at me which leads me on to the conversation I had with a dear friend over the phone last Thursday night. We don’t speak often, but when we do our girly catch-ups usually last quite a while. As we openly discussed the many different aspects of our lives, the topic of dating and guys came up naturally.

I mentioned my interest in a certain guy and she told me that she recalls a conversation she had with him a few years ago and that he may have mentioned that he was interested in light-skinned women.

Not once had it occurred to me that I might not be this man or any mans  type based on the tone of my skin. As far as I’m concerned I can have any man I want as long as it’s the man God has ordained for me.

I’ve been told by my friends that I might have a thing for ‘lights’, and whilst I know that many of my crushes have been light skinned men, I wouldn’t say I prefer them to men of darker hues.

This led to an even deeper discussion, ‘How many men still think like this?’, ‘Are lighter skinned women still preferred over women with darker skinned tones?’, ‘Do light-skinned women get married quicker than dark-skinned women?’ 

She started telling me how she dated this guy who was lighter than her who had mocked one of her friends and called her ‘The Dark Knight.’ I listened in disbelief, this is why many of my black friends tell me openly they don’t like lighties because of such attitudes. It sounded exactly like the kind of insult one would expect to hear during the times of slavery.

We began discussing the idea that most couples consist of women who are lighter in complexion than men. I began to wonder whether dark skinned women are still considered less than and if so let this be a reminder that you are beautiful regardless of your skin tone. Therefore, don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you’re unworthy and not good enough. Beautiful people do not need to prove they are beautiful. Everyone can see it from the inside out, and if a man cannot see it - perhaps it’s because he cannot see his.

Ebony Ali

Jasmine N Cannon-Ikurusi