Colorism Among Black Men and the Role Black Women Play
I have seen video after video, documentary after documentary, and post after post about colorism among women. While this is also a serious issue, there's another side to colorism that we never talk about. Men.
Lately, I have become so disturbed at the way black men talk to and about each other, as well as how black women respond to black men based on their complexion. Let me warn you, I am probably going to step on your toes if you are black, and don't count yourselves out if you are white... I will address your role in this as well.
I remember when I was growing up, black women used to swoon over men like Shamar Moore because light skin and curly hair was "in". Around this time I also remember the dark skinned boys in my classes suffering an INCREDIBLE amount of bullying and harassment. Although, something started to happen around 1999; things began to change. Shamar Moore became obsolete and Morris Chestnut was all the rave. Suddenly comedians started to make jokes about how light skinned brothers were out and dark skin was in! What happened? What changed? It really didn't matter. All that mattered was that all those little dark skinned boys from elementary and high school that were left out FINALLY got their chance. While the fair skinned boys were pulling the ladies with nothing more than a wink and smile, their dark skinned counterparts were at home practicing their most clever jokes, getting braces, whitening their teeth (probably not), and learning to become perfect gentlemen for their long awaited emergence into the hearts of black women everywhere (not that light skinned men aren't clever gentlemen as well...just follow me). In the early 90's dark skinned boys and men had to have an amazing personality for a woman to like them. However, it seemed that as soon as The Best Man was released in theaters it was a new day in America. There were dark skinned black men cheesing and smiling, with glowing skin all over TV, magazines, and movies. I could tell these men were planning to ride this "dark" wave as long as they could.
While this might seem like a positive and liberating time, something else was happening simultaneously. I started to notice a difference in how black women talked about/to fair skinned black men. There was a lack of respect for the fair skinned man that I had never seen before. As a result, it seemed/seems that dark skinned men were beginning to tear the light skinned man down in order to flex their new high ranking position on the color spectrum.
Now, while this seems petty, this is a very dangerous game we are playing with each other. When dark skin was "out", skin color was the main target of most of the attacks. I heard jokes like "you're so black you're blue" and "you're so dark we can't even see you". Now that the tables have turned, it seems like women and dark skinned men are attacking the manhood, integrity, and even physical strength and of lighter skinned men. I've heard things like, "he's light skinned so you know he's soft, he can't ball-he's light skinned", and "he's weak".
It's as if men are taking the insecurities they developed from being rejected in grade school and using them as weapons to tear down fair skinned black men. Now, you might ask what any of that has to do with women? Well, we are the ones that perpetuate it. We say things like "well...you know you can't trust no light skinned man". Men only got the idea that light skin was "out" from us! The way we talk about wanting somebody tall, dark, and handsome is what has carried this type of colorism from generation to generation.
Let me just go ahead and pause this message by saying that being a brown woman, I don't discriminate! I have to take who I can get. Dark skinned men prefer light skinned women, and light skinned men prefer dark women (let's fight about it). So, who is checking for brown skinned women? Ok, that's another topic. I am not saying we can't have a preference. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it's completely normal. However having a preference shouldn't mean tearing down anybody who doesn't fit the description. Let's be honest, there aren't many black men out there, we shouldn't count anybody out.
Questions I asked myself when writing this:
1. How is this playing out in our families? Do lighter skinned men feel they have to do more to feel validated creating an overcompensation for their appearance? Won't this over compensation lead to more disrespect from women?
2. Do dark skinned men exude more confidence? If so, is this because they know women prefer them (right now)? This could lead to women jumping into relationships with men that are super confident but lacking in other ways because they are distracted by the confidence and strength they seemingly posses.
3. Do dark skinned men actually participate more in criminal activity then light skinned men or do the police just target the dark ones out of fear? Clearly police target black men in general.
4. If dark skinned men are truly more likely to participate in criminal activity than light skinned men, why? Is it because white people are not willing to give them a chance (fear again)? Or is it because they feel more confident they won't get caught? Is it a display of strength?
5. Am I making all of this up???
So white people. What role do you have to play in this??? Well, the WHOLE idea of colorism started with you and is still being perpetuated by you. Research has shown that there are more dark skinned black men in prison that men with light skin (this is EXCELLENT Research btw). The American Psychological Association also found that people feel as if black men of the same size and weight of white men are more dangerous, muscular, and police would be justified in using force. Here's the research. One can only assume that something like this could cause resentment towards lighter men. "Why are they treated better, why do the cops only harass dark skinned men?"Can't you see how subconscious questions like those can lead to "he's weak, he's soft ... I don't fool with light skinned men"? Divide and Conquer.
We are in an extremely fragile time where the black community is more divided than it has ever been. Half of the black community wants to boycott the NFL while the other half is still watching. The majority of black people don't support Donald Trump and then you have Paris Denard. I am in no way saying we shouldn't have our own minds, feelings, and preferences. But if WE (black men and women) tear each other down, how can we expect anybody else to build us up and treat ALL of us with respect?
...Just some things to think about... comment below and let me know your thoughts!
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