Dimensions of Black Skin: The Lasting Affects of Colorism
The Association of Black Psychologist (ABP) (2013) defines colorism as skin-color stratification. Colorism is described as “internalized racism” that is perceived to be a way of life for the group that it is accepted by (ABP 2013). Moreover, colorism is classified as a persistent problem within Black American. Colorism in the process of discriminatory privileges given to lighter-skinned individuals of color over their darker- skinned counterparts (Margret Hunter 2007). From a historical standpoint, colorism was a white constructed policy in order to create dissention among their slaves as to maintain order or obedience. Over the centuries, it seems that the original purpose of colorism remains. Why has this issue persisted? Blacks have been able to dismantle the barriers faced within the larger society of the United States. Yet, Blacks have failed to properly address the sins of the past within the ethnic group. As a consequence of this failure, colorism prevails. Through my research, I developed many questions: Is it right that this view remain? How does valuing an individual over another cause distribution to the mental health of the victims of colorism? More importantly, what are the solutions for colorism? Colorism, unfortunately, has had a persisted effect on the lives of Black Americans. It has become so internalized that one cannot differentiate between the view of ourselves that Black Americans adopted from slavery or a more personalized view developed from within the ethnicity. The consequences of this internalized view heightens the already exorbitant mental health concerns within the Black community, but the most unfortunate aspect of colorism is that there is contention on how the issue should be solved.
History of Black Colorism
Colorism in the United States has been an integral part of the Black experience. During slavery, it was considered a privilege to be of fairer skin amongst slaves. Slaveholders held a special preference for “light-complected blacks” that were used for household duties (Bodenhorn 2006). Lighter-skinned slaves were also more likely to be skilled in a trade, which became a salient indicator of future manumission (Margo 1992). Furthermore, these slaves would develop the Black elite, becoming the earliest Black business leaders, leaders, clergy, teachers, artists, and politicians (Hunter 2007). In spectrum, Phyllis Wheatley, Richard Allen, and Frederick Douglass were lauded as innovators in their respective fields of the pre-emancipation era where as an individual such as Harriet Tubman, a darker-skinned Black woman and ex-slave is defined by beastliness and insanity, by the larger white society. The color divide established by the white hierarchal structure that maintained slavery laid the foundation for a continued acceptance and realization with the Black community. The color hierarchy established by whites has been able to keep consistent...