Denigration of the Dark-Skinned Black Woman in Postmodern American Society

Dark skinned Black women are often viewed as "lesser" not only by the dominant society but also by their own Black community.They have to go against both sexism and racism.
Dark skinned Black women are often viewed as "lesser" not only by the dominant society but also by their own Black community.They have to go against both sexism and racism.
Dark-skinned Black women are on the extreme opposite scale as far as the prevailing societal standards go. They are dark in a culture which deifies the concept of light is beautiful.
Dark-skinned Black women are on the extreme opposite scale as far as the prevailing societal standards go. They are dark in a culture which deifies the concept of light is beautiful.
Regarding women, the lighter they are, the more beautiful and feminine. Pertaining to Black women, they can be acceptably dark but NOT TOO DARK.Very dark-skinned Black women are viewed as not feminine nor attractive.
Regarding women, the lighter they are, the more beautiful and feminine. Pertaining to Black women, they can be acceptably dark but NOT TOO DARK.Very dark-skinned Black women are viewed as not feminine nor attractive.
Dark-skinned Black women are seldom hired for jobs and roles in the modeling and entertainment business because they do not have a wide appeal,are considered too ethnic and unassimilable.In other words,they do not have a high crossover public appeal.
Dark-skinned Black women are seldom hired for jobs and roles in the modeling and entertainment business because they do not have a wide appeal,are considered too ethnic and unassimilable.In other words,they do not have a high crossover public appeal.
Many rap stars  such as Yung Berg refuse to include dark-skinned Black women in their videos because they believe that they are aesthetically unattractive.  They prefer light-skinned Black women because of their more exotic and less ethnic appeal.
Many rap stars such as Yung Berg refuse to include dark-skinned Black women in their videos because they believe that they are aesthetically unattractive. They prefer light-skinned Black women because of their more exotic and less ethnic appeal.
When dark-skinned Black women are hired for acting roles,those roles tend to be more negative.Vanessa A. Williams'(extreme right) role in the movie NEW JACK CITY was a drug assassin.Michael Michel,light-skinned Black, was hired to be the girlfriend.
When dark-skinned Black women are hired for acting roles,those roles tend to be more negative.Vanessa A. Williams'(extreme right) role in the movie NEW JACK CITY was a drug assassin.Michael Michel,light-skinned Black, was hired to be the girlfriend.
In the movie PRECIOUS, dark-skinned Black actresses were cast as misfits while their light-skinned Black counterparts were cast in more positive roles.
In the movie PRECIOUS, dark-skinned Black actresses were cast as misfits while their light-skinned Black counterparts were cast in more positive roles.
Many dark-skinned Black girls received covert and overt messages from parents, relatives, and friends that they are not attractive because of their dark skin.As a result, many do not feel pretty and/or attractive.
Many dark-skinned Black girls received covert and overt messages from parents, relatives, and friends that they are not attractive because of their dark skin.As a result, many do not feel pretty and/or attractive.
Some dark-skinned Black women bleach their skin in order to appear lighter thus more attractive.
Some dark-skinned Black women bleach their skin in order to appear lighter thus more attractive.
Many dark-skinned Black women were inundated from childhood that they had better be smart and learn to take care of themselves.  They are further told that they can't afford to be choosy as far as relationships go.The equation is dark=less attractive
Many dark-skinned Black women were inundated from childhood that they had better be smart and learn to take care of themselves. They are further told that they can't afford to be choosy as far as relationships go.The equation is dark=less attractive
Studies show that more educated dark-skinned Blacks,including women, are less likely to be hired for corporate positions than lesser educated light skinned Blacks.The former are deemed less unassimilable.The latter are deemed to be more assimilable.
Studies show that more educated dark-skinned Blacks,including women, are less likely to be hired for corporate positions than lesser educated light skinned Blacks.The former are deemed less unassimilable.The latter are deemed to be more assimilable.

The Blacker the Berry, the Sweeter the Juice?

We are in the 21st century. It was hoped that racial and ethnic division would have stopped or become next to nonexistent at this time. It was expected by many sociologists and social scientists that by the 21st century, society hopefully would be so diversified that race, skin color, and ethnicity would be inconsequential to say the least.

Even though this is the 21st century, racial, skin color, and ethnic prejudice have not disappeared. Incidences of racial, skin color, and ethnic prejudices have erupted from time to time. During the latter part of the 20th century, there has been a rise in nationalist and racist groups such as the Aryan Nation, neo-Nazi, and other racial supremacist groups who extol the so-called virtues of white supremacy. In some areas in postmodern America, racial and ethnic tensions are on the increase.

In all aspects of the media, even though there is the appearance of racial and ethnic diversity, people who appear more Eurocentric are more likely to be hired than their more racial/ethnic appearing counterparts. Homogeneity and Eurocentricism are the names of the game i.e. the less racial/ethnic a person appears, the less threatening to the powers that be he/she is.

The paradigm that lighter is better is still a subconscious undercurrent in postmodern American society. In other words, one can be acceptably dark but not too dark. In the fashion industry, there are very few Black models as they are not palatable to the eyes of the fashion public. Furthermore, there are even fewer dark-skinned Black models because they do not fit the classy, high-class image of the fashion buying public. If Black models are hired, they are usually light-skinned as to have mass appeal. Dark-skinned Black models are deemed less commercial than light-skinned Black models who are considered to have a high crossover appeal.

In the world of music and rap videos, light-skinned Black women are preferred over their dark-skinned counterparts. Many rappers maintained that light-skinned Black women have a multicultural and immense crossover appeal that dark-skinned Black women did not have. Furthermore, these rappers contend that light-skinned Black women are viewed as more exotic and desirable to their public. Rappers such as Young Berg and L'il Wayne maintained that light-skinned Black women are prettier and more desirable than dark-skinned Black women. Sean Diddy, record mogul, placed a liquor advertisement, stating that only light-skinned Black women need apply. Mr. Diddy steadfastly stated that he did not want any dark-skinned Black women responding to his advertisement.

It is well known in the movie and television industry, dark-skinned Black women are seldom hired in acting roles. If they are hired, it is usually in more negative stereotypical racial roles. Tom Burrell, advertising executive and author of BRAINWASHED: CHALLENGING THE MYTH OF BLACK INFERIORITY, maintained that dark-skinned Blacks are often cast in the roles of misfits while more positive roles would go light-skinned Blacks. Mr. Burrell cited the negative depiction of dark-skinned Black females in the movie PRECIOUS. He stated that dark-skinned females were depicted as lower class miscreants while their light skinned counterparts were cast in the role as saviours and professionals. Dark-skinned Black females are not viewed by the Hollywood powers that be as glamorous and desirable. Such positive roles are given to their lighter-skinned counterparts.

Even in the general culture, especially in certain aspects of the Black American culture, dark-skinned Black women are not viewed as attractive. They are often viewed as "ugly." Their skin-color and features are seen as abhorrent in this postmodern culture. In some families, many dark-skinned Black daughters, nieces, and relatives are told that they are not attractive enough and that they better be smart as there will be little or no suitors for them.

Some dark-skinned Black women recall their mothers putting bleach on their skin with the notion of making their skin lighter and more acceptable to societal standards. Many dark-skinned Black women often possess an inferiority complex, believing that they will never be attractive or good enough in this society. Some dark-skinned Black women feel that they are desexualized non-entities. Oprah Winfrey on her show recall that she did not believe that she was attractive and beautiful as a child and teenager because of her complexion. Dr. Maya Angelou concurred stating that because she did not believe herself to be attractive, she had better be smart.

In the book,THE DITCHDIGGER'S DAUGHTER by Yvonne S. Thornton, M.D., her father exhorted her and her siblings to be smart because no man is going to come along and take care of them because they are not light-skinned. Many dark-skinned Black women were rigorously inundated by their families to be smart and to take care of themselves. Still other dark-skinned Black women are told that they cannot afford to be choosy regarding finding partners. They are often brought up to believe that they are "extremely lucky" if men choose them.

There are some families who praise and exhort the special and unique beauty of their dark-skinned Black daughters and relatives. These families are usually Afrocentric families who are intensely proud of their African culture. These families are often very few and far in between. Many Black American families, especially those who are upwardly mobile, want their daughters to conform to the Eurocentric standard of beauty.

The Eurocentric standard of beauty often have extreme deleterious effects on darker-skinned women whether they are of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Latino, Asian, and African descent. However, the Eurocentric standard of beauty has the most adverse effect on dark-skinned women of African descent. Many dark-skinned Black women feel negative repercussions from their family, peers, and society regarding their complexion. They are often seen as more threatening, less feminine, and less affluent than their light skinned counterparts.

Dark-skinned Black women have been portrayed as hard, cruel, and masculine while their light skinned counterparts were portrayed as soft and feminine. Seldom is the beauty of dark-skinned Black women appreciated. Her features are often characterized as "tough" and "ethnic". Dark-skinned Black women are viewed to have an "attitude" and other negative, pejorative terms.

In many sociological studies, dark-skinned Blacks are viewed as unsuccessful, uneducated, and lower class while light-skinned Blacks are viewed as affluent, educated, and successful. Even in this postmodern corporate culture, a light-skinned Black woman with a Bachelor's Degree is hired over a dark-skinned Black woman with a Master's or Doctorate Degree. Light-skinned Blacks are viewed as more assimilable than their dark-skinned counterparts who would stand out. You see, dark-skinned Blacks are often viewed as more threatening for whatever reason by the non-Black corporate structure. The non-Black corporate structure prefer to hire people who physically approximate their physiognomical racial type. Many extremely qualified dark-skinned Blacks of both genders are often either unemployed or underemployed.

In summation, dark-skinned Black women are often denigrated because they are at the extreme end of the Eurocentric type. Racism is alive, mostly covertly, in postmodern American society. The dark-skinned Black woman is often unassimilable- she stands out physically.

Because of the dark-skinned Black woman racial physiognomy, she is not viewed as beautiful as her light-skinned counterpart who is more racially acceptable in this society. Based upon postmodern American societal standard of Eurocentric beauty, the dark-skinned Black woman is often not viewed as beautiful and attractive. She is often viewed as being tough and masculine.

Many dark-skinned women, including celebrities, recall that they were raised to believe that they were not beautiful and to be smart as their prospect of finding a partner is very slim to nonexistent. Even though in some Black females, the dark-skinned Black relatives are nurtured and told that they are indeed beautiful, there are other Black females who either knowingly or unknowingly convey negative messages regarding being dark-skinned to their female relatives, leaving an indelible mark on them. Black women must learn to embrace all aspect of their skin tones as one is just as beautiful as another.


© 2011 Grace Marguerite Williams

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Comments 19 comments

ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

I find it very sad that even in the black community there remains a strong bias on skin color.

This should not be surprising since even in Africa today different tribes will fight and kill members of other tribes. Remember the Hutes/Tute slaughter back in the 90's.


JenJen0703 profile image

JenJen0703 5 years ago from Cereal City U.S.A.

In the years to come, races, as we know them, will cease to exist. We will have new races. It used to be Hispanics, or Americans, or Cubans. Now, it's Mexican-American, African American, Mexican-Cuban. Various ethnic groups are combining and changing with each generation.


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

To ruffridyer and jenjen0703, thank you both for stopping by and your enlightening comments. Thank you again.


quatrain profile image

quatrain 5 years ago

This is a heartbreaking statement of where we are as a nation on race.


LanieLove profile image

LanieLove 4 years ago

I couldn't agree more with this article. As a dark skin African American woman even in my 30's I still feel odd or different in public situations. This feeling is expected within a crowd of other cultures or races however, it is still very painful when the majority of the criticism is from within my very own people. I have written a poem called, "In the Shadows of My Blackness",that sums up my feelings regarding this matter. I would love for you to have a look at it and to tell me (good or bad) what you think of it. Thank you for this article and the encouragement.


flower 3 years ago

This is really sad but also funny because in some societies in African, instead it is the lighter skinned women that are shunned as they are believed to be lose or sluts and generally not attractive most especially if they do not possess ethnic features


PennyK profile image

PennyK 3 years ago

Well I'm a dark-skinned Native American, and I've been anything BUT a "desexualized non-entity." On the contrary: I'm the only one in the family with an Ivy League degree and I'm the one that filthy sleazebag thugs can't keep their hands off of. I can't get taken seriously as a Math teacher unless I'm on a Rez; back when I was an undergrad trying to student teach I got leered at and sexually attacked by one of my students. When people see me to this day they do a double-take at the fact that I have a brain at all, let alone a Math teaching license. My lighter-skinned cousins are ALL less educated than I am and they're also all doing way better financially because the world prefers to hire "passes for White" women with no or less education than a darker one with more education. I know there are Choctaws darker than I am, but they stay ON the Rez and don't try to mix in mainstream society because they'd get "treated like Black" instantly and all of the problems of Blacks would be foisted on them even though we're Choctaw and not "black." I think part of the reason people assume when they see me that I must be "too stupid to have gotten into Yale" is because I have dark skin and, I'm told, "Spanish" features. And "blacks" are apparently presumed to be "stupid" and "uneducated." It also floors people that I never had out-of-wedlock sex let alone illegitimate babies.

Yes, and all of this is instantaneously assumed based on my skin color. Never on what I'm wearing, what kind of car I'm driving, (with the "Yale Alumni" stickers on it) how I walk, talk, or carry myself. Nope, just skin color.


Affinity2010 profile image

Affinity2010 3 years ago from New Orleans, La

I am sort of in between light and dark. So maybe light brown. My sister was very lighter than I was and as a kid all of the boys wanted to hang around her instead of me because I was a little darker than she was. I envied her and wanted to have her complexion, but as I got older and puberty hit, boys liked me more. I also had an Indonesian friend who thought that the lighter you are the better you are. She told me that even in India they preferred lighter skinned people over the darker ones.


Shonnuff74 3 years ago

I just happen to stumble upon this site as I was looking for something on a topic similar to this, which I see this is a female site. I can't help but respond as I read the article. I find it very very embarrassing when I see blacks still feuding and playing the blame game amongst each other. The truth hurt some times and it cuts. We have to learn and take the good with the bad. I don't and I refuse to believe, that in today society light skinned has an advantage over darker skinned people.

When a person is wounded it takes time to heal, in that process of healing the wound is still sensitive. So somethings to the individual may look or seem as one thing when in reality it is not. It is hard to see past great hurt and pain, That is where the term comes from "hell holds no fury like a woman scorned" I'm not ignorant, I wouldn't dare say racism doesn't excist. I believe when a person becomes dependent on a possible factor at one time, it becomes normal and no longer reality. I believe that what once my have been a true factor (slavery) is now used as cruck in an attempt to get ahead.

Until an individual/person or people heal, their outlook will never change. All women are beautiful, although I've never been attracted to white women. That's not to say they aren't beautiful, they are in their own way.


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 3 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

Thank you for your response. The documentary Dark Girls by Bill Duke aptly describes what I have stated and known.. I have witnessed darker Black women being on the short stick regarding disparate treatment in the Black community while their lighter skinned counterparts are lionized and deified.


sandra 3 years ago

A few things, the back man namely the rappers are responsible for the negativity toward dark-skinned black women. This is one thing black people cannot lay at the doorstep of the white man. All other race of man protect and reverence his women, not the black man. He never miss an opportunity to tear his women down. Black women have always had the black man's back, he has never had the back of black woman. Even during slavery time black women kept "massah" off the black man's ass and off their own. Lord knows black women could not depend on the black man to protect her. To be honest, on the rare occasions that black women were protected, it was by a white man. Don't get it twisted black men, a lot of times when the white man hung you, it was on the accusing word of a "white women". One last thing, black men have a bigger problem with dark-skinned black women than white men in Hollywood. Hallie Berry is the only light black women of any importance in Hollywood, the rest are dark or brown skinned. Check out Sleepy Hollow, Scandel,Person of Interest, One Life to Live 2004-2007 and so on. You know what's funny the white man will not be responsible for making the black race extinct, it'll be the black man, marrying all these white women and having white children. Dumb race of man that's surely being laughed at.


halimacandy from philly 2 years ago

Thank you for your insight and write up on the willie Lynch mentally and how we internalize racism[white supremacy] and renegate and selfnegate our own beauty..our own blackness and our own african beauty.


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 2 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

You are quite welcome indeed. Thank you for stopping by and adding to the discussion.


Bubblehum Gurl 2 years ago

Black men are at fault for this.


sharon pope 16 months ago

I too am a very dark skinned black woman, from elementary school forward I can attest to the racism I faced from the black community, then in the 70's it changed to "black is beautiful" we saw dark skinned models. Now that all has changed if you are not light, bright damned near white you are nothing, look at the videos and Sean Combs advertisement.


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 16 months ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

To Sharon, exactly, there is so much Black self-hatred today that it is shameful. Black women aim to look more European and less African. Look at Beyoncé, she is glorified, even deified in the Black community. Dark-skinned Black women have been regulated to the proverbial and aesthetic back to the bus so to speak. Egregiously shameful indeed!


Anne 16 months ago

Holy crap the first woman in the picture is beautiful


Vlinder 10 months ago

When I look at all these beautiful women's faces I am filled with gratitude the the Lord decided to make us humans in different shades-it would be so boring otherwise! I agree with Anne, the woman in the first photo is lovely. I am not black but know beauty when I see it. As an artist and photographer I love the differences in peoples faces. Black is beautiful-that is obvious. If people don't agree that is their loss. Love yourself:)


Jan 8 months ago

Black is beautiful,white people try to get a dark tan . No all whites are are ignorant, I find black people stunning.

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