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Colorism - Black Versus Black

Updated on June 16, 2011

Definition of Colorism

"Colorism is a practice of discrimination by which those with lighter skin are treated more favorably than those with darker skin. In the African American community, this traditionally played out via the paper bag test. Those lighter than the standard paper lunch bag were allowed entry into fraternities, sororities and other realms of black upper class life while dark-skinned blacks were excluded. The Spike Lee film “School Daze” is an exploration of colorism. Definition of Colorism. (2011). Retrieved June 2, 2011, from,

Why must we do that to each other? There are enough troubles in the world without discriminating against each other. It is even worse when it's in the African American community. We discriminate against each other because of the shades of our skin. Many of us make a difference on how we should marry, who we should be around or who we should hire because of the shade of our skin.

My Personal Experience

I have seen colorism being exercised with how my boys were treated differently when they were younger. My boys are 3 years apart. They would come up to my youngest child because he was light skinned and had green eyes just to talk and play with him but they never said anything to my oldest son. I even experienced this with some members of my family. They would always have good things to say about my youngest son, bring him gifts and offer to take him places. They alienated my oldest son because he was not light enough. He never wronged anyone. He was just an innocent child. I could see the disbelief in my oldest son's face. He did not understand why they picked his brother over him. I made sure that I taught my kids that there is no difference and that what the adults were doing was not right.

I remember when I was in elementary school and I watched the other kids tease and bully anyone that was darker than them. It saddened my heart. How can we continue to turn a blind eye to this as if it doesn't go on?

It's No Big Secret

There was a popular case in the year 2000, when a black waiter sued his manager (another black man) because of racial discrimination. He stated that his manager made derogatory comments about the color of his skin because he was darker.

Colorism is no big secret. This is something that has been going on for years in the black community. It has been programmed in us from generation to generation. We have to break that chain and realize that at the end of the day, no matter how you look at it, we are all the same! We are all the beautiful creations of God. Remember, God does not show favoritism and neither should we.


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    • BukowskiBabe profile image


      7 years ago from Somewhere in the middle of it all.

      This is a thought provoking hub, sassy. As a mother, I know the ache that comes when you see your child being picked on. That had to hurt. We're all God's children, and he made us in a wonderful array of colors. God bless, and thanks for sharing in your wonderful hub.

    • sassyk73 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen A. Harris 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

      I totally agree with you. I am so sorry to hear that happened to you. A lot of this starts at home. I made it my business to teach my children to be colorblind and to judge by character and not appearance. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 

      7 years ago from Cape Cod

      This problem exists in one form or another in all the variations of the creatures we call 'humans'. In the Italian community, I was belittled because I was 'too white'. From the first day of school, and even before, I was called 'Whitey' and was subjected to jokes about who my 'real' father was, because I was not as dark as my cousins.

      We are way too hung up on shades of color when we should be appreciating the whole palette.

    • Apostle Jack profile image

      Apostle Jack 

      7 years ago from Atlanta Ga

      You might as well expect what you know is coming,and don't be surprise when it come.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      Great hub about an important topic. I love what you said in the following sentence: "We have to break that chain and realize that at the end of the day, no matter how you look at it, we are all the same! We are all the beautiful creations of God."

      It's vitally important that kids learn to be comfortable with the way they look and the color of their skin as they are still developing their self esteem, so I'm glad you're raising your children not to judge themselves or others by the color of their skin.


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