I am a young black woman with a skin complexion matching the color of brown sugar straight out of the package. Many refer to my tone as light-skinned. Nevertheless, I’m a black woman.
When asked to define my race on job applications I check the “black” box, and if it were 1960 I would probably pick out my afro and hold up my fist along with everybody else proudly proclaiming “black power.”
It’s almost 2008 and I look around my community feeling powerless. Aside from racism tearing apart our lives, we fall victim to an even more dangerous weapon that we use against ourselves every day – colorism.
Colorism, people of the same race discriminating against each other based on skin tone, has seemingly found a permanent home within the black community. Even more disturbing, colorism decided to attend a Historically Black College and University called Florida A&M University.
Everybody has the right to his or her preferences, but it’s ignorant to say that you can only be attracted to one skin tone.
Whenever a DJ tells light skin girls and dark skin girls to dance at seperate parts of the same song to find the better dancer, our community suffers another blow.
Recently, after watching Spike Lee’s 1988 film “School Daze,” I was surprised to see that the same colorism issues taking place in the movie have made their way to our college campus almost 20 years later.
The difference between today’s reality and the movie is that most of us can’t be placed into the narrow category of a dark skin nappy-haired socially conscious “Jigaboo” fighting for black rights or a light skin weave-wearing stuck-up who wants to be white.
Some dark skinned females wear weaves and could care less about the community, and some light-skinned females have afros and are fighting for their rights.
The fact is, not all light-skinned people are stuck up, and just because a person has darker skin doesn’t make them more ignorant, poor, or more unattractive than their lighter counterparts.
It’s bad enough that some black people believe in these silly stereotypes, but many contribute to their creation.
The truth is that black people are unique and come in a variety of shades. This diversity within our culture is part of its beauty. Somehow, a slave mentality has been handed down to us, and it has blinded us from seeing our full potential.
At the end of “School Daze,” Laurence Fishburne’s character brings his whole black university together in hopes of breaking them free of the mental bondage. Through a bullhorn, he yells the words that our school and community desperately need to hear – “WAKE UP!”
Christine Thomasos is a junior magazine production from New York. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.