Skin color has been an issue in the black community for years. Hostility between light and dark- skinned African Americans has caused a skin divide within our communities. It was not until the topic, ” I don’t like my hair texture or the color of my skin,” on the Michael Baisden Show, when I was awakened to a world of self-hate, which saddened me.
I had heard previous conversations on the topic of “black-on-black” skin color discrimination, so I did not think I was going to hear anything new or enlightening. To my surprise, he wanted teenagers to call instead of adults.
Young girls were calling and saying,” I don’t like that my dark is skin” and ” I hate the texture of my hair.” Young boys called in to say that they would not talk to a girl of a darker complexion.
Since the days of slavery, color has been used as a tool of separation and preferential treatment among African Americans. The residue of the “house” and “field” negro divide has long remained with us even during the 1970s as we celebrated black pride.
Allison Samuels of Newsweek states, “House slaves were usually products of the slave master and a female slave so they usually had lighter skin. The masters’ mixed children, although not always given the best treatment, were more likely to receive the special favor of doing housework. Thus, making them exempt from the hard task of working in the sun. They learned to read, write and often ate better.”
This distinction between light and dark African Americans has created a gap that has not been filled.
A study was published in 2006 in the Race, Gender and Class Journal, indicated that lighter complexions were considered more attractive among African-American communities. The results were taken from a sample of 100 students who indicated that 96 percent of men preferred a medium to light complexion in women, while 70 percent of women found light skin of value in men. It is hard to understand how a people who shared a history of oppression can trouble one another.
Across Florida A &M’s campus, there are men and women of many different complexions, light and dark. Yes, we will have preferences of what we might prefer in the opposite or same sex, but we must embrace the differences that we have within our race.
What makes the African-American culture unique is the complex shades of our skin; embrace it.