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Animosity between light and dark-skinned African Americans causes division

Staff Writer

Published: Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 01:04

Courtney Bledsoe

Courtney Bledsoe

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.
 

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17 comments Log in to Comment

Walking into the southern discrimatory and racist world
Fri May 14 2010 17:29
I am from new york city, the bronx actually, and I never thought so much about skin color until I moved to the south. It just goes to show that the racist mentality of the slave masters continue to thrive although much more quietly than once before and has plauged our own culture in the process. In new york, it does not matter, what color you are, as long as you carry yourself in a way that is appealing to the opposite sex. In other words, if you are BAD then you are BAD, no questions!! Yes everybody has their own prefrence in what they like for themselves but the constant discussion of skin complection takes such a negative tone here, and even at times, has me wondering about how i am viewed. The sun has definitely made me a few shades darker but i am determined to keep the ways of a new yorker and not care about it at all. We need to embrace eachother and do better as a people because honestly nobody is going to care about the progression of our people as we do. We are unkowningly falling into the trap that the whites have set for us as they watch us self distruct and tear down our own race; their main goal since the birth of this country.
Anonymous
Tue May 4 2010 18:59
I came upon this acrticle in hopes to find info on the internal oppression African Americans faced for my pyscology class. turns out I was wrong. It will always be influenced by schemas of 200 years old and television emphasizing the stereotypes. I'm mulato with a black mother and mexican father with curly hair and hazel eyes and it hasn't changed my attitude toward any shade of African American. only because their parents tried to prevent all these thoughts and beliefs of others. Blame no one but yourself.
D. Chambers Oaktown
Mon Apr 19 2010 16:05
Black skin is beautiful! We have to move past the colonization mentality! This did not happen overnight, it took hundreds of years to condition people that lighter is better and again, it will unfortunately take time to change that mentality if we are talking about a psycho social shift. It really does not help when BET; rappers and video productions/ other media that are supported by black people support this notion by downplaying and giving dark skinned women minimal roles; self hate and the truama of slavery are no doubt relevant here. We can all start to make a change here by changing our own behaviors. Even a smile can initiate change, if you are a light skinned brother, or whoever, who thinks you got it going on, maybe you should note that sister who is walking by you or standing in line with a gentle smile, open you mind and validate other people and you may feel better by changing yourself and seeing the light come to others; lets help each other feel beautiful and we will all reap the benefits.
a Real Rattler
Wed Apr 14 2010 16:03
"You sound as stupid as Toure, claiming that black female slaves seduced their white masters for status and privelege. You are a FAMU student though and I wouldn't be surprised if that what you learned in a Black Studies course at that institution. HBCUs have a tendency to have a piss poor reputation when it comes to Black Studies. "

I don't know what HBCU you went to but they don't teach this viewpoint at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University where I am enrolled in a Black studies class.

Awakened
Mon Apr 12 2010 16:52
Very well written young lady. Remember ppl its 2010 and while many individuals thoughts are still "dated" Those of us who have more going for us "upstairs" understand that EVERYONE is BEAUTIFUL is his or her own right. Who are we to judge?!?
Anonymous
Fri Apr 9 2010 04:48
An anonymous poster said: "Study Melanin and Chlorophyll people. The answers are simple, the truth is simple. Black absorbs light/God, and white reflects light."

So, that explains the high tendency to violence by American blacks, that they absorb "God"? Whatever they're absorbing, it ain't God. Just check your local crime stats to confirm.

Anonymous
Thu Apr 8 2010 14:34
Can't believe this is actually an issue. Why not remove race altogether from the census and begin a new era where race is excluded and intelligence and skill a measure of ones success in life. I'm black and proud and gay none of either category i flaunt. This is just sad.
Anonymous
Thu Apr 8 2010 07:53
Once again the blacks seem to believe that all of their envies and miseries are rooted in slavery. And for the millionth time we hear the highly improbable story that miscegenation was the case of slave masters raping female slaves.

What seems far likelier is that light skin is a universal standard of beauty, and female slaves occasionally seduced field hands (not “the master”) in hopes of giving their children an advantage in life, that which comes with lighter skin and greater intelligence.

Anonymous
Wed Apr 7 2010 19:37
Not just light skin but european features. Too bad the races ever mixed. We were created different. All this talk about diversity is leading to homogeny. Our so called leader is the poster boy. Big mistake.
Anonymous
Wed Apr 7 2010 18:57
Study Melanin and Chlorophyll people. The answers are simple, the truth is simple. Black absorbs light/God, and white reflects light.
Anonymous
Wed Apr 7 2010 18:40
I guess Martin Luther King's dream is truely dead.
Anonymous
Wed Apr 7 2010 18:36
Lighter skinned women are preferred in cultures the world over, not just here. If there is any doubt, check out the plethora of whitening products the next time you are anywhere in the Mideast or Asia. The phenomena cannot be explained away by specific regional history. Most likely, brains are hardwired for it over tens of thousands of years as it has somehow benefitted reproduction strategies. And let's face it, there's not much socio-political currency that. Thus, fantasizing about rape is much more expedient. Anyhow, 96% preferring "a medium to light complexion in women" sounds way too high. But a sample of 100 students is way small. Who knows?
Anonymous
Wed Apr 7 2010 16:23
Honestly,

Being dark isn't this woman's problem as much as being fat is.

Mawulolo
Wed Apr 7 2010 13:40
There is another tale of oppression/subjugation by the ‘Darker ones’ “Original People” upon the “Lighter ones’ of “Mixed Heritage” by that goes untold...

All my life I and many other African decedents of “mixed heritage” have had to fight off routine attacks— verbally/physically/socially for our Darker Brothers and Sisters just because of our complexions. From elementary school on, I had to fight nearly every day, teased about being a $hit colored pretty boy…

When I was in the N.O.I.(1972) I even had a young very Darker Complexioned Student Minister line all of us "Lighter Skinned" brothers up and say confidently "The Brown brother and the Black brother is the same, except the Black brother is Better"... & even though I was hurt, offended & appalled, I continued to "Soldier"; at the time, I thought living under "Black Supremacy" was better than "White Supremacy" so I bowed down and towed the line, even as my Brother Minister went home to his wife, my beautiful though 'unequal' "Brown skinned sister...

We endure/survive within a social matrix wherein we must cow down and bow down to a sliding scale of Darker Skinned Blacks “the Original Man” (much like all blacks did to slave holding whites) or Risk being taunted/persecuted and labeled "not Black enough" then abandoned and socially ostracized.

Eventually, I “quietly” walked away from the N.O.I. as El Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X) had done, unfortunately they killed him before he had a real chance to live his life….

I went on to travel all over AmeriKKKa and experianced a plethora of Black Cultral/Life… and the disease is yet stratified in both directions...

YES, the coin Flips both sides…

Living with an imposed inferiority complex and submitting to a near “Secret” Colorl Supremacy Complex; is a uniquely tortuous form of Slavery/Subjugation…

I don’t play the Skin Game Anymore… (& I would not advise anyone to approach me with that attitude…)

I Bow to Know One*

But I DO Love and Serve ALL my African Descended Brothers and Sisters and their Beautiful Rainbow Hues EQUALLY…

Anonymous
Wed Apr 7 2010 12:13
If you read it she didn't mae the statement of the slave master and the female slave, Allison Samuels from Newsweek did. She mrely quoted the woman so don't get all upset with her about it. The columnist wrote her artice with a specific viewpoint and fom a certain perspective that she decided upon. Therefore, if you want to make sure that "correct information" gets out then how about you step out and take some initiative and write an article for yourself an yoy can slant t ANY wa you want.
Anonymous
Wed Apr 7 2010 11:03
Are you serious? “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.”

I guess the constant RAPES and beatings were all worth it for some table scraps and light skin. Before you attempt to perpetuate further misinformation about what actually went on with slaves who were house servants, but seldom lived in the Master's house, I would encourage you to actually do some research about the practice of the trans-atlantic slave trade.

You sound as stupid as Toure, claiming that black female slaves seduced their white masters for status and privelege. You are a FAMU student though and I wouldn't be surprised if that what you learned in a Black Studies course at that institution. HBCUs have a tendency to have a piss poor reputation when it comes to Black Studies.

Anonymous
Wed Apr 7 2010 10:35
This problem is made reinforced by TV, magazine ads, and videos. You seldom see a real dark-skin model. And, while this drive many of us into instant denial, our homes and churches often feature pictures of Jesus as white. If the image was of a Black Jesus, many of our people would feel uncomfortable even as they claim "it doesn't make any difference to me".

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