Black Girl Problems: Colorism in the black community


In a world already filled with racism between black and whites, it’s actually hard to believe there would be discrimination amongst the African American community. But it’s true, there is.

This is an everyone’s problem.

Colorism is the practice of discrimination when those with lighter skin are treated more favorably than those with darker skin. To understand this definition we have to delve into its history.

The roots of this issue stem from slavery. Women slaves were raped by their owners; when a woman became pregnant from these forced sexual encounters, they usually birthed lighter skin children. The lighter skin children were then seen as a purer form of beauty and put on a higher pedestal than their darker counterparts. Slave owners employed the derogatory term “house negro” to refer to those who were of lighter complexion and got to stay in the house. Because of their skin color, they were seen as much smarter or prettier than the darker women and men, although in reality, they were still slaves.

Now that we are aware of the history of colorism and how it has affected many lives over 800 years ago. We can now see how it affects African American women now.


Ever looked at a magazine, a music video, a commercial, or even an Instagram post and ever wondered. “None of these girls look like me”? Well yes, this is colorism, within the Black community. In rap songs, where light skinned women are referred to as red bones, are talked about religiously. In magazines, light skinned women are praised and always we used before a dark skinned women. Why is that? This hate for darker skinned has entered the minds of members of our community. Young girls bullied about their hair texture and skin tones turn into self-hate. This hate that began over 800 years ago.  In 2011, American filmmakers Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry produced a documentary called Dark Girls that exposed the world to what colorism is and how it affects our culture. The documentary examined every scope of colorism within the black community

So where do we go from here? How do we stop colorism within our own community? How do we tell all black girls, regardless of their skin tone that their pulchritude is in their personality? Their smile, the way they treat people? Not in their skin tone?

We can start by saying beautiful things to one another, stop judging, stop letting society decide how we feel about ourselves and how we’ll treat others. It is clear self-love is the best love, and that’s what I want to practice. And I want ladies here at NEC, who’s colored to practice with me. Self-love is truly the best love.

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Dnysha is a third year New England College student pursing a a Bachelor's Degree in Communications. She is a very active member of the NEC community whether she's hosting events, working as an RA, or organizing functions for Amazing Minority Girls Unite where she works as club President. She has been involved with The New Englander for several years as Social Media Editor and currently writes a column entitled, Black Girl Problems. Dnysha will be graduating in Spring 2019.
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