The Effects of Colorism in the U.S.A.

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The Effects of Colorism in the U.S.A.

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The ideal look in America is the lighter you look the higher your social standing. As a black girl, at a young you get teased about your skin color a lot. It’s hard for me to understand why lighter skinned girls were recognized as prettier. Therefore, made darker toned women grow up hating their own skin tone and with colorism causes fiction in the African American communities

The biggest effect of colorism black youth today face is growing up hating the skin they were born with. In America, attractive people are identified as competent and relevant. “Attractive individuals are portrayed as more competent in every venue from children’s books to popular film”, says Alfie Breland, author of “A Model for Differential…” (pg. 299, 1998). Breland explains in the article just how much attractiveness is displayed on different platforms of media. Even young children are taught what society deems alluring. Self-hatred is the effect of not being seen as attractive or not viewing oneself as attractive. These African American women, men, and children can assimilate European culture, but only to an extent. Breland states, “African Americans subconsciously understand that the less black one is, the easier it will be to assimilate and be upwardly mobile” (pg. 295). This article suggests that African Americans understand and emulate the European standard to better fit in. Skin tone plays a big part in not being able to completely live up to these standards. I feel that self-hatred just amounts to not being accepted and looking for validation from your peers. Equally, important Black children are committing suicide at the highest rate in America. Sociologist would call suicide “the cutting of all ties”. In a way not having ties with anyone anymore is the best thing they can come up with in America now. It starts with self-hate, which then leads to depression, and the result is not being able to comprehend with this ideal ology, which causes different forms of self-harm. Because of colorism, black children are committing suicide at high rates. “Our identity begins to solidify in adolescence, they begin to internalize that they are less than or that they do not belong” says Nareissa Smith in her article “Why are Black Children…” (pg. 2, 2018). In this article, she states that not being accepted is psychologically damaging to these African American children, which is what is causing this rise in suicide. The root of this has to do with the acceptance of what were taught to view which is the Europeans ideal of beauty as superior. Ms. Smith talks about Dr. Jeffery Bridges, analysis “In 1993 to 2012, the suicide rates for black girls were 0.68 to 1.23 per million and for white girls it remained the same”. Dr. Bridges compares the increase of suicide rates of black girls and white girls.

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I already know that not all African Americans want to admit that colorism still exists in 2018. However, it does and it been this way for centuries. These people today would probably say something like, this is old news, Dark-skinned women and men are just complaining. This is just a tactic to divide us, just like the eighteenth, and ninetieth centuries. Colorism only existed back in slavery and during segregation. This is the land of the free, everybody gets equal opportunity. The Asians or Caucasians, and any other race do not complain about this. You should have to see it to believe that colorism is unrealistic.

White supremacy is the uplifting of the white race by oppression of other continents, nations, and people who are classified as non- White. Through this ideology, Blacks have begun to emulate by bleaching their skin to look white. ”White supremacy has been constructed by Whites for the benefit of Whites; White supremacy is routinely interpreted as a code for white people, says Yaba Blay, author of Skin Bleaching and Global White… (pg. 7, 2011). Blay explains all whites benefit from white supremacy. Through advertisements even in the late 1800’s cleanliness was associated with godliness and getting rid of darkness. When trying to sell soap black kids despairingly shown before and after using, the soap and the after picture would have a lighter skin complexion. Blay states, “The projection of White skin as immaculately clean depended upon imaginings of Black skin as filthy.” This article suggest to make white skin appear to be pure dark skin was used in advertisement to be seen as filthy (pg. 19). Skin bleaching started with Christianity and trying to be closer to Godliness. Whiteness being what they believed was the purest of form. In the 20th century things still have not, changed advertisements are still being portrayed on T.V for skin bleaching. It starts within the African American community to get out of this mental slavery and oppression. in the beginnings of skin bleaching and where it derived from. She also goes into detail about how dark skin were examined in these advertisements as dirty. Also, she described what skin bleaching is and how it was used. Focused on the African Americans and the internalization of European standards and the effects psychological. Blay continues on skin bleaching by stating, “Skin bleaching would manifest as the seemingly most logical method through which to approximate the White ideal and thus empower oneself (pg.37). Blay suggests that people want to feel they belong thus living by the ideals.

Colorism has become so rooted in the black culture to the point family members are enforcing it. Mothers and Fathers are treating their children differently based on their skin tone. Showing one child more love and affection than the rest, to prove how much of a disgrace they are to them. This breaks the trust between the parent and child and causes the forsaken child to then foster hatred toward their siblings. “Some black parents tell their boys not to bring home dark girls and to marry light in order to lighten up the race” says, Kimberly Norwood, author of “Global Perspectives on Colorism… (pg. 7, 2015) Norwood explains in the article of what the children are told from their colorist families. These family are breeding their children to be colorist and hate there skin, just as the generation before taught them. Norwood states, “Within black family members, it is not uncommon to have family members, including elderly family member who not only favor the lighter children in the family over the darker siblings but who also visibly discriminate against the darker-skin children because of their skin color” (pg. 7). This article suggests that it is common in black families to show discrimination towards the darker-skinned children.

Colorism began when Europeans started to give special treatment to people who looked like them. This is the evidence, that we make decisions on how we are lives conscious and unconsciously based upon European standards. Speaking on Colorism addresses the problems that have arose through Racism and White supremacy. Brushing this problem under the rug is what’s causing these children to commit suicide and hate themselves.

Works cited

  1. Breland, A. (1998). A model for differential media effects on body dissatisfaction, self-efficacy, and self-esteem among African American women. Sex Roles, 38(7-8), 299-313.
  2. Smith, N. (2018). Why are Black Children Committing Suicide at High Rates? University of California, Riverside. Retrieved from
  3. Bridges, J. (2013). Suicide Rates for Black and White Girls: 1993-2012. Pediatric News, 47(2), 34.
  4. Blay, Y. (2011). Skin Bleaching and Global White Supremacy: By Way of Introduction. In Y. Blay (Ed.), Skin Bleaching in Black Atlantic Zones: Shade Shifters (pp. 1-23). Palgrave Macmillan.
  5. Norwood, K. (2015). Global Perspectives on Colorism in the Black Community: Family, Education, and Criminal Justice. In K. Norwood (Ed.), Color Matters: Skin Tone Bias and the Myth of a Post-Racial America (pp. 1-20). Routledge.
  6. Hunter, M. (2005). The persistent problem of colorism: Skin tone, status, and inequality. Sociology Compass, 1(1), 237-254.
  7. Hall, R. E., & Davis, R. J. (2019). Media representations of colorism and their effects on Black women's perceived attractiveness. Journal of Black Studies, 50(4), 379-396.
  8. Khanna, N. (2019). “Color Struck” on Screen: Media Representations of Colorism in African American Communities. Journal of Black Studies, 50(8), 802-823.
  9. Thompson, C. E., & Keith, V. M. (2001). The Blacker the Berry: Gender, Skin Tone, Self-Esteem, and Self-Efficacy. Gender and Society, 15(3), 336-357.
  10. Marrow, H. B. (2020). Beyond the Preference for Light Skin: The Significance of Colorism in the Lives of African American Women. Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, 6, 1-15.

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