Skin Color

In the Black Community

As Discussed in Class

Although this class had several components like music, entertainment, film making, jazz, racism, and many other parts of the Harlem Renaissance, the topic that stood out most to me was about the issue of skin color in the black community. In class we talked about "passing" for film roles and skin color issues in black women. We reviewed several YouTube videos on a black woman's point of view on skin color and tied these into the novel "Blacker the Berry" by Wallace Thurman. The reason that I enjoy talking about this topic is because I notice the issues of skin color of the black community on a daily basis. Since I am a lighter skinned African American, I not only face the racism from being black, but also face racism and ridicule from my own community for having light skin. For a light skinned black women, the teasing and hate starts at a very young age; for me, it began to take notice to the hatred at five years old. For this project, I am using this online flyer to show several sources that discuss the issues of skin color in the black community called colorism.

Definitions for Understanding

Colorism: discrimination based on skin color where lighter skin is treated in a more favorable manner than those with darker skin.

Intraracial colorism: one racial group discriminates against someone of the same racial group (ex. Black vs. Black). This is seen all over the world and is usually considered to be dark skin vs. light skin and leads to a racial divide, especially in the black community.

For more information, check out this interesting website:

Also, watch part of the video below that talks about colorism for more clarification and to hear what other black girls think about skin color!

Pretty for a Dark Girl: Colorism in the Black Community

Where It All Began

It is said that the divide between light skinned and dark skinned African Americans started with slavery with the separation of the house slaves (light skin) and field slaves (dark skin). Lighter skin blacks (used to be considered a product of rape of a black slave by her white master) were seen as higher status than darker skinned blacks. These issues along with the help of media glorifying whiteness, lead to the skin color divide in the black community.

Books That Discuss Skin Color

"I never hated the color of my skin, I hated the way people felt about it" --Gabourey Sidibe

This part is mocking the flyer format of FAQs, but I chose to make it somewhat different with questions or comments that are said to light skinned black girls.

1. Why do you speak like you are white?

2. You have that "good hair."
3. Can I touch your hair?

4. You aren't black enough.

5. What are you mixed with?
6. Why do you always have an attitude?
7. You think you're cute.

Music About Skin Color

Listen to the songs "Brown Skin" by India Arie, "Four Women" by Nina Simone, and "Shades" by Wale below!
India.Arie - Brown Skin
Four Women Nina Simone