Dark Skin Women vs Light Skin Women: Colorism Within Our Community



By Tyissha Joseph-Dottin

Remember when rapper Kodak Black received severe backlash about the comments he made when he stated that he doesn't like women with a dark complexion. Within that week, he attempted to explain himself by saying that he doesn't like his skin color. He stated women with dark skin are "too gutter" while claiming light-skin woman are more sensitive. It wasn't the first time he has made some derogatory comments towards women with a darker complexion. While everyone was attacking him on social media, I felt bad for him because he has been conditioned to have that mindset.

There's an internalized racism in our own community called colorism that is a serious problem. The root of colorism started during slavery when the offspring of the slave masters and slave women had a better treatment. Indeed, the dark- skinned slaves worked on the plantation field, while light-skinned did domestic work. For several decades, there has been a tendency attribute to associate light skin people with positive virtues and dark skin with negative ones. Despite the fact that we have beautiful darker tone women who are represented in the media positively such, as Serena Williams, Lupita and Viola Davis, it seems like we still can't escape that slavery mentality. The mentality that says light-skinned women are better than dark-skinned women. We have created a division in our community.

For instance, in 2014, there was a controversial casting for the movie based on legendary rap group, NWA. They were looking for African-Americans girls by ranking them from A to D. The "A girls" were required to be classy with long hair. The "B girls" were required to be light-skinned with a nice body. The "C girls" were required to have brown skin with a weave. The last category, the "D girls", were considered the lowest of the low. They degraded dark skin women by requiring them to look poor and be in bad shape. The message was clear and offensive towards darker shade women.

I have seen several documentaries where darker skin women admitted that they weren't fond of the color of their skin because of what they have been told. Some young girls have overheard their parents or family members claiming that light-skin people are more desirable and dark skin women are unattractive. Sadly, they are unaware of the potential psychological damage their comments might be causing and how it can affect their self-esteem in the future. 

Moreover, Kodak Black comments made me question myself about the way certain black men play a role in the way we view beauty. I truly believe that they a part of the reason why some dark skin women are insecure and inferiority complex. For example, a couple years ago, Lil Kim made a comment that raised a lot of eyebrows, “All my life men have told me I wasn’t pretty enough — even the men I was dating. And I’d be like, ‘Well, why are you with me, then?’ It’s always been men putting me down just like my dad. To this day when someone says I’m cute, I can’t see it. I don’t see it no matter what anybody says. I don’t see it no matter what anybody says.” 

This once beautiful chocolate skin woman, is now barely recognizable thanks to the drastic changes she has made. Sadly, we spend our time criticizing the decisions she has made, without acknowledging the fact the men in her our own community made her feel unworthy and displease with her image. In fact, there are so many darker shade women dissatisfied with their skin tone that they rather bleach their skin. They are exposing themselves to the harsh chemicals just to achieve a desirable look and make themselves more appealing.

Colorism is a serious issue we need to talk about in our community. We need to start healing and loving one another. We shouldn't convey these negative beliefs to our future generation of young girls. We need to tell young black girls, for their own psychological well-being, that every shade of black is beautiful. Beauty doesn't have a color. Whether you are dark or fair-skin, you need to embrace your skin tone. Stop letting the media and their environment dictate what is beautiful. In the end, true beauty comes from the inside.

Learn more about Tyissha by following her on Instagram @tyalatya