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Jazeel Bonner
Stephanie Richardson
English 1102
5 February 2016
I believe MLK Jr spoke wisely when he said [people], specifically his children should
not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character (King). Great
pioneers, who fought for civil rights, such as Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks would probably be
disappointed to see the disjunction within the African American community today. Less than 70
years ago, America was a legally segregated place. Blacks and whites werent able to use the
same restrooms, water fountains or even eat at the same restaurants. Six centuries later, after Jim
Crow Laws have been done away with, not only is racism still evident in our society, but the
concept of colorism is also apparent. As defined by Oxford Dictionaries, colorism is prejudice
or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same
ethnic or racial group. Although it isnt widely addressed in todays society, it still plays a huge
role in how we function as a nation.
As much as one would hate to admit it, the concept behind colorism has roots of racism.
Specifically, it brings up the idea of internalized racism. The fact that a lighter skin Black person
could look down on and talk bad about another Black person with darker skin from the same
African ancestry is literally disheartening. Especially given the fact that their roots and heritage
all came from the same place. I have realized that some Black people have been white washed,
and subconciously forced to think that being a darker shade of Black is inferior and that a lighter
shade is superior. Caucasians were, and in some cases still are, under the impression that Blacks

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are inferior to them, falsely thinking that Black people are less capable of accomplishing the
things they do. In the same sense, some people of the Black community have gone to the extent
of carrying out that same hatred. Hatred that, if looked at closely, can be seen as self hatred.
Therefore the question is why. I strongly believe this concept has been subconsciously instilled
into the minds of my generation, thus they act on it. One cannot think of or be something that
they havent been taught or seen to be true on some level. In order for a thought to be acted upon,
it first has to be conceived in the mind. We live in a civilization where it is very obvious that the
white community has an innate upper hand in society, they are granted a privilege that because of
systemic inequality the Black community does not possess. Thus, it is not too surprising that we
have some light skin persons feeling some sense of superiority over their dark skin counterpart.
Furthermore, we have dark skin persons feeling inferior not only to their white couterpart, but to
their light skin counterpart as well. To the extent in which they might use a bleaching cream to
lighten their skin tone, in order to feel more accepted in community. .
Today, colorism can be found in the the workforce as well on social media. Hashtags
such as #teamlightskin and #teamdarkskin have become a phenomenon. Instead of uniting and
using the power of social media for positive causes, the Black community is fighting over
insignificant matters: being light skinned versus being dark skinned. Additionally, they have
generalized and stereotyped each complexion to looking and behaving in certain ways. If you
are you light skinned you are stuck up and have a bad attitude, but you are expected to very
pretty and popular. On the other hand if youre dark skinned you are said to have a more kind,
caring personality, nice to be friends with but are automatically unattractive. Moreover, in the
workforce, colorism is gradually making its way into the hiring process. According to a study
conducted by the Jury Expert, a dark skinned male with higher work experience was

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significantly less preferred than a light skinned black male with less education and work
experience (Harrison). Although the darker skinned applicant was far more qualified than the
light skinned applicant, more times than none the light skinned applicant was chosen simply
because of their looks instead of qualifications.
As someone of darker complexion I have endured quite a few strong and hateful words. I
was taunted by not only lighter skinned people, but someone of Hispanic descent. They asked me
Why I was so black? Laughed at me because I was darker and told me I looked like a burnt
cookie. I remember feeling so alone because everyone would join in the taunting and laughing,
not one person would try to help me out or defend me. This happened in elementary school,
crushing my self-esteem from an early age, it made me feel inferior for quite some time. I got
over it soon enough because of the encouraging words from new found friends and my family.
Honestly,in retrospect I dont even know why I let it irritate me so much. Nonetheless, if I never
experienced those intimidating words, I wouldnt be able to reject much harsher words that are
said in the present. Situations such as those have only strengthened my tolerance for ignorance
and molded me into the strong, beautiful, young Black woman I am today.
The simple-mindedness of people need assistance to get out of the colorist mentality. This
issue is not discussed in our society as much as it should be, therefore more attention should be
drawn to this senseless mentality. Seeing that its doing nothing but creating one more reason for
strife and contention in the Black community, pulling us farther and farther apart instead of
uniting us. Whether female or male, light-skin or dark-skin it should be ingrained from a young
age that they are beautiful or handsome, and capable to acheive their dreams. Instead of
implanting false facts that they may be better because of their specific complexion. Unlike the
current practice, which is completely ignoring the situation, talking more about it will bring

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awareness. There is no reason why any race should feel superior, much more the beings within a
race feeling superior to each other when we all breathe the same oxygen and when cut we all
bleed. People are given the short end of the stick seeing that some may not have to work as hard
to get the same job regardless of the fact that they are less qualified. We should all be taught to
strive for excellence and given fair chance based on qualifications when searching for jobs.
In conclusion, if things remain the same I strongly believe it has the potential to cause
even more dissension within the Black race. It will be the very opposite of what MLK fought for
and believed in. Generations to come will remain in a white-washed state of mind, internalizing
the racism that is ever present, if this continues. It will also hinder certain people from trying
their best to work towards their goals either because they know they have a higher chance of
attaining it or slim to no chance.

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Works Cited
"Definition of Colorism in English:." Colorism: Definition of Colorism in Oxford
Dictionary (American English) (US). N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2016.
Harrison, Matthew S. Colorism: The Often Un-discussed -ism in Americas
Workforce (n.d.): n. pag. The Jury Expert. Web. 5 Feb. 2016.