Re: Skin tone more important for African Americans
Posted By: Leslie In Response To: Skin tone more important for African Americans *LINK* (Ras Tyehimba)
Date: Tuesday, 22 August 2006, at 10:56 a.m.
In Response To: Skin tone more important for African Americans *LINK* (Ras Tyehimba)
This study does not give a clear indication of which race of people is being accused of color prejudices although one paragraph does give an indication that they were evaluating based on the comfort levels of Whites:
"Our results indicate that there appears to be a skin tone preference in regards to job selection," said Harrison. "This finding is possibly due to the common belief that fair-skinned blacks probably have more similarities with whites than do dark-skinned blacks, which in turn makes whites feel more comfortable around them."
It seems that the researcher's main intention was to show the disparity in the economic situation between light skin people and dark skin Blacks based on color prejudices which he also considers to be colorism.
I have seen colorism defined two ways by Americans. One meaning is specific to Black on Black color discriminations: "Colorism, not racism, is the correct term for describing the prejudices that Afrikans hold about each other and seemingly use against or to the advantage of themselves and others of relatively similar complexion."
The other meaning is more general: "Colorism is a global form of discrimination and occurs where lighter skin tones are preferred, and darker skin tones are considered to be less desirable."
Even though I believe that the second definition is more appropriate, it is still lacking because it does not incorporate the element of racism which is critical when dealing with colorism, although it is generally understood that both definitions are based on racism. Colorism in its broader meaning highlights more how the system negatively impacts dark-skin Blacks the most, whereas the extreme effects of the system on dark-skin Blacks is hidden somewhat under the general banner of racism.
So charging Whites with colorism does not absolve them from a simultaneous charge of racism. The issue of colorism can never be devoid of racism because it was developed in this epoch, beginning in the period of enslavement, based on notions of inferiority and superiority of races, which was also annexed to color. It is also true to say that one’s race is also largely (though not solely) determined by one’s color so that the dynamic of colorism cannot be dealt with without first considering race.
Further, given how race is poorly defined by U.S standards where mixed race, light skin people and even White people are considered Black if they have one drop of ‘Black blood’, if the argument remains only about racism, then the extreme effects of the system on dark skin Blacks cannot be addressed properly. People could still continue to play off on their color prejudice and not be accused of racism if we do not focus on color discrimination/colorism.
I even see in South Africa, for example, where Blacks are accusing Black Africans of racism towards other Black Africans. By a principled definition of racism they are also very correct. They can never claim that Black Africans are responsible for institutional racism, but the charge of racism by Blacks towards other Blacks could be made based on how one defines racism.
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