Colorism: Who’s the Real Target?

The last couple of weeks have literally disgusted me. Grown people arguing about the color of a cartoon character; A sea princess that never was fully able to be with the love of her life. Yes, that is the actual story.

Then it is assumed Chris Brown likes darker skinned women due to a lyric expressing his love for women with “nice hair.” He did not even have to mention the color of skin as “nice hair” as always been associated with light colored skin.

This hair epidemic runs deeper than a lyric, it is generational and it is prominent in a lot of cultures. Maybe not the “good hair” that is associated with thin, curly texture but the light and dark skin dilemma.

“Even children absorb from others at an early age the notion that lighter skin is considered prettier than darker skin, and psychologists have shown an “attractiveness halo” effect whereby judgements on beauty spill over into judgements about other characteristics such as intelligence and moral worth, even to the point of influencing hiring decisions by employers.”

Origin of Colorism

After researching and reading a lot of articles surrounding colorism, most of them pinpointed it to U.S. slavery. This issue runs deeper than U.S. soil and is effective in more than the black community. Besides North America, this is also prevalent in Europe, Asia and Central America. Dating back to the ancient Aztecs women of the lighter skin was preferable. One of the reasons were light-skinned women were more fertile and there was a ridiculous rumor of dark skinned women genetically being half man.

European colonialism has undoubtedly left its mark worldwide, colorism is said to predate contact with Europeans in Asian countries. There, the idea that white skin is superior to dark skin may derive from ruling classes typically having lighter complexions than peasant classes.”

Although this concept permeated to the United States, the country redefined colorism from social status to segregation. The lighter slaves most likely lived in the house whilst the darker skinned slaves worked in the field.

The lighter colored slaves were most likely the product of rape performed by the slave master. This was not notated, but I am guessing this could be the origin of the term, “good hair”.

Is Colorism Gendered?

Although there is not a direct origin date for this issue, the term “colorism” was coined by Alice Walker in 1982. She defined colorism as “the “prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color.”


It appears colorism tends to be geared more towards women rather than men. Personally, I have not seen a lot of ads or stories discussing black men with “good hair”.  When colorism is highlighted or mentioned it’s mostly geared towards women.

[Dr. Darrick Hamilton] research shows that a scarcity in available “high-status” husbands (defined as higher levels of education, not growing up on public assistance, coming from neighborhoods that had less crime), effectively leave black men in control of the dating selection process. His data concluded 55% of light-skinned women were married while only 23% of dark-skinned women had jumped the broom.

Let’s break this down for a second

If the women within a particular culture are discriminating the darker toned skin and the men are passing by the darker tones in their culture, theoretically will the darker skinned individuals become extinct? And is that the hidden agenda?

This theory appears insane, but if half of the dark-skinned women are not reproducing and the other half are bleaching their skin; what will become of darker toned women in society?

The Current Effects of Colorism

“Did you know that skin whitening and lightening is prevalent in JamaicaAsia, and Africa? In a time where Selena Gomez gets criticism for sporting a fake tan, the Kardashians are blamed for the influx of white women attempting to appear black on social media, and Blac Chyna travels to Nigeria to promote the $250-a-jar X Blac Chyna Diamond Illuminating and Lightening Cream by the curiously-named brand Whitenicious, it’s important to address the reasons why people would want to be a color other than the one with which they were born. The general consensus seems to be that the lighter, whiter, or fairer you are, the luckier, wealthier, more respected, and/or more beautiful you are likely to be.


Light-skinned and European cultures are purchasing large rear-ends, the strong cheek bones and the big breasts to imitate the “dark-toned” body features. Coincidentally, the same things dark-skinned women are being shunned for are celebrated on a lighter toned body. Are you following this theory yet?

If not, let’s mention the billion dollar industry that monopolizes from the deep-rooted hatred for natural African Hair. I am never against weave as it’s great when I don’t feel like combing hair. But there are some women who’s spouses have never seen their hair. Some women are missing their hair edges from the constant installation of sew-ins and lace fronts. Or some women spend their mortgage prices for their hair over their necessities.

Mintel values the black hair care industry at more than $2.5 billion, but that statistic doesn’t include products such as hair accessories, wigs or electric styling products. So, the industry is actually worth much more.

Meanwhile, our black men complain about the weave when some have played a part in this. Some black men don’t date black women because of her self-consciousness of her hair and appearance. Yet she is doing these things to get the attention from the black male. Or she is trying to get a job. Or she is avoiding hair insults from those around her.

Charity Begins At Home

This post is not meant to attack anyone who wear hair weave or discredit business owners. It is to highlight some of the factors that feed into modern day colorism. Everyone deserves the right to be celebrated and loved just as they are. It makes sense to start this love within our own community. We need to celebrate our black women in the media…ALL OF THEM.

There should not be an argument about a cartoon character (which is stemmed from racism as well) or black singers making references to “nice hair”; then publicly berating black women who wear lace fronts and referring to them with the “bad hair” as Budweiser frogs.  We are better and stronger than that. We have the power to break this cultural curse with love.

Let’s Chat, what’s are your thoughts?

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