Starting with around the age of 10, I recall family members asking me what type of men I liked. Hispanic? White? Often these were the only two options presented to me, later followed by “you shouldn’t date black men, you have to better the race”. Thinking back on it now, my options were so limited so early on, it was engrained in me that marrying someone of a darker skin tone than my own would only cause trouble. This conversation has come up countless times after that but I no longer stay silent. One thing I have learned is that having uncomfortable conversations is the first step in regaining power; the conversations that I have had helped me formulate my own modified opinions.
Colorism is present in the way white people perceive people of color, and within minority communities themselves. Colorism is the preferential treatment of lighter-skinned individuals in comparison to their dark-skinned counter-parts. A conversation that I want to bring up is the exalting of white people and their “good genes.” Why is it that nappy hair and dark skin aren’t considered genes that would “better the race”? I say this speaking largely for the Hispanic community that has a large history of regarding the white race as the superior race.
The lack of representation of people of color on all platforms, especially dark-skin black people, creates a toxic perception of beauty. One example of this is the beauty industry that has not been inclusive to people with darker skin tones until now. While there is some progress, for so long companies have completely disregarded darker people of color by not ensuring variety in their products. Colorism can affect the mental health of individuals who may not only be experiencing discrimination by white people but also within their families. Negative stereotypes are often assigned to darker complexioned individuals; they can be perceived as less intelligent and less attractive, two statements that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I can say that my family was ignorant, and along with them are thousands of families who have fallen to believe the ideologies that white supremacy has forced them to succumb to. When did it become acceptable for the white man to “gas-light” minorities? How can we denounce the racist underpinnings of our preferences of lighter-skinned individuals?