Light Skinned Versus Dark Skinned

This issue of colorism has plagued Black communities around the world, in the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, and North America. The debate still rages on as many believe that Black communities divide themselves based on skin tones with lighter skin tones (closer to European shades) possibly considered more beautiful. Consequently, in many circles light skinned women are often considered more beautiful. Hip hop culture specifically, is flooded with adoration of beautiful light skinned Black women. Commonly referring to them as Red Bones, Yellow Bones and etc. This has sparked controversy around the notion of self-hatred which is often linked to slavery, colonialism and the overall mis-education of the negro across the Americas.

However, there are many circles in which beautiful dark skinned women have been adored and praised as well. They are commonly referred to as Chocolate, African Queens and etc. The proverb, “the darker the berry the sweeter the juice” is often used in association with dark skinned women/people.

For Black men, darker skin tones are associated with manhood and imagery of hyper-masculinity. Such as thugs, gangsters, pimps and etc. Light skinned Black men are often associated with professionalism and at some times femininity. This is because skin tones have not only been racilized, they’ve also been gendered. Which is why darker skinned women and men face similar yet different experiences.

However, there are many members of the Black community that do not divide themselves based on skin tones. There is also an on going movement to put an end to the colorism in the Black community.


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14 thoughts on “Light Skinned Versus Dark Skinned

  1. I personally love women of any color or skin tone but we do come across those poor misguided black folk that think babies are more beautiful if they’re light skinned (like the song artist Ne-Yo). And yes, he actually said this out of his own mouth. its ridiculous and embarrassing.

    • I strongly believe that this is nonsense to make a difference between a beautiful race of people. I feel that what is so very special and unique about the human race is that there is variety. I like the spices of life. I am proud of those who are objective and who steer people away from narrow minded thinking.

  2. WE are all one people, I BELIEVE we are GOD’s flower garden of many colors to me that is beautiful. TO feel superior because of lighter skin tone & to make someone who is darker feel inferior , you are hating yourself. you say why because your color is the result of a white person raping your grandma. SO dont hate appreciate , embrace, & love your diversity. loving who I AM

    • Nora,

      Your comment started off so beautifully, and I really thought you embraced all people. But, your conclusion was flawed. You ended up sounding like a bigot. The light/dark myth disgusts me too, but it isn’t tolerated by either side!

  3. Such a true topic and the division still continues. being of Afro-Carribean descent I have witnessed it in so many ways. My mother is the fairest complexion of her 11 siblings and was treated differently than others oddly treats my darker complexion children differently than my brothers fair skin children. So sad to know it continues I hope it does not continue with my children.

  4. It’s true that we are all God’s children and our range of shades come from a range of experiences. Part of the travesty of slavery is that we are unable to trace lineage with consistent accuracy. And because of that there is always the possibility that our color, hair, features are not due to rape but a result of love. Love between blacks and a variety of other ethnic groups who came to our land to seek better futures. I’m referring to asian immigrant workers who came and built the railrods, irish laborers, jewish merchants, native americans, europeans and others. Of course rape was a devastating reality for far too many. And as a people we never received psychological support for the post-traumatic stress of slavery. The pain of our ancestors permeates our lives even today. The challenge for us is to release the wrenching emotions that brew the self-hatred, often subtle and subconscious, lingering bitterness. I say let’s honor the love of our ancestors by achieving where they could not. But as we embrace who we are, we should remember that the beauty of our people whether dark or light reflects the genes of many people and love between them very well was the reason it’s there.

  5. Isn’t it about time we stopped adding fuel to this fire. Until we stop perpetuating this “light/dark nonsense then our people are never going to heal and accept each out in all the beautiful shades God gave us.

    Enough with sowing disharmony, lets try try and focus on common ground.

    • @Michelle I agree that we need to stop sowing disharmony. This article is about stopping the disharmony, with the goal of promoting love among our community. This issue still overwhelming haunts us and we have to learn about where it came from and how it affects us in order to stop it.

  6. This topic needs to be discussed. @Michelle we will stop talking about it when it stop being an issue. Until then, we need to learn, grow and discuss.

  7. I love that you posted this article. I am a psychologist student as well as a mentor to a group of “at risk” girls in elementary school, and this is a topic that I brought up that we should address in the study that the program leader is conducting. I think it’s very relevant even to our society today. My thoughts are that it goes back to the Willie Lynch letter to divide us. It’s a sad reality that we allowed this to happen back then, and to now have education and still allow this to keep us divided.

  8. I live in Kenya (East Africa) this issue is not so pervasive but there are some areas that do suffer from colorism i.e. those areas that had heavy Arab and Portuguese settlement in the 16th Century.

    But we do have women who bleach their skin (which is such a shame) and men who love lighter skinned women. Its odd to me that some men in Africa can have such strong preferences when they are surrounded by lovely dark skinned and brown skinned women but we are part of a global world and in this global world an “African” looking woman is least desired.

    We really need to change the way we look at each other. After all the great pharaohs of Egypt were Alek Wek’s skin color. It makes no sense to be proud of them and yet hate their skin color at the same time.

  9. It’s not the case what if you a light skin person living a dark skin world !!! I my self never looked people for the color of there skin , but I found out the hard way that it a lot of people that it do matter to and it hurts !!:( I always believed that we should love our fellow brothers and sister no matter what the case may be !!! We are human and we came in the world the same way and if we are Bless we will leave the same if it’s GOD”S will !! But as became older I realize it a lot of evil out here !!!!

  10. um.. there are plenty of light skin blacks going to jail I mean I saw the jail special.. some of them are white just milky white so white..

    and yet they act ad embrace just the black side..

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