Shades of black: A legacy of discrimination

September 16, 2011 Feature Print Print
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Christy Johnson/Pioneer

Every day, hundreds of African-Americans are told that the color of their skin is something to be ashamed of.

Shockingly, it’s being said by some of our African-American peers, said Rochelle Mosby, Arts and Humanities Division assistant.

The discrimination stems from differences in the shades in skin tone, said Mosby, with lighter skin being preferred.

“This practice is sending the wrong message to our children,” she said.

Mosby said that, at one point, one of her nephew’s friends was rushing to get inside, afraid of getting darker in the sun.

“I told him, ‘Well everyone gets a little darker in the summer time,’” she said.

“He replied, ‘I know, but I don’t want to get Kunta Kinte black.’”

Mosby said although the boy was young, she found it offensive.

“I thought, ‘Who did he get that from? Who is telling this child that something is wrong with someone whose skin tone is darker than his?’” she said.

“When did we get to the point were we stopped telling our kids that your skin tone doesn’t matter?”

Jordan Bramblet, math and economics major, said he has not been deeply affected by racism within the black community, but has had a few negative experiences.

“I have had women say that they felt like I was too dark to date them but it only happened a few times,” he said.

Bramblet said he doesn’t look at skin tone as a factor in choosing whom he does and doesn’t date.

“I feel like we’re all the same on the inside, so why use skin color to decide that sort of thing?”

Mosby also said the media is reinforcing the stereotype.

“Most of the gangsters in entertainment media are darker skinned with shorter hair; the light-skinned people are lawyers and doctors.”

DeAngela Alexander, medical assistant major, said she feels slavery played a part in creating this issue.

“I grew up reading about Willie Lynch and how he tried to pit slaves against each other by his favoritism towards the lighter skinned slaves, as a way to create animosity on the plantation,” Alexander said.

“Unfortunately that type of mentality was passed down through the generations of some black families.”

Mosby concurs, and said she sees most of the discrimination in the older generations.

She gave as an example a conversation she had with her aunt a few months ago, talking about her cousins.

Mosby said her aunt referred to one cousin as “pretty,” mentioning her softer hair and lighter skin tone as the reason.

“I feel she was saying this only because this cousin has lighter skin and softer, wavier hair.

“My aunt felt this made my cousin prettier than her sister, who is darker,” Mosby said.

Alexander said the African-American community has to stop this practice.

“I do feel most of the bigotry within the African American community in regards to the light-skin, dark-skin thing began with slavery.

“It’s a shame that it is still going on today,” she said.

“Everyone, no matter the color, should love everyone. But as an African-American woman, I know first hand how it feels to be discriminated against.

“We should not be discriminating against anyone, especially one of our own,” Alexander said.

To contact Christy Johnson,

email staffwriter2@occc.edu

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