Colorism refers to discrimination based on skin color. In black America, upper crust blacks routinely administered the brown paper bag test to determine if fellow blacks were light enough to socialize with.
You are probably wondering what is the paper bag test and how does it relate to Colorism. The paper bag would be held against your skin to test weather you were light enough. If someone were darker than the brown paper bag that individual would FAIL but if he or she were lighter than the brown paper bag then they would PASS the paper bag test. Despite being overlooked in the mainstream media, skin color bias has a number of negative effects on its victims.
My sister and I had such an AMAZING & THOUGHT PROVOKING time speaking this past Friday May 20, 2016 at the Voices of Color: A Community Discussion About the Colorism Experience presented by the fellow sisters duo and artists Carlisha Shanae and Onrae Lateal. We were invited to be part of the panel discussion, exploring all spectrums of colorism, skin bleaching, being Black and “beautiful”, acceptance, self love, and Black empowerment etc. These are all topics that we personally deal with on a delay basis so it was great to have an opportunity to discuss these issues on a larger platform.
It was such an honor to speak on a panel with such revolutionary people such as Anika Hobbs – Owner of Nubian Hueman, Samantha Paige Davis – Founder and Director of the Black Swan Academy, Pastor Will Youth Pastor, amongst other speakers. The panel discussion had a good balance of the male and female perspectives. The evening featured innovate and rhythmic rhymes from local black creatives in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area such as Aflocentric, Jeffery The Artist, Asha Mon, and live art by a young girl named Kandice Johnson.
During the panel discussion each of us were encouraged to share our personal and professional views and stories based on gender, experiences, and cultural backgrounds. My sister and I were excited to share our knowledge on how we have dealt with colorism in the African-American and other minority communities. We quickly realized that there is no single definition when identifying blackness or its authenticity. The panel discussion revealed how black communities is made of many shades and many backgrounds. We should learn to celebrate our differences but still recognize each other as one and maybe then will we able to realize the impact of colorism and how intensely personal colorism is in our society today.
Overall, colorism has lived on in our communities because we continue to discriminate and perpetuating it against one another based on our skin tones, eye colors and hair textures. Black culture has a major role in shifting the perspective in our communities. We as blacks caused this confusion and now it is left for us to fix it.
My sister and I are truly encouraged after speaking about this topic. Our advice is to start early by exposing the ignorance of colorism to our youths in hopes that they will not follow the same paths by appreciating and celebrating all color voices and shades.
If you have ever experienced colorism in your own life , feel free to share your thoughts below.