For many people of color, skin tone can be a tense topic. Different ethnicities have different norms, but in general due to the overwhelming influence of European colonialism, lighter skin tones are preferred. In Japan its not out of the norm to see individuals walking around with umbrellas on sunny days to prevent their skin from tanning. In India, skin lightening creams are the #1 selling beauty product. And in America, especially in the black community, skin tone has been a divisive issue for centuries.
First some background: During slavery, lighter skinned African Americans were often treated better than darker skinned blacks; they were more likely to work in the house and interact with white slaveowners. This was because light skinned slaves were often the offspring of their slaveowners and seen as more “similar” to white people. This division between lighter skinned and darker skinned slaves was maintained with the intention to ‘breed out’ the African in slaves and assimilate them into white society.
After the abolition of slavery and into the more recent years of American history, the division between light skinned and dark skinned blacks remained. If they were light enough, many blacks “passed” and tried their best to be seen as white and blend into white society so they could have a better standard of living. Meanwhile, darker skinned blacks who could not escape Jim Crow had no choice in how they were perceived and treated by society. Even still today, you’ll often see these tags: #teamlightskin, #teambrownskin or #teamdarkskin. Across many social networks men and women alike voice their preference.
Though I am all for loving the skin you’re in, picking sides in this “light skin v. dark skin”
debate isn’t doing anyone any favors. Both sides are face problems. Lighter skinned blacks are sometimes criticized for “not being black enough.” And on the other hand, darker skinned blacks have said they felt that they don’t fit into America’s idea of beauty. In claiming a certain #team you may feel like you’re supporting yourself and others who look like you; but you’re also furthering the division that was created and perpetuated throughout history. Personally, that’s why I claim “Black is Beautiful.” Because at the end of the day…
…We’re All Black.