Friday, December 7, 2012

CNN's Soledad O'Brien Examines Colorism in the Black Community

By Tenisha Mercer

CNN's Soledad O'Brien asks, "Who is Black America?"
Who is Black in America?

Soledad O'Brien examines that question and answers in her latest CNN installment, "Black in America," Sunday, Oct. 9th at 9 p.m.

What an appropriate question. Nearly 200 years after slavery, Colorism, the practice of intra race cdiscrimination based on skin coloring, is still alive and well in the Black community. And while this isn't a hair issue per se, it has EVERYTHING to do with how we view ourselves -- and how we accept our natural hair, even.

More than just who is Black, Soledad also examines the experiences of a bi-racial woman who identifies as white , revealing that "Black" isn't always so clear cut: Is it an experience or does it solely stem from race, even as more Americans are bi-racial and identifying themselves as such

Who's "Black" and Who's not?

But back to colorism. That's my issue; take one look at my skin and you know I'm Black. But what you may not know is that it was often the subject of riducule.

As a child growing up in the 80s, the message was clear: light skin was in. And that message was drilled into us, from the types of girls we saw in music videos to the guys who were the subject of affection. Black wasn't very beautiful.

We Still Face the Color "Issue"

That has changed,  and we now see Black people in all different hues.

But ask any kid and they'll tell you that colorism is still very much apart of our community. As someone who was teased for my cocoa brown skin as a child, I can tell you that nothing much has changed: Kids still mercilessly tease dark-skinned children, and light-skinned children face discrimination as well. Dark girls still have woefully few role models in TV and film.

That's the thing about colorism; it doesn't always mean that darker skinned people are teased; sometimes, lighter skinned people are also teased. Either way, the pain still hurts the same. And it damages generations, poisoining families who unfairly treated members of their family who they deemed to be too dark or too light.

Creating yet another generation of Black folks who dislike their color.

O'Brien herself is "bi-racial" but said she identifies as Black. Her newest topic is among several issues she's tackled as part of "Black in America,."

We can talk about it until the cows come home; but until little girls and boys aren't teased for being "too black" or teased for being "light bright", then we really haven't come as far as we think we have.

Have you experienced colorism?

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