As we seek to address colorism in our societies, we will need the voices and support of all members of our community. For that reason, I’ve wanted to incorporate more of a male perspective on colorism on this site. Black men have already written several blog posts on colorism, and I recommend reading the ones listed here. These posts provide helpful insight into how some black men view and experience colorism. The authors represent a range of personal and professional backgrounds, and each post demonstrates that there are multiple narratives around the issue of colorism.
1. “Color Struck: The Politics of Shade in the Black Community” by Marc Polite (5/30/2011)
Marc published this post on his blog, Polite on Society, in anticipation of the Dark Girls documentary. He doesn’t take long to point out the fact that the experiences of black men are often left out of conversations about colorism. He touches on some of the reasons for this relative silence and alludes to his own struggles with colorism while growing up.
2. “Dark Girls” by Ta-Nehisi Coates (6/9/2011)
Ta-Nehisi Coates published this piece on The Atlantic prior to the release of the Dark Girls doc. Coates candidly acknowledges his own prejudices against dark skinned girls when he was a child and explains how his perspective and “preference” eventually changed.
3. “Reaction to Dark Girls From a Light-Skinned Black Man” by Robert West (9/2/2013)
Social worker and activist Robert West wrote one of the more personal blog posts, this time in reaction to Dark Girls after watching it. A large part of Robert’s story is his internal conflict as a light skinned man. He describes the problematic nature of colorism in various relationships, family, romantic, and professional. He ends in a place that I find particularly helpful, explaining part of his healing process.
4. “Dark-Skinned Black Women Are IN!” by Anti-Intellect (7/26/2013)
Anti-Intellect is one of those rare men who uses phrases like “the intersection of white supremacy and patriarchy.” In this brief post he concisely explains why gender matters in the issue of colorism.
5. “J. Cole Is Right About Colorism” by Anti-Intellect (8/27/2013)
This second post by Anti-Intellect is a good companion to number 4. It further breaks down the gender dynamics of colorism but with a specific focus on how that plays out in hip hop culture.
6. “Light Skin Simps, Dark Skin Studs: Black Men and Colorism” by Keith Gaynor (10/28/2013)
Keith writes from a personal perspective as a way to provide social analysis and commentary. He speaks as a dark skinned black man who struggled with accepting his complexion in the past but eventually matured to a point of self-love. Keith gives several examples of the negative stereotypes about skin tone black men internalize and perpetuate and the destructive ways that black masculinity is tied up in colorism.
7. “‘I Don’t Normally Date Dark-Skin Men’: Colorism in the Black Gay Community” by Donovan Thompson (4/9/2014)
While we may have heard tons of stories about the backhanded compliment “You’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl,” Donovan reveals that as a man he’s received several comments with similar meaning. While Donovan says he’s never struggled to love his complexion, he expresses frustration with the fact that so many others can’t see the beauty in dark skin.
8. “Why Black Boys Need Lupita Nyong’o” by Damon Young (4/24/2014)
Damon explains that while we focus on the affect popular images have on girls’ self-esteem, we should also remember the affects these images might have on the way boys perceive girls and women. This post reminds us that dating “preferences” are socially constructed to a large extent, especially when it comes to racialized features like hair, eyes, and skin tone.
9. “Black Men and the Stain of Colorism” by Joshua Adams (9/16/2014)
Joshua tells of his own pain growing up as a light skinned black male facing negative stereotypes about his masculinity and blackness. However, he also acknowledges a level of light-skinned privilege, noting that privilege is not absolute and that it might exist even where there’s also pain.
10. “Acknowledging Dark Skinned Black Male Privilege” by Damon Young (1/20/2016)
Damon’s perspective is quite different from some of the other posts that speak of the pain that dark skinned boys and men might experience as a result of colorism.If you’re familiar with VBS, you know that Damon has a way of shocking readers awake by giving us the unexpected. But this post isn’t for shock value. It contains the nuance that while black men don’t have many of the privileges afforded whites or white men in particular, dark skinned black men do receive some benefits within the black community.
11. “The Color Line: Stephen Curry’s Prominence Resurfaces Issues of Colorism Among Blacks” by Michael Eric Dyson (6/1/2016)
Dr. Dyson urges us to retain nuance in discussing light-skinned privilege. Unfortunately, those eager to dismiss discussions of privilege might take this post as validation for doing so. In this post, Dyson goes hard in the paint to support Curry, and that motive slightly colors his discussion of colorism. But for a general audience, this is definitely a must-read.
12. “Lil’ Kim & Other Revolutions: A Meditation of Swizz Beats’ #FamilyZone Photo” by Myles E. Johnson (09/2016)
This is one of my favorite blog posts about colorism written by anyone online. It’s a literary, tribute, analysis piece that speaks candidly about how colorism influences our intimate partner selections. But Johnson also does a good job explaining the need for critical literacy when it comes to our consumption of pop culture/media, reminding us that we can simultaneously appreciate and critique. Any revolution depends on our ability and commitment to doing so.
If you know of other great blog posts about colorism written from a male perspective, please share them!