Colorism in Americanah by Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie released her most recent novel, Americanah, in 2013. Although I’m more than a year late reading the book, I think it’s worth writing about the issue of colorism as it appears in the story. Colorism in Americanah doesn’t rely on the standard melodramatic pity party or blame game. Instead the novel has a rather matter-of-fact tone on the issue, one that seems based more on observation than painful memories or emotion. I guess the story itself is so interesting and well-written that the discussion of colorism doesn’t seem forced—it just seems real. The public has discussed Adichie’s writing in connection to colorism before. People complained and even started a petition… Read More

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fighting colorism inside essence magazine

Fighting Colorism while Reading Magazines

Magazines are one of humanity’s greatest creative/business  projects. My mom used to work at a bank inside of a grocery store. As a girl, I’d grab all the house and home magazines off the shelves to pass the time until she got off work. Then, in high school I discovered black hair magazines and Essence. I can honestly say that these magazines helped shape my ideas of the world and of myself. It began with the typical impulse to collect pictures and stories of my favorite celebrities at the time, but it soon grew into something more. I came to view magazines differently, and they served a deeper purpose than… Read More

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For a Brown Girl: who committed suicide when her rainbow wasn’t enough

“& this is for colored girls who have considered suicide / but are movin to the ends of their own rainbows” —Ntozake Shange In 1975 the poet Ntozake Shange published For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf. In April 2014, the rainbow proved insufficient for one colored girl, Karyn Washington, creator of the online communities For Brown Girls and The #DarkSkinRedLips Project. Like most of her fans, I didn’t know Karyn personally, but we exchanged a few tweets and emails about our common interests in colorism, self-love, and empowerment. I got the news of Karyn’s suicide on Friday afternoon and struggled to fight back tears the rest of… Read More

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5 Lessons on Colorism from Lupita Nyong’o’s Essence Speech

The talk continues about Lupita Nyong’o. Over the past few days, however, it’s gotten deeper than just her Hollywood stardom and high fashion domination. Ever since Lupita’s powerful speech about the effects of colorism at Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood event, more people are weighing in on the issue. Some, like me, are openly excited about this moment. Some might be a little more skeptical. Others are probably unaware that anything is happening. Regardless of what we ultimately believe about Lupita’s role in fighting colorism, it’s clear that she’s helping to spark discussion about colorism in ways that very few other celebrities have. After watching and reading Lupita’s speech, I… Read More

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Colorism in Relationships: Preference or Prejudice?

Why do we date who we date? What’s really behind our choice of marriage partners? Is love truly blind? And more to the point of this post, is there colorism in relationships?  If there is colorism in relationships, how can we tell the difference between a person who coincidentally falls for someone of a certain skin tone versus someone who is color struck? Here I present one perspective on this matter. Of course there are other viewpoints out there. If you’re new to this issue, I encourage you to explore those as well, after you’ve considered the following. Is there Colorism in Relationships? Yes. As Kola Boof says in this… Read More

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Historical Roots of Colorism, Part I: Early Spanish Origins

The Spanish cared about skin color. Whether on the European continent, or throughout the Spanish colonial world, ancestry, and the proscribed skin colors thus attached, mattered. Long before the formation of the United States, and even before the French recognized the light-skinned “mulâtre” (mulatto) in colonial censuses during the 1690s, the Spanish attached specific social and racial values to particular skin tones, and the degrees of mixture each one implied. As early as 1533, a debate arose in Madrid, Spain’s capital, over whether or not children of Spanish men and Indian or African women should be recognized by the Crown and educated as vassals of the empire. After some debate,… Read More

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colorism in hip hop ave by Scott W

Colorism in Hip Hop: Keeping it Real

The phrase ‘keeping it real” was coined by the hip hop world, a genre of music I’ve been known to enjoy. But many of the biggest names in hip hop are consistently guilty of NOT keeping it real. This applies to many aspects of hip hop, but for our purposes, we’re going to examine colorism in hip hop. The following are eight aspects of colorism in hip hop that we must be “real” and honest about. 1) Colorism in hip hop does exist. There’s debate about whether or not colorism exists in general, so we can expect controversy when discussing whether or not colorism exists in hip hop. Many have… Read More

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open dictionary for the post a broader definition of colorism

A Broader Definition of Colorism

While the term colorism may lead us to focus on skin color, we can only get a full grasp on the issue if we allow for a broader definition of colorism that also includes other physical features such as hair, nose, lips, and eyes, especially among people of African decent. The reason colorism is broader than mere color is that people don’t just view skin tone as gradient–they also view race as gradient. In some societies, there’s the concept that people can be “close to white” or “almost white” or “more white” compared to others in their race. Of course the actual terms and comparisons vary from region to region,… Read More

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colorism in families a fair skinned girl and dark skinned boy

8 Tips for Dealing with Colorism in Families

Sibling rivalries. Estranged parents. Favoritism. Neglect. Abuse. Family should be the place where everyone can experience unconditional love and acceptance. Unfortunately, a lot of folks feel anything but that. Trouble at home can arise for many reasons—one of them is the existence of colorism in families. As Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman (2013) says, “In families, love is present, but … what love looks like may depend, in part, on what you look like” (p. 14). While many families of color around the world think it’s common place to hear casual comments or jokes about skin color, hair, or other features, there are far too many instances where colorism goes beyond mere words and results in… Read More

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What can We Do about Skin Bleaching around the World?

And it all comes down to this question. Now that I’ve given an overview of skin bleaching around the world (and perhaps prompted you to continue your own research), I want to dedicate an entire post to exploring possible solutions to the skin bleaching culture around the world, which I call an epidermal epidemic. reports on the current state of things, but we’re always looking forward and focusing on progress, what we can do to evolve beyond the status quo. I don’t want to make this sound easy. It’s colossal. Our fight will be a long, challenging fight. The solutions may sound obvious, but their effectiveness does not require… Read More

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The Epidemic of Skin Bleaching Around the World

Personal preferences. Individual lifestyle choices. Freedom… Those are some of the things people call upon to explain and justify their indifference about the things other people do. When we talk about something like skin bleaching around the world, they say it’s no different than pale people getting tans. Well, they’re right about that. Tanning and bleaching are very similar in that both can be deadly, especially for those who can’t afford vetted, high-quality bleaches. Of course most people survive these practices, but not without long-term damage to their skin and overall health. There’s also the literal cost of skin bleaching. People continue to exploit colorism and racism for profit. So, I… Read More

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Colorism and Racism: What is the Difference?

Because many people have not heard of colorism and may be unclear about how it relates to racism, I want to explore the particular definitions and the relationship of colorism and racism. Defining Colorism and Racism Colorism- prejudiced attitudes and/or discriminatory acts against people based on the color (shade or tone) of their skin Racism- prejudiced attitudes and/or discriminatory acts against people based on their actual or perceived racial status I want to highlight the fact that people of different races may have the same skin tone. See the three women below.     And people of the same race may have different skin tones. See the two women below.     In cases of racism, two people of different races but… Read More

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