Colorism Pt. 2: Black Men's Role
Updated: May 19, 2020
I just finished viewing a video of a dark-skinned Black Woman being abused in the streets of New York by a Black Man while a group of Black Men recorded and laughed at her abuse. The link to the video is here. I prefer to not shove the violence of Black bodies in people’s faces, but it is worth noting that this happened this year, during this month, over the weekend.
Let’s not pretend that a light-skin woman would have been treated the same. In fact, light-skinned Black Women and light-skinned non-black women inflict some of the violence dark-skinned Black Women receive. For example, the dark-skin Black Woman who was assaulted by a non-Black woman at Blueface’s house during a video shoot, having her wig snatched off and being told her skin color is ugly. Or when Hazel E publicly called dark-skinned women gorillas.
For some reason, there is a tendency for dark-skinned Black Women to be treated with more violence. I notice a lot of the violence begins within the Black Community from Black Men, which then branches out to light-skinned Black Women, light-skinned, non-black women and eventually, white men and women.
Despite my own experiences relating to this topic, I was reading an article titled “Why Dark-Skinned Black Women Like Me Aren’t Getting Married”, and within the article, the author, Dream McClinton, a dark-skin Black Woman, explains the data of Dr. Darrick Hamilton, a professor of economics and sociology at Ohio State University, who researched why so many dark-skinned Black Women who date men remain single. His research reveals that it’s because of a shortage of high-status Black Men available (meaning they are college educated, did not grow up on public assistance and lived in a neighborhood with less crimes). The shortage of high-status Black Men gives them “unnatural power within marriage markets that enables them to bid up cursory characteristics like skin shade,” said Dr. Hamilton.
Though her article is about dating, I think that this ability Black Men have to control the dating market not only dictates who gets married or not, but also who is defined as beautiful, worthy of respect, more feminine and worthy of love and romance. If high-status Black Men are generally choosing to date, and marry (his research revealed 55% of light-skinned women were married compared to 23% of dark-skinned women) light-skinned women, Black or not, it is perpetuating and maintaining the idea that dark-skinned Black Women are not as valuable, nor as ideal for marriage, as light-skinned women. This idea is not only conveyed to little Black boys who have these high-status Black Men as role models, but also to light-skinned women, leading to incidents like those stated earlier, and to dark-skinned girls as young as toddlers believing they're ugly.
Speaking of messages sent to young Black Boys, I’m reminded of this video of a group of teenage Black Boys stomping a Black teenage girl until she became unconscious. You can’t tell from the video whether she’s light or dark-skinned, but you can infer where they got the notion that this kind of behavior, especially towards a Black Girl, is OK.
When Black male celebrities disrespect Black Women, or are silent when Black Women are hurt, they are giving the green light to other Black Men, light skinned women, and people of other races to dehumanize and abuse dark-skinned Black Women. What’s worse is that the abuse of dark-skinned Black Women that light-skinned Black Women join in on, backfires in their faces, leading to incidents like that of Robert Kelly, with his decades of harming Black Women with no consequences. If any of the girls he abused were white, America would have had his head on a silver platter. But no, it was OK because he was only raping little Black Girls, and the Black Men who knew decided they weren’t important enough to protect, starting the cycle all over again.
It starts with Black Men. Once Black Men decide to take responsibility for their role in maintaining and perpetuating Colorism, I think the Black Community can finally begin to unify and heal itself. Of course, the Black Community has to address its issues with general misogyny and homophobia as well, but if Black Men won’t acknowledge the superficial ways they are harming their own community, they definitely won’t acknowledge the more general, deep rooted systems they perpetuate.
Let me know what you all think in the forum.
Love and Light,