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I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am a soul that lives within- India Arie
What can be more superficial than judging someone based on their skin color? The topic of colorism has come up quite frequently in the last couple of weeks for me and it is important for everyone to become aware of it and address it in a positive way where everyone can try to understand the issue and develop resolutions. It is especially important to address this issue within yourself if you question your self-worth and value based on what society says. The media, Hollywood and the beauty industry in America have shown us what they think the perfect body is and what skin color is preferred. When you never see someone that looks like you in a positive light the impact on your spirit can be devalued.
Discrimination based on skin color is known as colorism and happens typically among people within the same racial group. The effect on self-esteem for darker skinned people especially women is tremendous because of the prejudice preferences of lighter skin created by society. I wanted to discuss ways this issue can be combatted within yourself and how you can stand against colorism.
Start with Yourself. The perception of yourself is the most powerful and if your thinking is tied to believing you are less valuable because of your skin tone you must start with healing yourself. The first step to accepting yourself is realizing what internalizations, you have about yourself based on what discrimination has been set against you or that has been done to you. This is going to be the toughest part. This means revisiting your historical roots and learning where the discrimination comes from. Start asking yourself deep questions to become aware of how you think and treat yourself based on your historical discrimination and stereotypes. Ask yourself questions like, “Who am I identified with?”, “How has racism and colorism affected me?”, “What are my triggers that affect my self-esteem and thinking?”, “Do I contribute to colorism within my race?” The more you become aware of your patterns and thinking the more you can combat the feelings of inadequacy. Healing yourself will be a lifelong journey, not a quick fix so this process will need your patience and a lot of self-care and compassion. Learning your self-worth and value is vital to changing the outlook of your self-esteem. If you don’t learn to love yourself how can anyone else love you. You can love yourself without having validation or love from anyone else.
Surround Yourself with Positivity. I wrote a prior blog post saying to Unfollow Social Media Accounts that Make You Feel Bad About Yourself. It is important to start creating a positive and healthier environment around you. Along with social media accounts stop surrounding yourself with TV shows, magazines, music etc., that make you feel inferior. This is the beauty of having the internet is that now we can create such environments customized to our liking whereas before there was no other source of entertainment. We had to watch and look at the bias of skin color, so it was not easy. This is why the movie Black Panther was so groundbreaking and such a defining moment for black America. Ryan Coogler was the first African America director to film for Marvel and the starring characters were dark-skinned and were portrayed as powerful. Dark skinned women were also depicted as smart and strong characters without having to be saved by men. When you view positive images and read about contributions of your heritage you can start to connect and feel good about where you came from.
Change Your Circle. Surround yourself with people who do not take part in colorism. Sadly, colorism can start at home and family and friends are the ones who told you that your skin color was inferior. Try to limit yourself to the exposure of these people if you can or set boundaries with them stating that you are not accepting their unhealthy behavior and negative outlook and remarks. Try challenging family and friends about why they make racial and negative remarks. Sometimes they are not even aware of their own mindset it has just been passed down from generation to generation or learned from the media. It is important to know that you more than likely can’t change their feelings or who they are, but you can set boundaries with them or limit your exposure to it.
Stop Putting Others Down. Recently Cardi B and Azealia Banks had a social media beef due to the topic of colorism. However, there was not much discussion going on instead a lot of putting each other down. Part of the issue with colorism is the blatant putting down of others. This needs to stop and it starts with you. Stop saying things that contribute to colorism like, “oh she’d be prettier if she was light skinned”, “light bright”, “don’t marry dark” or any other negative comments that say skin color matters to be worthy, loved or appreciated. If you want your thoughts and opinions heard insulting anyone will lose the credibility and lose the chance of coming to any resolutions with the issue. You can start by contributing to the positive outlook and teach your kids that this type of discrimination is wrong and shouldn’t be tolerated. Change starts with ourselves and then our family and friends.
To change the world, we need to change ourselves first. I didn’t want to go into the heavy topic of racism because that is such a tough animal to tackle. Colorism is not the same as racism. Colorism is discrimination based on skin tone usually within the same race. I don’t have the answer on how we can end racism and discrimination. Do we have system blocks in American against certain people? Yes. I do know however that we can work on ourselves and have the power to control how we feel about ourselves regardless of outside sources. It will not be easy or ever be 100% but you can embark on a journey of unconditional self-love that will help you defeat these terrible issues and achieve what you dream. Please watch the amazing documentary Dark Girls to get an even more in-depth knowledge of colorism as well as real stories and opinions on this topic.
Please comment below what you think about the topic of colorism. How has it affected you?