It be Your Own People: Colorism in the Black Family

“Awwww, look how cute she is, she’s so light and has such pretty hair.” “Ooooo, that baby is kind of dark isn’t she?” I don’t know about you, but in my family those are some of the things I hear whenever we get together. Then that same person knows you overheard them and tries to say that they’re just kidding.


Not only do we have to deal with the issue of colorism in our own community, but in our families as well. Now you would think that as black people we would embrace all our unique and beautiful shades, however that is not the case. In black families there are always those relatives (specifically older relatives) who sit in the corner and compare you and your cousins saying how much lighter or darker they may be. Or those same relatives saying that you or another family member don’t need to stay out in the sun too long or else they’ll get “too black.” What’s wrong with that?


The issue of colorism can be seen as stemming from the belief that at one point having lighter skin made someone more beautiful and or classier. However, your family is the group of people who are supposed to be the most accepting of you. In my opinion, colorism is something that is an  “old school” ignorant belief. Our family members need to grow out of this and realize that colorism is offensive. Hearing family talk down and tease you or any other one of your family members appearance is hurtful. All black is beautiful! We must take the initiative as a community to help support and embrace our brother’s and sister’s beautiful skin tones and hopefully our families will follow suit. It is important that black families accept all family members for who they are because we already live in a country that is judgemental and would hate to see us win. Black families need to be less critical and instead teach us to love our gorgeous skin.