The Truth About the Light-skinned vs Dark-skinned Debate in the Black Community

On the outside looking in, the Black community seems supportive, loving and resilient. However, what goes on behind closed doors is a continuous debate that pins lighter-skinned Black people against darker-skinned Black people.

The jokes may seem harmless. They vary from “this is why dark-skinned men are winning” or “this is why light-skinned women are the best in bed.” What Black people don’t realize, however, is that this light-skinned vs dark-skinned debate represents deeply-rooted self-hate within a community that should be nothing but harmonious at all times.

Allow me to get this out of the way in the beginning: the cold, hard truth is that every single shade of Black is absolutely beautiful. If you are a lighter-skinned Black person that enjoys tanning, do that, but don’t let it be because someone told you that you weren’t “dark enough.” If you are a darker-skinned Black person that uses skin-lightening products, then by all means, do that, but don’t let it be because someone told you that you were “too dark.” This problem does not only exist within ourselves, but also within our entire community.

For years, lighter-skinned men and women have been more valued and celebrated than darker-skinned men and women. You may have heard the term “light-skinned privilege.” Well yes, it does in fact, exist. However, this, to me, sounds all too familiar. Before the (incomplete) abolition of slavery, the “house slave” vs “field slave” debate was put into place as a way of portraying which slave was “better.” “House” slaves were cooks, maids and babysitters while “field” slaves handled gardening, yardwork and the like. The point I am trying to make here is that we’ve grown so much from such a degrading and demeaning time that this argument has become completely redundant and counterproductive. We must not continue to behave in a way that drives us apart. That is the last thing we need. As a member of the Black community, our focus as of now should be on self-love and erasure of these ridiculous stereotypes.

What is most saddening to me is the fact that our Black children look up to us and we have not set an appropriate example for them to follow at all. Don’t tell our dark-skinned girls that they’re “pretty for a dark-skinned girl.” Don’t ask our light-skinned boys what they’re “mixed” with because of the lighter tone of their skin. This type of racial division does nothing but poison the minds of our youth early on. It implants a mindset in their brains that teaches them that they are either “better” or not “good enough.”

If you are a member of the Black community, then this has been a call to action. We cannot fix what we don’t begin to change ourselves. We know better.