It is something short of a rarity to log onto any of the various social media platforms without seeing something completely absurd, anger worthy, or heartbreaking. With the exception of some, many people have the privilege of being able to check apps without a thought of, “hey, there’s going to be an attack on a prominent part of my personal identity today,” but that’s essentially what happened when twitter user, CliffBreezy decided to tweet what he referred to as, “just jokes.”
A few days ago I woke up to a twitter timeline flooded with rude and inappropriate statements about women with different skin tones. Accompanied by a picture of women presented in order from fair to darker skin, text read things like, “line up in order from good woman to whore” and “Ok now ladies. Line up in order from highest to lowest GPA,” purposely putting darker women at the end of the spectrum and sparking necessary outrage.
This is what they think of us. That’s why black women have to be twice as good. Never get complacent. Never. pic.twitter.com/BH1lP6mq0j
— Montoria (@Tori_Tripp) May 28, 2016
As much as I shouldn’t take offense to the trolls, sad users who’ll do anything for recognition, and people who use social media for spreading negativity, I couldn’t help but feel sadness.
I am a Black woman.
I have darker skin.
I am the woman to the right.
This is what they think of me.
Unfortunately, the tweets serve as yet another example of colorism in modern day society. Defined by the Association of Black Psychologists as, “skin color stratification that privileges light skinned people of color over dark,” colorism has not only plagued Black communities, but varying nations and groups around the world. With historic roots in colonialism and enslavement systems, the complex issue of light versus dark has transformed into a prominent, yet rarely discussed notion.
From people on celebrity talk shows defending their use of skin lightening creams to a courtroom drama featuring an ignorant daughter angered because having a “dark mother” ruined her life, deep rooted beliefs and judgements regarding varying shades continue to lead to separation and blatant hatred.
Interestingly enough, this drama comes at a time of success among Women of Color (WoC), particularly Black women. Citizens have the honor of residing in an America that operates under Loretta Lynch, the first Black Woman Attorney General and Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States. In 2015, the National Center for Education Statistics reported Black Women to be America’s Most Educated Group. The College Graduation Rate for Women of Color continues to rise with a significant increase among Latinas. Some reports indicate that in recent years, WoC earn “proportionally more science and engineering degrees than do men of color.”
Amidst these successes, darker skinned women have been belittled (yet again) to low GPAs, child support, and promiscuous mentalities. Delving deeper into colorism, the constant prevalence of negativity within media directly links to issues of self-esteem, perception of beauty, and economic opportunity. It is no secret that skin color has and continues to impact the likelihood of obtaining a job. A study performed in 2011 found that colorism influences teacher’s expectations of scholar achievement, assuming lighter skinned students to be more academically prepared when compared to darker counterparts. Colorism can negatively impact both light and dark persons of color, with Pew Research illustrating overarching issues of self-stereotyping and notions of inferiority.
What do these facts and unfavorable opinions mean for someone of color? The “token”? An underrepresented student in the classroom? One of the few women employees of color in the office?
I quote the fictional Rowan Pope of Scandal along with real parents and family members when presenting their daughters, granddaughters, sisters, and nieces with the truth:
“You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have“
Despite proven success and achievement, WoC are still often viewed as less than, strictly because of physical appearance. You may not accept this “twice as good” statement as true, but statistics speak for themselves.
There are many areas of colorism that have yet to be discussed and as a college student, I don’t hold the answers. Regardless, what was stated on twitter are real ideas that are continually perpetuated within our present society. I don’t write this out of hatred or overreaction, but with a passion to bring awareness to the the varying aspects of discrimination that plague communities.
My skin color doesn’t define my academic performance.
The shade of my skin does not correlate to my hair length.
My outward appearance has nothing to do with my attitude, passions, or drive.
Until more people come to accept and understand these facts, I’ll continue to work twice as hard, despite it meaning half as much.