NHBW NEWSBITES | Issue 1
Colorism: Make It Go Away
Film ‘Selma’ very real for Tallahassee eyewitness…Tallahassee Chapter member, Preferia Range was a 15-year-old girl on the Edmund Pettis Bridge on March 7, 1965. In what is known today as Bloody Sunday, Range was one of the 600 marchers that faced the brutality at the hands of Alabama state troopers and local law enforcement officers. View Ms. Range’s account of the event at http://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/201 5/01/16/flawed-film-selma-realeyewitness/21881965/.
Happy birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.! It’s Black History month in February. These are times in the year that we are redirected to focus on African Americans as a nation. 2015 is no different. For many in the United States the larger issues have been those related to blacks’ and whites’ racial tensions, usually named as racism. However, an ‘ism’ that is new, to many, and returning to the forefront is colorism. What is colorism? Let’s review. Most remember the stories about the brown paper bag test and how fraternities and sororities would select members using the color of the bag as an entry determination. That process alone is reason to understand why some of our black youth grew up with issues of insecurity and low self-esteem. The paper bag test confirmed the insecurities. In the 21st century we see an upswing in the number of interracial couples and marriages which often times lead to children born of mixed heritage and color. Recently a special on the Oprah Winfrey network or OWN called ‘Light Girls’ highlighted women, not children, who were traumatized about not being black enough. Not being black enough?! Although this writer did not know of girls who felt like this, it is clearly something that was on the horizon in many circles of blacks. The Light Girls special showed the way these girls were psychologically damaged and the many tears shed due to the pain and suffering they felt. The special was informing but the most important piece of information gained was there are many more light girls that could experience the same hurts. We, as a community, must ensure that all of our girls are uplifted and supported. Encouraging a strong self-esteem for our girls is a must.
Marita Golden’s 2012 article published in the Washington Post entitled, “The color complex in black communities: It’s time for all shades to unite says it all.” She wrote, “I have begun more and more to conclude that colorism is the most unacknowledged and unaddressed mental-health crisis in communities of color around the world.” She went further. “...it’s (sic) negative emotional impact on people of all hues is so serious that it needs to be called what it is--a disease.” Now the question is how we cure it. Golden notes one way that her family began to turn this around. She said “my husband and I wove discussions of colorism into conversations about media presentations of African Americans, African American history, race and life in general so that our children developed the ability to comfortably talk about colorism, recognize it and reject it”. A place to start is at our own table. Just as Marita Golden and her husband began the process so must we as a community and as an organization of Black Women. So NHBW, let the mirror shine in our faces first in order to let our girls be able to light the world. Let’s begin to have those conversations with our girls and allow them to express their views and do as Marita Golden did with her family, “talk about colorism, recognize it and reject it”. Brenda Thompson King, Ed. D. NHBW, Inc. Nashville Chapter NHBW, Inc. Health Chairperson Central Region Health Project Manager
National Hook-Up of Black Women, Inc. 1809 East 71st Street, Suite 205, Chicago, Illinois 60649-2000 Tel: 773.667.7061 Fax: 773.667.7064 www.nhbwinc.com @nhbwinc The National Hook Up of Black Women Inc (Organization)