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  • Writer's pictureSarah Emily R

Isn't Being Black Enough? & Other Thoughts on Colorism

Have you ever heard a Black person tell another Black person, "you aren't Black enough"? I have heard this countless amounts of times both directed to me and also directed to other members of the Black community. This is known as colorism.

According to my BFF Google, Colorism is defined as discrimination based on skin color, is a form of prejudice or discrimination usually from members of the same race in which people are treated differently based on the social implications from cultural meanings attached to skin color. In basic terms, it is someone from the same race discriminating against you.

I feel like this is so huge right now. With all of the racial injustice movements going on today, I have had countless discussions with people questioning Black on Black discrimination or crimes. Colorism is a sub category of microaggression but within the same race.

The first time I heard a remark questioning my "Blackness", I was in middle school. I went to a private school but I went with some friends to a public schools football game. We were in the stands and one of the kids we met up with was talking about how he was followed in the library the other day because they thought he was stealing or up to no good. I commented on how I could relate and he came back with "shit please, you aren't even that Black". I didn't really know what to say to that because I am in fact, 1/2 Black and I have dark skin.

I was adopted, I grew up in a very privileged home with my parents and sister. As mentioned, I went to a private school. But hear me loud and clear when I say that STILL didn't matter. If I was in a store, I was still targeted and followed. I was still called a "n....r" many times. I was still made fun of for my hair. I still had brown skin. I WAS STILL BLACK.

So on top of dealing with racism and bullying for looking different, I was also dealing with the struggle of "not being Black enough".

Other forms of colorism would be a Black person referring to another Black person as "light skinned" or "dark skinned"

This happens even to this day. The day I published my post on microaggresions, I received an email from another Black woman who said

  • "I find it very interesting that you are so concerned for racial justice. You aren't Black enough to even know the struggle".

You maybe thinking "um girl, this is just racism". But, it isn't really. The United States of America is deeply established on racism. Due to this, dark skin is often considered second best and lighter skin is privileged. This is because we were founded by racism. If racism wasn't a thing, the only discussion we'd be having in regards to skin colors would be about aesthetics. The privileging (is that a word? who knows.) of light skin is known as colorism.

I think that addressing colorism is just as important as addressing microagressions or racism in general. It is time to have the difficult conversations, to acknowledge when they make us uncomfortable, or remind us of our own individual pain. The way to combat all aspects of injustice is to name it and speak on it.

Have you ever been victim to colorism? Have you ever over heard someone make a comment that falls into this category of discrimination?

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Yes plenty of time you speak so proper you’re not black or I’m too white. I always respond I didn’t know color have a voice or I didn’t know that crayons can talk. I tried not to let it bother me too much but it did. I was always getting picked on by someone black or white. But it was mostly from the black kids.

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