Colorism: The War at Home

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-02-20 21:30Z by Steven

Colorism: The War at Home

Ebony Magazine
News & Views

Chris Williams

Dr. Yaba Blay discusses the history of ‘the color complex’ and how we can work to destroy it

The “color complex” has remains a source of great controversy and pain in the African American community and across much of the African Diaspora. As one of the leading voices and scholars on Black racial identity, Drexel University assistant teaching professor of Africana Studies Yaba Blay continues her arduous, groundbreaking work on the topic. Her (1)ne Drop Project has been featured on CNN’s Black in America series and expanded the discussion around how Blackness is defined in today’s society.

EBONY recently sat down with Dr. Blay to delve into the history behind colorism and how it has helped to shape Black racial identity in the United States.

EBONY: In the Black community, we seem to continue the tradition of lighter skin and straighter hair being ‘better.’ Why is the train of thought still prevalent in our collective mindset?

Yaba Blay: I definitely think it’s something we’ve internalized. Historically, just through observation we’ve seen that people with more European aesthetics and phenotypes were getting more privileges in this society. And again, for me, it’s really about us thinking about the framework from which we’re operating, like where are these ideas coming from and being able to acknowledge that they operate from outside of our community. These are conceptualizations that have been projected onto us and we see those things being affirmed in our society. It’s been called “the White ideal.” So—it constructs a spectrum of sorts where if I look at you and I can see that you potentially have European blood, I can assume that in comparison to someone who has darker skin, kinkier hair, and a more African phenotype that you’re better than them. It’s the idea that European genetics are your saving grace…

Read the entire interview here.

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