Colorism: Black People and African American Culture Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 23 December 2016

Colorism: Black People and African American Culture

Colorism is a type of discrimination in which humans of the same race are treated or treat each other differently because of the social connotations that have been attached to shade of their skin. It exists in almost every race, but it is most predominant in the African American culture within the borders of The United States. Colorism in the United States is rooted back to slavery and ever since then it has corrupted the minds of the black community.

Colorism between African Americans was no mistake; it was done purposefully to divide the African slave population to make them easier to control. A man by the name of Willie Lynch gave a speech in Virginia 1712 about how to control slaves. In this speech he stated, “I use fear, distrust, and envy for control purposes. These methods have worked on my modest plantation in the West Indies, and it will work throughout the South.

Take this simple little test of differences and think about them. On the top of my list is ‘Age’, but it is there because it only starts with an ‘A’; the second is ‘Color’ or shade; there is intelligence, size, sex, size of plantations, attitude of owners, whether the slaves live in the valley, on a hill, East, West, North, South, have fine or coarse hair, or is tall or short.

Now that you have a list of differences, I shall give you an outline of action–but before that, I shall assure you that distrust is stronger than trust, and envy is stronger than adulation, respect, or admiration. ” Willie Lynch was a smart man with a very insidious agenda that he flawlessly completed. He knew the power of distrust, he knew how to use it to his advantage, and he knew that all he had to do was plant the seed in to the minds of the slaves and it would grow and blossom all on its own and live for many years to come.

From his speech stems the terms “light skinned”, “dark skinned” and “good hair”. African American culture even today, three hundred years after this speech was given, is still being led to believe that having lighter skin in some way makes you a better than someone who has slightly darker skin. From the land that holds the famous motto “All men are created equal” oddly is the same place where people of the same race discriminate against their own people.

In “The Color Complex” by Midge Wilson, she tackles the issue by tracking down the birthplace of colorism, “To trace the origins of the color complex, we must return to the year 1607 when three ships sailed in Chesapeake Bay, stopping at Jamestown, Virginia, to establish the first English colony in the New World. . . . What might have been unthinkable in Europe and Africa was an everyday occurrence in the wilderness. Miscegenation, or race mixing, became widespread as Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans mixed their seed and substance to produce a kaleidoscope of skin tones and features.

But these primary race groupings differed sharply in their civil liberties and political freedoms. Subtle variations in appearance took on enormous consequences in meaning, especially among Negros,” (Wilson, pg. 9). The black community has let this issue open the doors for so much ignorance for hundreds of years. The effects of this have seeped into some of the most important organizations that delineate the black community, such as the NAACP, Jack and Jill, and renowned black Sororities and Fraternities.

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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 23 December 2016

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