Intraracial Discrimination: The Relationship between Light and Dark-Skinned African-American Women
Washington, Courtney Erin
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Historically, it has been believed that lighter skinned African-Americans get preferential treatment over darker skinned African-Americans, because they are seen as being closer to white. Unfortunately lighter people have received preferential treatment in many areas including educational, employment, and social opportunities. The belief that light-skinned people are treated better has created a divisive color complex, with serious psychological ramifications for the entire community. The color complex is especially problematic for African-American women because they, like all women, are judged more for their appearances than men are. Lighter skinned women are believed to be more feminine and desirable than darker women are. The way society values different groups of women influence the relationships they have with each other. The expectations and interactions that they have with each other are prejudiced because of the stereotypes that exist in society about each group. Modern society perpetuates intraracial discrimination among women through two primary outlets, power and privilege and images of beauty, which have created a strain on the social interactions of light and dark women. There is an insinuation that in order to have access to power and privilege a woman must conform to certain accepted images of beauty. To fully understand intraracial discrimination and the color complex the origins of the kaleidoscope of colors within the African-American community needs to be addressed. Where did the emphasis on skin color begin and who decided that lighter meant better?