A Beautiful Dark-Skinned Woman explains how her mother made her bullet-proof against colorism

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The recent sμicide of Karyn Washington was a shock to us all.  The painful passing of the 22-year old advocate for dark-skinned young women led to serious reflection for anyone concerned about the horrible impact that colorism has had on the African American community.  No one knows if her complexion led to the depression that ultimately caused Karyn to leave this world far too early, but she’d regularly stated that the source of her advocacy came from self-esteem challenges that derived from the way others could not see her beauty.

Below are some anonymous words from a successful and beautiful woman who was also victimized by colorism at an early age. But what her words seem to say is that her first line of defense was her mother, who deliberately sought to help her overcome the psychological damage that would surely be waiting for her in a community that still carries baggage from the plantation.

Here is what she wrote to us, and we’re sharing this so that it might help us all when we speak to our daughters.

I struggled with it (colorism) more when I was little because I’m the darkest person in my family. My brother and sister are very light and my extended family is very light as well, so I used to feel some kind of way about looking different from everyone else but my mom consistently told me I was beautiful, smart, intelligent, etc. and she was really good at reinforcing positive ideas about dark girls. I know colorism still exists today but because I was intra-racially socialized by my parents, I can cope with it.
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Heck, I’m in a sorority (Alpha Kappa Alpha) that was once considered the sorority for “light-skinned” girls, lol. Unfortunately, a lot of dark girls aren’t taught to cope like I was and when they are constantly bombarded with Eurocentric ideologies of beauty, it can be very damaging to the psychological state of dark girls. This eventually turns into feeling of depression, self loathing, low self esteem, etc.

Many of these colorism issues have roots in American slavery (ie house negro vs field negro) and we (blacks) need to recognize these cognitive disfunctions that continue to denigrate the AA community. Whereas the broader society contributes to colorism, and that needs to stop, I also believe it is the parents responsibility to intra-racially socialize their children to cope with colorism, teach the damaging effects of colorism, and instill/ reinforce beliefs of black beauty (regardless the shade of brown) so colorism isn’t perpetuated.