Light Skin vs Dark Skin Debate

Going back as far as slavery, the Light Skin vs Dark Skin debate has been a “secret” war within the Black community.  This war has created deep rooted hatred & jealously within our culture which can be easily measured up against the hate African Americans as a whole have experienced from racist White America.  If anything, this internal war is probably more damaging than the hatred geared towards Black people than members of other communities could throw at us.  This war is a divide from within.  The divide is all based on superficial attributes & assumptions either stemming from deep jealousy or shame.

House Slave vs The Field Slave

As long as Black people have been in America, our culture has either been forcefully divided or we’ve been “taught” to be divided.  When slaves were sold to their masters, they were usually divided into 2 main groups:  house slave or field slaves largely depending upon physical strengths & more importantly the complexion of their skin tone.  The darker a slave was, the higher the chances the slave was sent to the fields to spend the remainder of his/her life doing extreme manual labor.  The lighter the slave was, the higher their chances of being sent to the house to do mainly domestic chores.  Depending upon where your skin tone fell would dictate how rough or “less rough” your life was going to be.  Reality…there was nothing easy about the life of a slave no matter where you worked on the plantation; there was only the perception by other slaves as to who had it harder or “easier” than the others.  It’s probably a fair assumption to think that slaves who spent most of their time in the fields probably had it harder due to being in the sun all day doing intense manual labor versus the slave inside of the house doing domestic work & possibly indulging in a few creature comforts every now & then.  But let’s not forget or even try to make light of it, regardless of where you worked on the plantation as a slave, life was hard…period.  If you have never watched the movie 12 Years A Slave I highly suggest you do.  That movie was quite possibly the best movie I’ve ever seen that has told a story about life during the era of legalized slavery in the United States.

Modern Times

The light skin vs dark skin war is still prevalent in modern times.  The war is not based upon who has it harder or easier due to the woes of slavery.  The war is sort of like continuing with phase 2 of the “perception” of who has what going on, or who thinks they are on this level versus the other.

How many times have you ever heard the phrase “light skin people are stuck up?”  What about “light skin people have good hair?”  Or “he/she thinks he/she’s all that because he/she light skinned.”  What about, “she’s pretty for a dark skin girl.”  These phrases could go on & on but ask yourself this…how many of these phrases have you heard come out of the mouths of other than black people?  I’m sure a few have, but if you are a black person & you are reading this, chances are you’ve heard these statements come out of the mouths of other black people in reference to other black people simply based on a perception due to someone’s skin complexion.  These are all statements whether said playfully or in a serious manner which help to keep a divide within the black culture.

Here’s the thing:  black people regardless of how light you are or how dark you are all experience the same things in society for the most part as a black person.  We are all apart of the minority which unfortunately brings about “minority issues”.  Minority issues aren’t just special to black people.  Hispanics have them as well, it’s just black minority issues are more common for black people simply because we are black…plain & simple.  What are minority issues?  Minority issues such as being stereotyped, profiled, second guessed, looked at with a more critical eye, etc.  What’s crazy is, these minority issues we as black people as a whole tend to receive from other races, we are just as good at doing it to ourselves…hell probably better than other races could possibly do to us.  We are quick to judge ourselves faster & more harshly than other races could ever do.  I honestly think this originates from the division we’ve created amongst ourselves due to the complexion of one’s skin tone.

Don’t believe me….watch the video above.

photo credit:  Thomas Hawk

Your favorite mulatto.


  1. thekid7777

    December 23, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    This video is astounding. I honestly had no idea that such racism existed within the Black community that is directed at each other.The division, the disunity, the racism displayed here is sickening. Two things: first, these are young kids who are learning this racism and they are the future of the Black community. Second, when the kid toward then end says he is from Africa even though he wasn’t born there, that he is African first and foremost, that sentiment leaves little hope for the prospect of a unified America. People in this country need to stop thinking of themselves as members of distinct groups and start thinking of themselves as Americans.

    • Gil Laury

      December 23, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      thekid7777…thanks for the comment.

      I’m assuming you are not black & that’s cool with me. Thing about it is, it’s a lot of “internal issues” those on the outside have no real comprehension of simply b/c it truthfully doesn’t affect them. As I’m sure with any other race, there are a lot of internal issues taking place that I am not aware of simply b/c it doesn’t directly affect my life at the present time. All of that is understandable to a degree.

      But as it pertains to black people, we have come a long way since slavery but we still have a lot of things going on within our culture that needs to be addressed in hopes of finding a possible solution. This light skin versus dark skin debate is real. For some it’s as serious as racism from white folks being directed towards black people as a whole, for others it’s not that big of deal as when some black people refer to each other as “nigga”. Regardless of what end of the spectrum one resides on, it is an issue that’s stemming from a larger issue that is unfortunately being passed on through the generations as you can see with these high school aged kids in the video. Personally, I am a mixed individual. Black mom & biological white dad, so I’ve can definitely relate to the thought process going on when it comes to these internal stereotypes etc.

      I do agree somewhat that in order for our country to move to towards a common goal of a unified country, we should all be willing to embrace the reality that America is its own country with its own identity on the world stage, but we also must understand that America is also an umbrella country allowing many different cultures & backgrounds to still maintain their cultural identity under the American “umbrella”….which is what further helps to make our country even more unique versus others.

  2. The Bigger Picture

    December 23, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Note how she states “Well I’m not trying to be racist, but…”

    Well most folks don’t try darlin’. They simply are.

  3. Dante D. Long

    December 26, 2013 at 6:22 am

    Gil, I agree with you. We have enough issues as a race and as a country to deal with daily. The internal divide based on skin color makes me sick. I honestly hate the memes that joke about light vs. dark skin. Past the initial laugh that it may bring, those images are forever in cyberspace only emphasizing the ignorance that we need to overcome.

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  5. Team Light Skin Representative

    July 14, 2015 at 7:01 pm


  6. Xerxesthe2nd

    March 10, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    The first girl in the video refers to ignorance and nappy hair but failed to realize her own ignorance.

    Cape Verdean=50% Black African and 50% European (mostly Portuguese) mix.

    Dominican=73% Mulatto(European, African and Indigenous Tribes of Taino and Amerindian), 16% Black(Over 85% African) and 11% White.

    It is obvious that this girl is more than 50% black and the way she speaks will lead her to be mistaken for African American.

    Most Dominicans who fit the Mulatto label are not as dark as her. The only thing that have saved her would be a Spanish or Portuguese accent.

    Sorry, she is just another black girl.

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