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.
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