Team Light Skin. Team Dark Skin. The hues of our skin have been a source of ongoing conflict. While we celebrate our collective magic, some still find it hard to appreciate our many different shades—from light caramel to rich chocolate.
Colorism, or discrimination against people of color based on the darkness of their skin, has a deeply rooted history–and not just for Black people. Around the world, lighter skin is seen as a prize. Studies have shown that “Given the opportunity, many people will hire a light-skinned person before a dark-skinned person of the same race (Espino and Franz 2002; Hill 2000; Hughes and Hertel 1990; Mason 2004; Telles and Murguia 1990), or choose to marry a lighter-skinned woman rather than a darker-skinned woman (Hunter 1998; Rondilla and Spickard 2007; Udry et al. 1971).”
In “The Persistent Problem of Colorism: Skin tone, Status, and Equality,” Margaret Hunger states “The maintenance of white supremacy is predicated on the notion that dark skin represents savagery, irrationality, ugliness, and inferiority.”
Look At My Black Beauty’s (LAMBB) tackles history’s lasting effects in their newest web documentary, 50 Shades of Melanin.
With interviews from 30 Black Brits across the UK, the short film focuses on their experiences with discrimination and privilege based on the color of their skin. Touching on race, history, and images of black women in the media, the documentary has been viewed over 150,000 times on YouTube.
Is it up to the Black woman to define her image or should the Black man defend her? Where does colorism stem from? 50 Shades of Melanin asks tough questions to try to get to the root of our issues. Years of shame, feelings of inferiority, and the cycle of prejudice are uncovered.
Opening up the floor for questions we may not even have known we had, 50 Shades of Melanin is helping us to heal one view at a time.