Madison Whitaker

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Sometimes one’s appearance can cause an unwanted, “elephant in the room.” My elephant has always been the color of my skin. Throughout my childhood, I was picked on because of my brown skin. As a black girl, one is subliminally taught that light skin is “prettier.” Since my mother and brother have “light” colored skin, other children in our neighborhood or at school would insist I was adopted, and insinuate that there was no way someone so brown could come from someone so light. During those confusing years, I turned to my mother, who has always been my most constant motivator. She encouraged and molded me to become comfortable in my own skin. My mother reminded me my honey brown skin was beautiful and that others wished they were naturally brown. Although overcoming the insecurity of my skin didn’t happen overnight, I was fortunate enough to persist. This pivotal experience in my life taught me the power of perseverance and self confidence. My story is just like the story of so many brown girls in our country, and in our world.

The issue of colorism is important and needs to be addressed and talked about more in my community. Colorism, is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group”. This issue mainly affects the lives of women from all minority groups, starting from as young as four years old and continuing through the rest of their existence, colorism negatively affects the lives of many. Not only does it ruin the self esteem of a young girl, which statistically plays a vital role in the outcome of their success; but it completely diminishes the work done to further the equality mindset of minorities in our country. You see, when the women with darker toned skinned are taught that they are less than those of a lighter skin tone, the community is equating lightness with whiteness and power. The long term effects of colorism continue into our political system, work force, and the everyday lives of many.

I feel as though this is a topic more should be educated on so that we can bring an end to this issue. Although it doesn’t affect every demographic and isn’t an issue in every community, it is still an issue that needs light. Educating parents, teens and everyone in between could help bring the end to the issue of colorism and subsequently help with the issues of prejudice and racism in our country.