No Color Barriers

We gave our Facebook fans an opportunity to share their experiences with shadeism. We selected two articles to post on our blog page. The first article, written by Brandy Hudson Morton, exposes that shadeism has no color barriers. It’s a great read and please leave a reply with your thoughts about her experiences.

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No Color Barriers

The urban dictionary defines shadeism as “to judge or be against a person because of their skin tone rather than their race”. A lot of people think of shadeism as an issue amongst people of color. I would challenge that thought and say that shadeism is a form of discrimination that exists in all races of all nations. A review of history will show that fair or pale skin has long been judged as the more beautiful or sought after pigmentation. However, my experience has not been quite the same in my own race. My whole life I have dealt with issues of racism, beginning as far back as I can remember learning to talk. While racism was always a form of shadeism in the fact that many people within my race viewed our race as somehow superior than others; my experiences solely with shadeism did not begin until I was in middle school. In middle school, it was like a reverse of history. The people of my own race, the people who looked most like me, suddenly wanted to be darker and spent a lot of money to get tan. I have always had a fair complexion, even compared to my family members. In fact when my children first started talking about skin color they both wanted to know why I was peach and everyone else was tan. In the seventh grade, I felt pressured to try to fry my skin to become tan as well. Red headed freckled girls do not tan well, in case you were wondering. I would burn, peel and be in pain only to try again. I even covered myself in baby oil and laid in the sun until I had sun poisoning and became sick. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized I would forever be pale. Even now, after so many years, people still tell me I need a tan.

My more serious experiences with shadeism though occurred when I had children. My children are of mixed race and even among mixed people; which we all are mixed people in one form or another, shadeism runs deep. My first child was dark. As she got older, she had trouble with her identity. People of color did not accept her because she was not dark enough. White people did not accept her because she was a person of color. I, as her mother, according to her, could not possibly understand because I wasn’t like her. Even today, she is divided because she felt she had to choose a side of the spectrum to relate more to, even though neither side accepts who she is. My son is lighter and most people assume he is white or Mexican, yet he still can’t be mine because he is not like me either. The three of us together are quite the spectrum or spectacle depending on who you ask. It is odd how different their skin tones are, yet even ten years apart, they ask the same questions about their friends and skin color. When my daughter was in first grade, she never before considered (at least not out loud) that she was different from her parents or her friends. I will never forget the day she came home crying because her favorite friend wasn’t allowed to play with her anymore because she was brown and her friend was not. My son was in the third grade. It was 12 years after my daughter’s first incident when he started asking me why his friends didn’t think I was his mother. I picked him up from school and one little boy told me I couldn’t be my son’s mother because my son was tan and I was not. Then there is always the story of how my children wanted to connect my freckles so I would be the same color as them. There are so many more stories, but I think you can see my point.

My prayer for us all is that not only will we realize that color and shade does not make a person any less valuable, but that we realize that no matter what our color or shade, we all have similar struggles. The sooner we stop judging each other and segregating ourselves, and start helping each other, the more freedom we will obtain. We may have different skin tones, but we don’t have different hearts. God called us to love one another, he didn’t say “love one another based on skin tones”.

Brandy Morton Hudson – Guest Blogger

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7 thoughts on “No Color Barriers

  1. D@Bo$$ says:

    Great Story, I appreciate you sharing. I always found it interesting how pale skin went from being the standard of beauty to being looked down upon. I wonder what caused this transition.

    • Hi D@Bo$$! Thanks for your comment. We hope our comment and link Brandy provided will shed some light on when and why transition of “tan is better” took place within Caucasian community.

  2. Brandy says:

    Good reading about the history of tanning and “shadism” from a caucasian standpoint. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/19/history-of-tanning

  3. From our research, we discovered that another root of shadeism is socio-economic status. French fashion designer Coco Chanel and entertainer Josephine Baker are credited for making tanned skin luxurious in 1920’s. Chanel was apparently sun burnt while vacationing and Baker was a well known African American celebrity in Paris known as “Bronze Venus”.

    Tanned skin became a “status” symbol; a reflection of one’s economic status. Being wealthy, you have more free time to vacation and be outdoors which gives opportunity to tanning. These individuals are known to be apart of the “leisure” class.

    The same holds true in many cultures of color except in the reverse. The “working” class is tanned because many of their jobs are outdoors. Higher income individuals work indoors and don’t get as much sunlight. So, lighter skin indicates a higher socio-economic status.

  4. Great article! Thank you for sharing .

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