Different Shades

by William Garner

I think there is a serious issue that needs to be addressed before real change can occur through black cooperation. We have still not forgotten what we were conditioned to believe hundreds of years ago about our various shades. Every #blacklivesmatter hash tag is undermined by someone generalizing another person as a ‘light-skin’ or ‘dark-skin.’ Every atrocity committed by the police is seen as just that much less atrocious by black people’s distaste for themselves; their own kind. Every time a black person dares to speak in criticism of his or her own people it is seen as borderline hate speech and uncle-tomming, which is eventually related to that persons skin tone.

Listen, I have never felt any less black in the palest months of winter, nor have I ever felt any more black in the tannest months of summer. But what has made me feel ‘less black’ is when my people attack and deride one another using Willie Lynch methods. It is embarrassing enough to make me wish I wasn’t one of the black people within earshot, at least. But this kind of generalization seems to be the next logical step in a society saturated with racial inequality and stagnant racial relations. Darker skinned people are treated worse, on average, than lighter skinned people. This has long been a problem and stems from the white supremacist structure being the foundation for this nation. However, there used to be at least a semblance of love and respect among black people, regardless of shade or skin tone. Now there is just as much colorism among young black people as there is racism nationwide. It has become a normality to see someone’s skin tone as an accurate representation of who they are and what kind of life they have/have had.

It is often said in jest, but when you are living among the enemy, in his territory, there is little funny about degrading your ally’s confidence and belittling them. Over time this just creates new rifts and deepens the ones that shouldn’t have even existed in the first place. We have to start taking ourselves seriously again. We brush off these jokes as though they are just fun, only used to be funny. But we all know how inappropriate this behavior is considering the social climate of today and black people’s seemingly never ending journey to justice and equality. Without unity and cooperation among each other it becomes difficult to take one another seriously and achieve the righteous society we have been working to achieve for generations. How we address and think of one another is important. It is the basis for how we treat one another.