Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 23, 2005 / 12 Adar II, 5765

Black-on-black discrimination?

By John Stossel


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "You can call me anything in the book when I was younger. Just don't call me African," Jason Reynolds told me. That, he said, was "the worst insult a dark-skinned boy, as a child, ever got."

"Africa," he explained, "is still equated to savage."

Reynolds, a student at the University of Maryland (UM), was not talking about racist remarks by white people. In fact, many white people don't have a clue that "colorism," the kind of prejudice Reynolds was talking about, even exists. Among black Americans, however, it's an open secret.

"I've benefited from the colorism, because I'm light-skinned, because I've always had the long, straight hair," said another black UM student, Marquita Briscoe. "I thought I was just pretty." In music videos, it often turns out, both light- and dark-skinned African-American women can be sexy — just not in the same way. "The darker the woman is," said Karen Morrison, also of UM, "she takes on what I refer to as . . . a 'ho' complex. She is the prostitute."

"The lighter a woman is, well, she's the goddess," said Morrison, who is dark. "She's the untouchable. She is the woman that all the men in the video aspire to have."

Apparently, a shade close to white is useful if you want to play a successful character in the movies. Mel Jackson, who played a business executive in "Soul Food," says light-skinned men like him tend to get those white-collar roles. "If the character's supposed to be more successful or more, more articulate or have a better background, they'll easily cast me in that character."

The Black Power movement was supposed to change colorist attitudes, and it did change some things in Hollywood. Dark-skinned male stars like Richard Roundtree began to get roles as action heroes. And now there are plenty of dark-skinned stars, such as Oscar winners Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman.

Washington, Foxx and Freeman, however, are men. If a black actress is to become a leading lady, she'd better be light, or maybe Hispanic. Wendy Raquel Robinson plays upscale roles. "I do have some peers that are a lot darker than myself," she says. "They don't get the opportunities."

Is colorism universal among black Americans? That's like asking whether racism is universal among white (or black, or Asian, or Hispanic) Americans. Some are openly prejudiced. Others may feel no bias at all.

But research suggests that colorism is in fact prevalent in real life, among both black and white Americans. In an experiment supervised by Connecticut College social psychologist Jason Nier, test subjects were asked to look at photos of faces, and then rate how smart they thought the people in the photographs were. Mixed in with the 60 photos were pictures of the same person, altered to look darker. In that and similar tests, the lighter-skinned people were perceived to be smarter and wealthier, even happier. Both whites and blacks often gave lower scores to people with darker skin.

Historians say the friction among some blacks of different shades began during slavery, because light-skinned blacks, often the children of slaves and their white masters, got better treatment. "They were the ones who maybe worked in the house," says historian Anthony Browder, "as opposed to the darker-skinned Africans who worked in the fields, who were beaten more readily."

Author Marita Golden says the association of light skin with privilege continued after slavery, preserved by the lighter black Americans themselves. They formed "blue vein" societies, organizations just for people whose blue veins could be seen through their skin. And to get into some churches, fraternities and nightclubs, you might have to pass the "paper bag test." "The paper bag would be held against your skin," Golden explains. "And if you were darker than the paper bag, you weren't admitted."

In Spike Lee's movie "School Daze," characters called one another such names as "high yellow heifer," "tar baby" and even "wannabe white." Lee was criticized by some blacks for being too honest about colorism. But this is a problem America has to face. It subverts the goal of a society in which we are judged only on individual merit. Colorism cannot be fought, even in our own minds, if we do not identify it.

It's one more thing to think about when we talk about a color-blind society.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

STOSSEL'S LATEST
Give Me a Break  

Stossel explains how ambitious bureaucrats, intellectually lazy reporters, and greedy lawyers make your life worse even as they claim to protect your interests. Taking on such sacred cows as the FDA, the War on Drugs, and scaremongering environmental activists -- and backing up his trademark irreverence with careful reasoning and research -- he shows how the problems that government tries and fails to fix can be solved better by the extraordinary power of the free market. Sales help fund JWR.



JWR contributor John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20." To comment, please click here.


03/16/05: When warnings make us less safe
03/09/05: Gasoline prices 2005: An inflation-adjusted bargain
03/02/05: Washington's labor laws now hurt children more than they protect them
02/23/05: Outsourcers are the bigger job creators?
02/16/05: Selfishness is bad, right?
02/09/05: Fifth Avenue farmers
02/02/05: Buy a bridge? This $200 Million one isn't for sale — it's being paid for by taxpayers and it leads almost nowhere
01/28/05: Aren't science and scholarship supposed to ask questions and open our eyes to facts?
01/26/05: Forced altruism

© 2005, by JFS Productions, Inc. Distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles