"When I think of colorism, I think of light-skinned versus dark-skinned and, being that I am a black woman, my thoughts definitely go towards my own community. I think of instances where attractiveness and perceived worthiness go hand-in-hand, just because of the shade of my complexion. I think of lighter-skinned people being automatically held at a higher value simply because they aren't dark-skinned."—Sheriden Chanel, managing editor, xoNecole
I find it pretty fascinating (and also a sign) that, as I'm sitting down to pen this, the second episode of the fourth season of Queen Sugar is on. The scene that I'm watching consists of Charley—a biracial woman—reading a passage out of her sister Nova's—a dark-skinned woman's—book.
In it, the topic of colorism comes up. Here's just a part of what Charley read back to Nova that Nova wrote about her:
"My sister. Born to privilege, raised with wealth and half-bathed in whiteness, used her light skin as her shield and her sword. Weapons, in every room she entered, every deal she made…she used her honey skin to keep her safe, all the while keeping her complicit in the continued oppression of Black bodies."
Colorism. In this case, it's not just between a light-skinned and dark-skinned woman, but also between a light-skinned woman who happens to be biracial. Bookmark that, OK? I'll be coming back to it. But first...
The Pop Culture of Colorism
Before going any deeper into this, please forgive me in advance, because colorism is something that deserves to be a docu-series and a five-day seminar and a series of TED Talks and…and…and. Yet here, there are simply not enough inches to give the topic all of the unpacking that it truly deserves; not even close. Still, with headlines like "Scottie Beam Talks Light Skin vs. Dark Skin Colorism, the Humanitarian Crisis in Sudan & More [Video]" "Mathew Knowles Talks Colorism's Role in Beyoncé's Music Career" and (sigh) "Tory Lanez Responds to Claims He Staged Video Allegedly Showing Colorism (UPDATE)" that were published, all in one week, my editor and I agreed that while this can lean towards being a "touchy subject", that doesn't mean that we shouldn't acknowledge it.
And by "acknowledge", I just mean, let Black women know that I/we see you. Light, in between light and dark, and dark-skinned alike. We know that colorism is something that shouldn't be ignored, sugar-coated or skirted around, especially within our own community. We get that although it can be uncomfortable, and even sometimes painful to explore the issues of color, it must be done. It's irresponsible not to. Full stop.
That said, I want to initially approach the traditional definition of the word from this angle. Because I am (mostly) a relationships writer, I think colorism is quite… "bold" is the word that immediately comes to mind when it comes to the dating scene; especially the celebrity dating scene. As a popular YouTube blogger by the name of Paris Milan—who regularly addresses the issue of colorism (along with other beautiful sistahs like Leah Gordone, I Am Eloho and Chrissie, who is the publisher of the magazineDivine Dark Skin)—and I were discussing her feelings about colorism, we took a moment to try and think of famous Black men who were with dark-skinned Black women. We both sat in silence for quite a while. A few came to mind (Idris Elba, Dwyane Wade, Keith Powers), but what we agreed on is that we shouldn't have had to strain our brains to come up with some. "I think there is something to be said for preference," said Paris.
Then after a pause, she continued, "I also believe that it often is a mask for colorism. It's very interesting that a lot of Black men will make sure to say that they love Black women, but we never see them with us. It's like they know that they have to cater to us in some way because we are their audience, but their words don't line up with their actions. In their personal life, women are light, biracial or white."
"To me, when your message doesn't line up with your life, that's when it crosses over into pandering. And there is certainly a lot of that. And, if you don't want to discuss it, you're deflecting."
I agree. Colorism definitely goes beyond relationships, though. Paris and I also discussed how dark-skinned characters like Pam (from Martin) and Maxine (from Living Single) may have made their shows in a lot of ways, but they were also loud and, as Paris put it, "less feminine than many of the other characters". Was that by design? Or even if you fast forward to now, many Black people don't feel like the Blackish spinoff Mixedish is must-see TV because "Blackish is already mixed", and as another Black YouTuber by the name of Masani Musa said, "Biracial people are dominating Black spaces in entertainment".
Then there's music visuals. When's the last time you saw a chocolate (a descriptive that Paris said made her feel "delectable") sistah as the romantic lead? Or even when you look at the pics from the nights when Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America won their titles, why is it that the two light-skinned women (Cheslie Kryst and Kaliegh Garris who also happen to be biracial) didn't straighten their hair, but Nia Franklin, the dark-skinned winner, did? Was that personal preference or pressure? Colorism is everywhere, y'all. And I do mean everywhere.
The "Lighter" Side of Colorism
Remember how, at the top of this piece, I asked you to "bookmark" the fact that Charley was not only light-skinned but biracial? I think her experience has its own subtle sides of colorism. Tia Mowry-Hardrict released a semi-recent video entitled "Growing Up Multiracial. It's COMPLICATED!" and, last April, actor and activist Jesse Williams (whose mother is white and father is Black) shared with Sway his thoughts on colorism. At the 26:00 mark in the interview, he speaks on the fact that he finds it to be "unnecessary" and "self-imposed complication" to complain about the challenges of being biracial, although he admits that it can be confusing to unpack.
"We live in America," Jesse expounded. "This country's racial politics are so poisonous and clear. Race doesn't exist scientifically, but it exists in real life…lived experience matters. Your personal experience matters and I'm only a product of mine. It feels like I'm almost…gonna sound insensitive, but it's a lot harder to be f—kin' Black. Do you know how easy it is to be biracial and mixed?...I imagine it is a lot more confusing to be dark-skinned. And be told that you're trash, but we also want to worship you and be like you. But we hate you. I've gotten so much in my life because I'm light, because I have light eyes. It's way easier, period."
I wonder. When Jesse speaks of the privileges that he has or how accepted it is that he feels in mainstream society, how much of that is about how "light" he is vs. how much white that is in him? Is there too an issue of colorism as it relates to light-skinned Blacks and biracial individuals? Are they automatically one in the same? Have we forgotten race-related facts like, "Not only does the one-drop rule apply to no other group than American blacks, but apparently the rule is unique in that it is found only in the United States and not in any other nation in the world"?
Do we realize the damage that this rhetoric alone has done?
My godchildren's mom, Rissi Palmer, an artist and activist, is a light-skinned Black woman, would probably not easily pass the South African hair "pencil test" (another byproduct of racism). And yet, she finds it off-the-charts offensive whenever people assume that she must be mixed or when she hears that she has "good hair".
"I'll admit that I have some PTSD from my childhood when it comes to this," shares Rissi. "But I didn't really struggle until I went to a school that had a lot of Black children in it. There is when I was told that I wasn't 'black enough'. Honestly, I think the white kids listened in and caught on to the fact that within my own ethnicity, there were issues with color. Then they started to mimic statements like 'You're not Black Black.' Do I think that dark-skinned Blacks have it much harder? Definitely. But I do think that light-skinned Blacks have been infected by whites and their constant attacks on us as a whole too. At the end of the day, they want us all to not feel like we are good enough. Skin tone and hair texture doesn't matter, so long as we hate ourselves—and each other."
Colorism Divides. However, Talking About It Does Enlighten.
"So many of us are brainwashed by white supremacy and don't even know it," Paris states. "As a result, a lot of us project colorism, without realizing it. But here's how you can know if you've got issues with colorism. If you associate skin tones with someone being better or more attractive. If you use phrases like 'good hair' to describe a person. If you're surprised when someone with a dark complexion excels in a particular field, you have colorism issues, no doubt about it. And you know what? Gone are the days when dark-skinned people are afraid to tackle these topics head-on. We don't have to conform to any kind of standard of beauty or expectation and we're going to spread awareness to let others know that they don't have to either. Black is beautiful. That's a complete sentence."
After I got off of the phone with Paris, I put on a song by a friend of mine named Classik Levine who's an independent artist in Louisville. It's called "DSGWAB" and that stands for Dark Skin Girl with a Body. I remember when it first came out and some light-skinned women were like, "Why does he have to single out dark women?" Meanwhile, I was more like, "Where are your T-shirts, so that I can buy them for some of the chocolate women that I know?" I think I responded that way because my mother is light. My father was chocolate. My complexion is somewhere in between.
My point? We all are Black. We all deserve to be seen, honored and celebrated for being Black. Not one more than the other. Period.
Articles like "The Varying Skin Colors of Africa: Light, Dark, and All in Between" are blaring reminders that our diversity—all of the hues of Blackness—is a part of what makes us…us. Colorism blinds us to this very fact because it's designed to. That makes it a cancer. A disease. Something that works against, not for us, as a people. And yes, we must talk about it. Not deflect. Not duck and dodge. We must hit it straight on. Consistently so. How can we heal if we don't?
"I don't think colorism is talked about enough," shares Sheriden. "In fact, I've heard members of my community say that by talking about things like that, we make ourselves more divisive. I don't think acknowledgement in that regard is inherently divisive, as much as it's bringing awareness to an aspect of the community that might feel undervalued and underserved."
If you don't agree with that, you already know what I'm about to say. You, sis, have a real problem when it comes to colorism; not a little bit, but period. And there ain't nothin' good, healthy, positive or beneficial about that. Not even if you believe that you only have a so-called "one drop" of it in you.
Featured image by Getty Images.
- 5 Reasons To Talk About Colorism – Colorism Healing ›
- 452: A Conversation About Colorism & Impact With Fleure Maricaux ... ›
- The Difference Between Racism and Colorism | Time ›
- Opening up the conversation on colorism - New Day Northwest ... ›
- The Colorism Conversation Continues in 'Light Girls' - Video ›
- With 'Shades of Black,' The Guardian Enters the Colorism ... ›
- The Colorism Conversation Continues in Light Girls | Light Girls ... ›
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There are moments on our health journey when our bodies are bugging us to hit the reset button.
With life, we can start to see slips in our diet, irregular exercising, and inconsistent sleep schedules, and our mental health can suffer because of it. But what many people come to find is that with just a few adjustments — as opposed to restrictions — being made to their food intake, we can see a focus more on eating “the right” calories and less on being on a restrictive diet.
"Raw Till 4" is a dietary concept and lifestyle associated with the raw vegan and high-carb, low-fat vegan (HCLF) movements. Created by Australian blogger and YouTube star known as 'Freelee the Banana Girl', the method suggests eating raw, uncooked plant-based foods until 4 p.m. each day and then having a cooked, vegan meal in the evening.
The Raw Till 4 lifestyle follows the guidelines of vegan and rawist eating and involves consuming fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains in an uncooked, natural state until the designated time of 4 p.m. or around one’s typical dinner time. After 4 p.m., a cooked vegan meal is consumed, which may include foods like steamed vegetables, grains, legumes, and plant-based sources of protein like tofu or tempeh.
On TikTok, creator Adina Yaffa is repopularizing the trend, sharing how it’s helped to improve digestion, boost energy levels, and support weight loss.
Replying to @🌜kat🌛 here is what I eat in a day on a raw till 4 lifestyle. I eat with the sun and according to the circadian rhythm that out bodies follow on a typical day. Where i drink liquids during the first 8 hours, then juicy fruits, then smoothies, more dense building fats, proteins and veggies! #snatchedwaist #bellyfat #bellybloat #smallwaist #hourglass #rawtill4
“During the hours of 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., your body is in an elimination phase and needs all the help it can get,” Yaffa says in the clip. “So what you’re going to do is drink coconut water, citrus juices, and green juices during this time, and around 8 a.m., you can break your fast with some fruit. I suggest juicing fruits, and then after that, I suggest having a smoothie or a bowl with berries and granola so you can get your fats and healthy proteins in.”
Raw till 4 has so many benefits including better digestion, nutrients, belly fat and bloat elimination, snatched waist, more energy and so much more! #snatchedwaist #bellyfat #bellybloat #smallwaist #hourglass
On the official Raw Till 4 website, Freelee the Banana Girl shares tips on how to get the best outcomes of this lifestyle change, which include:
- “Stay hydrated! You should pee about 8-12 times per day, and your urine should be clear. Drink 1 liter of water when you wake up in the morning, and 1 liter of water about 30 minutes before each meal for optimal results.”
- “Fragmented sodium (salt) should be kept to a minimum. Use herbs, lemon juice, etc. wherever possible in place of salt.”
- “Eat unlimited calories at every meal, no restriction. The majority of your calories each day should come from fruit. Don’t under-eat on fruit during the day or 'save up' your calories for dinner time. RT4 is about abundance at every meal.”
- “Move your body daily. Find an activity you love and make it your playful exercise.”
- “Make sure to get lots of rest, relaxation, and good sleep. Learning to incorporate good rest, early nights, and regular sleeping patterns into your life will greatly improve your overall health.”
- “Practice gratitude and peaceful emotions at mealtime, and get a vision book started! Be sure to enjoy this journey. Focus on long-term health instead of short-term results.”
Critics argue that it can be challenging to get all the necessary nutrients from a raw vegan diet and that it may not be suitable for everyone, especially over the long term.
As with any diet, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before making significant dietary changes to ensure that it meets your individual nutritional needs and health goals.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by FreshSplash/Getty Images