Oprah and Iyanla Vanzant Tackle the Light Skin/Dark Skin Issue
idea that light skin is “better” than dark skin is something that has
pervaded the psyche of certain cultures for a long time and for people
of color, this color complex plays out in numerous ways everyday. From
backhanded compliments like “you’re pretty for a dark girl” to
preferential treatment to lighter skinned siblings to cliques in school
that seem to form along skintone lines. All of these situations point
to internalized racism that we call colorism.
Oprah and Iyanla Vanzant will be tackling the topic of colorism on
tonight’s episode of Lifeclass. A live audience composed of women of
various hues surrounds the media mogul and the lover of beloveds in this
new episode. The clip shows tearful moments, hugs and a round of
triumphant applause as the women delve into the often painful light
skin/dark skin conversations.
Dissecting an issue as complicated and layered as colorism can be a
daunting task, especially when people are so emotionally invested in the
topic. I have personally witnessed a conversation about how to classify
Kerry Washington’s complexion, delve into complete insanity, hurt
feelings and damn near blows. Surely, the people in that argument did
not care deeply about Washington’s skin tone, but they felt a personal
connection to the basic issue of how one’s skin tone is viewed and the
personal and professional impacts of that perception.
We’ve seen colorism discussed head-on in various forms, like the Bill Duke-directed documentary Dark Girls and in that now famous Ji boo vs Wannabes scene in School Daze.
But are these public conversations ever constructive? Do they ever help
to elevate consciousness or do they only serve to momentarily rile up
extreme emotions and boost ratings?
Has a conversation or film/television ever significantly changed your views on colorsim? Do tell.