I wrote a piece on ForHarriet.com the other day on domestic violence and colorism. In short, I questioned whether the skin tone of victims played a role in the community’s response to, and lack of social sanctions (within the Black community) against, perpetrators of domestic violence like Floyd Mayweather, The Game, Dream, and Chris Brown. All of the aforementioned men still have booming careers despite committing (sometimes repeated) acts of violence against Black women. The response to the article, both comments on the post, and people speaking to me directly indicates that some feel I’m reaching with a claim that colorism plays a role in the response to acts of violence against Black women.
Here is what we know– colorism is alive and well in many aspects of Black culture. From natural hair to career options, the effects of colorism implemented through colonialism manifest daily in the Black community. It’s why Spike Lee’s “Good and Bad Hair-Jaggaboo/Wannabe” is still a discussion in natural hair communities. Colorism is why Pharrell was criticized for not having a brown skinned/dark skinned Black woman on an album cover despite the fact that Pharrell has used women of all hues in his work. Colorism is why India Irie can’t have too much lighting on a photo shoot without being accused of lightening her skin, or wanting to appear lighter. Colorism is why the rise of Lupita Nyong’o was still such a big deal in 2014! Because for far too long, women of darker hues remain underrepresented in the film/beauty industry. It’s why you can name the number of Black female supermodels on three fingers. We talk about colorism all the time. And we see it even when we’re not talking about it. We see the effects of it on little Black girls. Remember that N.W.A. biopic actress call? Black female R&B/rap divas? Beyonce, Rhianna, Nicki Minaj- ain’t no brown skinned female artists topping the Forbes list. Colorism. All up and throughout the media. And social media. And subsequently internalized by many.
If colorism plays a role in so many aspects of Black culture, the idea that colorism subsequently plays a role in how the community responds to victims of domestic violence doesn’t seem to be that much a reach.
But hey, don’t mind me….I’m just airing some dirty laundry.