Is Tan the New Black: Colorism in 2018. : ThyBlackMan

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Is Tan the New Black: Colorism in 2018.

September 25, 2018 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Relationships, Weekly Columns

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( For as long as we, in the black community can remember, there has been a sort of value placed on black people who tend to be of a fairer complexion.  Since the days that our ancestors endured the horrors of slavery when the slave owners would place blacks of a lighter skin tone in the main house, while the darker slaves were made to till in the fields, there has been a forced divide between black people of varying complexions.  When the slave owners would commit rapes against the female slaves, resulting in the birth of a biracial child, history shows that there was a hierarchy dictating the way that the slaves were treated. Let’s be honest, a slave is a slave; however, causing the division, and mistrust between the two sets was a well-designed scheme by the caucasian slave-owner that had such potency and venom, that it has lingered, and in many cases, subconsciously permeated the psyche of many modern-day Blacks.

On nearly every college campus in the United States, in Africa, and some in the Caribbean, there are Black fraternities and sororities. The origin of those organizations goes back to not allowing us access to the organizations founded by caucasian people, so Black men and women decided that they would organize their own fraternities and sororities. The first result was Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc, and shortly afterwards there came Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. These two organizations were monumental in the fact that they allowed access to having a sense of togetherness and bonding for the black collegians who were not welcomed into other Greek-letter organizations.

The downside to these two organizations is that they were still not all-welcoming. One can understand why these organizations would have a certain level of exclusivity, as any organization at the collegiate level should want the best and brightest…but how productive or inclusive is the situation if the brightest literally translates to fair skin? Please be mindful that this is neither a condemnation, nor an endorsement of any organization; however, the fact that these two organizations were said to have a paper bag test,(meaning that the paper bag was compared to the person’s skin tone, and if said skin tone was darker than the paper bag, the person was not a good fit), is problematic and it perpetuates the same divisive ideology that was beaten, both physically and psychologically, into our ancestors who were enslaved. The fact that the founders of the Black fraternities and sororities would, in essence, commit the same heinous act of segregation and separation is, in itself, an example of how some of us see ourselves, and our fellow Black men and women.

Fast forward to the cultural shift that afforded us a platform to express ourselves through art on a global media scale, and the perpetuation of fair-skin (women in particular) being more favorable than darker skin, was and still is, clearly evident in music videos, magazines, and on social media.  Have we progressed in our thoughts of fair skin being superior or more attractive? Have we advanced in our consciousness by realizing that black is black? On the regular, we can hear black men say things like, “I want me a redbone”, “I like them yella”, “Light skin is the right skin”, and “I don’t want no dark butts”.

All of these phrases are offensive and tend to reduce women to their skin tones. While I realize that the majority of Black men do not feel this way, we also see regularly, a large amount of men who exhibit this through dating choices and social media followings. In addition, I have also personally known women with darker complexions, who tend to seek out fair skinned men with certain hair types. The idea that we as a people have not advanced further than this is troubling and dare I say toxic.

Moving forward, how de we as a people move past the psychological warfare that has been waged on our psyche, our value system, and our self-worth? At what point do we push past the atrocities committed toward our ancestors, and at least take steps toward healing? I do realize that after 400 years of conditioning, it is impossible to think that the damage can be reversed within a couple of years. It will take more than a natural hair movement, more than Black men publicly praising melanin on social media while privately engaging in behavior to the contrary, and more than a high grossing film that shows us a technologically advanced land uninhabited and unspoiled by the presence of colonizers. It is going to take truth, it will take sincerity, it will take commitment, and it will take the willingness to have meaningful and sometimes uncomfortable discourse that will probably hurt some people’s feelings, before the healing begins. I have faith in my people, and I believe that by doing the work, we can come to the understanding that seeing each other as our reflections will influence the way that we share this space.

Staff Writer; Erica Van Jackson

Also feel free to view more of this talented work over at; TBFB.


7 Responses to “Is Tan the New Black: Colorism in 2018.”
  1. Arthur says:

    This is a perennial topic. It has been written about and discussed generation after generation after generation. I do not have a solution, but I do have some advice. You are the master of your ship. No matter what skin color you are, walk tall, be proud, love yourself and all your people.

  2. PowerfulBlackMan says:

    Black to me in reference to black far more then “just” a color. Its more then what my oppressors see it as…

    Continuing to assert this borders on an autistic, tone-deaf man who loves to make straw man arrangements.

    Its a moniker/ a group-based word used to describe melinated/black people.

    Why are you falling into tribalism brother…

    what about darker skin people…should they be called “the dark clan”

    what about lighter skin people…should they be called “LiteBrothers”

    This is confusing and stupid brother….

    You’re making yourself look “mentally ill” or some coonservative.

  3. Trevo Craw says:

    To Nubian Clueless and Asleep,

    Regardless of what people called themselves, they could not change the colors of the spectrum. i don’t get facts from people in error who refuse to acknowledge what their own eyes see. Your attempts to correct people when you walk in darkness are unproductive.

  4. Trevo Craw says:

    To Nubian Delegation,

    I don’t like lies. I like being called what I am and if you can’t tell the difference between black and brown, you need help. I prefer facts instead of brainwashing from oppressors. You are proving my point.

    Black is the “color” of my shoes, my belt and my car tires, not my skin. You have been so indoctrinated that you are willing to ignore your own eyes. Until you wake up you are just making noise instead of stating facts. Next!

  5. Brother you don’t even like to be called black when all the great leaders: Malcom X, MLK, Fred Hampton CALLED THEMSELVES JUST THAT.

    You sound like Umar Johnson, the nerve to criticize Frederick Douglas over a white wife.

    You(Ya’ll) haven’t done anything to the community compared to them, therefore your rhetoric is garbage. Put in that work and I’ll believe you, until then….


    West Africans Historical DNA comes from…….Congo AKA Central Africa AKA also East Africa…AKA BLACK.


    I’m secure who I am..I’m not reciting from.. or fighting some White Supremacist View of who I am. Like Klaw in Black Panther he called them savages even when wakandans were clearly the better people.


    Not us, not BLACK FOLKS

    Black is the color of the Universe…
    Brown is the color of turds in the toilet.
    Black is the color of a business doing fine.
    Brown is the color of mold and rot. (far more then black actually)

    Why is it so important what we call ourselves?

    We have no Tribal Name or Culture so any “meaning” is pointless and based on emotional/dictionary fiat. Its meaning isn’t worth anything.

    Africa comes from “Africanus” the Italian Conqueror
    *Africa also comes from Egypt…but we are not Kemet, nor Moors.

    You always pick the most irrelevant of topics.

  6. Trevo Craw says:


    It amazes me how many of you are still brainwashed to call yourselves BLACK. Black is not an identity and scientifically black is not even a color. It is next to nothing. Black is the “color” of your car tires, not your skin. The white oppressive slave trader called you black and himself white to set up a contrast and to attach negative images and denotations to you based on a lie about color. Look up BLACK in the dictionary.

    Research even shows that blacks are perceived by other groups as very different from African Americans. But we still keep calling ourselves what someone else defined us as, what we are not and what has a negative dictionary denotation in society. WAKE UP. LOOK AT THE REAL COLOR OF YOUR SKIN. YOU ARE NOT BLACK. You are an African American. The lie of calling us black and defining us by color (the wrong color) has been in place so long that our people accept it as truth – but it’s not. Know your colors.

    Native Americans do not allow others to call them red men. Asians do not accept being called yellow men. Hispanics do not answer to “what’s up brown man”. And Caucasians are not white, notebook paper is white. Wake up and see the plan where white racist supremacists plotted to redefine our people from Africa. STOP CALLING YOURSELF SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE NOT!

    Black is the “color” of your car tires, not your skin author. Being called “black” is a lie and it should be offensive. Haitians, Jamaicans and even Africans do not accept being called “black”, Why do you think that is? They are identified by tribes, klans, geographic areas and their respective countries. By using the very term black to describe us, we are doing the following:
    1. Using a term white oppressors and slave masters gave us.
    2. Letting someone else define us other than our own people.
    3. Calling ourselves something we are not.
    4. Buying into thee lie and the negative denotation. Check the dictionary.
    5. Being set apart in a way that no other ethnic group allows. Native Americans are not called Red Man. Asians are not called Yellow Man. Hispanics are not called Brown Man. They do not and will not accept being defined by color and by some other race or ethnic group at that.
    6. Ignoring our actual color (brown) which means brainwashing has worked. Any time someone can get an entire race, ethnic group or culture to ignore what they are and call themselves what they factually are not, THEY HAVE BEEN INDOCTRINATED, ASSIMILATED AND BRAINWASHED.
    7. Playing right into the oppressor’s profiles and stereotypes. Did you know studies show there is a different perception of black people than there is of African Americans? Words create perceptions and perceptions create actions towards us.

    WAKE UP. You know your colors. And even though others around the world equated our ancestors with the color of the soil in Africa or the meaning of negro/negroid, that does not change the fact that WE ARE BROWN – NOT BLACK.
    Facts are facts and YOU ARE BROWN, NOT BLACK. When you receive the revelation of why they keep calling African Americans “black” and Caucasian people “white”, you may just wake up!

    STOP LETTING OTHER GROUPS DEFINE YOU WITH AN OBVIOUS LIE that we have heard and accepted so much that we believe it’s true and forget our colors. The de-programming has to take root or African Americans will forever be defined, limited and oppressed by those who get us to accept a lie.

  7. Gregg Dunham says:

    Is Tan the New Black is a very well written article and I appreciate the intellect behind it. My only thought is there may be a slight potential for over analysis of information. Example; every person in the world has different tastes in food, clothes etc. So is what we are seeing really associated with slavery? I am not saying that it isn’t, but just a thought of maybe we are reaching to far into the information? Thanks for the intellectual stimulation.

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