By Charisse N. Montgomery
In general, I couldn’t care less about the cultural commentary of Lil Wayne, but an article I read recently hit a sore spot. A fan is urging a boycott of Weezy because of his apparent dislike of dark-skinned black women. For those of us who have heard his lyrics, this comes as no surprise. I’m just kind of shocked that this type of color prejudice among black people still exists.
Before I continue, I would like to explain that preference and prejudice can run really closely together, especially when it comes to aesthetics. While we may prefer a person of a certain height, weight range or skin color, this becomes a prejudice when those who fall outside these strictly defined ranges are rejected.
As a middle-of-the-road brown skinned girl, I’m sure my experiences of color prejudices are different from those of very dark or light skinned women, and I’ve heard about the viciousness on both ends of the spectrum. But in 2011, more than a decade into the 21st century, I had an expectation that these color prejudices had been left behind. How is it that 18th-century race politics, mostly instituted by the divide-and-conquer colonial and slave owning traditions, is still so deeply rooted in our psyches?
In the case of general race prejudice, the consensus is that we can educate people out of their racism; but can we educate them out of “shade-ism”? Will exposure to beautiful people of all shades make a “shade-ist” see beauty in all shades, or will they continue to fall victim to archaic and racist ideas about beauty?
For those on all points of the spectrum, what are your experiences with “shade-ism”? Is it still alive and well?