2008-03-22

Why Black People Dislike Biracials and High Yellow Folks: An Explanation of Colorism Within The Black Community

Let me put a disclaimer on this post. Black people do not really dislike biracial or light skinned people, but rather there is some animosity, in my opinion of the black community when it comes to colorism within that community.



I am going to say this. Black people tend to dislike biracial folks. I say this as I am married to a white man and there is the possibility of having biracial children. I say this having limited exposure to those who are biracial.

Why do blacks hate biracials? A little background.

At one time, biracial people were just black folks. Heck you could be 75% white and only 25% black and still be just black. The shame of having an ounce of black in you, made those who didn't even look black, black.

Back in the day even though these biracials were just black, they were the upper echelon of black society. The black upper class was overwhelmingly those of obvious mixed ancestry. There were light skinned folks using the brown paper bag test to determine marriage partners. There were schools and organizations (The Blue Veins) they discriminated against darker skinned blacks.

That being said since the biracials were considered on top of the totem pole of down trodden blacks you then had the issue envy and jealously. Even to this day there are black men and women who want "high yella" or "redbone" partners, with light eyes, and long, wavy hair. Biracials blacks are considered the ideal, and that does nothing to improve the self esteem of us regular black girls who are of the darker hue, already having to compete with white beauty ideals we can never attain. The rationale is a biracial or light skinned person is closer than we will ever be to the beauty ideals shared by pretty much most people.

Biracials or lighter skin black folks or also seen as less threatening to their white counterparts. I have a friend who is very fair skinned with green eyes who say white people tell her the craziest most racist things about blacks, because they don't feel she is completely black, even though the woman identifies as a black woman.

Now we fast forward to the present society. The concept of biracial folks not being just black is a fairly new phenomenon, I would say the last 30 or 40 years has been the uprising of the struggle of biracial folks. I once heard someone made the point, when it was black women having white men's babies they were just black, but once white women started having black men's babies there was an outcry for them to be identified as other than black. I have met white women like this. They try to quickly identify how their child is not black, be it skin color, eye color, or hair texture. It is like there is a goal to distance themselves from black. I have met black women like this as well. I have heard black women say that black women make biracial babies with more European features than white women do. I have met those who dote on their child's eye color, hair texture, and skin tone. In this distancing of one's self to be less black, there is also a question of when does one stop becoming black and become biracial or multiracial. Most African Americans are of mixed ancestry, at least those of us with slave ancestry here in America.

You then have biracial folks themselves. Some tend to be sheltered from one aspect of their ancestry. You have those who have been immersed in black culture with virtually no contact with white society and vice versa. Since I grew up in predominantly white areas myself, I knew many biracial people who had no connection to being black. I went to school with a biracial girl who was scared to death to let anyone know she had a black father. She was quick to point out she was raised among whites and wanted nothing to do with her father or black people. I will note she was raised by her redneck grandparents, which probably didn't help her cause at all. Or those who wanted to distance themselves so much from blackness, I think if they could pass for white they would.

You also have the other end of the spectrum . I once worked with a woman I assumed to be hispanic or olive complected white woman. For about a year I never really thought of her race, until one day she came up to me and said something about "Sistas Sticking Together". I just looked at her strange, and then finally someone explained her mother was black and she identified as black. She was steady immersed in black culture, identified strongly as black, and I won't say she disliked white people (she was married to a white man), but she would make off the cuff remarks about white people often.

I will make the admission, I am scared my child will end up like Peola Johnson in Imitation of Life. Hating her mother her entire life because she kept spoiling her plans to pass as white. Running away from her mother, saying cruel things, wanting to distance herself from her blackness as much as possible. That and I am scared I will be asked if I am a nanny to my own child. I've made jokes to my husband I intend to make my children lay out in the sun to enhance their natural tans so they appear more black and that they will join the Black Panther Party. Much like Kalinga and his wife's children: