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How to reject colorism with your children

 

 

I've been wanting to say this out loud for a while:


Colorism shows its face more when you have children of two different shades. One thing I won’t ever allow…is for anyone to favor one child over the other based on the color of their skin. I refuse to allow anyone to make any of my children feel inferior to the other. As an attempt to prepare Kehlani for the real world: I started normalizing the difference in skin color between her and her baby sister. I also remind her daily that she is beautiful. I affirm this daily with words and action by working on my self-esteem and emulating the confidence that I wish for her to have. This is also followed by educating her that black is everywhere and people come in all different shades.


I grew up in the house with two younger sisters. One of whom has darker skin. As children, we’d often joke about her skin complexion not realizing the internal damage we may have caused to her self-esteem as a child. My mother would often remind her that she has beautiful skin and to never internalize society’s negative view of her skin tone. As children, we were already programmed by society and the media content we viewed to believe that there was something wrong with being dark skinned. And the negative media portrayal for people of color still exist to this date. So now that I have daughters of two different shades; I have had to be intentional and work on my own internalized views that may affect my ability to love and treat my children fairly. Sometimes we self-consciously do and say things without even realizing the impact on our children. So I am intentional about everything! From the way I compliment my oldest daughter’s hair, looks, and the way she carries herself. The divide that exists within the black community due to skin color, will not exist in my house with my black children.


Colorism is generational, dating back to slavery. Blacks back then witnessed firsthand the preferential treatment received by lighter-skinned individuals. For generations, this has created a prejudice within our own culture. And it massively impacts brown girls due to skin tone being an attribute tied to a woman's

I'm beauty. I am very selective about who pours into my girls because people's views can inadvertently affect a child’s development of a positive racial identity and self-concept.


Common comments black girls hear:


"You're pretty for a Black girl."

"I don't want to get too dark."

"You have good hair."

"Your hair is too nappy."


So I recommend:


  • Talking to your daughters about race and ethnicity, about the value of their skin tone and hair texture, and about finding their features beautiful

  • Discuss and highlight positive and influential women of color who look like them in the media

  • Watching movies and shows with women of color who young Black girls can relate to;

  • Listening and singing along to music that praises their skin tone and features – Beyoncé’s recent hit, Brown Skin Girl is an excellent choice! Kehlani knows I am a Beyonce fanatic!


We can reject colorism with our children by practicing daily affirmations. I’ve also made it my business to surround my daughter with supportive networks. This year she is a Miss Fashionetta contestant with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Lambda Chi Omega Chapter of Honolulu, Hawaii. This will help serve as an excellent mentorship program and a fun way to build her self-confidence. Supportive organizations such as this will help her develop the social skills needed to push back against harmful stereotypes that attack black femininity.


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