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For 20 years, I’ve worked to contribute to healing this insidious mental and psychological disease that weighs us down, holds us back and keeps us fighting among ourselves.
But wait–don’t we have far more urgent issues to address as a people and as a nation?
In the last week, we’ve ricocheted between Paula Deen’s nostalgia for plantation life, the start of the heart-wrenching trial of Trayvon Martin’s accused murderer, and a double-whammy from the Supreme Court trying to roll back both affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act.
As my FB friend Elaine Porter noted, it’s starting to feel a lot like 1968.
In 1992, my homegirl Leasa Fortune invited me to be part of a documentary made in Washington DC by two young Black women.
Paula Caffey (light-skinned) and Celeste Crenshaw (dark-skinned) gathered sisters of all shades to share our tales of skin/hair and how colorism had shaped and affected our lives.
I shared with them an excerpt from the popular “Willie Lynch Letter,” explaining that whether Willie Lynch was real or mythological, the dynamic used to turn slaves against each other so they’d be less likely to try to harm their masters or escape, was not only real, but still controls us today.
Celeste was the on-air host, providing context and introducing each segment.Last month, I traveled to New Jersey to discuss colorism and identity with young women (including my 19-year-old daughter) in the Sister to Sister Mentoring Program at Montclair High School.The students, along with a few mothers and adult female mentors, were deeply engaged, listening intently, sharing freely, and bursting into spontaneous applause at the end.Channsin Berry chose to tackle this topic, and to focus on the perspectives of my sistren at the other end of the colorism spectrum. Some might find it strange that someone of my pale hue would feel that way.But we can’t move forward without being honest, and it’s dark girls (and guys) who bear the brunt of this form of oppression, not just from society—the whole world, really—but from their own people, often their closest and most beloved family and friends.