As much as we would prefer not to discuss it, skin tone complications of the past still afflict the psyche of present-day America, according to a 2011 study that found people of mixed race are placed below Whites socially, but ahead of Blacks.
To be sure, the findings do not isolate the issue to the Black community alone. Rather, the report shows the issue is pervasive in mainstream America as well. The study was conducted by Pamela Bennett, an assistant professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University, found that multiracial people — such as Black-White, Asian-White or Native American-White — fall between Blacks and Whites in the American social hierarchy.
Former NBA player Gilbert Arenas recently came under fire for making disparaging remarks about dark-skinned Black women.
The 2011 study reports that mixed-race people are socially placed below whites, but ahead of blacks. Moreover, the article cites another study that reveals dark-skin black women are given stiffer prison sentences than their lighter-skin counterparts.
The study, which sampled over 12,000 Black women imprisoned in North Carolina between 1995 and 2009, showed that light-skinned women were sentenced to 12 percent less time behind bars than their darker-skinned counterparts. The results also showed that having light skin reduces the actual time served by 11 percent.
Even employers seem to prefer the lighter-skin Blacks among us:
A 2006 University of Georgia study showed that employers prefer light-skinned black men to dark-skinned men, regardless of their qualifications. We found that a light-skinned black male can have only a Bachelor’s degree and typical work experience and still be preferred over a dark-skinned black male with an MBA and past managerial positions,” said Matthew S. Harrison in 2006, then a doctoral student in applied industrial organizational psychology at Georgia.
But when it is not mainstream society (code words for white folks), it is people within our own community making light of our historical pain:
In Oct. 2007, a Detroit party promoter caused an uproar when he promoted a party giving free admission to light-skinned women only. Ulysses Barnes — or “DJ Lish” — promoted a party for “Light Skinned Women & All Libras” but promptly cancelled it after women and activist groups protested the party’s premise.
Barns’ defense of the party theme was hardly comforting. The Michigan Citizen quoted him as saying “he had plans for “Sexy Chocolate’’ and “Sexy Caramel’’ parties too, and that “it was just a party thing.’’ Read the rest of the article to see how other women didn’t see his casual reflection of his ill-conceived party theme as “just a party thing.”