By Yolanda Ray

Skin color, hair texture, and body weight are attributes in which African American physically differ from other ethnic groups. Within the African American community there is a lot of diversity regarding all of these dimensions, specifically skin complexion.  The variability based on skin complexion has separated our community with implications associated with darker skin, brown skin, and lighter skin. Ultimately, unity within the African American community is vital regardless of differences in skin complexions and skin tones.

It has been noted that many cultures show a bias toward lighter skin, specifically in many Asian cultures. It is very unfortunate that the skin- color advantage is still very prominent in United States society today. William Darity Junior is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He stated that Hersch’s findings were similar to a study he had recently co-authored on skin tone and wages among African Americans. Darity said, “We estimate that dark-or-medium skinned blacks suffered a discriminatory penalty of anywhere from ten percent to fifteen percent relative to whites.”  Furthermore, “This suggests people cue into appearance and draw inferences about capabilities and skills based on how they look.” From research it is currently unclear whether these actions are conscious or subconscious. Due to the fact that these discriminatory practices are very difficult to prove very few lawsuits occur.

In addition, Studies in the late 1990s found that there were economic advantages in being a light skinned African American. For example, “Family income of fair-skinned African Americans was 50% greater than that of dark-skinned African Americans, and their personal income was 65% greater than that of dark-skinned African Americans.” In addition, gender plays a significant role in differences in skin colors bias. The association between skin color and attractiveness was not as strongly correlated for men. African American women have taken much of the heat in respect to skin color, hair texture, and facial features.

In due course, I hope that our nation can come together in unity and love and embrace one another regardless of subtle differences, especially in the African American community. We need to help one another instead of demean each other based on trivial characteristics such as skin complexion. Skin complexion does not matter. We are all capable of getting the job done whether it is professionally, academically, or socially. Each skin complexion adds a different dimension to our population, along with a different and unique set of experiences associated with the African American race. If we do not love the skin we are in, then who will?

Today, in the African American community I am considered light skinned.  There are an overwhelming amount of stereotypes that are typically associated with individuals who have lighter skin complexions than others in our racial background.