Light-Skin Privilege

Photo by Jurien Huggins

Photo by Jurien Huggins

Personal Thoughts / Opinion

Hey guys,

light-skin privilege is real and yes, that is what I am starting this blogpost with.

Black people come in all shades, all forms and all types of hair textures possible.
We have been taught that during times of slavery, people with a lighter complexion were favored and tended to work more in the house, while people of a darker complexion worked on the fields. While a lot has changed, not enough has actually changed.

We have different ethnicities and don’t all identify the same, yet we all face racism and discrimination in one form or another.

Photo by Samantha Sophia

Photo by Samantha Sophia

For me and other light-skin people the experiences are often very different from my dark skin friends and even the texture of my hair gave me the „advantage“ (in this case) of people being unable to put me in a box. When racists aren’t sure if you are black, turkish, arabic or indian they get really confused about what slur to throw at you and generally seem like their head may explode but it spared me a lot of frustration in my lifetime.

That is one of the privileges I have, people may accept me as being German more easily.

Being mixed definitely came with a lot of struggles for me growing up but that is not at all the topic of this post.

I want to talk about all the times I did find nude shirts or tights, the times I got jobs because companies could claim diversity but I was still light enough for them to not lose all their racist consumers.

Realizing the privilege that comes with my complexion has opened my eyes to many things and make me want to use my voice differently.

Are there really less dark-skin people doing the work, or do the light-skin ones get more attention and support because they don’t get that „angry black “ label?

I recently went through some statistics of black people being represented in film and the study called “Inequality in 1100 popular films” from 2018 shows that only 12.1 % of people with ascertainable race/ethnicity were black* (not including latinxs) and while the numbers are still just frustrating itself, I realized that those numbers could still be made up of people looking like me.

So while people with my complexion may still be put in as „black people“ there are so many kids that won’t see anybody looking like them on the TV screen not to mention, in a reasonable role.

Photo by Hian Oliveira

Photo by Hian Oliveira

How to do the work of making us heard while not aiding in making dark skin people and in the case of my work, Germans, invisible is the tricky part. And I still have a lot to learn, yet raising awareness of light-skin privilege with light skin people is a start. To be aware of it is the first step, to use the privilege to make all our dark skin brothers and sister heard and seen is the goal. 

So we need to:

  •  hire them, 

  • put them on our podcasts, 

  • let them tell their stories, 

  • buy their products, 

  • listen to their music,

  • repost their messages, 

  • publish their art 

and not forget - as longs as some of them are still silenced, none of us are being heard.

Photo by Sai De Silva

Photo by Sai De Silva

Let’s create more projects to show all of our perspectives, create our own narrative and create space for all black people and BIPOC to learn from each other and celebrate each other.

*http://assets.uscannenberg.org/docs/inequality-in-1100-popular-films.pdf

Photo by Autumn Goodman

Photo by Autumn Goodman

Author: Jaide Fuchs

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