Trailer: Light Skin v. Dark Skin
[flv:trailers/darklightskin_nicorob.flv 510 350]
Alex Alonso for StreetGangs.com
August 5, 2009
How serious is the divide between light and dark complected black people? This division was created during the slavery era of the United States by white Europeans in the colonies. There were certain privileges bestowed to lighter skinned blacks by white society especially during the post antebellum period that certainly gave them an advantage to read, attend school, find employment, and assimilate into mainstream society. The "brown paper bag" test was a way that light skin blacks weeded out darker members of society into their social circles and this process was crudely administered by churches, civic groups, community organizations, colleges, fraternities and sororities.
At the root of this privilege was how much white blood did the average "negro" have and how physically visible ones whiteness was in their skin tone and hair. For some blacks, they were able to "pass" and gain full privileges as a white person. Langston Hughes wrote about this phenomenon in "The Ways of White Folks" in a chapter entitled "Passing" and this divide was apparently present in the early history of the black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), when they favored lighter members over darker.
This issue has become the topic for a new DVD, set to be released in 2009 by Nico and Rob. Although the exclusion of darker toned blacks is not institutionally practiced today, the mentality that fostered this division during the 19th Century is certainly present today within the black community.