The division created by colorism must stop

By Shacoya Kidwell

The existence of racism and segregation as a whole is no secret to anyone.

Countless prominent figures have led marches, have given speeches, have created riots all to ensure equality among the black and white communities. Nevertheless, there is a division even within the black community, and it is the same reason that has caused the never-ending fight for equality: differentiating skin tones. However, in this case it is known as colorism.

Being a young black woman I have always known this issue existed, but I did not recognize the depth of such a predicament until arriving to college and contemplating Greek Life.

I knew no one when first entering this university and desired a quick and easy way to form friendships. I rushed and pledged a Panhellenic sorority, seeing little to no issue with this — I have never been one to strictly make decisions based on my race and did not fully understand the vast segregation, especially in Greek life at UK.

After becoming a pledge, however, this was made known to me. I developed a burning sense of longing and curiosity for what exactly lay on the other side, and why there were so few similar to me with equivalent mindsets.

I began my own research attending meetings, events, interviews and so on to fully familiarize myself with the National Panhellenic Council organizations on campus: The black sororities, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta and Zeta Phi Beta. I swiftly became intrigued by these organizations and their history. However, throughout this process, several individuals continuously told me that I should have been an Alpha Kappa Alpha because I have the stereotypical look of such group.

Perplexed, I did some research and discovered stereotypes among these organizations. Alpha Kappa Alphas are often said to be lighter-skin-toned black women, stuck up or “snooty,” and are often times considered to be “prettier.” Delta Sigma Thetas and Zeta Phi Betas are stereotypically said to be darker. I would like to place emphasis on the word stereotype; hence, this does not apply to all.

Throughout my life, I have become well acquainted with others placing the label “stuck-up” onto me, simply because of the shade of my skin. I have also seen this done to other lighter-skinned black women, with no legitimacy or logistics to back up this claim.

After discovering this issue within the black sororities, I intensified my research and came across the term colorism.

Harvard University defined colorism as, “The tendency to perceive or behave toward members of a racial category based on the lightness or darkness of their skin tone.” The theory also stated that, for whatever reasons, people of a lighter complexion in a non-white race are oftentimes granted more power, wealth and a higher status in the community.

Once again, I am left perplexed.

As stated, countless prominent figures have led marches, have given speeches, have created riots all to ensure equality among the black and white communities. Many have stood in the streets, and many have sat on buses, rebelling against the wrongdoings brought upon the black community.

Yet there is this huge predicament that lies within said community and there are minimal to no actions being done to correct it. It is difficult to conquer and defeat the issues brought upon our community if we cannot conquer and defeat the issues already within it.