I watched her tears roll down her face as she described how unattractive she felt because of her skin color. Her pain was deep.
Oprah and Iyanla recently presented a “LIFECLASS” on the OWN network that explored colorism. Colorism is a psycho-social effect of living in societies where skin color become associated with subjective factors. Light skin colors become treasured and full lips or wider noses become despised features. People with lighter skin tones are presumed to be more intelligent, possess more beauty and so forth when compared to darker skin toned people.
Women who were lighter skinned, reminded Oprah, Iyanla and their viewers, that they too experienced racial discrimination. We often forget that less than 50 years ago there were actual signs designating who could go where and why. Within my lifetime, I am 54 years old, there were signs that said “For Whites Only.”
So those tears that Oprah’s guest was crying were ‘historical tears”, a result of centuries of racial (skin color) hatred. While I also believe there were other issues this guest was struggling with, the problem with telling her that she as an individual could look in the mirror and change her belief system minimizes the effect that mass marketing and history plays in shaping our beliefs.
The mind, apparently, seeks to categorize objects and people based on easily group markers like skin color, eye color, hair texture, shape, and so forth. As humans we have an ability to categorize and not imbue the categories with social meanings.
We must learn from the past and reject archaic notions of associating skin color with proscribed social, psychological, legal, religious, and economic outcomes.
We can see with our eyes but listen with our hearts.