• Seema

colorism

Updated: Apr 5

Interviewees #46 and 47 both took place on the same day. One was a 62-year-old self-identified White, cis, straight, female Trump Republican living in the rural South; the other was a 16-year-old self-identified mixed race, left-leaning, cis, gay, female living in a Midwest suburb. They both spoke of colorism.


Interviewee #46:

We've had some conversations, racially motivated almost from the first week that child [her grandchild] was born. First of all, he looked almost exactly like his mother when she was born. I was sending her pictures. I look in my grandbaby's face and see my own children... My May baby always had a tan and looked more like the Hungarian side of the family. My November baby was pale and looked more like her daddy's side of the family. We've had this discussion in various ways. We were at their house recently. My daughter has pictures of her, her husband, and their child going up the stairs. The baby is probably 3 or 4 months old and he is much paler then than he is now. His daddy made comments, "Look at that picture there, that doesn't even look like the same kid. That kid is way too white." We treat that baby like all the other nine grandkids. When I think of an America without racism... I didn't think about race like I think I'm being forced to think about it now. I feel like it's everywhere. I notice it more on television. The media is overboard with it. I just about quit watching the news.


Interviewee #47:

I go to a predominantly white school and I live in a pretty conservative area. I see a lot of white people saying slurs and I see a lot of racial harassment -- like a funny word that people think is fun to say because there is risk involved. But it's not really fun to say. I'm mixed race. My father is Black. He's told me stories and I've heard stories from his side of the family of racial profiling he's experienced and stories of never being accepted by people. My mother is White. Her father was a actually a little racist. He wasn't very keen of my father at first because he had that prejudice and racist upbringing but he grew to love him. I wouldn't say I've experienced racism, but I've definitely experienced colorism. I've experienced it by both White people and Black people. I'm either too Black to be around the White people and too White to be around Black people. I'm White passing and so a lot of people ignore my Blackness. When I was younger it was nearly an everyday thing. Young children soak up everything their parents think or say. Children have no filter. I was often trying to play on the playground and someone would look at me and say, "No I don't want to play with you, your hair is dirty." People thought I was inherently gross or unclean because of the texture of my hair.

It's better now.

A U.S. without racism would feel like relief.

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