But it is unfair to dark-skinned women to deny that light skin still holds lots of clout, putting them at a disadvantage. To imply that biracial marriages are a sign of cultural advancement is no more honest. Colorism is a real thing. And there are consequences, plus those benefits to a chosen few.
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NOTE: This is the first of two consecutive commentaries by Michael Eric Dyson on Stephen Curry, his family and their influences on questions of race, color, family and faith. It was a brisk May night in Oakland, California, when the Golden State Warriors vanquished the Portland Trailblazers to snag a second consecutive berth in the Western Conference finals. As the glee gently took hold in the locker room and spilled into the hallway outside, I spoke to Curry and most of his family — his father, the year NBA veteran Dell, his enchanting mother Sonya, his brother and current NBA player Seth, and his resourceful wife Ayesha. I discussed with them a wide range of issues — faith, fatherhood, feminism, and family values — seeking to gauge how they affect Curry and his loved ones. The politics of shade have shadowed black folk from the time we set foot in North America. The subliminal message has become explicit: Curry is a brother we may not be able to embrace because the powers that be embrace him too. Curry is not the first black man who makes some black folk uneasy because America loves him as much as we do, but he may be the most popular contemporary figure evoking that dilemma.
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If you're black or Asian then you might be familiar with other black and Asian people making comments on how light-skinned or dark-skinned you are. If you're not, you might have heard these comments being made at school or elsewhere. Colourism is a form of racism which is usually seen when people are negative about people who have a darker skin tone. It also includes people that treat others with a lighter-skin tone better. It is something that I remember seeing in school and is something that still happens in society today.
Our weeklong series Shades of Black explored the strain colorism puts on darker-skinned black American women. The goal of the series was not just to enlighten those who have never had to confront colorism, but also to encourage conversation about a still largely taboo subject. So we asked readers to tell us about their experiences. Overwhelmingly, we received a wide range of responses from people of color and of various ethnicities.