Brown Skin Girls: The Complex Realities of Colorism

An excerpt from Fall 2019 Issue of Luxy Haus, written by Tayllor Johnson.

Ozichi + Raven, shot by Marquis Perkins

In a world of public discourse on race, class, and politics constantly unfolding in real time on social media platforms; the dust never truly settles on one belief, ideal, or course of action for making sustainable changes. Boundaries, rightfully so, are constantly being pushed and new expectations are being demanded. It would seem like the releasing of Beyonce’s Brown Skin Girl would also be that moment. 


Twitter imploded with questions and challenges on who Beyonce was uplifting. What about lighter skinned girls? Darker skinned women felt this was more an ode to them than lighter skinned women, besides, what do they know of “pretty like Lupita?” On the other hand, some lighter skinned women questioned the strict distinction while other women thought that this song was an ode to all women of color. Hence, the intricacies of colorism and the pressure points they make for Black women are even relevant on the macro and micro level.

One could argue that Brown Skin Girl was such a dedication that spoke to so many women’s experiences, everyone wanted a piece of the representation and acknowledgment, (and rightfully so)! Colorism, racism, and general erasure from rooms, conversations, and opportunities are so common. When given an opportunity for empowerment and unity to presents itself, it is (not surprisingly) met with a critical lens. We’ve seen it time and time again in the entertainment and fashion industry: seemingly positive movements forward for people of color swiftly turning into just a name; a title with conditions based on implicit and explicit assumptions of Black women. Colorism is one of those insidious and unspoken biases. However, if the Brown Skin Girl discussion taught us anything is that colorism remains a very real and complex issue for Black people.

Historically, colorism (discrimination based on skin complexion) has been coined as a psychological divide among people of color across the globe. From the infamous paper bag test to the rise of skin bleaching, colorism is imprinted on our communities as race is embroidered in the fabric of America…

*Read full article in Issue 008: Unify Afro