Skin Tone and Family: Love is a Family Affair by Cherrye Vasquez, Ph.D

 

Whenever I looked into the mirror, I never saw a reflection of her, so for years I often wondered why she always told me, “You look just like me.”

It wasn’t until around 2008 when Mom visited my office that I learned why. I introduced her to the custodian that day. The custodian replied, “Oh, she looks just like you.” Suddenly, my Mom jerked around and answered, “You think so? You’re one of the few people who have ever said that. Actually, she looks like her Dad.”

I can’t tell you how shocked I was not only hearing those words, but visualizing Mom’s expression when she uttered them. Now, years later I had my answer and it came directly from Mom’s mouth. It was at that exact moment I realized that Mom, just like a protective animal whose instincts automatically kicks in to protect their young, used her loving motherly tactics all these years to protect my emotional state, thus my mental complex. Mom used her motherly skills and “know how” to shape a healthy identity within me.

You see, I’ve long known that even within the Black race there’s a sense of bigotry and hidden hegemony where skin color is concerned. What would one term this sort of racism? Intraracism, interracism, inner racism? Who knows?  What I’ve experienced is the lighter the skin tone, the more advances you’d receive in life. I grew up hearing lighter skin toned girls fondly referred to as bright skin, red, or yellow bone. They appeared to be favored by most and were considered the prettiest girls in school. For me, something was wrong with that picture (ideology) because whenever I Iooked into the mirror, I saw beauty existing in my dark skin.

From a very early age, I remember countless incidences at Mom’s side whether it was a funeral, family reunion and/or the like. People remembered which child I was due to my dark skin tone. One of my Mom’s friends said, “Oh, I know exactly which one you are. You’re Cherrye, the dark one.” Although Mom tried to hide it, I could see how incensed she became. How dare anyone identify her baby by skin color! I heard messages such as this, and more, all my young life. The more I heard these words, the more Mom would say, “You look just like me.”  

I was confused by her conviction, but I never confessed. I never saw an image of my face within hers. I always felt that I did favor my Dad’s skin tone because I am the darkest of my siblings. I’ve always had that “chocolate” hue and/or overtone, and my siblings are a golden brown, but I never shared my inner thoughts with Mom.  As honored as I was to share in her beauty, somehow I felt she’d be the one with hurt feelings.

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In my eyes, I saw reflections of my younger brother and sister (each to the far left and right) of Mom, and as one can see, I am darker than the rest. What I noticed, however, was that my Mom never used skin tone when referring to her children. Why would she? Along with our Dad, Mom spent time rearing each of us having deep self-assurance and love for self. They bragged on our intelligences and performances whenever warranted.

As time moves on, I’m reminded of profound divisions among races of people, especially when there are high profile cases in the media. Seemingly, we read and hear stark differences in opinions, but not based on right/wrong; just/unjust, and morals/values, but on the color of one’s skin tone.  

Realizing this, however, jerks my heart strings because I know first-hand that skin tone isn’t just a Black and White issue, but an issue within races of people. Where did this come from?

Since most people realize what racial prejudice means (separation, hatred, division, segregation, intolerance) why or how could a race of people do this one to another? Is it due to political power, the sense of social economic advancement, prestige, money, or supremacy? Whatever the cause it’s a devastating political color complex issue that we should readily want to liberate ourselves away from. Historically speaking, we know the stories of domination, cruelty and oppression based on skin tone, so why in the world would people inflict the same pain on members of their particular race? Wasn’t this sort of bigotry hated by the oppressed?

Similarly, it is just as damaging for darker skinned people to embrace power movements while disallowing lighter skinned people to become a part of groups, forum discussions, and the like. The philosophy and belief system of a true melting pot nation shouldn’t convert into a one-sided message.

Regardless of your take on the matter, you’d think race and color wouldn’t have stock in twenty-first century America, but there are still divisions today.

Now we’ve merged into an influx of interracial marriages, thus biracial and multiracial unions.  After 46 years, interracial marriages have flourished, but we still do not have a “good grip” on color and race matters in terms of the traditional African Americans on one side and Caucasians on the other side of issues, let alone color complex biases and prejudices within a single race.

The 1967 landmark case Loving v. Virginia ruling should have given us the step needed to get past race issues. Many people may not know the story, but Mildred Loving, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, were sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other. It was deemed that their marriage violated the state’s anti-miscegenation (sexual relations between people of different races, especially of different skin colors, leading to the birth of children) statute, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which barred marriage between people classified as “white” and people classified as “colored (a term/classification for Black race used in those days). The Supreme Court’s undisputed verdict seized this ban as unconstitutional. This victory also meant that Pace v. Alabama (1883) ruling was overturned, so there are no longer race-based lawful limitations on marriages in the United States.

Our 21st century America is more diverse than ever before with the potential of becoming a true melting pot. So much so, I married my husband not based on his race, skin tone, or hue, but due to the content of his character.  What was once known as exotic, strange and outlandish is now commonplace. With this in mind we must make paradigm shifts needed for embracing people based on their talents and character and not skin tone.

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As a parent and mother of a biracial child, I knew right away that I would empower my child just as my Mom and Dad had done for me. There wasn’t going to be an “Imitation of Life” episode in my mixed-raced family home.  

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Irrespective of one’s skin tone children should feel empowered with a belief system of having skills and virtues in life worthy of being shared with others. Children should possess deep-seated affirmation of self-worth and a strong sense of being capable of making valued contributions in our society. We must shape and support the identity development of our children, whether they are monoracial, biracial or multiracial, and regardless of their skin tone and/or hue.

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful place to dwell realizing that each of us has raised our children to consider the content of one’s character and not base their self-worth according to skin tone alone? (This is how I’m choosing to raise my daughter.) By doing so, I believe we’d be better off as a nation. And it’s possible; we can erase the fundamental racial divide world-wide. Then skin tone wouldn’t matter at all.
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Author Bio:

Cherrye Vasquez is a public school administrator and an adjunct professor. She has a Doctorate of Philosophy in Curriculum & Instruction; a Master of Education in Special Education; and a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Pathology/Audiology. Vasquez specializes in Multi-cultural education and holds certifications in Early Childhood Handicapped, in Mid-Management and as an Educational Diagnostician. She lives in Houston with her husband, Roy and her daughter, Kelly.

To learn more about Dr. Cherrye Vasquez, and her work:  
Books That Sow: Strength, Character & Diversity
and visit her Website at: http://www.BooksThatSow.com

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33 thoughts on “Skin Tone and Family: Love is a Family Affair by Cherrye Vasquez, Ph.D

  1. Kenneth Weene

    I had so little contact with people of color when I was growing up that I had no idea that skin-tone even existed let alone mattered. In my world it was more about the shape of noses, which were seen as a giveaway of ones Jewishness, and for women wiry, bushy hair, for the same reason. I suppose in other ethnic groups there were similar concerns as we all worried about “fitting in.” Hopefully, led by people like Dr. Vasquez, we as a society are moving beyond that to appreciate the wonderful mosaic that is humanity.

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  2. Carla Graham

    Still so many people in the world today are still fighting and dealing with the subject of race. We as individuals must become more educated and envolved in making differences in the way we live and see others. We must choose to see people for who they really are and not by the color of their skin. Skin color has absolutely no bearing on what one’s character or abilities are. We must teach our children and grandchildren right form worng and how to become better individuals so that we can erace the division of color that still exisit in our society and around the word. Thank you Dr. Vasquez for you insight and making others aware of this ongoing issue.

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  3. Miriam Quiroz

    Yellow, green, orange, black, white, or brown. We are all the same.
    You breathe – I breathe
    You eat – I eat
    You die – I die
    Color doesn’t matter. We’re all the same in this world.
    Cherrye – You’re a beautiful woman, and you have a beautiful family.
    Keep up the good work!

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  4. Clayton Bye

    Hi Cherrye,

    I live in Northern Canada, where the native Indian has faced and continues to face serious prejudice. As these people have a distinctive skin colour, hair colour and accent, there are several levels of racial and interracial prejudice that goes on. For example, as a pure blood native is smooth skinned, it’s not possible for the men to grow a beard. When I was growing up and there were still very few mixed marriages, a native who sported a beard, evidently part white, was sometimes coveted and sometimes estranged. The same was true for someone who didn’t have black hair or was of a lighter skin tone.

    These days, due to urban sprawl, there are reservations all around us. My children even went to a grade school that was about 80% native in population. They make no distinction between white and brown skinned people and think nothing of mixed marriages. As for skin tone? Their lives are filled with people who are of every shade of brown you can imagine.

    Perhaps that’s the solution to racial prejudice–a society with all the colours of the rainbow, picked by choice rather than nature. You may find that funny, but with the rapid growth in popularity of tatoos and body and facial piercing, are we not looking at a generation that is striving to be different, rather than the same? And before them it was a younger population who died and cut their hair in the wildest of colours and looks. And before them it was all about the clothes and big hair.

    It is strange for me to think about this topic in these terms, because it is true we tend to shy away from those who are racially different from us, and, shamefully, we judge those who are “different” within our own race. How stupid! We should embrace all who are different, for it is very likely they have something to teach us, just as we may have things to teach them. That, by the way, is called enrichment of life and, I’m betting, enrichment of the soul.

    Wouldn’t you agree?

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  5. Diane Piron-Gelman

    What really hit home for me, reading this, was how unnecessarily complicated we human beings often make our dealings with each other, based on bogus value judgments like “darker skin = lesser worth” (or lighter = lesser, for that matter). As a mother of two boys, I try to take each chance I can to remind them that people are people the world over, with the same gamut of hopes and fears and dreams and talents and failings–and that in dealing with those they meet throughout life, each individual should be accepted on his or her own terms. Also that differences bring variety to life, and that’s a good thing. The metaphor I like to use is a flower garden: Wouldn’t it be boring if every flower was a daffodil, or a violet, or a rose?

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  6. T.R. Heinan

    This is a subject I had to learn about and deal with in writing about the history of New Orleans. The French/Spanish tradition of Louisiana created a complex system of categorizing people based on real or fictitious degrees of “blackness”. Indeed, during the 19th Century, the term Black only meant “slave” or appearing to be entirely of African origin, while “colored” meant having some European ancestry. “Colored” people at that time would have objected strongly to being called “Black”. In order to write my book, I had to include an explanation and note that all sorts of (thankfully) outdated terms existed to describe the degree of “whiteness” which determined one’s position in society. One character, torn from the pages of New Orleans history, was Judge Francois X. Martin, who was “blessed” with blindness, and thus couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.

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  7. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

    Discrimination based on skin tone is only one facet of the problem. We all seem to suffer or to have suffered it in some way or other, although it’s much harder for children if they are caught unawares, before their parents have taught them how to confront it. Cherrye’s advice to empower children with a set of beliefs and values -the right set, built on character and potential- is sadly lacking in most societies. Discriminating parents transmit their system of values, adding links to a never-ending chain.
    Sometimes reality clashes with deeply ingrained mandates, and an anti-Semite, for example, discovers that he/she has fallen for a Jew. After the first shock, the parental mandate will hopefully lose the battle. Let’s hope for a time when people can remove their blinders and begin to see the cultural/racial/economic other as a unique individual rather than as an archetype, labelled beforehand by prejudice born of alleged, unfounded superiority.

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  8. C. Robinson

    Dr. Vasquez’ gives an interesting and healthy perspective on what is important. Her words are inspiring and encourages present day society to push past mediocrity in daily thoughts, deeds and actions.

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  9. ML Steamer

    Skin Tone and Family
    Hi Cherrye,
    In high school I remember that some girls didn’t date dark skin boys. It never borthered me of course
    my childhood boyfriend and now my husband is of dark skin and we are blessed with five lovely children of even toned tan skin. It was a few years ago when I learned from a friend the reason why some of her relative did not attend any of her Families Reunions. Because two sister had children of different skin tones. One sister did not allow her children to play with the other sisters children, How sad is that. Blood kin. So to this day I’m told the Families are still not in association with each other of the Dark and Light Brown Sugar Skin Family member. Love and Family Support LOVE, Laugh , and Live= Family

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  10. Cynthia B Ainsworthe

    Cherrye you have eloquently described a situation that some of my black friends had said existed. It’s so unfair and ridiculous that people in general would use such labels, or any labels of any sort. When I was a child, my late Mother (born 1907 to give you a clue of her generation) would try to keep me out of the sun; not because she didn’t want me tan for the sake of appearing as another ethnic heritage, or fear of skin damage;, but she would say in a very proper tone, “People with tans are not considered upper. People who are pale show that they have breeding and maybe they hire someone to mow their grass or gardening. You don’t want people to think you’re common, do you?” Yes, that was my dear Mother, an RN who gave her life to caring for others, but still hung onto the “Downton Abby” outlook. Did she have any racist views? No, none at all. She was giving to all.

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  11. Anne Sweazy Kulju

    Great article, Cherrye. I grew up in what some termed, “Lily-White Mission Viejo” in Southern California, some 5 decades ago. We had one person of color, a girl in my class named, Kim. Kim had an older brother who was a fantastic athlete, and he never seemed to have trouble blending in. Kim was/is brilliant. By my junior year in H.S., I was so jealous of her seemingly effortless writing capabilities–she was a natural, while I had to really work at it. She was cute, too, had a great, outgoing personality, and she was a really good athlete, too. In fact, she was our head Varsity cheeleader. But she never had a date for the various formal dances that high school is famous for. She once told me she was too dark for the boys in our HS; if she’d had lighter skin, she could “pass.” This was when I realized there was a color preference which leaned toward lighter skin, within the black community. I remember feeling sad for Kim, but I don’t remember ever seeing Kim feel sorry for herself. She was quick-witted and self-confident. I wonder what she is doing these days. I think of her often, and hope wherever she is, she’s writing!

    We had a huge HS and Kim was the only black girl in it, so my interaction with persons of color was minimal–see? I keep writing, “person of color,” because I am far from comfortable slapping a label on anyone. What do persons of color prefer to be called? I don’t know! Does a black person from Haiti bristle if referred to as African American, and vice versa? Uh-oh, I said “black person.” Do persons of color like to be called that, or do they hate it? I mean, I’ve never seen an African American with truly black skin; dark brown, maybe, but not black. I wouldn’t want to offend anyone, but I could do so easily enough out of sheer ignorance. Would that be held against me? I wouldn’t want to be labeled a racist; I’m not one. I don’t want to keep my distance, either, but I imagine some folks do, out of worry they may inadvertently say the wrong thing and offend someone. When it comes right down to it, IT’S JUST SKIN. It’s color should mean nothing. I will pray for the days when we all self-describe ourselves merely as Christians.

    I’m with you, Cherrye,

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  12. Cande C. Richardson

    Beautiful article sister. Thank God for parents who taught us to be self thinkers, loving and strong. Fortunate for us we were exposed to people of every ethnicity, skin hue, social/economic class and moral value. We were taught what was right, wrong, good and evil and how to make the best decisions when dealing with all people. Our father always complimented our beauty and intelligence and our mother never uttered an ugly, degrading word to us. We were taught self love and respect at a very young age and it shows today in all of us and our beautiful children and grandchildren. We are a great, loving family!

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  13. Micki Peluso

    Beautifully stated, Cherrye! I wasn’t aware of this subject being a problem in today’s inter-racial world. Years ago, I felt it was unfair for a black person to marry a white person, due to the sad fact that if they had children which were white or black, they were shunned by both races. I have my own theory that words–always powerful– had an impact on this problem. Simply because of the terms, black and white. There is the Black Knight and the White Knight battling. The White Knight is always considered the best. White is often called a ‘pristine’ color while ‘black’ can be from geting dirtied. There’s even the “white’ light of Heaven and the dark realms of Hell. People are afraid of the dark, never the light– superstitions handed down through generations.

    When I was growing up, I was always upset because my whole family had blond hair and blue eyes, while I had dark hair and dark brown eyes. I always was drawn to the blond, blue-eyed boys, but then married a dark eyed Italian, whose family was appalled that he married a non-italian. Of course , as luck would have it, I had six kids –all dark eyed and with dark hair. However, due to the diversity of the mixing of races today, my kids had some blond, blue-eyed children. My grandson went to a catholic school full of dark-eyed Italians and he stood out and was teased for his blond hair and blue eyes. He came home all upset because someone called him a ‘towhead” until I told him that was a term for a blond person. I’ve always been fascinated by the different cultures and races throughout the world and even more so by the beautiful people being born through the inter-racial marriages of today. This will solve the proble, both racially and genetically, since the more the races are watered down, the less genetic diseases are inborn. With some exception, and with the suggestions of DR. Cherrye Vasquez, I think this is one problem that will resolve itself in the near furture. I certainly hope so, as I find all people fascinating in their differences.

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  14. Corletta Allen Smothers

    As the offspring of a very light skinned mother and dark skinned father, I and my sisters were described as having a “pecan” colored skin tone. Most of my relatives from my fathers’ side were of medium to darker skin toned, while my first cousins on my mothers side (whose mothers’ married dark skinned men) were similarly toned as we were. The one sister of my mom’s whose husband was similarly toned as she was, had children of lighter complexion. I don’t know of any problems that arose in my fathers family that pertained to skin color, but in my mother’s family it probably was a bone of contention. My maternal grandfather’s family is purportedly from France and from the pictures I’ve seen of him, he and his twin brother could have “passed” for white if it hadn’t been for them marrying dark skinned women. I sense that my grandfather may not have been widely accepted into his wife’s family and to top it off, my mother and her siblings had skin tones closer to their father. My maternal grandmother died when my mother was 4 years old and she and her sisters were raised more closely with their father’s brother and sister’s family. They knew of their mothers’ family, but had somewhat of a close relationship with only 3 of their mother’s brothers’ families. Both my and my husband’s brothers, sisters and cousins have children of varying skin tones and because they grew up in a time where they went to school with children of different races and backgrounds, it’s not as big a deal as when I or when my parents were growing up. Hopefully, as time goes on and those who hold onto those old beliefs die off, these situations will resolve themselves.

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  15. Linda Hales

    Cherrye, as always, you inspire us to think about these issues. Just reading the comments on your post is an education in itself and that is testament to the seriousness and validity of your message. Like Marta, I was especially impressed with your Mother’s insight. She had it exactly right and her example evidently instilled a deep social awareness in you which lives on in your work and excellent character. Positive change can only happen when parents raise their children thoughtfully and park their own prejudices without passing them onto the next generation.

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  16. Trish Jackson

    Great article. I never knew people of color had their own discrimination system among themselves based on color. It further illustrates how peculiar we human beings are. Caucasians risk getting skin cancer to darken their skin because they don’t think a skin that is too white looks pretty!

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  17. Sharla

    Cherrye, I grew up in the deep, deep South with parents who were extremely prejudicial, more so my mom than my dad. When Mom built her business after I reached middle school, we always had a maid. She was colored but to me she was a friend, an ally, a person close to my heart. As I look back to those years, it is more that likely due to her that I established my own feelings and viewpoints, which were not the same as my family.

    Even my brother to this day is biased and a racist concerning particular issues. Me? I am just the opposite…never been prejudiced and will side on behalf of anyone who is of strong moral character. When I attended school in the 50s/60s, the classes were all white. I did not experience integration until I reached college.

    It is not the outside of a person that matters anyway, the length of hair, body mass, height, skin color, etc. None of these! It is what is on the inside, the heart and soul! God teaches us to love thy neighbor; nowhere does it say love thy neighbor of the same skin color, same height and weight! I applaud you for a very well-written article that carries a very profound message, which unfortunately is not shared by all but should be.

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  18. Martha Love

    Cherrye, thank you for sharing your feelings and expertise on such a personal matter. I grew up during segregation in the South and was quite aware of the horrible prejudice and violence against people of color. My feeling is that any person within a given race who makes skin tone or other outer differences an issue is doing so out of fear for their life or their child’s life. I learned very early in life as a child in a wheel chair that many people, mostly children in this case, will disassociate themselves from others with physical disabilities or other differences, in order to be accepted by the norm and to escape being ridiculed or “bullied” themselves. Your mother seemed to have the rare wonderful quality of ignoring this prejudice and understanding the weakness within those who propagated it. She had the wisdom to give you the love and true acceptance of your authentic self. As we educate people and eliminate hate crimes and intolerance, people will enjoy the beautiful differences in skin tones and noses and hair textures and all the physical differences that make us all unique and beautiful.

    It is wonderful that you feel good to be exactly who you are and you have expressed it so beautifully in this article that self-acceptance and self-esteem does come from the inside rather than the outside. It is also profound that you have pointed out the importance of having a person in your life who accepts you and cares how you feel inside. Experiencing true caring from another human being for one’s inner self is an essential ingredient for positive self-esteem and emotional health. Your article giving the understanding that the feeling of acceptance comes from within is a profound insight and a clear direction for parents and teachers and everyone who would like to feel more in balance.

    One last thing on the issue of skin tone within races, Cherrye, it is funny, but I live in Waikiki, Hawaii, and everyday I see people on the beach trying their best to go from a pasty white skin tone to some shade of color (which unfortunately often ends up to be burnt red). Will we ever be satisfied with who we are?

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  19. Ed Farnan

    Thank you for sharing Dr.

    I fervently wish we can get beyond skin color and get to the real nitty gritty: Content of character…. skin color, to me is an unnecessary divide, I just want to accept you for who you are.

    Your sensitive share revealed your character… that’s all I see and what i appreciate

    Ed

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    1. Wanda

      Dr. Cherrye,

      Excellent article! As usual, your writing provides insight to issues that plague us. Thank you for sharing with us.

      Wanda

      Reply
  20. Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins

    Cherrye this is a well written post and again we have a subject that needs to be addressed. It’s sad how the important issues that are forefront in society rarely make it to any type of civilized conversations.

    My cousins grew up in a family that was part Jewish and part Catholic. Miles apart in faith and the children were never free to be within either groups. Misfits is how they referred to themselves and it was a sad lonely world for them.

    My nanny was colored or a woman of color but to me she was my mother that loved me and I her, but I too witnessed the terrible prejudices in the South. Perhaps finally it will come to a head and move forward peacefully with sharing articles such as yours.

    Thank you.

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  21. Michelle Maxwell

    In the past and present color and skin tone has always been an issue in the community. Be it so call high yellow or dark blue prejudice is real. Yes, we have elected a black president but his skin color played part. Hair and color if it blends in with the majority we think we are accepted and become part of this great melting pot. It is still if you are light, you are right and if you are black get back.

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  22. Charlsie Terrell

    It is amazing that skin tone is still an issue today; especially in intra-racial groups. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this fantastically written article. It is an eye opener that transcends among various ethnic groups
    as well.

    Keep it real!

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  23. Cherrye S. Vasquez

    I have remained quiet as I’ve logged in and out of the blog room reading your comments, but I am not slack in my duty to acknowledge your presence.

    I want to take this time to thank the many of you who stopped by and left comments. Through your comments, I’ve grown closer to many of you, and I’ve learned lots about your plight and experiences.

    I’ll have to admit, however, seeing the word “colored” written a couple of times reminded me of the various terms that “people of color—in this case my race of people” have been termed throughout periods. We’ve moved from Negro (slavery -1930); Colored (1930-1950); Black (1950-1980); African American (1980-present), and just recently with the multicultural movement to “People of Color” (which by definition entails all people who are non-white, so perhaps it wouldn’t be fair to include this title except it reminds me of how we tend to evolve back to old terms and habits over time).

    I realize that a topic such as this one is highly marginalized, but I’m happy that we can talk about it.
    As I’ve thought later, the only thing missing, perhaps, was a photo of my late father. If I’d included his photo you’d see the strong resemblance.

    Yes, I love who I am. I love my “chocolate” covered skin tone/hue, and I have no problems sharing my opinions and belief systems about what’s really important. My parents reared my siblings and me to have extremely high self-esteem while dousing us with incredible deep-seated affirmation for which we are, and what we stand for in life. I believe there had to be times they regretted such a move (smile).

    I want you to know that this story has special meaning to me because of timing; learning of this at such a late age. My Mom’s actions reveal the degree a Mom will chance in effort to protect their young. She was protecting me from a negative complex, one she knows all too well.

    My heart is filled with such gratitude and love for my dear mother. I must say that I’ve always known her to be a very warm and loving Mom, but this particular incident sealed my conviction. As I’ve discussed this with her, she remembers countless occasions, and I can tell how “full” she becomes just listening to my revelation. I just had to remind my Mom how grateful I am to saturate in her continuous love.

    Thank you Mom – I salute YOU!

    Again, I want to sincerely thank each of you for stopping by and taking time out of your busy schedules to read my article.

    My motto: Love is the key to diversity!

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  24. Jon Magee

    My younger life was very nomadic living in such diverse countries as Singapore, Yemen, Kenya, Cyprus, as well as Europe. There was nothing odd, in my perception, that people had different colours as was the case with my friends wherever we lived. What was important was that these are people who come with such breadth and diversity of personality and character in order that we might compliment each other as we seek to collectively bring a brighter future to this world.

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  25. Sharon Clark Chang

    Without suggesting for a moment that it SHOULD be this way, I can say that it seems members of the human race are always going to find some basis for discriminating among themselves. Take away difference in skin tone and it will be something else. It was brought home to me only very recently that people in certain other countries discriminate against…redheads! In a forum for mothers, I saw one mother post “If my baby turned out to be a ginger [BritSpeak for "redhead"], I would love it anyway.” ANYway? What’s THAT all about?

    Then too, there’s the question of Far Eastern Asian people: Japanese, Chinese, Thai, etc. With only VERY rare exceptions, ALL of them have dark brown eyes and black hair. I asked, once “How do you manage with witness descriptions of suspects to police in the event of a crime?” Surprised, the person I asked remarked simply that there are all sorts of ways to describe another person without ever referring to hair or eye color. Again, people of these racial/ethnic groups have ways of discriminating among themselves.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there’s nothing wrong with that. If this shocks you, glance back over the preceding paragraphs and note that, throughout them, I’ve used the words “discriminate AMONG” when that’s what I meant to say, and “discriminate AGAINST” only once, to indicate a prejudice against redheadedness. Aspiring to dull down our senses and eliminate our perception of the various wonderful ways in which God created us to look different from each other isn’t going to solve any problems. Losing the inclination to treat these differences as indications of relative worth and status IS. Learning to find joy and delight, as God apparently does, in our own infinite variety is the real task that lies before us. Accomplishing that will bring us closer to God–and to each other.

    Reply
  26. Bryan Murphy

    Yes, in Britspeak “redheads” are exclusively female. Sharon’s comment reminds me of the odyssey of the Australian comedian Tim Minchin. A few years ago, he was excoriated, at the Edinburgh Festival, for using the “N-word” in a song against bigotry. He later realised that the taboo word was an anagram of “ginger” and came up with a new song against bigotry, which has the following refrain:
    “Only a ginger
    Can call another ginger ‘Ginga’!”
    The whole concept of “race” has taken a beating from the facts in recent years. To the extent that there is such a thing as “race”, it has to be based on DNA, and it turns out that skin colour is not a great predictor of shared DNA.
    Cherrye is absolutely right: it is terrible that children should be led to internalise other people’s prejudices, especially prejudices against themselves. I know that in her work and in her writing, Cherrye is working tirelessly to curtail such abuse. It won’t disappear, but it can get less.

    Reply
  27. Yvette Kelley

    Cherrye, what a wonderful and thought provoking article.

    Thank you for sharing with everyone your personal journey of being a positive and empowering daughter, sister, mother and wife of color. I humbly think you are an inspiration!!! I agree that people should consider the content of a person’s character first, rather than what they look like on the outside. With wonderful articles like yours, I humbly believe we are moving in the right and positive direction.

    Cherrye (Dr. Vasquez), you have my respect, and my admiration for sharing your journey of being a woman of color in the 21st century. May I humbly add positive food for thought? “How does a blind woman/man know s/he is African American, Jewish, Caucasian, Hispanic, etc.” Do their family and peers teach them the essence of their race?

    Lastly, how do you separate people from the prejudice of color, when we all care about the color of our shoes, or the color of our cars, or the color of our homes, etc., psychology it is a bit confusing to the subconscious mind. I have posed this question many times, to many people all over the world.

    Thanks again for sharing your wonderful and thought provoking article, “Skin Tone and Family: Love is a Family Affair.” Cherrye, blessings and many positive successes to you and yours!
    Yvette Kelley
    Founder/CEO
    Positive Connections To The World (pcttw)

    Reply
  28. Dana Armstead

    What an interesting read…. while reading the article i was forced to reflect back to my teenage years around 15 or so… I was instructed by my grandmother not to date or show interest in young men with darker skin… of course as a teenager I asked “why”…. the answer I got was to explicit to share here…. in College many friends told me that I got more attention from the guys because I was “yello” or “light skin” … this saddens me to even think that this is still going on within our race today.

    Reply
  29. Alethia McDaniel

    Wow! This is so well written. My major was Communications (RTF) at the University of Texas and I wrote a report on Inner Cultural Racism. This is something that is well known to me in my family as well! I’m reffered to as the darker one when compared to my sister, and for so olong I thought to myself is there no other way to compare us. Im sure my family meant no harm, because I noticed how my Great Grandmother would refer to her son and daughter when talking about them. She’d use the terms “lighter one, bright one,” very often. This is definitley an issue that get passes down from generations.

    Thanks so much for sharing this, enjoyed the reading! :)

    Reply
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