Color Struck: Alive and kickin’ the butts of African-American women (video)

Color Struck: To have an aversion to someone’s skin color; usually used in the African-American community… Urban Dictionary

When I was growing up in St. Louis (back in the day) my mother, Jessie Deloch exposed me to positive black role models. By age 8, I was reading “Before the Mayflower”, drawing people with a brown crayon instead of flesh tone, singing songs by Nina Simone and marveling at the Nubian beauty of Miriam Makeba.

I remember encouraging my mom to give up the Supremes wigs and hair pieces and sport a short ‘fro and hooped earrings like Miriam. She did! She wore that cropped kinky soft afro right until her death in 1985.

My Mom, Jessie Deloch

Black was really beautiful to me. I took it to heart because it validated who I was as a female and human being. “Black is Beautiful” were words of affirmation and pride.  I vowed as an advertising writer, I would represent our true beauty to the best of my ability. Typing those three words as I write this still causes my back to straighten up with pride – tempered now by a cloak of defense. Fortunately, at an early age,  I came to understand the divisiveness and destruction  being color struck  meant to me and others. Being  pancake brown, I was neither here nor there. Contrary to what I thought, darker girls considered me light. I never thought of myself that way because I was darker than my best friend, Vickie who was regarded as high yellow. I didn’t care. I learned to appreciate and embrace ALL shades and shapes of black beauty including my own.

In the 70’s, my mom and I moved to other parts of the country, (Charlottesville, VA and finally Chicago, IL). I was stunned to see my fellow black classmates weren’t as progressive in thinking. They still used the term “colored”  and spat “black” to incite and hurt others. How liberating it was to hear it and not hurt! It caressed instead of bruised. I found myself, at the tender age of 11, educating many of my fellow playmates that their “black” was actually beautiful. In the 80’s, I was dismayed to see my beloved afro go out of style in favor of sleek relaxed styles. How could such a positive state of mind become passe’?

From Afro Sheen to…African Pride???

During the disco era, light skinned women with keen features and long hair were the stuff once again. This would be cool if there were a balance. When Black Power was thriving, my fairer sisters were passed over for the darker ones. That too was unfair. Before Civil Rights, there was a popular saying, “If you’re white, you’re alright, brown stick around, black, get back”.  Today, that saying has made an explosive comeback. According to a recent controversial study released this month in Psychology Today, African-American women are the least physically attractive and desirable! The author Satoshi Kanazawa and  Psychology Today have come under fire for publishing what is considered by many a racist study. But there are  people, including blacks who may not like the study, but agree with its conclusion.

Being white or dang near close to it is preferred in videos, ads, big screens, etc..  Many young black men and women today have bought into the new era of “color struck”.

Now it’s considered merely a personal preference. I guess that’s suppose  to make it okay. Personally, I’m still hanging on to the image of Miriam and her short ‘fro and hoops.

Is the acceptance of black  beauty we fought for lost forever?


  1. Pingback: Color Struck: Alive and kickin' the butts of African-American … | The African American Black Blog Directory
  2. Stephen Reginald

    Being a white male, it’s hard for me to understand all the dynamics and psychology associated with how these women feel about themselves. However, I think many can relate to feeling inferior at some point in their lives and remembering how hurtful those feelings were. It also pains me to see how much damage the sin of racism has caused, damage I only understand in part. But it does sadden me to see these, to me, beautiful women so negatively affected by the experiences of their youth…and adulthood. How do they, how do we, as a human race, move forward?

    • eldhughes

      It’s going to take a century or two. We have to override the negative propaganda that began when the first slave ships hit this soil 400 years ago. The whole color struck thing was started by whites to keep us divided as a people and feeling inferior. Thus keeping blacks in bondage physically and psychologically. Now we as blacks perpetuate the lie today. Positive propaganda, like the Black is Beautiful movement in the 60s, is needed once again to build our pride and esteem. That’s at least a start..

  3. Cass

    Wow, very moving. I can remember quite vividly the stings of being called the “black girl.” As a young girl I remember being singled out, “ranked” near the end of the line or dead last, or excluded due my brown skin. Thankfully I grew up and learned to accept, appreciate, and love my brown skin.

    I don’t watch music videos but it’s disheartening to hear that young African-American men & women are “color-struck” and buying the age old light…brown…black saying. The whole color issue harkens back to slavery. The slaves who worked in the cotton fields were typically dark-skinned and those that worked in the slave owner’s house were fairer and considered “better.” Sadly this belief is still with us today. Some call it DNA memory, others refer to it as self-hatred. I try to look for the beauty in everything & everyone, and usually I find it.

  4. Edwina

    It starts at home. It usually does. Parents pass their twisted beliefs onto their kids whether they realize it or not. “Come on over here and let me put some lotion on that ashy skin!” “Come on over here and let me TRY and do something about that nappy head!” Hit a child with this every day for five or ten years, how could you expect them to grow up with a healthy sense of self?
    It starts in the home. It usually does.

  5. Hughes Who Productions, LLC

    This is a shame that we are still dealing with this issue. Unfortunately the media and movie industry continues to support this. The cute light skin women continue to get the best rolls in movies. It’s only going to stop when we want it to stop. We get on white people’s
    case about looking at our skin color, we need to stop doing it ourselves. Love who we are as a race, because we are very talented, smart and beautiful.

  6. Barbara

    Congrats Edye on your blog. You were one of the lucky ones to be aware of your beauty at a young age when everything around you — film, television, magazine, billboard advertising — everything — says that light, bright and white are beautiful and black is not. Tom Burrell hit it on the head when he said in his book Brainwashed that this single most effective campaign in the history of the country was the campaign that promoted white superiority and black inferiority. Unfortunately, it’s still working. I just wish black people would WAKE UP!!!

  7. Pingback: Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata « Throughhisown's Weblog

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