CNN highlights Colourism in American Adoption

Thanks to Ijaw for pointing me to this article on CNN’s frontpage.

A lot of people have called me crazy, bitter, fat, ugly, lesbian, racist, etc for daring to suggest that there is indeed a disparity in the way Black women of various shades are treated by society. They often raged frothing at the mouth asking me to provide proof of my scandalous statements.

Never mind the fact that this is a phenomenon that happens EVERY DAY, and never mind the fact that there isn’t that much official evidence on this because most people are either in denial of it, or oblivious to it, or too ashamed to come forward.

People of other races are oblivious to it, and so they don’t do the research nor make the documentation because they don’t know.

Light skinned Black people are heavily in denial about it because everyone is nice to them so they don’t realise that the same people that are very nice to them treat another section of society very badly. Hence, they too do not do any research nor make any documentation of it. In addition, they are often the first ones to dismiss any claims of colourist discrimination made by Dark-skinned Black people as exaggeration by using THEMSELVES as examples of society’s supposedly sweet intentions.

Dark-skinned Black people are ashamed because they are the ones who experience this bad treatment and they too (for the MOST part) do not do any research on this or try to confront the rest of the world with these facts because by doing so they would be forced to admit that they are the very bottom of the society’s barrell.

….. and nobody likes to be the bottom of the barrell.

Luckily every now and again, a news story comes along that completely unintentionally throws the spotlight on the easily-ignorable, everyday displays of colourism that most of us would rather pretend do not exist.

CNN ran a story today about how more and more single Black women are adopting babies. While unremarkable in of itself, this story exposed two very glaring truths that I have addressed before on this blog.

  • 1. A VERY LARGE PROPORTION of Black people (both male AND female) prefer other Light-skinned Black people to Dark-skinned Black people.

  • 2. Black women (and more specifically dark-skinned Black women) have a TERRIBLE time finding Black men to date them.

According to the CNN article, not only are more Black women adopting children because they are tired of waiting for Black men (who it seems are too few, too unqualified, or too uninterested in Black women to date them) but they are also PREFERRING to adopt Light-skinned babies over Dark-skinned babies.

Here is a clipping of most of the article (just so you know it’s legit from CNN)

Now here is the damning portion of the article

I don’t make this stuff up. This is obviously not all-encompassing proof of every act of colourism among Black people, but it is proof of at least one element of colourism that is fueled by the greater attitude of society.

And you know what? There IS proof that colourism exists and affects the lives of scores of Black people everyday. Thanks to the Internet there are blogs, there are videos, there are Tweets, there are all manner of media documenting the personal experiences of millions of people. The fact that it wasn’t officially compiled by a university professor and published in a scholarly journal does not make it any less valid.To ignore that just because you don’t want to rock the status quo or just because you might be lucky enough to have been born into a category that means you will not be affected is unfair.

It’s disgusting enough that women ( and sometimes men) are denied an equal opportunity for love (and in some places – work, promotions, school, etc) because of the degree of darkness of their skin, but it is even more disgusting that BABIES who desperately need families are shunned because of something they have absolutely no control over.

There are 24 comments

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  1. Really Random Name

    i’ve had this argument with you before but you know people have a right to choose whoever the fuck they want to date. I know a lot of black women that won’t date the white folk. what if black men aren’t turned on by darkies?

  2. sugabelly

    @Really Random Name: Wow, nice to see that your profile and blog are “Not Available”.

    Yes, people have the right to choose who they want to date but they do not have the right to discriminate against people based on the colour of their skin. Encouraging that kind of thinking is totally retrogressive.

    And kindly refrain from referring to black people as “darkies” on my blog.

  3. Ana

    I find black people to be more colorist than non-blacks.
    Many blacks here in the States define and relate to each other based on skin tones.
    I find it very bizarre because I am from a Latin country- Panama, where the majority of the people are mixed or light skinned and I am not very familiar with looking at people and figuring out their skin tones.
    I am never able to notice the different skin tones and when a black person says to me” he/she is dark skinned or light skinned “, often, I cannot see what they’ re saying.

    I remember once an incident in which a dark skinned black American woman referred to a dark skinned black American man as ugly.
    Sadly, it was a Puerto Rican woman and myself a Panamanian who told her that the dark skinned man was not ugly but really handsome.
    To many black Americans, dark skinned is automatically ugly, which is definitely not true to many folks.
    I have seen many beautiful dark skinned black people here and all over .
    A famous Puerto Rican singer, Ismael Rivera composed a beautiful song entitled “Las caras lindas de mi gente negra” (The beautiful faces of my black people)

    He said he wrote Las caras…, based on his many travels and especially when he remembered the lovely faces of his family members.

    It is sad but I find many black Americans more colorist than my very mixed up, mestizo looking compatriots from Panama.

    Over there, they often say :”Negra bella y sabrosona”( Beautiful and delicious black woman )

    I am convinced that it is much better that many black people stop calling themselves black because it makes no sense to have people who say they are black and be so blasted anti-black.


  4. Saz

    “but it is even more disgusting that BABIES who desperately need families are shunned because of something they have absolutely no control over.”

    Every human alive has at some point been affected negatively by something they have no control over.

    Life isn’t fair, sorry(ooh pun).

    Some people are attracted to light skin and others dark. The fact alone that there was a significant light-skinned-African population prior to the first encounter with Europeans shows that a preference for light skin has always existed to some degree among Africans. If this wasn’t the case, then no one would have fucked the first genetic freak with yellow skin and his/her light skinned genes would have died with him/her.

    So while low-self esteem is sometimes the cause of a preference for lighter skinned mates. You can’t throw everyone who prefers light skin under the umbrella of self-hater. I’m a pretty short guy, if I like tall women, does that mean I hate myself?

    There’s about seven billion of us, anyone can find a mate.

    You are the sum of all your features and not just your color. Don’t define yourself based on just one attribute.

    The baby thing does suck but hey that’s life, people like pretty things. If I ever had to adopt a kid. It would have to meet every standard of what I consider beautiful, and if it doesn’t? Fuck it.

  5. sugabelly

    @Saz: I happen to come from that significantly light-skinned population of Africans. I’m Igbo and light skin occurs naturally in Igbo people.

    This fact does not ‘prove’ that there was light-skin preference prior to contact with the West. UNLIKE Black Americans, two very black Igbos can produce a super light child and vice versa. There is no formula.

    In Black Americans, light skin is generally attributed to non-Black blood somewhere in the family line, hence it would belie ‘actively marrying or being intimate with a light skinned person or a lighter race’ – I know this is not always the case. I know that many black women were raped by slave masters – but the point I’m trying to get across is that light skin in pure Africans is RANDOM whereas light skin in Black Americans is as a result of selection.

    You cannot say that because there are light skinned Africans that it proves a historical preference for light skin.

    It does not. It was ONLY when we came into contact with Caucasians that a trend of preference for light skin developed – women began bleaching, using makeup several shades too light, etc

    I am also not throwing people that might genuinely be attracted to light skin under the bus.

    Sure, everyone should date whoever they are attracted to, but adoption is a different case. If you reject a baby just because you don’t like the baby’s skin shade then you shouldn’t be taking care of any babies in the first place.

    Also, did you READ what that lady said? She said she would not adopt the baby because the baby WOULD NOT LOOK GOOD IN FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS BECAUSE OF ITS DARK SKIN.

    I’m sorry, but that kind of thinking is totally fucked up.

    Yes, people are the sum of all their features and not just their colour but what happens when OTHER PEOPLE start relating to you based solely on your colour? What happens then? What about these babies who have been automatically denied a chance at a good life in a loving home because of their skin?

    You want to tell them that they are the sum of their features too?

    I’m not forcing anyone to do anything, but I AM pointing out that there is something wrong with this idea that light is alright and black should get back.

  6. GeekGirl

    Hey Sugabelly pls allow me say you do not make daring suggestions you make deafening noise..your manner of approach is very off…probably why people call you all sort of names and just refuse to see your point…That being said you do speak “your” truth even if it is extreme…
    Ok so in this post you have categorised ALL dark skinned and ALL lightskinned black people…ALL the light skinned ones are in denial and the All dark skinned ones are ashamed!!SERIOUSLY!!!

  7. sugabelly

    @GeekGirl: (and everyone else)

    Please understand that this is a BLOG, not a formal publication. Everything I write here is in the most casual of speech.

    I find that I have to keep explaining this to people who are relatively new to my blog and it gets tiring after a while.

    If you do not explicitly read the words “ALL dark skinned people…” then please do NOT assume that that is what I said.

    Quite often I have to go back and keep typing “I know it’s not all of them” and it’s cumbersome and makes my writing too long and unnecessarily winding.

    I write just as I would speak in casual speech so please read my posts with a very open mind. People keep on trying to point out that I’m generalising and people keep claiming that I’m referring to ALL …

    I am twenty years old. I ASSURE you I have been on this earth long enough to know that there is NOTHING that applies to ALL people of any group or subset. Thanks for pointing it out, but I know. And I would also appreciate if everyone realised that I know, and if we could all just work from there.

    I’m saying this now (and perhaps I will dedicate a whole post to it) because people keep coming to my blog and doing the same thing.

    “Hey Sugabelly, you’re generalising, you’re categorizing all black men/women/whatever!”

    No I am NOT generalising and I am NOT claiming that this applies to ALL people. I would be grossly ignorant to assume that whatever I am talking about must rigidly apply to ALL the people I am discussing.

    It NEVER works that way in real life and I am well aware of the fact.

    ALSO, (if you noticed the smiley face in the title of the post) sometimes I don’t take myself too seriously, and sometimes you shouldn’t either. I get the impression that you somehow think that I am complaining about people calling me all the names that they do. Far from it. I’m very much aware that not everyone agrees with me and I am completely comfortable with it. Today I am humourosly using this fact as a launching pad for my latest post.

    So, my point is, have no fear that I am generalising for I am not. In addition, please do not continuously claim that I am generalising as we all know that nothing applies to everyone. Besides, it detracts from the meat of the discussion which is the issue being debated.

    As we all know, in life there will ALWAYS be exceptions to the rule.

    On that note, I invite everyone to give me their honest opinions on this issue (the whole adoption-skin-dating debacle)


  8. Really Random Name

    do you not know who i am?

    I am the juggernaut, BITCH!!!!!!!!*

    Ok, that aside. It’s not discrimination if you are not attracted to a darkie. It’s just a sexual preference. Calm your ass down.

    Oh, and we had this argument in last thanksgiving with mellowyel…there i was thinking people could identify me by the way i write

    *it’s a fucking joke, i did not call you a bitch

  9. sugabelly

    @really random name: Don’t worry, I watch X Men too 😀

    I don’t think it’s discrimination if you’re attracted to one colour or the other. I agree, sexual preference can’t help itself, you’re attracted to what you’re attracted to sexually.

    Where I do take offense though is when people colourize everyday interactions.

    I mean, any human being on this planet should realise that other human beings come in all sorts of colours, and that should be NORMAL.

    Now I understand if one day a random BLUE person showed up and you felt a bit weird, but for the most part we should not have petty preferences for people in ORDINARY things just because of the colour of their skin.

    A girl on Black Girl Long Hair (I think – it may have been Jezebel) mentioned that she’s from Jamaica and that in Jamaica there are one or two schools were they try to admit only the light-skinned students that pass the entrance exam into their school even though the dark-skinned ones had similiar results.

    THAT is an example of completely illogical discrimination based on skin tone, and so is this baby business.

  10. doug

    Well we live in a thoroughly colourist world don’t we?

    Virtually everything ‘cool’ on T.V – that most pernicious contraption – says one thing with regard to skin colour: ‘Lighter is better’.

    Ummm…in rather weak defence of the baby shopper woman…almost the same principles of attraction apply in dating as in adoption really. I mean a woman might be less likely to dump a child she has carried to term on account of colour, seeing as she has no control over that, but if she’s going to go choose a child, then for some people, its different. Extrapolate on the scenario with that woman and you have people rejecting ‘ugly’ babies, which in terms of your argument for “these babies who have been automatically denied a chance at a good life in a loving home because of their skin” is quite the same.

    And yes African’s are guilty too. I grew up with a lot of Ibibios. Like Ibos, light skin occurs naturally amongst them. And yes, I grew up hearing them venerate ‘mbakara’ [a light-skinned person]

  11. Ovay West

    I think the key word in the article is African- American. I don’t think we should generalize.
    I do not know what colorism is, I have never experienced it, etc. I am a beautiful dark skinned woman and that’s all the matters. I dunno if anyone would pick ugly light skinned over beautiful dark skinned.

    I know many light skinned girls that have been teased because of their color, Rihanna is one of them. Let’s not engage in positive test strategy, we must account for the 4 sides of the cell, not just 1 or 2.

  12. eccentricyoruba

    it is so funny how some people get so riled up over these posts that discuss colourism…

    it is perfectly okay for anyone to have a preference. it just gets worrying when the overall ‘preference’ is for only one type of beauty. i would assume as human beings are not wired the same and are different then so should their ‘preferences’.

    regarding Ibos and light-skin…well i won’t know because i’m not Ibo. except i’m a HUGE bookworm and in the book i’m currently reading (one of many books) the author claims that even in Africa, there is a preference for light-skin and specifically mentions the Ibo as preferring light-skin in women and babies. he quotes references too. apparently a E.W.Ardener wrote an article on ‘Some Ibo Attitudes to Skin Pigmentation’. i’m yet to read Ardener’s article though i’d like to hear Sugabelly’s opinion on this…

  13. Ijaw

    It seems to me that there are two sides to this argument. One supports freedom of choice to the individual and the other supports the banishment of “colourism” in human affairs because it is biased toward a particular subset of the human race.

    This kind of argument is unending because there is no agreement on both sides on the issue of the rights of the individual. Should it always be the primary concern? Some would say yes but I personally think that is wrong.

    The idea that anyone in today’s world is making their choice of partner (or child in the case of adoption) independent of the influence of the society in which they live is hilarious.

    I grew up in Nigeria and I can tell you that a lot of my friends till today prefer “yellow” girls. It’s a Pavlovian reflex: you’ve been “trained” since childbirth to “prefer” yellow-skinned people, the yellower the better! What do you think the average person will do?

    We haven’t got into the “big nose” issue as well. Till today, Africans who look Caucasian are considered to be more beautiful. Thank God for the coming of the “booty-shakers” in modern culture because at one point, if you had a big ass, you were ugly, period!
    (I personally think anyone who thinks a woman with a big ass is ugly should have his or her head examined….craze dey worry you!)

    The reason I was so shocked by that article(I had to reload and read it three times to make sure it wasn’t a mistake…) is the “excuse” that black babies won’t look good in family photographs. It is obvious that they think black people are ugly, period. THAT is a trained reflex, brought on by umpteen years of oppression.

    To deny that this “socially engineered” preference does not exist is to ignore the elephant in the room. Another analogy would be the case of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

    That family that turned down the black baby were concerned with social acceptance, nothing else. At this point, the right of the individual to choose who they want has been carefully overlooked in favour of social acceptability.

    The sad part is that the “right of the individual to choose” argument will still be used to defend such a choice despite the fact that the choice was made based on other criteria!

    This method of selection using “socially acceptable” criteria is very widespread. Check this article out for a good exposition on this topic.

    I do not have ANYTHING against light-skinned or white people. Some “yellow” girls I know are seriously FINE!!! That does not change what is going on however!

    There are lots of issues that we as members of our various tribes, as Nigerians, as Africans (and African-Americans) and as Black People tend to ignore, sweep under the carpet or pretend do not exist.

    Child abuse and paedophilia is one(to my unending sorrow, most women can vouch for this), sexual harassment EVERYWHERE(again, ask a woman, she’ll tell you!), colourism (I really like that term, thanks eccentricyoruba!) just to mention a few!

    @Sugabelly: Most people seem to “scan” through your blog and certain “keywords” set them off. I’m waiting for the day you will just say “Bo!” and just “cut and paste” your previous written arguments about generalization and the nature of your blog! Now THAT would be hilarious!!! LOL!

    @everyone: You can also check this out:

    Cause for sober reflection…no?

  14. StandTall-The Activist

    seriously this is a very serious discussion nd I wnder why you were labelled for speakin the truth.

    When are we going to start appreciating diversity in colours and that black is beautiful?

    Kindly respond to the email I sent you or just me a “what do you want” message on We need to talk.

    “I’ve learnt how to view people for who they are and never let religion and nationality cloud my judgment. I think it’s also made me very open-minded and humble…” Adaeze says on her Interview on my blog. Visit and drop your comment!

  15. Ana

    For blacks, whose ancestors have been living in the Western world(the entire American continent and the Caribbean since the Atlantic Slave trade), two very dark skinned individuals can have a light skinned child.

    No black person(regardless of what they look like) in the Western world, descendant of the captured slaves brought from Africa has only African blood.
    Some black families have overcome the foolish colorism but many have not.
    Thank God, I have never heard any member of my family engage in any type of foolish colorist behaviour.
    With my very own family,I have four siblings, we are all from the same parents and none of us have the same skin tone.
    My two sisters and I do not resemble each other “para nada” ( for nothing).
    Three different skin tones and hair texture.
    In school, we had a teacher who used to say: ” Three sisters with three different faces”.
    Sadly, I find that some families have been sophisticated enough to have terminated the madness of colorism( a throwback to slavery and colonialism) out of their existence.
    It does not mean that those who don’t practice it don’t see it.

    I have seen all types of black people.

    I have a friend who told me that in her family, colorism separated different members. This is a light skinned family.
    Those who could pass for white went on and lived as if they were white and the ones who looked black, lived as black people.

    She told me that one day the light skinned /black and the light skinned /white sat together unnoticingly in a pew in a church and when the one who was passing realized that they were near the black one, they got up and left the church quickly.

    I have relatives who could pass but refused to play the game.
    I have been surprised to see colorism so rampant here in the States among blacks from all over.

    . I have a very educated Jamaican friend who is about to adopt a child here in the States. I do not know if the child’s skin tone would be an important factor.

    I have been sponsoring children for a long time now.I have two little dark African children that I take care of through a child sponsor program.

    I used to have a Brazilian child and an African child but I noticed in Brazil they were discriminating against black children.
    I never had a black Brazilian child to sponsor.
    My Brazilian children have always been white. Most of the children in the charity programs there are white.
    Even in charity organizations around the world, they discriminate aganist darker children.

    Nobody is really deaf, dumb and blind to colorism, but those who continue to practice it are stupid and at times plain evil.

  16. KreativeGene23

    Black Americans, light skin is generally attributed to non-Black blood somewhere in the family line, hence it would belie ‘actively marrying or being intimate with a light skinned person or a lighter race’ – I know this is not always the case. I know that many black women were raped by slave masters – but the point I’m trying to get across is that light skin in pure Africans is RANDOM whereas light skin in Black Americans is as a result of selection.

    actually no.
    two dark black americans can produce a light skin child. most blacks in america cannot trace a white ancestor in recent thier genetic history. slavery ended 120years ago. mom grandma and grandfather is dark but my mom came out light and my cousin is the same way.

  17. Lita

    how anyone can deny the existence of colourism is beyond me. jeez. i have a mauritian friend who are too dark to be in her cousin’s wedding pics, a pakistani friend who knows people who bleach their children’s skins, i watch young mixed/lightskinned boys get inordinate amount of attention from strangers, watch L’Oreal get in trouble for lightening Beyonce in ads. this shit ain’t subtle/

  18. sugabelly

    @Standtall the Activist: I didn’t know you sent me an email and I didn’t get it. Please email me again. I’ll be on the lookout this time (My inbox is crazy full)

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