The Relationship of Self Esteem of Skin Color in African American Culture

Topics: Democratic Party, Black people, Barack Obama Pages: 3 (837 words) Published: January 17, 2011
Running Head: The Relationship of Self Esteem and Skin Color 1

The Relationship of Self Esteem of Skin Color in African American Culture Tony J. Oates
Indiana Wesleyan University
Jackie Fortner
December 27, 2010

The Relationship of Self Esteem and Skin Color 2 This paper explores the relationship between skin tone preference and the effect it has on self esteem in the African American community. As early as slavery in America there has been an assumed preference to lighter or more fair skinned African Americans. Many in the culture seem to believe that lighter skin represents beauty and equates to greater earning potential and increased opportunity. Articles by McAdoo, 1998; Ross, 1997; Russell, Wilson and Hall 1992, discuss how skin tone is used to differentiate and apply social values and self worth for African Americans. This belief led to self hate for some in the community and an increase in the use of skin whitening products in an effort to become more socially accepted and increase attractiveness to the opposite sex. Whitening appeared to be a boost to self esteem on the outside, but it really only created a false sense of confidence and acceptance.

Since slavery, skin color has been used as a means of separation among those in the black community. The darker skinned slaves were usually resigned to work out in the sun in the fields while the lighter skinned slaves, who were generally the offspring of the master and a female slave were usually allowed to perform work inside the house. This led to anger by the darker field worker that still lingers on to this day. Growing up as a young boy the difference of skin tone never really seemed to be an issue but when I reached adolescence and started...

References: McAdoo, H.P. (1988). Transgenerational Patterns of Upward Mobility in African American Families. In H.P. McAdoo (ED), Black Families, Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Ross, L.E. (1997). Mate selection Preferences Among African American College Students.
Journal of Black Studies.27 (4), 554-569.
Russell, K., Wilson, M., and Hall, R. (1992) The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color Among African Americans. New York, NY: Double Day.
Heilemann, J., and Halerpin, M., (2010) Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin and the Race of a Lifetime.
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