The Collegian
Sunday, July 12, 2020

WC junior uses book, website to discuss colorism

A University of Richmond junior has already made her own website, self-published a book and conducted seminars promoting her passion: raising awareness of colorism.

Kiara Lee said that colorism was when someone judged another person of the same ethnicity based on his or her skin tone.

"I wanted to do something positive for women," Lee said about promoting her message that colorism brings a lack of love to girls of all ages.

Her book, "Light-Skinned, Dark-Skinned or In-Between?" is for children because Lee said that colorism affected children first and continued from there.

These forms of hate also affect men. Lee said she knew an African-American man who was told he was not "black enough" in the '70s when the Afro was popular. He didn't have the proper type of hair for this style and also looked different from his black siblings.

Lee said she self-published her book online, which was not easy. She printed 300 copies to start because she said she didn't know what type of reaction to expect.

Lee sells her book on her website, TheBlackerTheBerry.org, which also serves as an outlet for her to write a column every month that highlights a story of a local woman dealing with colorism.

"In the South, people don't like to talk about [colorism]," Lee said.

But Lee said that it was important to talk about this problem. Her website welcomes guest submissions in a forum setting to bring in more perspectives on this issue.

The idea for her website came when Lee watched an "America's Next Top Model" episode. According to Lee's website, "when the African-American finalist was interviewed, she went on to say how she never really felt beautiful and that her dark-skinned complexion was the reason for her negative self-perception."

Lee said that after she saw the girl's reaction, she asked herself what she could do to change this. She said that Willie Lynch, a slave owner 300 years ago, talked about this issue, which showed that it had been prevalent among minorities for at least that long.

According to Lee, Lynch said during a speech that black slaves would turn against one another if slave owners kept the light-skinned slaves separate from the dark-skinned.

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Today, there are other examples of this animosity. Lee said one of her friends at Old Dominion University went to a party called "light-skinned versus dark-skinned."

Because this issue was widespread and Lee wanted to "provide love and support for Richmond's young black women," she wrote a guest opinion piece on this issue in the Richmond-Times Dispatch and a story in the Richmond Voice.

Lee said she was also on the radio to talk about her book and went to a Radio One teen forum where she had a table set up with her books for teenagers to view.

At Richmond, Lee is majoring in sociology with a minor in Spanish. She said she hoped to continue the promotion of her website and support for local black women after college.

She said on her website, "It would be my dream if we could all work together, and bridge the path between the haves and the have-nots."

Contact staff reporter Valerie Jama at valerie.jama@richmond.edu

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