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Wednesday, November 4, 2015


A friend of mine in college told me that in Japan people that were slightly darker were known to work outside. And if you worked outside, you were considered lower class. And if you were lower class that gave people reason to despise you a little bit.

Since then I've wondered how much class and paleness and leisure (time spent indoors doing light work or no work at all) are linked together?

Or maybe light supremacy is all about Europe needing to invent the guns first and world travel last (as in most recently) leaving them currently on top-- the richest, the top dogs, the most powerful dogs over the last couple of centuries.

Since human beings, not being too bright, want to emulate those they think are richer, more powerful, and just possibly better than they are, maybe light supremacy in so many different countries is a reflection of wanting to be like the guy standing on greener grass on the other side of the fence.


For example, in the U.S., black men and women struggle with preferring pale skin.  This preference used to cut across gender lines closer to the days of slavery. Now, however, paleness and long straighter hair are more strongly preferred on black women than black men.

Colorism attitudes Post Slavery to the 1920s
"There is little question that a color-consciousness of the self-hate variety was at work here. But it wasn't the only thing at work.

Because of historical circumstances as much as attitude, fair complexions were associated with the upper classes. Blacks with White Forebears usually had more educational and economic opportunities, were more easily accepted, and thus made up a disproportionate number of achievers.

Of the 131 men and 8 women listed in W.E.B. DuBois's Who's Who of Colored Americans,  published in 1916, for example, 124 of the men and all of the women were of mixed heritage."
- When and Where I Enter, Paula J Giddings

This  black preference for whiteness didn't stop in the 1920s, 1930s, or even the 1960s 

FROM 1966

Claudette Colvin, who refused to give up her seat to a white man before Rosa Parks,
stated very matter-of-factly in an article I read  few years back
 that light-skin and higher/middle-class status were firmly connected.

This emulating of the seemingly superior other, for good or ill, happens with things other than race.  Another example? Women, of all colors, struggle with imitating the worst of what men have to offer in the name of trying to move up the socio-cultural ladder of success too. 

Women, legitimately trying to move away from the virginity/ "good girl" standard, try to emulate men's ways, even imitating the promiscuity of some men.  All shades of cis men who slept around with dozens and dozens of partners, marking notches on their bedposts, who used women like disposable tissue, used to be called "dawgs." Now women doing the same sleeping around with dozens of different partners is being called "sexual freedom" simply because these silly girls think they are being like the more powerful group, men.

Having a false standard (virginity) forced on us as women is bad for the society. Having no standards at all, the 'boys will be boys' approach to sexuality -- even when it's imitated by girls(not women), is probably worse for society. 

I say all this to convey one thing. The people on a lower rung of the ladder of success copy the ones on a higher rung no matter how ugly it is higher up on that ladder.  It seems obvious to me that it is human nature for us to copy-cat even the negative things of those who appear to have it better.


If the white people on the planet appear to have most of the material goods and power, are the multitude of non-white cultures simply trying to emulate them, right down to preferring paleness?

Is this world trend that we see as simple as this --

1) Whiteness and lightness are preferred by the dominant culture of the world power.

2) The dominant culture of the world power (white people) have everything.

3) We want everything too.

4) Therefore, we prefer lightness and whiteness too

5) Whites colonizing us has simply solidified our desire to be like them, the superior other

Colonization is a big part of the "why."  There's no doubt about this. Each of the countries featured in the photos were invaded and colonized by white people.

Yet, Nigeria, has the same pale preference, yes?
According to a talk given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whites moved into Nigeria for a bit, made a mess, and left after a relatively sort time. Yet, white-light preference is a problem there too. A huge one. Skin bleaching is big industry in Nigeria. Asian countries buy skin bleach by the ton too, some of those skin bleaches tainted and faintly deadly. And some of the world's Asian country's, like Japan, were never colonized.

So world wide pale preference really can't be as simple and simple-minded as residual colonization, can it?

So is this associating lightness with higher class a since-the-beginning-of-the-world thing? Is paleness also a sign of indoor, leisure living? 

This might mean that there were the paler Ethiopians that were considered better, smarter, and stronger than the ever so slightly darker Ethiopians before the first white man set foot on the African continent. After all, there's a passage in the old testament that talks about "Don't hate me because I am dark...." which seems to be talking about a class distinction in my mind.

Or was skin-color discrimination a simple hatred of difference, even in biblical times?

Are any of these reason THE REASON that pale preference so wide spread?  

I'm just wondering.