Is your crowdfunding support colorist? Probably.
Mutual aid and crowdsourcing visibility is steeped in colorism, ableism and transphobia.
*Please note that below this essay on colorism is a list of dark skinned Black folks’ GoFundMes you can contribute to today.*
Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs – all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured. – The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
The spread of the coronavirus throughout our communities coupled with the increasingly fascist state, reveals gaps that Black folks, especially those with darker skin, have always known were there. And while organizations, individuals and allies may be looking to support Black lives more directly, mutual aid and crowdsourcing visibility are steeped in colorism, ableism and transphobia.
It isn’t a stretch to say that there’s a connection between the various iterations of anti-Blackness named above, which seek to uplift and reward those in closest proximity to Western notions of attraction, and the overwhelming speed at which their/ our asks are met. White supremacy demands desirability, worth and production are always interconnected, that they influence who we deem to be worthy of care. And while the lightest amongst us often receive grace, consideration and attention, those who are darker skinner are punished and pushed into even deeper financial insecurity.
We can talk about the colonial project that is the United States all day. But we already know that the machine works. We know how it ensures darker skinned Black folks face more scrutiny, receive harsher sentences, are most impacted by poverty and are rarely represented positively in media and film. However, it is not enough to highlight the ways white supremacy and antiBlackness have had detrimental impacts on our communities.
It is necessary for us to interrogate the ways our “liberatory” circles re-inforce colorism by rewarding the lightest amongst us for doing basic shit. It is the responsibility of those who are always asked to speak on panels to have a running list of darker skinned Black folks who might take their place instead. If we don’t, white supremacy/ capitalism/ Trumpism can die tomorrow and we’ll still be faced with a world that prioritizes light skinned tears over everything else.
This world within a world we’re protecting, that acts as decider on who receives and who doesn’t, must crumble. If we do not begin to have frank conversations (and offer concrete actions) towards dismantling this violence, it will continue.
Gofundmes and financial support requests, even in Black spaces, are often met/ unmet and circulated due to colorism which perpetuates the idea that only certain folks are deserving of necessary resources. This obsession with whiteness, policing and desirability seeps into our spaces even when white folks aren’t present.
It’s our responsibility to push back against this dynamic because colorism shapes so much of our world. It shapes who we consider. Who isn’t in the room. Who isn’t paid for their labor. Who isn’t paid “just because”.
Our favorites, whether they be writers, organizers, celebrities, or something else, are mostly our favorites because of the way they look. And perhaps because folks were able to look beyond the way they write, or live or do, they remain some of the greats. But this canon, this big, Black, beautiful canon is not devoid of critique.
Octavia Butler said, “People resent being told their established way of doing things is wrong, resent being told they should change, and strongly resent being told they won’t be alone any longer in the vast territory—the universe—they’ve staked out for themselves.”
Those of us who are light skinned are not met with the particular violences this world enacts on darker skinned Black bodies. We have a responsibility to highlight darker skinned, gender queer, fat, and/or poor folks on a regular basis and not expect any appreciation or recognition for it.
I’ve noticed how quickly asks are met when they come from light skinned, straight and/ or thin folks. And, when darker skinned Black, fat, and gender queer folks make requests to get their basic needs met and/ or escape abusive situations, they are exposed to vitriol, aggression and shame. Sometimes their crowdsourcing sites are reported for “deception or fraud” and their abusive family members contacted under the guise that they are making up lies about not having support.
May the unspoken contracts we (light skinned folks) have that encourage us to turn our heads towards each other and to visibilize the struggles of folks who share our skin tone be obliterated. May the “unconscious biases” we hide behind burn. May we call on and pay those most impacted by the destruction of this world.
In an effort to make more visible the asks dark skinned Black folks have made, here’s a list of ten fundraisers you can support financially and share widely right now: