“… who is the fairest of them all?” At which point the mirror replied to the queen, “what do you mean, fair? Do you mean light-skinned or do you mean pretty? And why do you use a word than can mean either… are you a racist?” Well, that’s not exactly how the story of Snow White goes, but it might have had it been written today. The word “fair” has several meanings, among which are “pretty” and “light-skinned”. These two meanings often go hand in hand, as we see in the fable of Snow White:
Once upon a time as a queen sits sewing at her window, she pricks her finger on her needle and three drops of blood fall on the snow that had fallen on her ebony window frame. As she looks at the blood on the snow, she says to herself, “Oh, how I wish that I had a daughter that had skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony”. Soon after that, the queen gives birth to a baby girl who has skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony. They name her Princess Snow White. As soon as the child is born, the queen dies…
We also see this in the Song of Songs:
My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.
His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.
His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.
His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.
His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.
His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.
While fair skin is not a prerequisite for beauty, it certainly helps in most cultures. Much has already been written about this and, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll point out that men all over the world prefer their women to be light-skinned. American blacks are, of course, no exception. Simple observation will confirm that, among black couples, the woman is far more likely to be light-skinned than the man. Among white/black couples, the woman is far more likely to be white.
Hand in hand with light skin, childlike features also add to a woman’s attractiveness. Here is a study that looks at childlike features in women and gauges their attractiveness. It concludes:
For each set of female faces, the test subjects were asked to indicate which version they found most attractive. The results of this experiment show clearly that childlike characteristics (large, round eyes, a large curved forehead as well as small short nose and chin) can enhance attractiveness. Only very few (9,5%) test subjects rated mature “original women” as being most attractive. Most of the preferred female faces contained childlike proportions of 10 – 50% (for details see report!). This means that even the most attractive women become even more beautiful, if facial proportions are made more childlike. And again: women who were rated as being most attractive do not exist in reality!
So, if childlike women are more attractive, and lighter-skinned women are also considered more attractive, does this mean that lighter-skinned children are considered more cute? I think they are. One afro-centric website asks the question, “are light skinned children treated better?” It is interesting to read the replies. An afro-centric blog post states:
In my comments on Laina’s post, “CNN Reports That More Single
Black Women Are Adopting – But Who Are They Taking Home?,”
I said, “I’m wondering, are ready for a child if you’re not ready
for yourself? They’re treating dark skin like it’s a physical
handicap.” And to another person’s comment I responded, “India
also has colorism issues. It seems that areas colonized by Great
Britain carry this burden more often to me. In Asia the self-hate
and desire to look like the conquerer comes out in weeping over
having slanted eyes instead of round.”
Colorism is one more bad effect of racism and the promotion of
white skin, blond hair, and blue eyes as superior. It is not the
focus of the CNN article, which seems to be connected to CNN’s
Black in America 2 special. The article is about single black
women adopting in general and mentions in briefly that some
black women show a preference for babies with lighter-skin:
Yet, there are some single African-American women who are not
emotionally ready to adopt an African-American child who is too
dark, some adoption agency officials say.
Fair-skinned or biracial children stand a better chance of being
adopted by single black women than darker-skinned children,
some adoption officials say.
The poster blames the phenomenon on racism. But, If we see a preference for light skin across various cultures and continents, then Occam’s razor would categorize this preference as a universal human trait and not a byproduct of racism.
Katti Gray, in The Root, struggles with the disproportionate occurrence of abuse among black children. She looks at the traditional explanation of “racist social workers” and finds no evidence of it. Then, lacking the fortitude to consider innate racial explanations, she resorts to the catch-all explanation of “poverty”:
Rates of reported child abuse are disproportionately high for black children, a fact that has long been linked to suspected racial bias by a largely white child-protection workforce. But a recently released study by Washington University researchers debunks that allegation, citing poverty as the main reason black children are twice as likely as white children to suffer abuse…
While it is certainly true that poor parents have fewer options than wealthy parents, it is highly debatable if poor parents love their children less than wealthy parents. One could even argue that a poor person who chooses to have a baby is willing to sacrifice more for her child than a wealthy person, who can pawn off the difficulties to babysitters and nannies. But this is an argument best made by leftist equalitarians, not by me; I do not think that most poor babies are planned. They just happen.
In reality, low I.Q. is an underlying cause for both unplanned babies and for neglecting/abusing those babies later on. Gray, I suspect, cannot bring this up even if she knows it.
But another cause, for the racial disparity in child abuse, is that black kids are simply not as cute as white kids. Therefore, their parents tend to treat them less well. Now, if I walked up to a random stranger and said, “black kids are less cute than white kids”, I would be lucky to avoid being assaulted. But this is one of those subjects where we’re almost there. It is not controversial to point out that childlike women are more attractive than mature-looking women. It is not controversial to point out that light skin is universally held to be more attractive than dark skin (among women). It is not controversial to point out that women, even black women, prefer lighter skinned children. So why would it be controversial to point out that darker children (I.E. black children) are not as cute as lighter children*? Once we shed the burden of social propriety, our mystery is solved.
* Of course, individual preferences will vary. Take me, for example. I consider some dark-skinned children, including my own, to be among the cutest.