Bob Franken

Harry Reid-Colorist

Sometimes its interesting to watch controversy careen in unexpected directions. The clumsy Harry Reid comments on race and Barack Obama are a case in point.

On day one the story was that Reid’s favorable description of Obama as “light-skinned” was moronic. But now for all the liberal thinkers in the political and media world, even those who regularly raise the white bigotry alarms, the message of the day is that Reid, in his awkward way, was simply telling the truth: Light skin trumps dark.

Who knew this colorism hierarchy even had a name? It’s called a “Pigmentocracy”, which makes sense, I suppose. It’s present not only between races but within.

Among blacks, we’re told, lighter is better. We accept that as a given, which is the collective tenor of the Reid Reports-Day Two.

Here’s an idea for Day Three. Shouldn’t there be a discussion about the unfairness of all this? After all, in the same way that we condemn whites who look down on all people of color, shouldn’t we also reject those non-whites who do the same thing to people of MORE color?

I’m making up a word here: “Shadeism”. Isn’t it just as discriminatory as Racism, maybe more, because it is insidiously subtle?

It’s generally been this way throughout history, worldwide. It’s not just an American phenomenon.
There is usually a pecking order with the darkest at the bottom, the palest at the top, including those with finer features, who don’t have, as our boy Harry Reid inelegantly put it, a “Negro dialect”.

Again, as everyone points out, it’s not just “white-black”, it’s “black-blacker”. Our divisions have subdivisions. By definition they keep us apart. We would all be better off if we embraced our complex differences instead of using them as excuses to push away.

Thanks to Senator Reid for this teaching moment. Hopefully we will take away from him the lesson that we don’t need colorism or “shadeism” to value and devalue others. There are plenty of other reasons to reject someone. Good ones that are not just skin deep.

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