altOne of the most anticipated and most enjoyable events of the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage is the water-gun fight between light-skinned and dark-skinned blacks on the white-sandy beaches of Coco Cay, Bahamas.

It is Tom Joyner’s way to mock the absolute absurdity of intra-racial strife and hatred based upon melanin levels. Despite being more than a generation removed from the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans are still afflicted by the “Willie Lynch” syndrome, which causes us to separate or demonize one another based upon differences in skin tones.

And when you listen to the panelists of the Lamman Rucker-hosted “Black Beauty” seminar on the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage you can discern the pain in their voices.

“It is a problem. Because at the end of the day, whether you’re light or you’re dark, you are still black,“ says radio personality Jacque Reid. “Most of the time when you open up the magazines, all you see is light-skinned women. It sends a message that I may not be good enough.”

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien said she finally learned later in life not to internalize other people’s opinions of her. “I learned in my 40s that it’s not my problem. Your problem is not my problem. If there are men who have a preference for light-skinned girls, God bless them and let them live their life. You don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you. Someone is always going to come along to try to chip, chip, chip away at who you are, but you have to be happy with how you were made.”

Within the paradigm of intra-racial hatred is the prospect of black women demonizing black men who may have a preference for dark or light-skinned women and that has to stop, says respected BET commentator and author Jeff Johnson.

“We demonize people’s preference. And there is a difference between preference and judgment. And so there are black folks who just think that dark-skinned women look better, but they don’t demean light-skinned women in the process [or vice versa]. But there are those who believe that dark-skinned women are inherently bad. And there is a difference,“ he says. “And we have to deal with that, women beating up on brothers all the time [for their] preference. He says ‘I like light-skinned women’ or ‘I just like dark-skinned women,’ or ‘I just like big women’ and the sisters will beat him up saying ‘what the hell is wrong with me?’ Nothing is wrong with you. I just don’t like you [sexually]. We have to stop beating up people who have a preference for a skin tone. But we must call to the table those who do demonize [others blacks] based on their skin tone.

I don’t have to feel the same way about you. I don’t connect your skin tone to your intellect or your value or your contribution to this earth.”

terry shropshire

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