As a child, she wanted to be lighter skinned.

As an adult, she still notices that black beauty focuses on lighter-skinned celebrities with European features such as actress Halle Berry and pop singer Beyoncé.

Black Lives Matter of Columbus organizer Brittany King will highlight those and other topics as part of the local chapter’s free presentation on “A Conversation on Colorism,” 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Bartholomew County Public Library in Columbus. The meeting is an encore presentation of one that attracted about 60 people in December.

“I don’t think a lot of the white people were all that familiar with it,” King said.

Colorism, which King said triggered her childhood desire to be lighter skinned, is “a prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group,” King said.

She wrote about the issue in papers for college, and has spoken at workshops on the topic.

“It’s a subject that’s inherent in the black community,” King said. “But we don’t usually talk about it much.”

Prominent minority members such as Oprah Winfrey have highlighted it in TV programs and via other outlets.

“The colorism conversation is about self worth,” Winfrey once tweeted. “Your self worth is your sacred space to cultivate.”

This version of the local presentation will include a panel of black men and black women discussing the issue, plus a film clip of CNN reporter Anderson Cooper interviewing children on their biases about race. Other clips also will be shown, followed by discussion.

Columbus resident Missy Reece, who considers herself a lighter-skinned black person, will be part of the panel discussion.

During her 21-year military career, Reece said other soldiers from southern states such as Mississippi and Georgia told her she probably could get away with behaviors that a dark-skinned black soldier could not because people saw her in a more positive light.

“This topic has been kind of taboo,” Reece said. “But the only way you can affect change is through education and awareness.”

Reece said colorism needs to stop.

“But I’m just glad we’re able to have a conversation about it,” she said.

Looking at color

What: “A Conversation on Colorism,” presented by Black Lives Matter of Columbus. The presentation will include a panel discussion and the presentation of several video clips.

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Monday.

Where: Bartholomew County Public Library, 536 Fifth St. in Columbus.

Admission: Free.

Information: Facebook page for Black Lives Matter of Columbus.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.