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As I looked through the long list of acceptable ethnicities on a potential mate's profile, my heart would sink when my race was left off his list of racial preferences.This was something that I was no stranger to with white men — although I still found it shocking to be in a place as culturally open as NYC and still only want to date someone your own race — but I was shocked to see that black men were not always open to dating black women.Once my eyes were open to a world of colorism outside the black community, thanks to online dating, it was incredibly hard not to notice the colorism within my community.Since I opened my eyes to colorism that constantly surrounds me, I've learned these five truths.

I avoided the sun because I knew that as soon as my skin started to darken, I would inevitably be on the receiving end of jokes such as "Oh, sorry I couldn't see you because it's night time." Those jokes about my skin were a dime a dozen during my childhood in a predominantly white environment.I had never been too shy to make the first move and, since there is nothing to lose with online dating, I wasn't shy about messaging more boys more often. But then I began reading beyond the funny "what people notice first about you" blurbs.Users could state their racial preferences in a partner, and even though you'd think people would be turned off by someone who said they only wanted to date certain races, most people included this info.Colorism drives our community apart and reinforces harmful stereotypes about black people that have existed for hundreds of years.I once watched a friend of mine sit on a panel during a discussion on colorism; she sat confidently and elegantly while listening to the darker skinned women on the panel glorify white men who dated dark-skinned women and admonish dark men who dated light-skinned women. I found myself angry that she would need to defend her skin tone and her place in the black community.

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I was jealous that they had the same ancestral roots as I did but could have more opportunity than me simply because their skin was several shades lighter than mine.

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