Shades of Melanin

“I think there is something powerful about being black. Growing up I was teased about being lighter skinned; I am biracial and mixed with black. I was never considered by blacks to be black nor considered by whites to be white. My mother taught me to be comfortable no matter who I am, never let anyone define me; just let how I live and the things I do define me, not the color of my skin.” Louisville senior Indygo Ray,21, said.

Photos and copy by Ebony Cox

Colorism within the African-American community has been prevalent over the years. Bias and prejudice against darker skin blacks has altered the way some see beauty. Darker skin blacks are degraded by being seen as unattractive, while someone who is lighter is beautiful.

“When I was young, I defended my skin from the teases of family and friends” Louisville senior Shantel Pettway said. “Wondering, what if I was lighter? Confused by, ‘you’re pretty for a dark skin girl comments.’ “

“It wasn’t easy – actually I battled with my self image until I was 21. I turned 22 Feb 5.,” Pettway said.

Constantly being looked down upon based on a skin pigmentation can cause a person to lose confidence based on what and how others react to them.

The “Different Shades of Melanin” portrait series was meant to display and shed light on the beauty and uniqueness of African American’s skin tones. The fact that even through all the negativity that has been thrown our way, we should embrace the beauty and longevity of our skin.

“Growing up I would always hear boys say how they rather be with someone of lighter skin complexion because they were beautiful, while degrading those of darker complexion,” Lexington junior Kelsey Briscoe said.

“Once in my life I used to let those low life boys get the best of me, but today I stand tall and proud of the skin I’m in. I couldn’t imagine being anything different. My melanin gives me that extra push to achieve great things in my life. I am authentic and beautiful and society could never convince me otherwise” Briscoe said.