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In the latest episode of Red Table Talk, Jada Pinkett Smith got candid about her experiences with colorism—both as a witness and victim.
The 48-year-old actress, who was joined by her daughter, Willow Smith, and her mother, Adrienne Banfield Norris, discussed the ways in which this form of internalized racism has caused a divide within the black community, and how the preference for lighter skin goes all the way back to the days of U.S. slavery.
"It’s discrimination or prejudice based on skin tone, from members of the same race," Pinkett Smith said in the episode, which was filmed prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns. "It began during slavery. Owners often raped their slaves who gave birth to light-skinned children. [Those children] were given preferential treatment. Lighter meant better, smarter, and more beautiful. This hateful bias seeped into black culture and continues to divide us."
Though the women acknowledged dark-skinned individuals were the primary victims of colorism, Pinkett Smith revealed her light skin tone had once caused her grief.
"I had the opposite in my experience," she said, "being picked on for being light-skinned."
Norris added: "Back in the day, you would always hear black people like, 'I got Indian in me,' still not owning our own blackness and that's just a result of all the brainwashing that has happened over the years and the perpetuation of white supremacy."
You can watch the full Red Table Talk episode below. Willow also opens up about her experiences with colorism and how many people aspire to the white beauty standard—not only when it came to skin tone, but also with hair.