Race Note

Race Note:
Brown Girls in Philly
by Sydne Hopkins

​Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes consider place via the street, sound, food, trees, and other portals.

In partnership with educator Joshua Block, students from Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy are creating and publishing their Philadelphia Field Notes. Sydne Hopkins shares her reflections on life as a brown girl in Philly.


Philadelphia is a multicultural place but there are still racial problems. Young black youth are brainwashed. There needs to be more self awareness of the racial stigma placed upon people with darker skin by other races.

There isn’t just one shade of brown, and no shade is better than another. One of the oldest problems within the black community in Philly is #teamlightskin vs. #teamdarkskin. In Philadelphia we’ve gotten better about praising and accepting darker skinned girls but dark skin is still not seen as beautiful. Too often darker skinned girls don’t feel pretty because society has been putting them down. Many males of color in Philly neighborhoods don’t even accept darker skinned girls. They think the lighter you are the prettier you’ll look next to them.

Colorism is a discrimination against someone with a darker skin tone. Colorism is a reminder of a lack of education. To fully understand colorism, you must understand the idea of racism. As young African Americans we are constantly forgetting the reasons why we continue these harsh ideas. We have been influenced by the ideas of slavery and historic views of “The White Man,” making lighter skinned people feel that they can be more privileged. Lighter skinned females are always asked “Are you mixed?,” in most cases associating that with a compliment. Or in even in media saying, “Light skin is the right skin,” as in a song by rapper Consequence. This generates a feeling of disadvantage for females or males with darker skin tone.


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