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Besides, standard members can send free winks to start a conversation and reply emails from other members.

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When I joined a dating site soon after relocating here, I learned that colorism was alive and growing in one of the most diverse cities in the world.

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As I scrolled through potential mates, my confidence ebbed tremendously.

It was as if I had somehow entered the "No Blacks Allowed" Twilight Zone.

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I grew up constantly dreaming of a different life, a life where we were not the only black family in my town, a life where I could openly talk about my culture without isolating my peers — a life that couldn't be lived in my small town in New Hampshire.

But as I later learned, colorism didn't just exist in places without people of color. Colorism is the principle that those with lighter, fairer skin are treated with a higher regard than those with darker skin, and it happens both between racial communities and within them.

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.

I may have thought the envy I felt would stop when I moved to New York City.

My blood has many shades of brown in it — my mother and several of her sisters would be considered "light-skinned" and many of her brothers have darker chocolate skin tones; my father seems to be one of the few medium-skinned folks on his side of the family, with most of the women and men being lighter shades of brown.

Before I understood colorism and even before I fully understood racism, I envied my lighter cousins and the looser curls that flowed so easily down their backs, moving with the wind.

I didn't want to date someone who could blindly make a declaration of their racial preferences on the Internet or in private. But even though I was no longer online dating, the observations I made in that forum stuck.

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