Teacher uses “colorism” in the classroom

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Photo credit: CNN Video Still

(CNN) – A Virginia college graduate is giving some controversial lessons. She’s arranging classroom seating – based on skin color.


Kira Lee uses the so-called paper bag test from the early 1900s to educate her students about race issues.

She arranges student seating based on whether or not their skin is lighter than a lunch bag. The lighter the skin, the closer to the front they sit.

She says she wants to stop the culture of hating one’s self just because of complexion. But some of her 7-year-old students are getting a different message. 

This is a conversation between Lashawnte Brown and her mother:

“Why do you think it’s ugly?”

“Because I don’t want to be dark. I want to be light skin.”


“Because light skin is pretty.”

“You think so?”


The paper-bag test was often used by social organizations like churches, and fraternities to decide who was ‘light-skinned’ enough to join.

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