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You already know black American women are paid considerably less than white men; that young black men are five times more likely to be incarcerated as white youth; and that black children are suspended from school at a much higher rate than white children.

This is how racism works. But what is less discussed is another “ism” that also derives from slavery.

“Colorism” is the discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone. This means that darker skinned black people have to fight prejudice even within their own community, where lighter skin is seen as more desirable. As such, darker skinned black people can experience both racism and colorism.

For one week, Guardian US will explore this little-explored topic through the lens of 27 black women – writers, illustrators, photographers, activists, artists and mothers. The series is called Shades of Black.