All Articles Tagged "color struck"
By Ashley Brumeh
I’m a dark-skinned woman who is well aware of colorism. Before you deduce this post to the typical “Here we go again with the light, bright, and everything right mentality” I’m ready to throw a curve ball. I’m on the opposite side of the colorism debate. While I’m all for my lighter-skinned sisters, I actually think dark-skin is beautiful! I love my complexion. My husband loves it too. Even the suitors I dated before him thought my smooth, dark skin was gorgeous. Yet I find that people like to tell women of a darker complexion what colors they shouldn’t be wearing, what things don’t work for us, and try to make us feel that we aren’t accepted or swexy. (“You’re cute for a dark-skinned girl.”)
I have a healthy self-esteem and a pretty blessed life, yet somehow I feel like society thinks I’m supposed to wallow in self-pity because I wasn’t born with light skin. The majority of the online black community has seemingly become inundated with the theory that everyone wants to be light or date light. Where are they getting this from? Is it because Beyoncé is on virtually every cover of every magazine? Is it because certain black celebrity men publicly profess their adoration for those of a lighter hue? Or is it because almost every dark-skinned, female we hear, see, or read about blames their “early childhood low self-esteem” on their complexion? Newsflash! EVERY chocolate sister isn’t drinking from the same regretful, “I wish I was lighter” Kool-Aid.
Perhaps everyone’s fascination with light-skin is the attention given to it. I can’t tell you how many times my frenemies have referenced my dark skin in a negative way. Or how they frequently mention to me that most men prefer light-skinned women. Or that the majority of successful, black women, be it in films, television, print, or other avenues of life are light-skinned. I know this type of rationale is not only false, but it perpetuates the superior/inferior complex that so many of our people have. Are dark-skinned women who possess beauty, brains, and happy and healthy relationships difficult concepts to fathom?
I can’t help highlighting a few of the many high-profile women of a darker complexion with a slew of beauty, success, and notoriety. Michelle Obama is our FLOTUS. Oprah is the only black, female billionaire in the world. Gabrielle Union, Kelly Rowland, Rozonda “Chili” Thomas, and Nia Long makes the hearts of both men and women melt. Melody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments, a $3 billion dollar investment firm, is in a long-term relationship with the well-renowned billionaire and Star Wars creator George Lucas. Surely their dark complexions didn’t deter them from being successful. Can the opponents of dark-skinned women catch a clue from these high-profile celebrities and realize that triumphs come in all shades? Or better yet, can they leave us alone already?
Regardless of how much or how little attention someone is given, if our lives are not directly benefiting from said attention then what difference does it make in the grand scheme of things? Are those “hollas” on the street, shout-outs in songs, and spotlights in music videos paying the bills of everyday women? I think not. Feeding into colorism is inaccurate and illogical so please do us all a favor and just love the skin you’re in. You never know who might love it too.
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I think about race a lot, but color? Not so much. Some would argue that’s because I don’t have to, being of a lighter complexion. But there are more people who have told me about my own skin tone and level of blackness than I’ve ever cared to think about myself.
I can recall the first time someone tried to set me apart. I was in high school and some girls were talking about their enemies—basically the girls who didn’t like them because of some boy they were both messing with at the time. I remember one girl asked me who my enemies were and when I said I didn’t have any, she said, “Please. You’re light skinned and you have long hair. You have enemies.” It was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard, but over time what she said played out to be very true.
I remember in college I was (admittedly inappropriately) using the n-word, and a guy stopped me and asked, “Should you be saying that word? You don’t even look like you’re allowed to use it.” I thought — did he really just put me in the same category we put white people in?
As an adult, it seems the spotlight on my lack of melanin has grown even brighter. It’s become sort of a running joke among some of my friends that I’m “not really black.” Somehow whenever I’m attempting to have a serious conversation about issues in the black community with other associates, my skin tone always finds its way into the discussion—you know those issues I know nothing about, because I’m of a lighter persuasion.
I always facetiously hit people with the same argument that the LGBTQ community uses: who would choose to be black? Blackness may be a cool fad to some white suburban kids watching Lil Wayne on MTV but anyone who is African-American knows there’s a slew of discrimination, prejudice, and racism that you must bear as a person of color and it’s hardly worth the “right” to call someone a n***a.
I also remind these people that they’re more hung up on my color than I am. I don’t want to explain my blackness every time I get passionate about black on black crime or broken homes, and I certainly don’t need to be reminded of what I look like. I see myself every day. I also don’t want to have to explain my family tree every time someone isn’t satisfied when they ask what I am and I simply say, “black.” I refuse to feel guilty because somewhere along the line Massa most likely raped one of my ancestors or a Cherokee found his way over to one of my enslaved relatives and they procreated, or that my maternal grandfather and great grandparents are Louisiana creoles with a whole mix of things going on.
If I’m down for the black community isn’t that all that should matter?