Stereotypes About Light-Skinned Black Men That We Need To Put To An End

September 27, 2013  |  
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First J. Cole made a statement that President Obama’s complexion is what got him into the White House, then a friend of mine matter-of-factly informed me that, “All light-skinned men are conceited…and every basic black woman’s dream.” And even though such statements aren’t meant to be malicious, I must say the meme’s that go, “Light-skinned dudes be like…” kind of bothers me on some level.

It’s no secret that as a race we haven’t overcome our issues with a light-skin vs. dark-skin mentality, but there are some stereotypes that are just plain not true. All they do is reiterate our own insecurities.  I’ve dated enough black men, of different complexions and backgrounds, to reassure you that both jerks and gentlemen alike come in all different colors.
If you are still limiting your choice of men with these common stereotypes, I need you to Netflix Spike Lee’s School Daze, WAKE UP! and then join us in 2013.

Light-skinned men are conceited.

Conceited isn’t a light-skinned quality, it’s a cocky, arrogant man quality.  I’ve seen guys who make Shabba Ranks look like Trey Songz fighting their woman for the mirror.  I think when some women are rejected, we set a dangerous pattern of associating all men with the boy in middle school who told us we were ugly or checked “No” on our “Do you like me?” note.  Then we make all kinds of excuses for why we aren’t attracted to guys like that, when the truth is on some level we think they are off limits to us.  Besides, every man who takes pride in their appearance isn’t conceited.
 

Light-skinned men are “out of style.”

I remember when I first heard Chris Brown and Drake were involved in a scuffle and jokingly thought, “Come on guys, you have to stick together. Y’all are just getting hot again.”  Everyone’s entitled to have a “type.” We like what we like.  But skin complexion isn’t like skinny jeans or Ugg boots.  There are real people behind those skin colors we like to casually glorify or degrade. I didn’t think Tyrese or Tyson Beckford were the sexiest things alive just because ’90s mass marketing told me they were the new face of “Black is Beautiful” in America, nor do I believe women were chasing after light-skinned men just because Al B. Sure and Christopher Williams were new jack swinging it in the late ’80s.  You know what isn’t in style?  Racism and bigotry. And just because you’re black doesn’t mean you’re incapable of it.

Light-skinned people are more polite, or less ratchet.

Once again, corner boys and college grads come in all colors. Just because he’s the same complexion as our President doesn’t mean you can take him home to momma.

Light-skinned guys are too “soft” or emotional.

Thank you to the geniuses of Instagram for repeatedly reminding us that Drake is the kind of dude who makes photo collages of friends, dots his I’s with hearts and feels guilty for bruising fruit.  Men like to say things like that, but I think it’s sad that as women we also have issues with sensitivity no matter whom it’s coming from.  We’re so used to being in dysfunctional relationships that if a man is not cussing us out, gripping us up or having sex like he’s having Vietnam flashbacks, he must not love us because he’s lacking “thug passion.”  I don’t want a man breaking down in front of me like I’m Iyanla, but it’s nice to know that on some level they are vulnerable, have regrets, and that they think about things other than getting money and what girl can twerk the best.

They all have “good” hair.

If you still have the archaic state of mind that good hair falls on a scale of Eric Benet to Ginuwine, I have a rude awakening for you: Who can’t have good hair these days?  I hope we’re not still stuck in the grade school dream that if we snag some Evan Ross look-a-like, our future babies will emerge from the womb with golden curly tendrils.  Guess what?  There were probably a lot of broken combs and hair grease in light-skinned curly’s past before he discovered wave caps and texturizer.  For now, let’s try paying some more attention in biology before we try to use our talents as part-time geneticists to choose who we pro-create with.

All light-skinned men are attractive.

I don’t like to call anyone ugly, but we all know that there are plenty of people in the world who aren’t attractive according to society’s strict standards.  With that said, being born light-skinned doesn’t give you a lifetime pass into the Beautiful People’s Club or guarantee that you are only capable of creating Huggies models for children. Acne, overbites and lazy eyes know no color.

Light-skinned men can’t be afro-centric or display black pride.

So a man can’t lead a protest or be a victim of racism when he passes the paper bag test?  Malcolm X was looking more like Tre than Ricky in Boyz in the Hood. I’m just saying.

Light-skinned man can’t adequately perform “alpha-male” tasks.

My fiancée is living proof that light-skinned men aren’t sitting back filing their nails or brushing their hair when there’s a flat tire that needs to be fixed or a toilet that’s calling for an unclogging.  There are plenty of men who would rather get their hands dirty then sit back admiring their own red-boned beauty all day.

They are weak and can’t defend themselves.

I don’t care if your boyfriend is cobalt blue, a man should be able to defend his woman’s honor and make her feel protected.  That doesn’t mean he needs to be knocking out every man that makes a rude comment, but don’t assume that if your man is on the lighter side he’s more worried about not getting his face scratched than standing up for you or himself. Light-skinned men seem to get tested more and some men seem to think they can say things to a “Shemar Moore” that they wouldn’t say to someone walking down the street looking like Omar off The Wire, so you never know who is more of a lover than a fighter and who is ready to throw down when it’s time to go down.
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a  passion for helping  young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health.  She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about  everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.  

 

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