Once upon a time there was light. Light skin, light fluffy hair, lighter jobs as a house slave, the spotlight of the big screen and the Cotton Club. Hi Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge, how you doing Billy Dee Williams, Vanessa Williams, Whats up Halle Berry? We doing great!
Then out of the blue there was darkness. Dark hair. Dark skin. Everywhere. Michael Jordan, Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o and Hellooo Idriss Elba!
I’m told it’s a reflection of the times, but as a light-skinned chick that used to be on the receiving end of generations of privilege, I’m left a little dazed and confused. What happened? What’s a light skinned person’s place in society today?
Tricky. Do I ask white people to reverse that ‘one drop rule’ because it ain’t working for me anymore? It isn’t making me special anymore? Do I write a book like Taye Diggs preaching for the empowerment of mixed kids? They, with their ‘awesome hair,’–it’s the first line in his book’s description–need empowerment today. I’m telling you, times have really changed.
The truth is, light-skinned/mixed people are tired of this status or non-status to be exact. They want to be seen as their own tribe, with their own products (ever heard of the hair care line Mixed Chicks?), their own books, and their very own leader, Barack Obama. He is mixed, not Black. Taye Diggs will tell you that much.
I mean, Black folks are being used for target practice, and while that’s nothing new because it’s been happening since slavery, there’s no more benefit to staying in the Black community and taking that abuse if you’re not getting any special privileges. When Taye is championing for his kid to be seen as mixed, not Black, he’s looking out for his boys’ future. It’s not personal.
And really, mixed kids are both white and Black.
Why shouldn’t they be able to identify as such if they so choose?
And everybody should just stop with the one drop rule. White people, because they don’t want to share with their offspring or turn beige, and Black people because we don’t want our kids left holding the Black bag and all the weight that comes with it.
That said, I have two final points. First, when we open this mixed identity door, where does it end? First generation mixed vs. third generation mixed; curly hair mixed vs. nappy hair mixed? Will each shade want his own label? Talk about 50 of shades of shady.
And second, I find it quite ironic that Taye Diggs, a direct benefactor of the sexualization of the dark-skinned man, is out there as the spokesperson for mixed people, talkin’ ‘bout awesome curly hair, and such. I know he’s doing it for his kid, but it sounds a little mixed up. Just sayin.’
Check out Erickka Sy Savané’s column, Pop Mom Daily, right here or visit PopMomDaily.com. Before Erickka became a writer/editor, she was a model, actress, and MTV VJ. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Jersey City. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.