It’s 2020 and we’re still fucking concerned about skin tones. With George Floyd’s death there was such an outpour of emotions and sympathy towards the black community. Unsurprisingly just a few short months later, we’re back to where we were. Actually more like one step forward, a million steps back. Of course we’ve seen plenty of issues with police brutality, even with the help of internet awareness we are able to expose the atrocities going on in different African countries as well. But for some reason, retailers and even the black men and women within our own community are still focused on the matter of dark vs. light. Like what the fuck? Are y’all living in the same world that I am…. because we have much bigger fish to fry babes.
Yes, I know colorism is an issue in many different cultures around the world. But that NEVER makes it okay. It makes it worse honestly. But I as a black woman, can only speak on what I’ve seen within my own culture, rather than attempt to speak on what someone in the Brazilian or Indian culture might experience. Those who benefit from it use it to get ahead and pursue all sorts of opportunities. These people are able to “pass” as ethnically ambiguous, or even a completely different race. I knew two girls from my high school who were half Latina. From the outside, they just looked like your average white girl. Which of course made it easy for them to assimilate with the preppy white culture we grew up around. What bugged me, was that they only used their ethnicity when it was convenient. For all intents and purposes, they referred to themselves as white girls, dressed, and acted the part as well. But when it came to college applications and things of that nature… THEN suddenly they were Latina. I mean come on. Not only is that problematic for the obvious reasons, but completely denouncing one half of your gene pool just to fit in is sad. I know part of it necessarily isn’t even their fault, that’s the way this society unfortunately is built. However, that doesn’t mean you have to sit around and comply with the cards society has dealt you. On the flip side those who DON’T benefit from “passing” are constantly held back and deterred from opportunities just because someone took a mere glance at them and made up their mind of what type of person they are.
I see these issues most prevalent in matters of beauty, employment, and dating. In my own culture I constantly see mixed race women or light skinned women being praised over brown or darker skinned women. In movies and tv shows it’s always a crew of light skinned women, or the token black friend has straight hair and light eyes. Clothing brands will constantly use women with straight hair or more Caucasian features. Make up brands don’t even make shades past a certain tone! I mean how ridiculous is that. Because all of the uber corporate beauty brands never even bothered to think about dark skinned women, they had to make due with whatever make up there was available, even if it was 5 shades too light! Thank goodness for Rihanna and Fenty Beauty for bringing this to light, because who knows how long it would’ve taken for them to realize. Though we have seen many more brown skinned leading women, they are often met with comments like “she’s so brave!” or “she’s so beautiful!” So just because she has more melanin than the girl next to her she’s brave? Or just because she’s darker than the girls we typically see in movies means she should be treated like some exotic being? Cut me a fucking break. The sad part is that many of these women end up being fetishized for having darker skin, and are STILL left out of the conversation when it comes to beauty standards.
Over the past few years we’ve seen so many “African American Studies” teachers be ousted for being white. Like, I’m constantly baffled on how the fuck that even happens! If there were more black people in the room when these people were hired, we wouldn’t find this happening as much. I always think about all the brown and dark skinned teachers who applied for the job and were overlooked. The very obviously BLACK women who were overlooked for a position that ended up being given to an imposter. Clearly these interviewers assumed that these were light skinned women that were just the “right amount of black”. See what happens when you comply with colorism?… You end up looking foolish! Even crazy ass Rachel Dolezal was the CHAPTER PRESIDENT of the NAACP. This woman called herself Nkechi Amare Diallo! But because her chapter was located in Spokane, Washington (a very white area) she was just the “right amount of black”. Side bar I’ve been laughing at this fucking picture of Rachel Dolezal and her braids for 30 minutes now. I caaaaan’t. Whew.
Even when it comes to dating, black men are always talking down on darker skinned black women. They’d much rather date someone who is light skinned to the point where you can’t even tell they’re black, or someone that is ethnically ambiguous or ~exotic~ YAWN. Don’t even get me started on the fragile black male ego though, that’s a whole other post. Everyday I see somebody’s dusty ass son talking about how “unattractive” darker skinned women are. I see so many Tiktok’s about black guys preferring white women who want to be black like Kylie Jenner. I get everyone has a preference, but you don’t need to bash people in the process. I am a light skinned black woman so even I benefit from colorism at times, but I’m not a fucking weirdo and would never pretend I’m other than black to appease someone else and “fit in”. I always hear lighter black women saying “they’ve got Native American in their family”, turns out I actually do. However, I am black. At this point the connections to those genes are so watered down that it wouldn’t even make sense to claim them. Everyone in my family, besides my dad (who’s side has those Native genes) and myself are dark skinned. All of my black friends are browb/dark skinned. So I can clearly see the difference in treatment and its fucked up. When an employer looks at me, they think I might be mixed and for some sick reason that equates to being “better”. Now I, of course am a pretty smart cookie, but I have seen plenty of other women who look just like me, or are even lighter get access opportunities they don’t deserve. Though society sucks and will continue to suck for a while, the only way to combat this is to keep calling it out. If you sit by and accept the benefits rather than speak out for those in your community who are being overlooked, things will continue to be misaligned.