Book Writing Adventures

Discussion: How Many of Us Have Been Victims of Color-ism?

If you were here, you’d see my arm raised and waving, sloughing off the white residue from my deodorant, because yes, I have been a victim.

To play off of Karyn Folan’s Don’t Bring Home a White Boy, I wonder how many BLACK MOTHERS (and fathers) told their sons “Don’t bring home a black chick whose teeth shines in the dark like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland.” In other words, don’t bring home a darkie.

I am a dark-skinned black woman. You know how I know? I have been reminded of it my entire life. Since I could remember, relatives and perspective boyfriends have told me so. One older cousin of mine told my mother shortly after I was born, “Oh. She’s not cute because she’s too dark.” Which I know was a disappointment to my mom, because, being a dark woman herself and being demeaned and devalued because of it, started dating my father (in part) because he and his family were much fairer skinned. I think she hoped, for my sake, that I would be lighter-skinned and life would be just dog-gone-diddly-dandy for me.

Some idiot I dated once told me I must be special because normally, Mr. Jackass only dates light-skinned women. I am ashamed to admit that yes…I agreed to a second date. But that was like, 100 years ago, when I had all sorts of insecure feelings about my color. Oh, how I wished I could have looked like Janet Jackson, or Halle Berry back then, how great my life would be, how open my prospects for a mate would become. If only…

I was reminded of this whole light/skin dark skin issue when I was recently invited to a Facebook fan page titled, “I Celebrate My Dark-Skinned Black Woman Because She is My…” (and then you fill in the blank.) I guess the moderator took one look at me said “Yep! She’s one of us!”

Not even close.

Paper Bag–FAIL!! And not only am I OK with that, I’m honored to join.

My issues with color have been (mostly) resolved, but sadly, not because of my own people.

When I started dating my husband, I remember getting push back from black men when we were together. Nothing crazy, just a subtle shake of head in disapproval while said black man had his tongue down the throat of a girl with the highest score on the Brown Paper Bag Test. You know what was even more ironic? The white boy I was dating, who would eventually become my husband never, ever, ever, never said a word about my hue, unless it was to remark how beautiful it was. Now don’t get me wrong–I AM NOT saying that dating white men is the magic salve to cure the scourge of color-ism. Dark-skinned women get it from both black and white people. Don’t believe me? Then, you must not own a television, in which case, you probably live in a cave, and are probably not dark, because you don’t get out in the sun much. Everyone else knows what I’m talking about.

And before any of you respond with, Well the reason we have issue with color is because of slavery blah-blah-blah…, answer me this: How come we pick and choose which Euro-centric values we embrace or reject? Consumerism is so Eurocentric, but…how many pairs of shoes do you own (with purses to match)?

I’m just saying.

UPDATE: Special thanks to CW and another poster who directed me to Kola Boof’s manifesto on this issue. I can’t say I agree with everything she says, but she raises some valid points– as hard to face as they may be.

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