I was not prepared for the response to the first part of this post. I was not prepared to think of myself according to my skin shade rather than as simply a human being. I was not prepared for guilt for having written the article despite not being dark-skinned myself. But most of all, I was not prepared for the push back from non-dark skinned women.
Now, I do understand legitimate concerns regarding dark-skinned hatred or mistrust of light-skinned women when that hatred threatens one’s offspring. Because it will if you are intending to procreate. Those feelings don’t just vanish and if you don’t deal with them, you may do harm.
Yes, I understand that.
However, one thing I do not understand and was not prepared to fight back against at the time was having people practically lie to my face about the harm colorism does to dark-skinned girls versus men and women alike who are simply not dark-skinned women.
I am going to say this straight out and I honestly do not care how badly it may upset persons. Because some people need to get this through their heads and stop being so freaking full of it:
One of the hardest thing for privileged persons of any kind to do is to acknowledge their privilege. Because if you do, you also have to acknowledge benefiting from that privilege. And if you acknowledge benefits, well, you also acknowledge your contribution to and upholding of a status quo that harms other people. And good people or people who think of themselves as good don’t really ever want to do that.
I wrote the article about recognizing the necessity and importance of dark-skinned women and their beauty because I did not see it being acknowledged. I did not see the beautiful dark-skinned women I know exist on the TV screen and in movies. The ones I recalled from my childhood had even vanished. And when I notice something I just can’t un-notice it. And so when I noticed that I was writing from a place of skin privilege it bothered me. Because I wondered whether or not I was speaking for dark-skinned women in a way that could be construed as hijacking their message.
Often, there is this tendency of privileged groups or persons to not listen to the disenfranchised because their words or experiences are not seen as relatable or important. It’s only through the words of other privileged persons that some people get around to acknowledging the experiences of others. It’s why you often see in those “donate money to poor children in this nameless African/South American village” commercials a person other than someone of that background asking for money.
In all honesty, I didn’t write what I did because I felt that I could better explain the experiences of dark-skinned women; I wrote it because I observed something and it really startled me. I must say I was even more startled and concerned after that post. I was worried that my point did not get across or it became a sounding board for people looking to ignore everything I had written because it was an inconvenience to them.
While I’m getting over the need to clarify everything to everybody, this is one of those things I will gladly do so as an exception because if you give some persons an inch, they’ll take a mile: Recognition in this regard is about the issues of dark-skinned women. If that’s not you, save it for when it is. You can’t help other people by making their issues all about you. That’s not empathy, that’s narcissism.
I did not write about why it was important to acknowledge the femininity, beauty, and womanhood of dark-skinned women because I expected it to be open to debate. It’s not. You either wish to do this or you don’t. A lot of time spent hemming and hawing about why you shouldn’t have to is a lot of the time, whether people want to admit it or not, about status protection. Truly self-validated and empathetic people don’t look for ways to make the suffering and concerns of other people about themselves. Especially when doing so CONTRIBUTES TO THE PROBLEM. If you can’t care about other people unless the spotlight is on you, go away and work on your relationship skills. Relating to other people isn’t about making everything about you. And one of the biggest hurdles in challenging colorism is colorists or shade-privileged persons thinking that the best way to acknowledge dark-skinned women and their problems is to ignore their concerns and reframe the issue. ….No, just no.
The truth is that in order for a problem to be properly addressed, it must first be acknowledged. Are really dark-skinned women acknowledged in society in a way that’s positive? I don’t think so, and certainly not enough. It seems whenever a remotely dark-skinned, non-Eurocentric feature having woman or girl steps into the limelight, some truly ugly person is right there to try and knock them down a few pegs. The Williams sisters revolutionized the sport of tennis, but people are forever waiting to mock their African-esque* features and body shapes. Gabrielle Douglas is a history making Olympian and yet while she was doing this, all anyone wanted to talk about was her hair. Quvenzhané Wallis became the youngest ever Academy Awards nominee, and yet someone felt it was perfectly logical to refer her as a slur that’s not even acceptable to call adults. Some people are desperate to argue that there’s no pattern, no agenda against the self-worth and self-esteem of black women. And especially those who aren’t acceptably light enough.
One thing that annoys me greatly is that such slights are only ever acknowledged when the origin is chiefly external – commentary by non-blacks. No one has anything to say on behalf of the routine devaluation and harm done to dark-skinned women by the members of the so-called African American community? Really now?
Some people, even black women, dupe themselves into thinking that commentary and actions are less hurtful and harmful when the source is “black/African American like me”, or, “at least it’s someone also black saying it. I couldn’t take it from a white person”. Harm is harm, hate is hate, and ugly is ugly. Ugly behaviors towards a black woman because of her dark skin is hurtful and abusive. If you do this, you need to feel ashamed. If you accept this, you need to love yourself enough to stop.
Stop making excuses for black abusers. Stop feeling like there’s something wrong with you for being so dark-skinned. Stop listening to the lies that you are less valuable because of your dark skin.
I think dark skin is beautiful. I think women who have skin so dark it glows are lucky because there are few sights on this Earth as rewarding as the luminosity of truly dark skin. There are black pearls, too. And these items are prized for their rareness and beauty. So think of yourself in this way. You are a beautiful gem and you deserve to be marveled at and treasured. You deserve so much better than what so many black people are too blind or ignorant to give.
Please do not wait for other people to get around to recognizing your importance and beauty. Some people are just not that bright. For other people, it’s just not relevant to their interests. But you know it and believe it for yourself. And don’t let anyone try and convince you otherwise.
Godspeed to all my beautiful dark-skinned friends and to the beautiful dark-skinned women reading this right now. I love you and am on your side.