Some people love being the exception. I am not one of them. I know that issues of color and shade have been discussed a million times over and that the dead horse has been beaten, cremated and buried; but it doesn’t stop some things from being annoying. So here I am, annoyed.
In my mind there’s light and dark. There are for surely varying degrees of lightness and darkness, but I’m a darkskinned girl, period. Pretty for a darkskinned girl. That statement slaps me in the face as probably the worst backhanded compliment I’ve ever received. In just one sentence I’m lifted up and trashed. It is in that moment that I am livid.
That is NOT a compliment! What it says to me is that darkskinned sisters are usually, and expected to be, ugly. I am special and that is why this person is talking to me because I, in their little mind, am the exception to the rule. At that point they’ve lost all credibility and potential consideration. They’ve offended me and I’ll let it be known. This is a divisive act and causes further issues with color complexes within our community.
The oppressed often aspire to take on the image of the oppressor. It is extremely sad how through the years Black people have ostracized one another just to ensure a certain level of exclusivity or as an attempt to assimilate with that majority group. Throughout the world dark skin is the least favored. People go as far as trying to bleach their skin, reaching a sickly shade of pink, just so they will not be dark brown. I’m ambivalent toward this practice because I am able to see both angles of it. How much different is lightening one’s skin than it is to receive cosmetic surgery such as breast augmentation or rhinoplasty?
Everyday, people make permanent changes to their bodies and there are risks associated with all of it. For me, conflict arises because there isn’t a mass exodus of all women to get larger breasts because breasts are ok. Around the world, people are ok with them. They are not embarrasing, they don’t have to be a certain size and they are all over television and magazines. There are women who even get their breasts reduced. But what about dark skin? I don’t see anyone trying to make themselves permanently darker, so trying to lighten one’s skin, in my opinion, is evidence of a deeper rooted problem. When people are even trying to lighten babies you know it’s a very serious issue.
We may not have a widespread bleaching practice here in the U.S. but what if the younger generation catches on to it because this instilled shame is passed on to them? The pride people have about mixing with people from different cultures for the purpose of making fair skinned children with “good” hair unsettles my stomach. What if one kid comes out that way and the other doesn’t? Will they be treated any differently? Many of us do have preferences in terms of color and shade but I would like to believe that it’s just a matter of attraction and not that one is better than the other.
I was outside of a club once and a guy told me that the club owners were racists because a “regular” black girl wouldn’t be admitted in the club. I said wow, so I would be turned away? He said, “No, not you. You look exotic.” Coming from two Brooklyn-bred parents, I was taken aback. Well what’s regular then? I remembered the days of being awkward and overlooked but I always had people in my life who helped to shape my personal image of myself into a positive one. Sounds regular to me.
We need to support one another. I shouldn’t be on the high-side of my 20’s going out to a club to hear a famous DJ announce that one shade of women are prettier than the other. After that happened it seemed like all of the women paused and put on the stank face; because we were out and we were drunk. We were fly in a multitude of shades and people like him should check their complexes at the door.