As women there are some things that we’ll have to deal with until the day that we die as are there issues that men will have to face as well. However there is one particular issue that I’m tired of dealing with as a black woman. That issue is discrimination within my own race. No matter the ethnicity of my grandparents and parents or our background there is no denying that I am an African-American woman. In the famous words of James Brown, “I”m black and I’m proud”. I celebrate this. I teach my nieces to celebrate it because we are a people that deserve celebration. Having acknowledged that allow me to acknowledge this, I am sick and tired of us black people casting off those who are “too black”. I do realize that some of my readers are of different races so allow me to clarify what “too black” means.
“Too black” is when a person of African descent is labeled as having skin that is especially dark brown or black. The discrimination that we who fall on the darker spectrum of the African rainbow face isn’t from those who are of different races or ethnic groups we face this discrimination from those inside our own race and it’s disgusting. Black is black. You cannot check in a box on an application that you are a little African-American or that you’re light-skinned so what difference does it make that some of us are darker than the others?
I have dealt with this issue my entire life especially as a child. My big brother is very light-skinned and my mother isn’t as dark as I am however they never made me feel any less beautiful than any of them. I came face to face with the stigma when I entered school from my peers who deemed me as ugly because my hair was natural and my face was darker than theirs. They’d call me black and blackie and it confused me. From what I knew they were black also so why was I ugly? Besides the shading of my skin there weren’t that many differences. My mother combed my hair everyday and sent me to school in the cutest clothes she could buy so what was the difference?
The difference was that they had been taught to perpetuate the stigma that is still very much alive today. That stigma is that lighter is prettier. Light skinned is beautiful, it’s synonymous with all things gorgeous and therefore all of the rest of us are just ugly ducklings. That stigma festers and causes as much harm to the gracious light skinned as it does to us shunned darkies. Continuing to face this beast I realize that I am blessed because I am learning to overcome it. It doesn’t bother me as much as it did when I was a child because I know how beautiful I am although I’m still struggling with it.
It’s kind of hard to even enjoy popular movies and music because they treat you as an outcast. One of my favorite movies is The Color Purple where the heroine is a woman who overcomes 40 years of abuse although throughout the movie she’s discriminated against because of the darkness of her skin. The stigma has also deeply invaded the world of hip-hop culture where you can find dozens of light skinned girls in music videos but you can count on your hands how many darker or brown skinned girls are featured. It also exists in their lyrics. Yo-Gotti, a popular Memphis rapper and one of my favorites, is always rapping about some “thick red-bone” or “light-bright, damn near white” chick but hardly ever does he describe a beautiful chocolate sister. His exclusion isn’t the only one that exists, to tell you the truth the last rapper I heard give props to darker women was Nelly and he’s light-skinned. Isn’t that ironic?
Society may not think much of it but it is hurtful. By excluding us or deeming darker people as “too black” you are painting a picture that labels us all as ugly outcasts and that perpetuates a lot of things. Darker young girls start to believe that they are ugly and unworthy of appreciation and therefore they develop unhealthy attitudes about themselves which can snowball into a lot of things that can cause more harm than good. Lighter little girls may believe that their darker counterparts are unworthy of love and friendship and they develop unhealthy attitudes as well. So my message to you all is don’t hate and stop discriminating. It’s bad enough that we’re continuing to battle stigmas forced on us by society as a whole we don’t need it from our own people.