To whom it may concern,
Before anyone gets defensive, I want to make it clear this post is not to attack, offend or blame anyone. I am just a dark-skinned black woman who has had enough and I want to use my platform to express how I feel.
It actually blows my mind how people can place less value on someone else simply because of the of the colour of their skin. No wonder Albert Einstein referred to racism as “the disease of white people”. But what is equally as horrific as racism is colorism. It is an illness. As a community (Black people) that have collectively regarded racism as inhumanity, how can we knowingly sustain a divide amongst our own?
This post is a response to “recent” events in relation to colorism, although, I will not be naming and shaming. I say recent, but this is something that has been prevalent for centuries and something some of us face right from the day we are born. A lot of the time I avoid tweeting my thoughts on issues regarding racism and colorism, not because I don’t feel I should speak up but because the fact that some discussions even take place in this day and age petrify me. If greater women before me have said the same thing 100 times over and little progress has been made, what impact will what I say have? But hey let’s try!
I know men face issues of colorism too but I want to make it clear that this for dark skinned women.
Why did you go through a phase where my skin tone was the bud of your joke? Why did you go through a phase where I was undesirable simply based on my complexion? Why did you go through a phase when my kinky hair and my dark skin were considered disgusting? Why did you go through a phase where girls of my skin shade just were not your type? Why is it normal to dehumanise black women. Why are dark-skinned women at the bottom of the totem pole? What did we do to deserve this?
I have had so many questions since I was a young girl that has been left unanswered. So many wounds that have been left untreated. I remember being a young girl in primary school always just knowing I was the “ugly” friend, not because of my features, just my complexion. Based on the assumption, the lighter you are the prettier you are. All the black guys fancied the white or mixed race girls or maybe the black girl that did not have type 4C hair. But that’s okay, right? Because at primary school boys should not be a priority. Okay so secondary school, I had a boyfriend who called me “blick” and consistently made jokes about my dark complexion. Take a second to let that sink in… not an enemy or a stranger… one of the people I was closest to at the time, I allowed them to make jokes about my complexion because I was that desensitised to it. I hated playing in the sun as a little girl because I could not stand the thought of getting any darker than I actually was, and I remember a few of my friends thought exactly the same way I did even if you want to say I am just insecure.
Of course now as time has gone on, I’ve learned, I’ve grown, I have become “woke”. Now I love my chocolate skin. I certainly would not entertain a man who has a problem with it either. The men that still think this way don’t bother me because I fancy them, because clearly, we are intellectually, emotionally and socially incompatible. They bother me because the more such toxic views exist the more of a chance colorism survives another generation and affects another little black girls confidence.
ACCOUNTABILITY OR NAH?
People may think “jokes” about red lipstick or how we cut our hair may not have an impact on our self-esteem, but they do. So stop. You don’t need to ‘grow as a person’ to realise simple things are wrong. People often use age as an excuse, as a 16/17/18 year old I may not have known half of what I know now, but I understood insulting someone based on their skin was wrong, killing was wrong, stealing was wrong. I understood right from wrong as many of us did. The truth is people who ridiculed dark skinned women knew it was not nice and possibly you just made a bad choice. However, the lack of accountability when these things arise is astonishing. If apologising sincerely is such a burden, save yourself the hassle and do not cause the offense. Let my words not be misconstrued, I am not here for demanding apologies because insincere apologies are waste of everyone’s time.
Every time an issue arises regarding colorism, specifically aimed at dark-skinned women. You see black men and black women of a lighter shade make reference to our insecurities. “Clearly you lot have deep rooted insecurities” “why you guys so insecure” “you dark skinned girls need to understand you are just not some peoples preference” Sometimes I wonder if these same people lack half a brain cell. Dark skin women have been ridiculed from every direction growing up so YES a lot of us have deep-rooted insecurities. So when something pops up, whether it was said 2018 or 2012, it triggers those feelings. How can we be blamed for being the victim? A lot of us are angry and tired of defending ourselves, and we are WELL within our rights to be.
Women from certain parts of the world are notorious for bleaching their skin, risking DEATH (as bleaching has been said to cause/trigger for skin cancer). I mean an insecurity does not get much deeper than that if you are willing to die for it. I did my dissertation on self-concept and race and I found a reoccurring theme in previous studies and even my own study is black women’s lack of self-belief or feelings of undesirability. The famous doll study is a perfect example of this, black girls and boys seeing the black dolls as ugly/evil and the white ones as pretty/nice. A particular study I found said that although on average black girls had the best grades, they had the lowest academic self-concept in comparison to white boys and girls and black boys. If that is not a red flag for insecurity, I am not sure what is.
DEAR BLACK MEN
Some of you will hate me for this but I going to keep it brutally honest. A lot of the issues dark-skinned black women face is not because of you, but a lot of black men have played a role in enabling it to continue. This is not to 10-year-old Tyrone who knows no better and has been socially conditioned to believe “lighter is better”, or 56-year-old Michael who grew up in the village and barely knows his left from right. This is to 24 years old Tunde, with a Bachelor of science and a Masters yet can’t seem to master the basics of emotional intelligence. Who does not seem to understand bullying/teasing (1) + Lack of representation (1) = Anger and insecurities (2)? I mean it’s quicks maths. When issues arise that disfavor black woman, why are some black men the first to tell us to quit our whining? Why are they the first to start making jokes? I promise I am not saying this to attack you but to enlighten you. These issues cut deep and even if they don’t, that’s worrying. Because none of us should be “okay” with the way we are treated. For me personally, I want us to know that 10-year-old Tyrone can think differently, it starts with us, to teach our boys from young that a women’s value is placed in her character and not in her complexion. It is not too late to correct 56-year-old Michael and teach him that actually beauty is not a thing of shade. We need a united front if we want these things to come to an end, otherwise, we give these “racially ambiguous” women the fuel to insult and feel superior our daughters, and the cycle continues. One of my worst nightmares is to have my daughter come home in tears because someone insulted her complexion. Or worse my son believing that women who look like his sister and his mum are inferior to women of lighter complexion.
Black / Dark skinned women are not Jesus, but even Jesus bled when he was crucified. We do not deserve to be punished for your lack of knowledge. You can’t praise us in one breath and abuse us in the next. And we certainly do not deserve a crown of thorns.
“Stop comparing skin tones. Who cares if your skin is lighter or darker than the person standing next to you? Change can only happen once you can truthfully look in the mirror and love that Deep Chocolate, Cinnamon, Mocha, or Caramel complexion.” –Alicia D. Love
“I think that beauty is subjective. I’ve heard that statement [less classically beautiful] my entire life. Being a dark-skinned black woman, you heard it from the womb. And “classically not beautiful” is a fancy term for saying ugly. And denouncing you. And erasing you. Now … it worked when I was younger. It no longer works for me now. It’s about teaching a culture how to treat you. Because at the end of the day, you define you.” –Viola Davis
“I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am the soul that lives within.” –India.Arie