As a child, no one had to school me on the disparity of treatment that exists between dark skin and light skin in the black community. It was almost as if, instinctively, I was aware. And yet, they did tell me. From siblings who teased that, because I was of a darker complexion than they, that I must’ve been adopted, to the guys around the way who only had a thing for light-skinned sistas with pretty eyes and “good hair.” This notion that light skin was equivalent to beauty and therefore subject to some sort of privilege and dark skin was not, has always existed. That’s why it blows my mind when people act so oblivious when the topic of colorism sparks up.
For instance, jaws dropped all across social media last year when dark-skinned Jamaican Dancehall artist Spice, posted a photo on social media with a noticeably lighter complexion. Needless to say, this attracted comments from all over, some in support of but mostly bashing her new appearance. People were outraged by such a brazen form of self-hatred. How could she not love her beautiful melanin-enriched skin? In the end, it turned out to be a hoax, and a damned good publicity stunt for her single, “Black Hypocrisy,” which sheds light on colorism in the black community.
In it she sings:
I get hate from my own race
Yes, that’s a fact
‘Cause the same black people dem seh I’m too black
And if yuh bleach out yuh skin dem same one come a chat
Lryics Credit: genius.com
Oh, the hypocrisy. Black hypocrisy that is.
As if we don’t already face societal pressures to conform to someone else’s standards of beauty, sadly, we endure it from within our own community. Whether it’s the derogatory names like blackie or my personal favorite backhanded ‘compliment,’ you’re pretty for a black girl, this behavior continues to mimic the the ills of slavery, only this time around, we have no physical chains.
Colorism is real and what I hope to see happen is for others to stop treating us like the boy/girl who cried wolf– or black, in this case. Until then, if my complexion bans me from slipping past the velvet ropes of the V.I.P section of some big named celebrity, then believe me, that’s one party I’ll just have to miss.
Whether dark-skinned or light-skinned, at the end of the day, we’re all black! Have you experienced colorism? Comment below!
– A Black Girl About Town