side-eye of the week, You've got to be kidding me

Side-eye of the week: Fixated on colour, are you?

It’s been a while since I’ve graced you with a Side-eye of the week. Today seemed like a good day to highlight something that has been annoying me for years. And it’s been brought to my attention a couple of times this weekend. Read on and comment!

I am a dark-skinned Black woman, no ifs, ands or buts.

I love my skin. I don’t have a problem with it. It’s rich, chocolatey and smooth. I never worry about looking pale and sickly — I have a year-round, natural tan.

When I saw this article at Coco & Creme, a spinoff of one of my favourite sites, Clutch Magazine, I thought to myself, ‘isn’t this odd?’

Why?

Well, I had a couple of discussions about race and colourism this weekend. Now, being a dark-skinned person, I’ve had to accept that some people are going to think I’m unattractive because my skin is dark. This is just life. Some people are going to feel sorry for me that the good Lord didn’t bless me with light skin (instead of being happy that the Lord made me healthy and smart). Some people are going to think that just because they are lighter than me that they are more attractive than I am. Some people who have the same complexion as me will hate themselves and hate me and wish they were lighter. Others will pray that their children aren’t cursed with dreaded Black skin.

To all of this talk, I am disgusted — truly, I am.

I would hope that in 2010 Black people would have moved forward and be concentrating on more important things in life and not focusing on the colour of their skin. I would think that in the 21st century, people would not be disfiguring themselves by slathering all types of chemicals on themselves to lighten their skin.

Really?

I really shouldn’t be surprised because of the comments that I heard this weekend. I weep for my community and for my generation. It was one thing 50 years ago to feel that life would be more difficult without the benefit of lighter skin, but if you are still holding on to that ignorant way of thinking — you don’t want Black babies, you don’t want your children to be too dark or have hair that is too kinky, you won’t date a man or a woman who is darker than a paper bag — then, really, just don’t speak to me anymore, because every time you make a comment like that, you are saying it about me. My babies will be too dark and have hair that’s too kinky. I’m darker than a paper bag.

Obviously, I’ve been cursed. Although, my life is wonderful. I have a great family, a great husband, friends who love me for me and not despite my skin.

And, yes, I’m sure you didn’t really mean it like that when it fell out of your mouth. I know, it was never directed at me personally. But, you know what? My skin is dark and I love myself just the way I am. If you have issues with colour, don’t share it with me or mine. Really, just keep your self-hate to yourself.

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17 thoughts on “Side-eye of the week: Fixated on colour, are you?”

    1. Oh my goodness, it is so annoying and stupid. I’ve been hearing this conversation since I was a kid. I don’t understand why we, as a people, need to continue to worry about skin colour. Chupse.

  1. I don’t think we take enough time (as a community) to love our little girls. Be it in rap songs or at school or the myriad of places they’ll be told their black isn’t beautiful, young women especially, who are still growing and forming themselves get tons of negative commentary on themselves and (I think) very little positive reinforcement.
    My Caribbean parents took a great deal of effort into making sure, when I was young, that I knew I was beautiful. Therein, as I got older I could combat myself (and the outside world) because daddy and mommy thought I was the prettiest and smartest Caribbean child that ever graced this Earth. At twenty years old, I’m trying to live, only up to me (on my good, intelligent days). They made sure I had Black Barbies and made sure I understood that God made me the most perfect me I could be and while I could change my hair (I permed it and then BC’d and then Bc’d again!), lose and gain weight, pierce my body, draw on myself. . . there’d be nothing more beautiful than the way God made me.
    If we raised more children in that conscious sort of thinking I believe conversations about our own perceived (and most times unconsciously so) imperfections would cease.

    1. I agree. There is something lacking in our community and we are telling young women and men that they are beautiful and handsome and intelligent enough. My parents never really told me I was beautiful, they were more concerned that I was smart and that I realized my potential through education.

      At some point as adults, we have to realize when wrong is wrong and when stupid is stupid. At my age, I don’t have the energy to educate grown people who should know better. I’m talking about university-educated, professionals who are still spewing stupidity AND who should know better. I don’t give up on anyone, but Lord, you know, I am so done.

  2. This is such a sore subject for me. I grew up not liking my skin tone and secretly wishing I were something different and lighter. I always wanted straighter hair too. I’m happy that I got through that phase in my life. I have sons who are both darker than me. Don’t think for a second that this only affects girls!! I constantly try to reassure them (especially the second child who is a very dark but adorable child) that they ought to be proud of who they are and their blackness, and not to let “ignant” people tell them otherwise!!

    1. You know, I’ve thought about how colourism affects boys but it was always in the context of how that then would affect a girl. Meaning, if a young man felt badly about the colour of his skin, that would be reflected in the women he found attractive. I think that I’ve seen enough dark-skinned Black men in media that scores of women find attractive (Idris Elba, Lance Gross, Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut) that I’ve always thought that young men didn’t have to face this issue the same way that Black women did because we are always bombarded with women who look like Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Cassie, Halle Berry and Rihanna. But, that’s just the media — things are different in real life, right?

      Thank you for coming at the discussion from another perspective. I’m sure that your sons are as sweet as ever. Keep helping them to love themselves because that is how they are going to deal with the stupid people in this world who want to make them feel like they aren’t worth as much because of their skin.

    1. Really? Another friend of mine said the same thing. I never had a problem with my complexion. Well, maybe when I was in elementary school and I was only one of a handful of Black kids at school. Once I got to high school and interacted with other Black kids, I didn’t have any issue with my skin. Although, they had problems with other parts of me.

  3. My head is bow in shame, i must truely apologize for i am guilty of making such comments. Though in humor still inappropriate and sometimes not realizing the hurt and disrepect i am conveying. I apologize and will be more careful with this guile tongue of mine and bring it into obedience.

    1. You know, we don’t always realize that comments can be hurtful. I’m guilty of that. I’ve said things not realizing that I’ve hurt someone until afterwards. What I appreciate is that you are woman enough to say that you made a mistake and apologize for it. Some people would be wrong and strong — I’m glad you aren’t like that.

  4. Great post! I posted something to your page on facebook (or it could be my page) to add to this topic. I got it from BGLH. The Lord helps the poor fool that steps to my two brown babies with such nonsense. I’m somewhat torn though because although I feel like you do most days, I still feel obligated to help other black people try and see the beauty of their hair and skin color because I know that we’ve been brainwashed to think light/bright, straight, non kinky is better. I think I shared this with your sis before; I had a friend who’s biracial and her and I had honest discussions about race and she told me that even though she thinks I’m pretty, she still believes that she’s hotter/prettier because of her complexion. You see, society has always told her that because of her lighter complexion and less kinky hair. Its like me, for the longest time believing that “my longer hair” made me prettier, again something that society as always told us. My big cut was the best thing I did to counter that myth/illusion. There was a time though, when I believed it too, however age and being a mom to 2 brown girls have helped in countering that. I don’t think its much different now, but I feel that I’ve a responsibility to squash/counter those beliefs and I know I’ve told you that I think you do too 🙂 We have to be embassassors for our race/complexion and show the world, my daughters, your goddaughters that we are beautiful just the way God made us.

    That’s why I don’t like to start writing because it always turns into a paragraph 🙂 I hope it makes sense because I’m trying to bust out of this joint 🙂

    Have a great day world!

    1. I love having open conversations about race, shadism, colourism and all that stuff — but I can’t fight to change people’s minds anymore. I truly believe if you are an adult and you still hold ignorant beliefs and want to share them, I can’t help you. Your friend is lucky she’s your friend and not mine because I would cut her off… or at least distance myself from her. I just don’t have the energy anymore. If you have a clue about the history of Black people, I shouldn’t have to talk to you about this.

      I’ve been brainwashed (I don’t like that word, but I guess it works in this context) with the same things as your friend and as an adult I’ve fought to unlearn the same stereotypes that she’s using to build herself up with. Maybe I’ve fought those stereotypes because they’ve hurt me. I remember a Black person saying to me when I was in university that biracial people were the most beautiful people in the world.

      That comment made me stop and think. If I agreed with that person, I could never be considered most beautiful. I would always be second best because I’m not biracial. I didn’t like that – why could we just be beautiful regardless of what our racial background was?

      Maybe your friend ascribes to these stereotypes because they’ve built her up and made her think that she’s more beautiful. There is nothing wrong with a healthy self-esteem, but don’t build yourself up on my back and try to break me down. I think, unfortunately, some people are willfully ignorant — maybe because it suits them or maybe because they just don’t want to learn anything better.

      I will always try to be a positive example for the children in my life and let them know that God made all of us the way He wanted us to be. As for grown ass adults? I can’t anymore — I’m praying for patience, I really am, but I’m not there yet.

      I enjoy your long posts! It’s great discussion 😉

  5. Funny, because when she told me that I believed her. I didn’t confirm it out loud but men confirmed to me that what she said was true because of the attention they gave to her. When we went clubbing together black men flocked to her. Funny enough, thinking back, whenever I was in her presence, I remember getting more appreciation from men of other race than black man. Why is that I wonder? Another topic for another day. We aren’t in touch anymore, we were really just clubbing buddies, and we hung out at the time.

    We can be ignorant and don’t see the damages that we do to each other. I think most of us as black people have heard comments like those. My hair was the focal point of my beauty as far as blacks were concerned and even though they told me I was pretty, I have now realized it was at the expense of another black person. Some of us hate ourselves so much that its so much easier to be tear down others, than work on being at peace with oneself.

    That’s the thing, as blacks haven’t we all been “brainwashed”? Wasn’t the anedote that the slave master’s use to pit us against each other all about our physical characteristics. Haven’t we just kept on passing it down fron generation to generation? I know, I know, I say it all the time, we are far removed from slavery and we need to get over that shish, but we’re still living in a society where our brand of beauty is selectable. Just a month or two ago I read where for black models to be “sellable” they were to look like white girls dipped in chocolate(I think you may have shared that). You would think that Halle Berry (mixed race) is the most beautiful black women ever,when there’s the Gabrielle Union, Sanaa Lathan of the world. Stacey Dash is breathtakingly beautiful and I have always wondered why didn’t she get her props for being beautiful, is it because she’s abit darker? Beyonce is photoshopped to look lighter and Rihanna is now walking around with this hot mess of bright red hair on her head(I know its all in the name of fashion but someone needs to be honest with that girl) and everwhere I look the black man as someone on his arm other than a black women (that one hurts, even if I’m married to a fine one) because when the the rest of the world told the black woman that she was not delectable I thought the black man had our backs and held us in high esteem. Now I think that he too has brought into what the rest of society thinks (this might not be true but its how I feel). I don’t see any other man of other races running to date outside of his race as the black man because it is more socially acceptable.

    So can we really blame some blacks for hunging their heads and wallowing in self hate. Can we blame them for going with what society and the majority as always told us about ourselves. If we can’t blame them( I don’t really see how we can) isn’t it then up to rest of us who’s moved away from that shish to try and bring them with us. Now, I’m not telling you to keep on banging your head against a brick wall, but just to pity the fool and instill some of your knowledge upon him or her. Hopefully this little doctrine of self love that you have bestowed on that individual will help in moving that person into a abyss where kinky is good, sexy and fly and chocolate is so yummy, because it is, isn’t it? A lot of people in the world loves chocolate; damn, if I could eat me I would 🙂

    1. I think the reason I don’t like the word is because for a lot of people it’s a cop out. I recognize that we’ve all been brainwashed to some extent, but I think we like to use that as an excuse for being ignorant. I truly think that once you’re an adult, you have to take responsibility for yourself and better yourself. Brainwashing always sounds like you had absolutely no choice than think what you think. For some people, sure that’s the case, but for many, they are happy to think what they think – especially if it benefits them. While being bombarded with negativity and ignorance will shape how you think, we all have a responsibility to do better for ourselves and not just willfully claim ignorance and use brainwashing as the rationale. Maybe I’m harsh — it could be 😉 — but I think we have to start holding people accountable for their words and actions and don’t let them off the hook by saying they are brainwashed.

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