Declaring My Skin Tone Within the African American Community: Part 1
By: Ms. K
It is the lack of acceptance within the African American community that allows colorism to still exists. It is hard to make people realize that their beauty comes from knowing their own self worth. The moment people in the African American community can eliminate the term “light skin” vs. “dark skin” well be the moment colorism will end officially.
A person skin tone can produce self-hatred; it’s not only within society history that being black had a condescending notion, but also within the black community the shade of your skin tone changes everything. Self-love is missing; the acceptance of oneself had been stared away from happiness to self-hatred depending on if your darker then the paper bag. While being black is beautiful, does not mean the different shades within the black community are accepted. It’s one thing to end slavery, fight for civil rights, but to struggle over complexion comes from not accepting one self. While society views them as black they had their own categories to be accepted because society identify being light skin equal pass while being dark skin meant rejection.
Looking at the mirror you want your beauty to be defining beyond your skin tone, but beauty in our society is define by your appearance. Reflecting on older pictures of myself I would have avoided the sun to just pass the paper bag test. The journey of understanding the African American desire to be accepted being black hurts, it is not a reward that the color of your skin brings hatred, nasty rhymes, stories, and people trying so hard to become white. They say being pretty hurt, but being black was not a reward instead self-hatred was form within the black community. Pretending colorism does not exist would be a lie. It’s the acknowledgment within the African American community to distinguish between the privileged and unprivileged who were able to pass within the white community, and those who where rejected.
Understanding that colorism is not a modern day issue. Black people do not see themselves as flawless because their skin tone is not accepted. The acceptance of being dark was not appreciated in society instead terms where said, shame, and self-hatred was develop. The justification that being black is a punishment not a reward simply meaning they are worthless.
It is the notion that being accepted only comes from not being black. The complexion problem goes with people not accepting themselves because it was not accepted in society. African Americans have tried many different methods to become white. Throughout the centuries remedies was use to go from black to white. “Advertisements for straightening products claimed to “make kinky, snarly, ugly, surly hair become soft, smooth, straight, long, and easily handled.” Other ads, geared towards dark-complexioned women, invited them to “bleach your skin to lighter lovelier beauty!”(p. 12-13). Accepting one self would be hard when society makes it clear being dark skin was an outcast.
The drive that makes people want to be desired, and appreciated goes into a twisted reality with skin tone. There is a popular saying in the black community and mention in the book “The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice” responds to assault against darker hues by self-asserting the sexual desirability of a dark woman over that of lighter women” (p.14). While the saying is used now as an empowering statement about being dark skin, it comes with a backward notion that makes the statement a pure insult. The beauty of a dark skin person is only seen as sexual fantasy with no value beyond the bedroom. “While black women in blues music are characterized as sexual, as erotic, the fair woman is both the most sought-after figure and, in her proximity to whiteness, the most amorphous, which is represented as fickleness” (p.14). It is a clear division between complexion. Where does one find acceptance when your own community is divided between light and dark skin?
To be Continued ….