Black in America After Thoughts

Last night I watched Black in America. This installment in the series was great. It really looked at something that people don’t talk about but it happens on a daily basis. Colorism is often overlooked as something that is not as serious as racism. It is overlooked because people do it everyday and don’t give it a second thought as to whether what they are saying is offensive. The thing with colorism is that, it is just as dangerous as racism. It places a hierarchical nature on who is beautiful and who isn’t and how people view themselves. The worse part is that just like racism, colorism is taught. We don’t come out of the womb thinking “Oh she is pretty because she is light skinned and I am not because I am dark skinned”. We only start to make these statements as we grow up and hear other people say them. A very good example is when babies are born and they have a light complexion and people are like oh she/he baby is cute. Then turn around and see a very cute baby that has a darker complexion and give a hair compliment instead, as if because the baby is darker she/he is not a cute. You know they say when people think a child is not cute they will compliment something else about the child other than the looks, i.e., hair, outfit, eyes. So this installment made me think about my own journey with colorism.

As a Black person with darker skin, I can say watching Black in American really resonated with me. I, just like the little girl thought a light complexion was beautiful and that I wasn’t because of my complexion. It impacted how I wore my hair, how I talked, and the friends I surrounded myself with. I was accustomed to being darker than some of my family members and also being called out about it. The only good thing is that my mother didn’t play those games.  She emphasized that we were all beautiful and that your complexion did not make you beautiful. She, having a darker complexion did not bite her tongue when it came to people saying a person was cute because of their complexion. She was very vocal about people who she thought was cute and people she didn’t based on their attitudes and how others treated them.  Most of the time the people she didn’t think were cute, were the people everyone else made a big deal out of and treated them differently because they had a lighter complexion. Although I grew up knowing this, it did not change how I viewed myself. Outside of the house, I still had to hear comments and jokes and my complexion or people who were darker than myself.  My mother, father, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephew, and my great niece all either have a medium or dark complexion.  So you would think we would never call each other Black or ugly or things like that but we did because that was what we knew and heard other say. That was what other people said, excluding my mommy.

It took a while for me to realize that the color of my skin did not make me beautiful but the spirit that was within and how I treated others. It became more apparent as I got older and people who were of a light complexion suddenly became ugly, (and some of them still are) because of their attitudes and how they treated others. It still frustrated me that as much progress I made with my attitudes towards people of different shades of Blackness, I still would heard the same attitudes and words that made my progression difficult.  As I began to gain more confidence in myself and my skin, I began to see a change in how others viewed me. True, most of the time people knew me as the smart girl but I became more than a smart girl when I started to realize that I could be smart and beautiful. 

Now I am not just that smart girl anymore . I am that natural haired girl that talks a lot and wants to teach others about the impact of communication,specifically Black people, who has a really pretty smile and really smooth skin, and who marches to her own beat. True, some people will still characterize me by my complexion and I will still be discriminated against because of my complexion, but I am okay with the person I am. It has taken a long time for me to get there and a few people telling me I am beautiful and redefining what beauty is, for me to get here but I am here.  

So Black in America rocked last night and really made me think about my journey to becoming okay with my complexion and the person I have become!!!

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