There’s a plethora a roads that lead to beauty and beautiful faces come in many shades. No one is any better or worse than any other, though each of us will likely have our preferences – though I’m one of the exceptions this, not having any generalized, ethnic or racial preferences when it comes to women’s beauty.
Of course, society being what it is, not all beautiful faces are treated equally. This is especially true for light-skinned Black women. They catch a lot of Hell from their darker-toned sisters…for no other reason than being a lighter shade of brown.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve my own issues with society’s general conception of Black beauty. It’s just that the prejudice, bigotry, and general vileness of the “Black Community’s” response to light-skinned Black women – especially if they have “good hair” and/or light eys – is extremely despicable, vulgar, and abhorrent to me.
To those angry Blacks and the various Liberal angst appropriators who believe that I, a White man – a “Cracka” to boot, should never comment on internecine Black issues: Suck it up, Buttercup!
I live in “The Hood” and one of my wives is Black. I have to hear about and, to some extent, deal with this shit every day so I’ll comment as I damn well please.
The shadism or colorism that the “Black Community” inflicts upon itself is as ridiculous as it is pernicious, which is to be expected since it’s nothing but racism being applied to their own people.
I suppose this sort of pathology is to be expected of a culture that, according to Dr. Jeffrianne Wilder of the University of North Florida, has 40 commonly understood words to describe their skin tones:
|Bright||Brown Skin||Super Black|
|Pretty Skin||Tar Baby|
|Red Bone||Watermelon Child|
The first thing most will notice is that there’s a lot of terms for both the lighten and darker ends of the phenotypical spectrum of skin tone in the Black population. This would seem to indicate, since it has the least detail and specificity, that the Medium tone is consider the default or normative coloration for Black by the “Black Community.”
The second thing most will notice is that the terms the “Black Community” uses to describe both light and dark skinned people include terms that both have nothing to do with coloration and have a significant cultural weight attached to them, e.g., “Oreo” and “Jigaboo” respectively. This reinforces the idea that the Medium tone is consider the default or normative coloration for Black by the “Black Community.” It also, however, brings Identity and allegiance into the equation.
Remember! These are terms used within the “Black Community” to describe each other, not terms used by others to describe them. Contortions will be needed to blame “Whitey” for this.
And therein lies a huge issue laid bare for all to see if they’ve the courage to look. While the “Black Community” has much to say against their darker brothers and sisters, those “Darkies” are still considered to be Black Enough. The same feelings of cultural solidarity are not so extended to the lighter toned Blacks, especially light-skinned women.
Scripts, Notions, and Othering
One cannot deny that light-skinned women have certain perceived advantages in the “Black Community,” all based solely upon their skin tone. Nor can the educated person deny that, once “internalized scripts” and “color notions” are applied, that perception becomes the de facto reality on the ground. Hence, the “Black Community,” especially its women, do not think of their light-skinned skinned sisters as being truly Black because, while they can’t have “White Privilege,” they have been assigned “Light Privilege.” This results in an “Othering” of the lighter women of the Black Community – a “Whitification” of them, if you will.
On the plus side, women of the “Black Community” tend to describe light-skinned Black women as: trustworthy, amiable, non-threatening, and comfortable. On the downside, they also tend to describe them as: conceited, arrogant, snobby, and “too White.”
This forces the light-skinned Black women into the position of having to prove herself to be a legitimate or authentic member of the “Black Community” if she wants or has to remain a part of it.
People always assume that because I’m light skinned that I’m stuck up and they say, oh you’d make the perfect AKA[…] I don’t think I’m stuck up but people say that I am, and I just think it’s because of my complexion. I don’t think I’m stuck up.
Wilder, 2008 pg. 91
NOTE: AKA is Alpha Kappa Alpha, a a Black sorority notorious for selecting mainly light-skinned members. My wife says this is somewhat true but varies from campus to campus, and that, in her day at least, most Black sororities on any individual campus do segregate by shade.
Of course, the “Othering” part of this, along with the antipathy, is based on the normative cultural more of the “Black Community,” blaming others race-based privileges for their own relative circumstances.
In terms of female–female relationships, I think color affects how we treat each other. Like if you’re lighter and I think you’re better, and I think the guys want you, then I won’t treat you nicely. I’ll take every opportunity to ignore you, or not tell you something, or keep you out of my little group of friends, because really I feel threatened, so I want to punish you because you have it better than me.
— Prof. Margaret Hunter
The Persistent Problem of Colorism: Skin Tone, Status, and Inequality (2007)
Essentially, what happens is that light-skinned Blacks, especially women since they’re all stuck, will they or nil they, in the “Beauty Queue,” are seen as threat by their darker sisters because they are seen as being more assimilated into the broader, mostly White, American culture and society simply because they’re lighter colored.
An Exilic Display
What this amounts to is another, internally focused, display of the exilic nature of the “Black Community.” By declaiming that light-skinned women aren’t Black enough because they supposedly have too many physical and cultural similarities with Whites the members of the “Black Community” are both defining Blackness as something different than American and saying that whatsoever is American has no place within the “Black Community.”
The effect, intentional or not, of the darker-skinned Blacks attempt to strip power from the lighter-skinned through using “authenticity” as a metric for power an has moved the culture of the “Black Community” further away from normative American culture and made it more antithetical to it as well.
A Remedy Of Sorts
The best remedy for this that I can devise is for the greater, mostly White, American culture to simple welcome the light-skinned Black women with open arms. We are, after all, a society made up from the melting pot of diverse immigrant cultures and there’s little difference between those immigrated physically or geographically and those that did so merely through cultural assimilation.
Sure, it be nice if we could convince the “Black Community” to change this behavior and eliminate colorism from cultural norms. That, however, is functionally similar to nation building and would be equally unlikely to be successful. Cultural and/or societal change cannot be enacted from outside