By Khristi L. Adams
Colorism rears its ugly head again. Twice in one week has the issue (and yes, I dare say, issue) of color complexion among African Americans come up in conversation. The first time was in reference to an old article that some very witty young writer wrote asking the question, “Why Does Alicia Get a Pass and Fantasia Doesn’t?” She was questioning the publics scrutiny of Fantasia’s alleged infidelity and Alicia Keys who, prior to marrying Swiss Beats, was in the same position but to many it seemed…cute. She dared pose the question, “Is there a color complex at play in this infidelity circle?” Alicia and Swiss are superstars. Who was Antwan Cook anyway but a tatoo on Fantasia’s body?
Color complexion discrimination was the furthest thing on people’s minds because we’re supposed to be PAST that! Well, after putting it out of my mind a bit, while having a conversation with an old friend, he mentioned to me that he knew a gorgeous actor in the media that most women have been gawking over since his on screen debut a few years ago. And when I playfully asked him to “hook me up” he simply (and without effort) responded, “Well you’re not really his type. He likes the light brights.” So I stopped for a minute and thought to myself, “Wouldn’t you know, I still can’t pass that darn paper bag test.”
Just as Michael Eric Dyson has asserted that racism is intrinsically located within the DNA of America, I say, that complexion discrimination is intrinsically located within the DNA of Black America. (and America in general of course) Light skin, in. Dark skin, out. And in some cases it’s vice versa. There has been someone who has looked at someone with lighter skin and thought, “Now she think she better than er’eybody.” And like racism, we need to stop pretending like it doesn’t exist within our subconscious.
In the book The Color Complex, the authors write, “Most Blacks are careful about letting Whites in on their dirty little secret.” Yep folks…while we’re crying racism on every corner of the American Flag, this reality is our dirty little secret. Of course brought on by racism, but nonetheless an issue that has historically pervaded our culture. And yes…it shows up in the media too. Look at how Usher’s ex-wife was vilified. Don’t tell me it was because she was a “bad person.” I can count the number of times on my hands people kept pushing the “she’s not cute enough for him button.” And Loreal’s convenient lightening of Beyonce’s skin for their magazine ads. I think they even got sued for that one.
I’ve gotten comments as bad as people wanting me to “get with” a light skinned brotha so that we could have cute kids…anything so that the kids aren’t dark. God forbid! Don’t get me wrong, I know i’m cute. Maybe not to everybody, but there is somebody out there who thinks my skin is my greatest asset…me being the first one because it always starts with you. For 30 years i’ve had to be the “cute dark skinned girl” representing on behalf of underprivileged other dark skinned girls without those features that were identifiably able to be exchanged for their darker skin. It took me a really long time to look at black and see beautiful….to look at Dark chocolate and appreciate its beauty and milk chocolate and appreciate its beauty too and vanilla chocolate and appreciate its beauty three. I get that people have their preferences in beauty and look, but must we still limit it to such disdain for ones skin complexion?
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