Racist Beauty Ideals, Inequality & Double Standards Beget Jealousy & Ignorance

*DISCLAIMER: This post does not apply to all Black women and it doesn’t apply to all white women on the blog, in the real world or elsewhere. There are many white women and Black women who have solid friendships, relationship and support each other. 

 

Racist beauty standards cause division between women. As a  woman, I know that beauty is a beast in general. Every woman feels pressure to conform to some standard, but when you add race into the mix, things just get downright ugly…pun intended.

I was recently browsing a website that featured a picture of Serena Williams. The author noted that whenever a picture of Serena Williams was posted, racist comments were made, such as “Black women look like monkies,” “Black women are ugly,” “go back to Africa,” etc.

You can Read Full Article Here

She writes,

“Every where I turn on the internet, there are tons of comments that are anti black women. The post could be about food and someone will change the subject and start a debate about black women and how we dress, eat, talk, look, etc. I think it’s an obsession. It seems that “these” people have a jealous and envied filled obsession with black women. Why else would they spend so much time worrying about how we live our lives?”

I noticed in response to the article, some  women were bickering in the comments section about who was jealous of who, who had ugly hair, ugly features etc.

These are two comments that I pulled from the blog:

Brown woman writes,

“This is funny! We all know that white women are jealous of Black women so trying to use other ethnicities now is a lame excuse. Black women are BROWN SKINNED full stop, they mainly have full or thick lips and curvy body shape, curly or frizzy hair, some have naturally straight hair! White women knows these particular features are solely found in women of African decent! Confession is good for the soul. White women are jealous of black women!

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    Angelbaby  Brown Woman • 4 months ago

    What is funny is that you and many other black women are clearly jealous of White women. White women would never write catty blogs such as this since they stay mature, however, blogs like this written by black women shows off their insecurity and jealousy. Your words show your jealousy of White women. White actresses such as Christina Hendricks and Kat Dennings are clear examples of White women with natural curves and full natural lips, these are the women Whites want to emulate…..Not you! Trust me, I would know this better than you:) and nobody is tanning and getting full lips to look black, some* are getting tans to look golden and some* getting full lips to look young. Womanly curves are also naturally found in many White women so some getting curves surgically has nothing to do with your race. Get over yourselves since the world does not revolve around you and grow up.”

    While, I do not agree with  some of the Black women who were stereotyping all white women, any more than I agree with stereotyping all Black women, and I certainly think that there are beautiful women in every race, I did find angelbaby’s comments ironic.

    If you read the blog post, the author is referring to the vitriol and racist remarks leveled at Black women by non-black women (and men) and angelbaby was so blinded by her privilege that she wrote in her post that “white women weren’t jealous and would never be catty toward Black women because they stay mature…the world does not revolve around you.” Angelbaby didn’t seem at all bothered by the racist and stereotypical comments about Black women, but was quick to jump to the defense of white women when they were being stereotyped…Again, I do not agree with the ignorant or stereotypical comments about white women on the blog either, but her comment  just confirms to me that some people are just blind to discrimination Black women face. Black women are demeaned and stereotyped all of the time, but it wasn’t until white women were stereotyped that angelbaby spoke up about ignorance, stereotyping etc…it was all okay when Black women were being stereotyped and demeaned.

So, after reading some of the vitriol, I had to comment and paraphrasing, this is more or less how I responded:

” I am not sure where all this hostility is coming from on a thread that is about uplifting Black women, but I will say this,  there are beautiful women in every race and not everyone is supposed to look the same. We all know that every one is different, but there are certain features that are more common in women of West african descent. These include full lips, curvy figures, kinky hair etc… and there are traits that are more common in European women, such as Light hair and Light eyes. It is not to say that any one feature is superior to the other, but it is apparent that there are differences. Now, not all black women have curvy bodies, kinky hair etc…and not all white women have blue eyes and light hair and some Black women can have blue eyes and some white women can have curvy bodies etc..but most  that I see do not conform to this standard.

With that being said, what i wonder is, why is it that when a positive topic about Black women comes up, you (angelbaby) would come and make degrading comments about black women? Do you defend Black women when Black women are called monkies etc…or do you only care about humanity and steretoypes when white women are the ones being stereotyped for a change?

That is my question to you because I was taught that we are all equal humans who are worthy of respect and we’re all made in God’s image of beauty. All races are equal and we are not all supposed to look the same. We look the way we look and I do not agree that ANY ONE race is superior IN ANY WAY to another, this includes beauty.  There are beautiful Black women, Asian women, white women, Indian women and every other ethnicity. But please, let’s not be hypocritical and be silent when Black women are stereotyped and demeaned all of the time and  only get offended when innapropriate things are said about white women. That is not right…

Poster Fierce writes,

” You sound like a jealous and insecure person by spreading your lies and hate. Don’t be mad because you are unwanted!

White women are lazy?….tell that to the countless doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs who are WHITE women. They run this country. The first US president will be a White woman since White women dominate politics as well. Oh yea, many successful authors are White women as well like J.K Rowling.

There are many White female scientists who have invented the things you use on a daily basis so instead of bashing them, kiss their feet.”

I responded:

“I think that you need to remember that we do, unfortunately, live in a white supremacist culture and there are certain privileges and economic advantages that would make it easier for a white woman to excel in the political world than a woman of color, especially a Black woman. That is reality. If you look at the bias in the criminal justice system, the glaring inequality in the public schooling system, the bias in the health care system and the inequality in the political system, it is very obvious that racism and white supremacy is still a problem.  White women benefit from white supremacy. Even the media is set up to favor white women’s beauty, while degrading women of color.

It is sad because we are all human and at the end of the day, everyone deserves a full chance, everyone deserves respect and every woman deserves to have her beauty recognized, but that is not the reality. This needs to change.

@ Black women/everyone else.

There is no need to degrade white women or other races. We know how [western] society has demeaned us and we know that we face discrimination just for being Black. We know the history that we have to deal with, we know we face more discrimination in the workplace and in society in general. We know that our children face discrimination in schools and most white women do not understand or deal with this, but let’s not stoop to the level of ignorant people by demeaning white women. Fight with your gloves on and we can uplift ourselves and our beauty WITHOUT degrading other people.

If there is any lesson that we can teach to the world, as BLack women, it should be that we’re all beautiful women and that we don’t NEED racist hierarchy of beauty in order to uplift ourselves. We can be beautiful all on our own, without dragging others down. 

I know that there are a lot of nasty things said about Black women all over the internet and in society, and most white women, will not come to Black women’s defense, but let’s not do the same thing that is done to us, to white women. This will only bring us down to the level of ignorance.  Rise above it all and teach the world a lesson that no one race is superior to another.

and @ everyone,

STOP measuring your worth and value as a woman in terms of how well you can conform to the male gaze. Stop going around saying “well white men want me so this makes me better,” or “Black men want us and don’t want you, so this makes me superior.” Your worth and beauty as a woman is not validated by your ability to conform to the eurocentric,erotic male gaze nor is it validated by the male gaze in general.

You have value and beauty all on your own.”

___________________________________________________________________________________

Expanding My Thoughts: 

First of all, it is sad to see the division between women. Racist beauty standards definitely bring out the ugliness in women.

I felt that many of the comments on the blog were ignorant. Both white and Black women were making ignorant comments. I am not understanding why people have to continue to propagate the idea that one race’s form of beauty is superior to another race. Where is the rule that says we can’t all look different and still be equally beautiful?

In an ideal world, we could all just be individuals and beauty standards would be more egalitarian, but we live in the real world and it’s not that simple, unfortunately.

I did not like the comments that were made about both white women and Black women on the blog, but I can understand the frustration. My frustration stems from the fact that some white women just do not care to understand the inequality that Black women deal with and some just will not acknowledge their privilege as white women.

This is partly where my frustration with “angelbaby,” came from. I did not agree with the stereotypes about white women on the blog, any more than I agreed with the stereotypes about Black women (as I’ve said before) but I did NOT like that angelbaby seemed ot be unfazed by the stereotypes thrown at Black women originally and only got offended and “righteous,” when white women were stereotyped. That was the root of my frustration.

Black women face discrimination and racist beauty standards that tell us every day of our lives that we are inferior. We are told that our hair is inferior, we are told that our  body shapes are inferior, we are told that our lips are only beautiful when they are on a light face and we’re told many more things. I know how Black women feel about beauty standards because we live in a very racist society and many white women just do not understand what it is like to grow up in a society that portrays you as inferior from birth. They do not understand or acknowledge the privilege that they have, just for being white. They do not understand the inequality that we face in the workplace, in the academic realm, in the political realm and in society in general.

They don’t understand how it feels to be told again and again that your looks are inferior, that your hair is too kinky, your butt is too big, your lips too full, your dance too vulgar. They do not understand the frustration that comes when Kim Kardashian, J.Lo, Angelina Jolie  and Miley Cyrus, who does one twerk video, are lauded for having  the very same features, which Black women are castigated for having. These features are only beautiful…when seen on a white face or body.

Many white women do not know about Sarah Baartman, they do not know that Black women earn less than white women in the workforce , even when working at the same occupation, and many just do not understand our struggle. Many white women benefit from white supremacy, so some choose not to understand. Not all white women have this disconnect, I know some white women   are just as concerned about the well-being of EVERYONE, not just white women. But, it seems that some white women just are out of the loop when it comes to their own privilege and the inequality that Black women (and WOC) face as a result of their privilege.

So, I can certainly understand where the frustration and anger comes from for Black women. There is frustration due to the privilege that white women have and the inequality that Black women face and that was my problem with angelbaby’s comments.

But I also have to say that I disagree with the Black women who were stereotyping white women.

As Black women, we know how it feels to be stereotyped and demeaned and we know how painful it feels to be stereotyped, so why would we do that to someone else? I believe that Black women can defend ourselves and rise above all the adversity, without degrading others…even when they degrade us.

We can show the world that we are classy and can uplift and value our own beauty, without degrading others. Set an example that we do not need to tear others down, like some people do, to feel beautiful and valuable.

When we stoop to the level of the people who call Serena Williams a “monkey,” and who degrade our Black First Lady, despite all of her accomplishments, then we’re just  making ourselves as ugly as the people who make these comments are. So, I never want Black women to let people turn us ugly. I understand where the frustration comes from, but we can’t stoop to the level of those who discriminate against us. We can defend ourselves and still maintain our integrity and dignity.

Bottom Line: 

All races are beautiful and we should all be treated with respect and dignity. We can challenge racism and inequality  by showing the world that we’re all equal, not by demeaning others and stooping to their level. So, there were both  Black women and  white women on that thread, in my opinion, who behaved ignorantly. Those are my thoughts.

Racist Beauty Ideals, Inequality & Double Standards Beget Jealousy & Ignorance

30 thoughts on “Racist Beauty Ideals, Inequality & Double Standards Beget Jealousy & Ignorance

    1. Now THAT is racist. The only reason you bash them is because you’ve been pulled into the vicious cycle. Personally, as a Jewish woman of European Jewish descent, I am more likely to trust people who aren’t blonde and don’t look Aryan (though I realize this may be unique to me). I get around all of the beauty standards by sticking by the idea that everyone is pretty but me. I personally envy tall, solidly-built, practical, trustworthy women, because those are, to me, the prettiest. I only really know one black girl (and not well), but the darkest-skinned girl I know well is the most beautiful (and shockingly, to me at least, the shortest) and kind woman I have ever met, and she has shaped my opinion of the rest of the world.

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  1. saaraz says:

    Hi, i want to thank you for your post, and the entire blogg. i just came across your blogg through a picture that i thought was pretty, and here we are 🙂 I live in sweden and here, there is alot of hate towads blackwomen. im not saying all white people hate us, but a lot of them do, eventhough some wont admit it. even alot of black women hate on each other, it does not matter if we came from the same continent, if there is a blackwomen who is darker than the rest blackwomen then there are more likely to hate on her, thats the biggest problem. I agree with you on this, we black women can rise from all of this shit and show the world that we are better by acting the right way. I believe the white media wont stop degrading us, so we just gotta stay strong for no matter how long it takes. its sad but true, it a never ending story.

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    1. hey saaraz thanks for stopping by and thank you for the comment. I’m sorry that you aren’t treated well as a Black woman in Sweden. I know we’ve all experienced that discrimination and we’ve been made to feel like we’re “not real women,” I think it’s a shame that colorism divides some of us as Black women because if anyone should understand where we’re coming from, it should be other Black women. As you said we come from the same continent so…we are sisters

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  2. Ebonychic205 says:

    Here’s a comment I found on tumblr that sums it all up:

    “For we have always known that the socially constructed image of innocent white womanhood relies on the continued production of the racist/sexist sexual myth that black women are not innocent and never can be. Since we are coded always as “fallen” women in the racist cultural iconography we can never, as can Madonna, publicly “work” the image of ourselves as innocent female daring to be bad. Mainstream culture always reads the black female body as sign of sexual experience.” — bell hooks (via wretchedoftheearth)

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  3. Ebonychic205 says:

    No disrespect to the article, but I really dislike people having to make “disclaimers” to get their message across. We don’t need to incorporate the “privileged” into the “unprivileged” fight for justice because it clouds the message. It also makes me believe that it’s a way for the privilege to make sure their privilege in still in place. Black women don’t need to be told “Well lets ad white women too” gays don’t need to be told “Well lets add religious people and black people too” let the oppressed group stand on their own please.

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    1. i hear what you’re saying, but the reason i put the disclaimer down is because I don’t want people to derail the topic by coming on and giving the “not all whites argument,” I have to put it in to emphasize that I am NOT generalizing all white people or white women and I am do not want people coming on the blog and derailing by saying that i’m generalizing when I am not. I also want to set a good example that oyu can address racism/inequality without generalizing people. I know that we, as Black women, seldom get this courtesy and people generalize us all of the time, but I want to set a better example than that.

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  4. “We all know that every one is different, but there are certain features that are more common in women of West african descent. These include full lips, curvy figures, kinky hair etc.…We are told that our hair is inferior, we are told that our body shapes are inferior, we are told that our lips are only beautiful when they are on a light face and we’re told many more things.”

    I don’t share your pessimism. In 1993, People magazine featured (former Miss America) Vanessa Williams among their “50 Most Beautiful list” that year.

    http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20110288,00.html

    I remember reading that issue back then and I recall how I was impressed by this quote:

    “This is a face to linger over, to explore, to appreciate like a fine painting for its subtlety and nuance. Notice the creamy texture of the mocha skin; the gracious curves of the nose; the generous mouth and the deft use of color in the gray-green eyes. Vanessa Williams may be a visual masterpiece….”

    Gracious curves of the nose? Generous mouth? Visual masterpiece? Aren’t those complimentary references to her African features?

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    1. Peanut says:

      I dont’ know if you are familiar, but you do know how Vanessa Williams was treated as a the first Black Miss America right?? Also Vanessa Williams conforms to the European standard, she is Black, but she is also European.

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      1. I am about the same age as her, so I was around at the time and am familiar with her story. I remember the nude photo scandal and it was a sad situation. Although I felt sorry for her, there were rules against stuff like that to qualify for the pageant and she agreed to them. So she was not a victim, despite being a sympathetic character. Although she resigned the Miss America title, she didn’t really lose the title either. Officially, she shares the title for that year with the runner-up winner. I think the pageant officials treated her very well and they handled that situation gracefully. Since then, she re-emerged with a successful and long career.

        There may have been a problem with the link I posted to before, but just in case you didn’t see it, this was the photo that People magazine featured in that article:

        I think everyone knows she has European heritage, but I am not certain if I understand correctly what you mean by her conforming to the “European standard.”

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    1. @THE ALCHEMIST, if you knew me, you would not judge me to be a colorist. BTW, I am a WM and I don’t care about color. I cited an article that complimented Vanessa’s features (which I rarely see done so directly), because I want to dispel the myth of ugliness being associated with African features. Nothing could be further from the truth from my experience. Yes, she is light skinned, but so what? Naomi Campbell and Alek Wek are dark skinned and that didn’t stop them from being internationally famous models.

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  5. THE ALCHEMIST says:

    I think most of the BW on this thread know that African phenotypical features are not ugly. The problem is that most of the U.S. population does not seem to agree. Pointing out a few exceptions like Vanessa Williams, Naomi Campbell (model from Europe) and Alek Wek (model whose career first took off in Europe) does not change the daily reality of phenotyically West African women living in the West. The existence of a “beauty queue” is well researched and documented by sociologists like Margaret Hunter and Ronald Hall. There is no debating its existence. I have two shelves on one bookcase fill with books on racialized beauty standards.

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  6. “I think most of the BW on this thread know that African phenotypical features are not ugly.”

    That’s not what I meant. I was talking about the views of the general population (not African American women in particular), based upon my personal observations.

    “The problem is that most of the U.S. population does not seem to agree. Pointing out a few exceptions like Vanessa Williams, Naomi Campbell (model from Europe) and Alek Wek (model whose career first took off in Europe) does not change the daily reality of phenotyically West African women living in the West.”

    Although beauty is subjective, I believe there is a consensus that most people perceive beauty based on a person’s facial symmetry, irrespective of ethnic origins. Of course, some people are very biased either for or against particular ethnic groups, but I am not convinced they represent the average American.

    Although Naomi Campbell is Afro-British and Alek Wek is Sudanese-born and European-based, their reputations do extend to the United States. Even if they and Vanessa Williams represent a “few exceptions,” in reality, so do most models and other “beautiful” celebrities, all of whom represent a very small percentage (exceptions) of the general population.

    I don’t think the chances of being hired as a model are significantly different between the average Caucasian woman and the average West African-descended woman in the West.

    “The existence of a ‘beauty queue’ is well researched and documented by sociologists like Margaret Hunter and Ronald Hall. There is no debating its existence. I have two shelves on one bookcase fill with books on racialized beauty standards.”

    I am unfamiliar with those sociologists or their studies and I am sure you are well versed on them. But I suspect I may have a general idea what some of their conclusions are. I don’t disagree at all that “beauty standards” traditionally leaned toward a more “European standard,” such as lighter skin, straight (or straightened) hair and finer facial features.

    I think lighter skin and straighter hair “standards” are still more prevalent, but I have noticed a trend toward fuller facial features (fuller lips, especially) over the years. If you go back 20-25 years or so, “Nordic looking” women, like Christie Brinkley, were the norm and you seldom saw someone who looked like Halle Berry or Rihanna. But to be honest, I think you are much more likely to see West African-descended women in popular media than East Asian. One of the few East Asian-descended women I know of to be a cover model would be Lucy Liu.

    I think it is important to point out that it is a very small group of people who decides what faces grace the covers of prominent magazines and advertisements. But, having said that, I think most of those decision makers have been showing more flexibility. For example, I have observed much more visibility of women, such as Jennifer Hudson and Queen Latifah in recent years. I believe that trend will continue.

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  7. Ebonychic205 says:

    African phenotype features are only represented if they come pre packaged in a “EURO” looking wrapper. They have to whiten up black women who possess these features so it won’t interfere with the beauty standard structure which also helps (I’m gonna be honest now) keep white supremacy alive. Also, they feel like it would soften the look since black women with black features are seen as masculine and subhuman. I’m just repeating what I’ve seen said.
    When you look at most magazines especially mainstream one’s the overall majority are still blonde, blue eyes and white.

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  8. I read that Afro Lounge article. Serena Williams clearly is happy with her looks and she should be. I always found her extremely attractive and sexy, both her face and body. Some people are jealous of her and wish they looked like her. The more extreme are insanely jealous of her and resort to offensive racist remarks and other insults.

    BUT, that being said, that article rubbed me the wrong way. When I read the title, “Black Woman, You Are Envied” my first thought was, “Envied by whom?” Some racist trolls or is she trying to demonize white women on the sly? I suspect the latter. I personally know some WW who expressed positive admiration for African American women beauty. That is very different from envy, which implies resentment.

    I see nothing wrong with embracing one’s ethnic heritage, but I get turned off when whoever it is, exalts his or her ethnic group above all others, as she does:

    “Black women, I want you to know that you are the creme of the crop. You are beautiful, strong and envied by many. You have been through so much and still shine bright. You are a Queen! Mother of civilization!”

    OK, she has a right to feel that way. But I object to the hypocrisy of criticizing and/or attacking non-black women for feeling the same way about their ethnic pride. I hate that hypocrisy and racist double standard. My suspicion of the author’s motives was validated by this quote:

    “The other day, someone left a comment saying, ‘Should have sent that monkey back,’ this comment was in response to a story I posted, ‘Another Set Of White Parents Kill Adopted Black Daughter.’”

    That was an awful story, but I found that article, “Another Set Of White Parents Kill Adopted Black Daughter” very inflammatory. What is she insinuating? Don’t trust white people who adopt black children? Is there an epidemic of white parents killing black children? Is that what she is saying? I suspect she got the reaction she WANTED to get. I don’t like racists of all persuasions. I especially find those who instigate racism (like her), while pretending to condemn it, to be the most insidious of racists.

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  9. Ebonychic205 says:

    I don’t like privileged groups complaining about oppressed groups who call out the structures that make them oppressed. I see it as a sign of making sure their privilege stays put. It reminds me of how racists complain about reverse racism in a society that still operates by racism and prejudice. It feels like they hate to see their privilege slip away even by a small margin. Black women are still seen as the most foul, stereotyped, bullied, oppressed, underrepresented, least protected group on the planet so black women speaking out is not going to even put a dent in white female privilege. I strongly dislike when people incorporate theimselves in someone else’s movement, .

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    1. Mstoogood4yall says:

      I agree, and I can’t stand when they try to compare their struggle to ours. Everybody wants to piggyback off of our issues, white women have done it, gays have done it.

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  10. AnthonyLT says:

    Hello, beautiful Sistah. I stumbled upon your blog recently. I’d like to follow your progression. I’m eager for your next post.

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  11. Great post. White women are not our friends, needless to say. They are our enemies and opposites. They envy us because we have the features that they have to pay a plastic surgeon to get. We Black women have beautiful brown skin, thick lips and curveacous bodies while they are straight up and down, have ugly, pale skin with blue veins showing and age so quickly. You should thank God you are a Black woman not some pasty looking White girl because I know I am!

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    1. White women can also naturally have full lips, curvy bodies and beautiful skin. They can have beautiful creamy white skin or olive skin, without veins showing. Their skin is seen as beautiful in many countries and they enjoy looking at their their gorgeous porcelain skin and features. Not pasty, but porcelain! Most White women follow their own trends and it has nothing to do with Black women. Black women also pay plastic surgeons to get features more commonly found in White women. How would you feel if people call your skin dark and ugly? You won’t like it so grow some self esteem and stop being a bully.

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      1. @ Adeen
        I am just now seeing this comment. I don’t think we need to insult white women as a whole for our beauty to be appreciated. I do not believe that we need to put down white women to uplift Black women. That is what racist white people do to Black women and we don’t want to be like that, so let’s not go down to that level .Every one is different and no one race is superior to another that is why I post, I want people to understand that.

        @ Rea

        With that being said, I also think that Rea, you are getting upset about one comment on a little blog. Understandably the comment was rude, I just hope that you get as upset and offended by all of the insults and racist comments that are directed at black women. it always boggles my mind how some people will come onto a blog that is discussing racism and find one exceptional comment that says something mildly derogatory about white people and PICK THAT COMMENT to be offended by, instead of the greater issues of racism and social injustice.

        you did not comment on white women earning more than black women in the workforce, sara baartman or any of the issues of racism directed at black women from the post, but you only come here to defend white women, why? I think you need to ask yourself that.

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  12. Al K. Lloyd says:

    I guess my comment got deleted. Which is cool. Just wanted to say you have the best group of commenters in the world.

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  13. Al K. Lloyd says:

    Oh, sorry. I was looking at a different thread than the one I posted at. I would just like to add many Black women are very beautiful to this man (almost 50 years old). Please don’t feel you are inferior.

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  14. I think some of the most beautiful black women are the ones with a lot of color….brown to dark mahogany brown.there features are more pronounced..I.e butts lips.hips beautifully structured cheek bones.i am the color of honey.when I’m out in public I see the looks of admiration..lol…I’m sure all of you sistuhs. Know what Im talking about don’t you?

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