Checking Light-Skinned Black Woman Privilege

 

I have light-skinned privilege. I am a Black woman who for years has avoided the term “light-skinned,” because I hated the history and the privilege that came attached to the title.  I have avoided calling myself light-skinned and instead adopted terms like “brown,” or “caramel,” because I so hate what is associated with light-skin. But, calling myself other names, doesn’t negate the fact that I have light-skin privilege within the Black community.

I haven’t had to ever hear “you’re pretty for a dark girl.” I have the privilege of seeing images of women like Beyonce, Rihanna and Halle Berry (whose skin color is closer to mine than Angela Bassett’s) represented as beautiful on the big screen. I’ve not had to deal with not finding make up in my shade because the make up that is marketed at Black women is really only made for light-skinned Black women.

Even though, I’ve faced discrimination for being a Black woman, I’ve never had to face extra discrimination within the Black community for being dark. As I got older, it sickened me to see movies like Norbit, which portrayed light-skinned women as the ideal, while portraying dark-skinned Black women as asexual and unattractive. It sickened me and I had to confront my light-skinned privilege.

So here is what bothers me. When light-skinned Black women don’t speak up about colorism, they are perpetuating it. It annoys me that when ever a dark-skinned Black woman speaks about colorism, she is shut down or portrayed as “hating,” on light-skinned women or jealous of light-skinned women. It’s sickening, but when a negative comment is made about light-skinned women, people never say that light-skinned women are hating on dark-skinned women by defending themselves. These are all things that dark-skinned women have said over and over again, but they always get shut down…What is up with that hypocrisy and why is it so easy to dismiss the legitimate concerns about colorism from dark-skinned Black women, but people take the identity crisis issues and light-skinned complaints seriously??

I have had incidents where I haven’t spoken up about colorism, like when I was younger and I went to buy make up and I was told that I wasn’t “too dark,” I should have asked what did she mean when she said “too dark…” and there shouldn’t be such a thing as “too dark.” But, I was silent.

As I’ve gotten older and I’ve started being more aware of colorism and light-skinned privilege, I’ve tried to speak up more. When I’m online and I see  negative comments about dark-skinned Black women, I speak up against the comments, and I get messages back from people saying things like “you must be a dark-skinned Black woman,” or “jealous of light-skinned women,” when I’m not any of those things and even if I were dark-skinned, why would that make my comments about colorism any less valid?

People are too quick to shut dark-skinned Black women down by calling them haters or jealous when they speak about colorism.

Another thing that annoys me is when some light-skinned Black women complain about being called some names and try to equate their experience with that of dark-skinned Black women. I’ve been called “oreo,” “mellow yellow,” before, but that doesn’t negate the privilege of being represented in the Black community and that doesn’t compare to the experience of dark-skinned Black women who often have to hear their whole life negative comments about their skin tone.

In the movie “dark girls,” some people were complaining that light-skinned girls didn’t get a chance to talk, but the movie wasn’t about light-skin Black women, it was about Dark-skinned Black women…everything isn’t always about light-skinned Black women.

I hate that in movies, the light-skinned woman is always portrayed positively like in Coming to America and the dark-skinned woman negatively.  I hate that in the movie Half of a Yellow Sun, which is based on a book of the same title by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie , they replaced the protagonist, who was described in the book as a beautiful Igbo woman with dark-skin and a curvy body, with Thandie Newton who is a light-skinned, thin Black woman. We have so many roles for light-skinned Black women, why take away a role that was really for a dark-skinned Black woman?? I hate it so much and if other light-skinned black women really wanted solidarity with dark-skinned black women, then we would speak up and stop accepting these roles that discriminate against darker-skinned Black women.

There are so many beautiful, gorgeous, shapely dark-skinned, luscious Black women, so many and I think that Black women, dark-skinned Black women, deserve to see these images. I think dark-skinned Black women deserve to be nourished with these beautiful images and portrayed as desirable, sexy and posh the same way other women are. There is no such thing as “pretty for a dark-skinned girl.” Without “dark girls,” light girls wouldn’t exist. All shades of people ultimately come from Dark skinned Black women.

The bottom line is, the majority of black women are dark-skinned, so to degrade dark-skinned black women or allow others to degrade dark-skinned Black women is to degrade the Black race. If you don’t care about dark-skinned Black women, you don’t care about the Black race and above all, no woman wants to be made to feel undesirable just because of skin color.

It’s hypocritical to complain about white privilege and nothing bothers me more than when I try to explain white privilege to white people and they deny that it exists…so why deny that colorism exist within the Black community?? It’s hypocritical to do the same thing to dark-skinned Black women that white people do to Black people.

Yes, it’s true we’re all Black at the end of the day, we all face discrimination, I am not denying that, but colorism is a real issue and colorism and white supremacy are undeniably linked together and until we as Black folks eliminate colorism, white supremacy will never be eliminated.

I just hate these privileges and I hate being associated with them, but I can’t ignore them. I have to address them…and still have much more to learn.

 


 


BEAUTIFUL DARK SKINNED BLACK WOMEN

Checking Light-Skinned Black Woman Privilege

10 thoughts on “Checking Light-Skinned Black Woman Privilege

  1. This was a good post! You made some very excellent points. You sound a lot like my mother. She is light skinned with light green eyes. She looks a lot like Vanessa Williams. Her brothers and sisters run the range in complexions. But her browner sisters didn’t get called cute as much by family members and strangers. I admire my mother so much for speaking out against colorism whether from black or white folks. I remember when I was about ten years old I was at the supermarket with her and my sisters. My sisters were three and five years old at the time. One of my sisters is light skinned with hazel eyes. My other sister is a light brown complexion with dark brown eyes. This old white lady came up to my mother(pointed at my lighter sis) and said “My God! That little girl is so adorable!” My mother snapped back– “What about my other daughter? Is she ugly?!” The white lady frowned a bit. “Oh no,she’s cute too.” My mom said “Whatever lady. Excuse me I got things to do.” And walked away. The lady turned bright red from embarrassment. I loved it!lol My mother was my hero after that. I’ve also heard her put some of my aunts and uncles in check about making colorism comments.
    You said:”I hate that in movies, the light-skinned woman is always portrayed positively like in Coming to America and the dark-skinned woman negatively. I hate that in the movie Half of a Yellow Sun, which is based on a book of the same title by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie , they replaced the protagonist, who was described in the book as a beautiful Igbo woman with dark-skin and a curvy body, with Thandie Newton who is a light-skinned, thin Black woman. We have so many roles for light-skinned Black women, why take away a role that was really for a dark-skinned Black woman?? I hate it so much and if other light-skinned black women really wanted solidarity with dark-skinned black women, then we would speak up and stop accepting these roles that discriminate against darker-skinned Black women.”
    I totally agree with you. I get so sick and tired of this nonsense. I’m sure you heard about Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone in the biopic. I think Lauryn Hill or India Arie would have been better. I think the director is a white woman.But it doesn’t really matter either way.. This shows you the level of colorism in Hollyweird.And we as black people have to stop buying into this backwards thinking. Having Zoe play that role is not realistic in the least. She’s a good actress,I’m not taking that away from her. But by Nina being a dark skinned woman she had a certain experience growing up in the south. I don’t think Zoe growing up in the Dominican Republic as a “black latina” can really relate. We need to speak with our wallets and purses. We shouldn’t support films that insult,degrade or promote colorism in any form.

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  2. Rashida Morris says:

    I just want to say Thank you for speaking up. I have always had a dark complexion & growing up have been called tar baby, blackie, midnight & black attack by family and my peers & it has affected my self esteem. I dated only light skinned men to ensure my child does not have to encounter those issues. But as I grow older I’ve accepted it’s ok to be darker I may not be what society accepts as beautiful on the outside but I try to let my inner beauty show through.

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  3. Ebonychic205 says:

    This is the reaction of privilege entitlement. I see it all the time especially on tumblr, when there are discussions about racism, white people don’t hesitate to incorporate “white racism” in the discussion. You’ll often see “Well what about us” it’s almost like a instant defense mechanism regarding privileged groups. Just misogyny another structure that benefits men, when women speak out against misogyny many males come in and say “Well what about us”. They do this to make sure their privilege is in tact, that’s what I’ve noticed. In their world, if there was a way to call out injustices regarding these privileges without putting a dent in the benefits they recieve from these privileges they wouldn’t mind talking about it. But like the religious era and homosexuality, when certain groups speak out against structures that affect them the result is equality. It’s unfortunate when I frequent sites and blogs catered to our people, that when the topic of colorism surfaces it’s met with immediate negativity and the typical “Shut up and get over it” treatment.

    My family is fully of women with a variety of skin shades from super mocha cream light to deep dark chocolate, none of us bashed one another for our skin color, thank God. But the outside world is an entirely different story.

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  4. Oh these women are gorgeous. Thanks peanut for putting this out there. i haven’t dealt much with this kind of stuff, mostly online i see this mess about lighter skinned women are more beautiful. My oldest brother just dates women who are lighter than him and he just started dating black latinas before that it was white latinas. Colorism is alive and well. my mom told me how she tried to scrub her skin when she was younger because she thought she was too dark, but she is my skin tone. I’ve never really had to deal with these things as my parents do a great job and i was homeschooled so i wasn’t around all the foolishness. I do remember being in 5th grade when i went to public school and this biracial girl was teasing me a little and saying i was as black as the black pants i wore to school. Then my mom told me the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice rofl, it worked when i was younger, but now i’m older i’m like wait a minute im not a fruit . I’m sweeter and juicier than fruit lmbao :). Anyway i do appreciate the light skinned sistahs like u and truthbetold. i watched an episode of love and hip hop and a light skinned singer didn’t allow this black male rapper to say light skin is the right skin on her song. she blasted him for it, but i guess he thought she would be ok with it since she is light skinned. And his ugly arse is with a racist white woman anyway so i wasn’t surprised smh. I’m glad that there are some who are willing to stand up, and i applaud those people.

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    1. Peanut says:

      great comment mstoogood, i’m sorry that you had to deal with all of that. but yes we ultimately are sisters darker-skinned and lighter-skinned, we gotta look out for each other.

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    2. my mom told me how she tried to scrub her skin when she was younger because she thought she was too dark, but she is my skin tone

      i reread that sentence in my comment and it look kinda messed up i apologize. I don’t want ppl thinking i was saying that anybody darker than my skin tone is too dark that is not what i am saying.there is nothing wrong with being darker. Adam and eve were made by the soil of the earth, the richest soil is usually black. I don’t want darker skinned women feeling unappreciated or unworthy. There is nothing wrong with us. I deal with self hate from time to time that bich sneak up on me, but i catch myself and change my thought to a positive one still reprogramming my mind. Darker skinned women are beautiful, anybody that says otherwise is a fool period point blank. Just know that the men and ppl who say dumb things like pretty for a dark skinned girl are feminized and u don’t want that. what man turns down a woman based on skin tone? hell the truth is men really shouldn’t be turning women down based on skin color either. Men are naturally supposed to go after any woman that is appealing to them regardless of race and certainly regardless of skin tone. They are being trained to go against nature and be feminized. Don’t believe the hype WE all beautiful, and need to unite as black women whether we light,medium, or dark, because everybody is trying to bring us down or don’t care bout us, even some black men.

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  5. Great Post!
    There is no such thing as “pretty for a dark-skinned girl.” Without “dark girls,” light girls wouldn’t exist. All shades of people ultimately come from Dark skinned Black women.

    Aman!! i don’t get how our ppl can be sooo mean and nasty too our “Ebony Queen’s” cause without them, we would not have what we have now.

    So thank you again.

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  6. now,me myself,i’m medium brown,so i can pretty much call everybody out on their bullshit.

    in my family,light was seen as better,even my dad said he liked all light skinned women until my mom and said that it was her body that got him.she never says anything but i know it hurts her soul.it sickens me to see this much self hatred.my light skinned sister makes jokes about it,but i believe she sometimes feel she is truly superior because of her complexion.even my mother gets offended when she’s called dark skinned,says she’s medium brown;she’s not but we don’t argue the point.

    I had a very beautiful friend who was half italian and but got passed over because of her color (though her hair is damn near straight and she looks like a white girl colored brown).i am happy she found guys who didn’t care but her family was the problem.prettiest girl in her family but she couldn’t tell,couldn’t see past dark skin.
    it’s sad bu t dark skinned black men are the worse offenders when downing dark women.i remember back in high school being absolutely in love with this dark skinned brother who have these beautiful dark pools for eyes.he said he only liked light girls and i was too dark…i’m not dark skinned (no problem with dark skin,i’m just not). so i said ‘you carry black skin in your genes abd no matter how light your woman,you will always be dark as night’,, i said ‘when god said from darkness let there be light,your family was already there livin’ in the dark….meanest thing i ever said to somebody and i felt ashamed.and he was really hurt by the revelation of him having to face his darkness.

    this is a vicious cycle that needs to end.

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  7. Nice post but colorism is a counterproduct to White supremacy. Any Black person who believes light skin looks better is supporting the belief White is right.

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  8. Kyky says:

    Thank you so much I am a brown dark girl if that makes sense but I have a few family members that are lightskinned and they take always say team lightskinned and I always get offended because they always say bad things about darkskin girls.I always thought that lightskin girls are so much better than me and so much beautiful,but thank you so much for making me feel better.Thank you so so so much.

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