I honestly believe that where you grow up often affects how you grow up. I grew up mostly in Chester Virginia and the other part of my youth was spent on Long Island New York. Two different worlds I was exposed to but I must say that I don’t ever remember feeling that I couldn’t relate to my people or that they were so harsh that I couldn’t manage around them. I did occasionally get picked on because of my economic status but it wasn’t as if I didn’t have friends or feel comfortable when I was in school. I had a great group of girlfriends who I truly could connect with and they maintained my sanity throughout my adolescence and teenage years. I know we have degrees of living in this world and I was never on the high or low end of those. I was in a place where whatever I saw or was around didn’t surprise me and whatever I did see that I didn’t have, I knew I could achieve it when it was my turn to live on my own. As black people though we have internal problems that I know all children aren’t as lucky to avoid as I was. Being a “normal” skinned black girl, people didn’t go one way or the other with me. I never felt too black or not black enough. I felt like I was me and whoever didn’t accept me, I didn’t hang with. It was easy for me like that. But it’s not easy for everyone and for those of us who don’t experience these things, we forget the other side and often need reminding.
I had the opportunity to watch Light Girls last night on OWN. My BFF had seen Dark Girls and so we decided to check it out together. These young ladies were absolutely terrorized as children because of how they looked. Because they were born lighter skinned than everyone else. Jumped, talked about, picked on, and one girl was even mutilated by a group of girls she didn’t even know because they were threatened by her confidence. Even if it wasn’t that, they’d ask them crazy questions all the time like, “What are you?” as if a black person isn’t able to be light or brown with a different texture of hair. That makes me wonder how they ever felt they fit in anywhere. Your peers always questioning your identity can really embed itself into the person you become. Lost, out of place, lonely and with a lost sense of self. This is disturbing to me because I’m not certain why we don’t just see each other as black women. Human even. At the end of the day, we are all black. The world sees you as black regardless to whether or not you are darker or lighter. Your ethnicity doesn’t change when you check the box. There is no Light Skinned African American option nor is there a Dark Skinned African American option. So then it makes me wonder why we make that distinction amongst ourselves and why we brutalize one another for something we have no control over. Destruction of love and community from within.
Fairer skinned blacks date back to our ancestors’ time as slaves. Being raped by their owners and other white men who felt privileged, we begin to see lighter versions of ourselves. Some of us were so fair skinned that they couldn’t tell we had any black in us at all. This led to the passing for white movement that became prevalent in the 20s because we were under the impression that we could live a better life if we were white. We felt we could have the privilege that came with it instead of the heartache of being black in this country during those times. We did this with a willingness to walk away from family and friends which led to more disassociation and loss of self. Imagine having skin that you wanted to love but hated because it lessened your chance of a life full of opportunity and benefits. So now that it doesn’t have to be imagined and is reality, try living in a world where you now have more opportunity and privilege amongst whites but are fighting for it amongst your own people. It’s a very troubling situation. We have allowed the seeds planted by people who feared us greatly because of our melanin so then wanted to control us, to grow strong roots amongst us and stifle the sense of community and love we used to have for one another regardless of what we looked like. Where do you go from that place?
When you are born, you don’t know what you will look like, what parents you will have, how much money they have, what part of the world you will live in, or how love and cared for you will be. You just don’t get a say in that. Finding flaws in someone based on how they look and then negatively interacting with that person only shows the insecurities that you have within yourself. How can you tell that someone thinks they are all that just because they have an air of confidence when they walk in a room? Are we not supposed to carry ourselves well and with confidence? Are we not supposed to believe we are beautiful and worthy? Are we supposed to walk with our heads down so that people do not judge us or make assumptions about our character? Look within yourself and fix yourself. We all have the same issues when we live on this earth and until you have walked in someone else's shoes you do not know where they are coming from or what they are dealing with. That light skinned woman can be going home at night on her knees crying out to God for the same things a dark skinned woman is crying for. She can share the same troubles you share and may have even been a good friend to you.
Again, what a person looks like is by genetic design. They didn’t ask God for specific attributes so that they could come of their own doing. You sit down at the table and you are dealt cards. You pick up those cards and life begins. You play those cards because those were the ones provided to you. To make a person feel inferior or less than themselves because they don’t look like you do is just plain wrong and I do hope that documentaries like this one continue to surface and continue to provide people without knowledge, the knowledge they need to survive in a world full of people who are always going to be different from one another. Educate yourself and never forget your history.
Until Next Time Lovies!