I love the infinite shades of black skin. There are so many different pigments and highlights; all are beautiful. From pink pale to blue-black, every shade should be uplifted for its uniqueness and not broken down and given shame.
As a black woman, I was taught to love the skin that I am in, and I do, but many do not. The historic foundation for African Americans in the United States, and for the pain inflicted by all races, including our own.
I love my melanin.
It hurts me to the core when I am on social media and I see beauty-shaming between black people. The Memes and other forms of cyber bullying from black women and men is appalling.
Light Skin vs. Dark Skin
Often times, those of a darker skin tone are often the target for jokes and taunting online. I have seen countless Memes that target dark-skin, saying that they are ugly, look like roaches or ants; are less-than compared to those of a lighter skin.
Being color blind is a myth. We need to see color in order to begin understanding what the other goes through.
We cannot help but to see color and there is nothing wrong with that, but every shade should be viewed as equally beautiful. What overpowers this myth is addressing our biases, learning the impact of beauty-shaming, and understanding the history of African Americans in this country.
A Bit of History
I have heard older generations share that this concern is deeply rooted in African-American history. During slavery, slave masters’ purposefully placed Africans in certain positions based on their skin tone. House slaves typically had a lighter skin tone, and darker slaves worked the fields.
It is our responsibility as African Americans to not allow our history of division among light vs dark skin to continue. discrimination and bullying against those who are a different skin color or shade than our own.Our ancestors have come and gone, and yet generation after generations later, we continue to perpetuate the idea that one shade is better than the other.
I remember the day that two white males in a white pick up truck pulled up beside me as I walked on my rural college campus. They stuck their heads out of the window and yelled “ugly nigger” to me as they sped away. I was not shocked at their behavior because what they did not know was that in that situation, they were actually the niggers.
According to the Dictionary the word nigger means,
1 Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive.a a contemptuous term used to refer to a black person.b a contemptuous term used to refer to a member of any dark-skinned people.
2 Slang: (Extremely Disparaging and Offensive) a contemptuous term used to refer to a person of any racial or ethnic origin regarded as contemptible, inferior, ignorant, etc.
Although I was infuriated at the time, it makes me reflect on how much work we have to do as an entire nation. The hatred is deeply rooted in our history. White slave owners intentionally made us view light skin tone as superior to dark skin.
Is anything we can do to reverse this form of internalized racism. Sometimes it feels impossible to reverse internalized hatred. We have to start take a stand; we must advocate and begin calling out every form of racism we see.
I refuse to be a nigger. I refuse to be ignorant.
Although those white men were using the word as a racial slur when they yelled out at me, the true meaning of this horrific word is ignorance, and that is something that can be applied to every race and ethnicity of the world, but it starts with us as Black men and women.
What We Must Do
When we allow those behaviors to impact how we treat members of our own race, we are adding to the problem.
We cannot continue to let the hatred manifest within our own race.
We must defy the bias that being dark skin means being less-than or ugly. We must begin teaching our sons and daughters that they are flawless, no matter what shade they are. The worlds definition of blackness can change by our lead.
Here are 5 things that we as black people must begin doing to make an impact within our own community:
- Advocate against colorism by not beauty-shaming yourself and by not allowing others to shame your skin tone or others
- Don’t allow others to post hateful memes about skin tone on social media
- Stop sharing and giving likes to those who are beauty-shaming
- Speak up for those who are being bullied for the color of their skin
- Share your truth about prejudice and discrimination you have experienced with colorism
Place value on the multiple shades within your own race by uplifting, supporting, and educating yourself and others on your biases and their own. Be an advocate for change and stop internalized racial beauty-shaming. Love every shade, including your own!