Peep This: In Case You Thought We Were Post-Racial

By Love Isn’t Enough Guest Contributor LaToya; Originally published at CocoaMamas

There really isn’t much to say, as the video speaks for itself. Colorism in the black community is as much a symptom of racism as is white privilege; both stem from a belief that the whiter, the better. While we can applaud that more black faces are being heralded as beautiful, the truth is that lighter skinned black women with longer, less nappy hair is considered to be more beautiful than darker-skinned black women with shorter and nappier hair.

If you don’t believe me, watch the video again.

The question becomes: what do we do about it? Do light-skinned black folks have some affirmative duty, like we call on white folks, to call attention to their privilege in order to denounce it? I don’t know if I “qualify” as light-skinned (that sounds so ridiculous); at various points in my life people have said yes, and others have said no. But I’ve experienced some of what these kids are talking about in the video. I remember a boy saying that he liked my knees because they weren’t dark!

Whatever my classification, I’m pretty sure, according to my sources, that my children are considered light-skinned. And they have less nappy hair (although you wouldn’t know if the way they carry on.) And I already see the privilege that is conferred on them because of it. I’ve heard the comments about their “good grade of hair” and how “beautiful” they are; I don’t remember anyone saying I was beautiful as a child. And while I can’t really stop what other people say, I’m trying hard to make sure they don’t internalize the messages; I try to have every shade of black represented in their books and toys, and talk about how gorgeous all the colors of black are. Both of their grandfathers are darker-skinned, but it doesn’t help that we aren’t particularly close to those sides of the family.

Yet on the other hand, I want to be able to tell my daughter that she’s beautiful. I want to be able to do her hair in her ponytails and say, Little A, your hair is so pretty. I hope that she understands that I am making an individual judgment about her, and that my hair being loc’d reinforces that black hair in its many configurations can be beautiful. But I also don’t want her to grow up with a complex about the whole light-skinned thing either, just like I’m sure white folks don’t want their kids to grow up with a complex about being white.

Ya feel me?

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