Still Nigga- The Dark- Skinned Experience

Still Nigga- The Dark- Skinned Experience

I read somewhere that if colorism is the child of white supremacy then light skin privilege is its grandchild. The antebellum period in the United States saw the skin tone of black people used to divide house slaves (offspring of slave masters a lot of the time) and field slaves that were darker skinned. 2017 gave us a number of exceptional artistic pieces and Jay's 4:44 no- doubt made the list- the dynamic of The Story of O.J. bleeds into the light skin vs. dark skin separation between people of color today. He reminds us that at the end of the day we are all still nigga.  

The following is the daily dark- skinned experience;

1.       Not having the ability to ignore the fact that colorism does indeed exist;

2.       Being the opposite standard of beauty- have y’all not heard? It can only get as dark as Gabrielle Union or issa no from me;

“You are pretty for a dark skin girl”

3.       “omg you is dark as charcoal”;

4.       In black culture, being called a “redbone” or “yellowbone” is regarded as a compliment while being ‘dark skin’ is considered derogatory;

5.       Having people in the entertainment industry making songs about or comments disrespecting your skin tone e.g. Kodak Black.

Even to dark skin guys, dark girls never win.

Society has been making it difficult to be a dark- skinned black woman. After all, intersectionality dictates that the identity markers of 'dark- skinned', 'black' and 'woman' do not exist independently of each other. It can be so stressful constantly being socially aware of my “over- blackness “.

My traditional name is one letter short of translating into the word black. Growing up, my traditional name was my biggest secret, with only my closest friends knowing it and often jokingly threatening to out me. In my mind it felt as if being darker skin was already hard enough, now my parents really got me messed up by giving me this name. I cannot count on both hands the number of times I was told not to stay out in the sun too long because I would get darker than I already was; or the time my 3rd grade teacher recommended I up my water intake to 8 glasses per day in order to get “lighter”; or the number of times I conjured plans in my mind of how I would be able to purchase Fair and Lovely on the next shopping trip with my mom. I have heard stories of dark girls being bathed in laundry bleach in order to lighten their, even at a young age. All these things are so damaging, it damages young girls’ self esteem with so many negative comments relative to your skin tone, you start to believe it.

It almost seems as if, in this day and age, in the society we live in, the darker skinned you are, the more potential baes take more of a sexual approach rather than “I could get married to this girl’. I have had moments in my short life where I hated that my mother procreated a dark skin man or vice versa, completely failing to acknowledge that without that very union, there would not be a me. But we have to learn to love our “11:59pm” dark skin, and I am still learning to love it.

Being lighter skinned is almost explicitly the standard of beauty even on the African continent, therefore if I cannot feel comfortable in my dark skin in Africa, then where can I embrace my dark skin? The origin of this (eurocentric) belief in Africa is directly linked to Africa’s colonial history where white skin was the epitome of beauty, so it should be no surprise that skin bleaching creams are most popular in developing countries.

According to a 2011 World Health Organisation (WHO) analysis, the use, production and availability of skin lightening products on the African continent is 77% of Nigerian women followed by 25% in Mali, 27% in Senegal, 35% in South Africa and 59% in Togo. Dark skinned women were not born hating their skin, they hate the limited social outcomes being dark skinned comes with, the way they were treated and spoken to because of it. But while colourism differentiates, racism does not. 

Don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and preferences, but do take into consideration that intention and impact work hand in hand, even if your intention as per your preference was not meant to be malicious, that is the impact you make.

If we really care about black unity, we will focus on topics that divide us, and colourism is one of them. Having said that I do acknowledge that even though lighter skin individuals have been given some advantages within the black community, we cannot compare that to universal white privilege.

This clip follows Joy Daily as she takes a deep look into the world of Skin Bleaching in Jamaica.


Neo Yokio

Neo Yokio

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