Colorism

I can freely discuss my position on black people and white people alike. I am one and not the other. I’m black. I am not white. I have opinions on both races and can clearly define my position between the two.

That’s race though.

When it comes to colorism, I find myself in the same type of limbo that I described in Washington vs. DuBois. In the case of colorism though, the boundaries that I seek are strictly physical. I am neither dark-skinned nor light-skinned; I’m just brown.

The problem of colorism is a worldwide problem and is a lot more serious in other places than the tone that I take with the issue. If you went to a predominately black school in the inner-city, you would understand how one could become numb to the issue. When it comes to the colorism among blacks, it’s basically just light-skinned and dark-skinned. Brown is pretty much a neutral zone. However, because of social stigmas that are subliminally taught to us through every angle of society in this country, it’s not uncommon to grow up thinking lighter is better and darker is worse.

Normally, as we grow into adulthood, these ideas and ways of thinking diminish. For those who don’t grow out of this way of thinking, are probably just ignorant or scarred. I believe a majority of black people could care less about a person’s skin tone, especially when it comes physical attraction.

Attractive is attractive, no matter what color it comes in. I believe we all have preferences and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem comes in when you choose a preference based on thinking one is better than the other simply because of the skin tone. I think black girls are attractive, brown girls are attractive, and light girls are attractive, but the one thing that overrides all three of those are pretty girls. Your complexion doesn’t make you cute. Since more awareness have come to issues of colorism in our society, darker skinned blacks have been claiming their territory in the media and evening the playing fields. I mean Rick Fox, Shemar Moore and Ginuwine had to move over for Tyrese, Taye Diggs and Idris Elba. (These are the jokes that blacks tell amongst ourselves.)

We are all comfortable being who and what we are this day in time. There was a time when the only way we could have a shot at mainstream success was to look like Lena Horne. Thank goodness for her because her skin open the doors for Lupita’s success. It’s a beautiful thing.

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Lena Horn; almost indistinguishable from a white lady
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Lupita Nyong’o is now the winner of an Oscar Award. Her beautiful dark face should have won another.

I understand that it is still an issue that plagues the minds of young girls all over, especially after they see celebrities gradually grow lighter and lighter year after year in the spotlight. However, that’s irrelevant, and I think as time progress, it will become more and more apparent that we do not have to do that to be accepted.

It’s really a wonderful thing. The TEAM LIGHT SKIN and TEAM DARK SKIN feud will probably be around for a while, but only as a reference to each party being proud of what they are.

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Beauty: In All Forms

Preparing to make a left turn into the parking garage this morning, I was opposed by a vehicle with a British flag vanity plate. “This is America, Jack,” I mumbled under my breath. That’s a phrase from my favorite movie Coming to America, that I normally quote when watching international sporting events. However, I say it pretty much every time I see something British. Rebellious American pride against the UK? Maybe; nevertheless, no harm intended.

Yielding the right-of-way, I allowed the proud vehicle to turn in front of me. Now I am forced to stare at a license plate uniquely spelling out the word “British”. Well the driver of this car wants it to be clear that they stand for their country no matter what. I don’t blame them though. I’d be proud too… But I have to see what they look like now. My curiosity is peaked.

I pull up next to the car, and it is not what I expected… At all. In the car was a lady whom I had always assumed to come from some part of Africa. I’m not a fan of stereotypes, but they are normally formed on some basis of truth. She’s an older lady with a beautiful deep carob skin tone, a broad nose and a large set of lips. She has dark deep-set eyes, long black dreadlocks, all atop a large, robust  5’11”  or 6’ frame. She is an appealing woman with strong features that I am pretty sure are rooted in the Motherland Continent.

I try not to assume. It is a horrible habit to have. However, right now, I really want to know does her enthusiasm for labeling herself as British have anything to do with the way she looks. I’m not the most culturally versed person by a long shot and I will not try to be. Even so, I am aware that there is a large population of people of African descent in the United Kingdom, so I do not deny that she is from there. I am wondering would the assumption that I made (that she is from Africa) have anything to do with it. I believe I would be annoyed if people constantly asked if I was from Alabama because I looked like it. Maybe after enough of that I would walk around with only Georgia apparel on, even though I am extremely proud of my Alabama background. I would much rather that be the case than the other alternative I mapped out.

America has popularized a standard of beauty that, unfortunately, does not accommodate quite a few women. Whether it be because of size, complexion, facial structure or whatever else, some women may feel left out. It has not been until recent years that plus-sized women were as accepted as they are now, and I dare say that it is simply because of media highlights like Beyonce. This woman that I saw though, is plus-sized, dark-skinned, and has broad facial features that you would find hard to find on the typical model in America. Considering the fact that she is also older, means that she went through her younger years, when the more natural and cultured look was not as appreciated as it is now in the more liberal world of modeling and media. Could all of the British labels be to disassociate with stigmas linked African roots?

Now I’m not saying that either of these assumptions about her is true. It’s just that my brain runs a million miles a minute trying to figure out why some things are the way that they are; especially when it comes to issues like these. Little dark-skinned girls in America will have to face these issues, whether we ever realize it or not, and quite frankly, I hate it. They can grow up always feeling inadequate without anyone having to verbally say it, because the media will do most of it.

Another thing is that so many times we look at this issue of being one that only affects the female population. I am sure that females are more susceptible to it, but it affects guys too. Take me, for example; it took me until I was a full-grown adult until I was comfortable in my own skin. If I were to be completely honest, I’d say that I was twenty-four or twenty-five years old. Up until I learned to love who and what I was, I found every imperfection there was to find on me, and I shunned any compliments from nearly everybody. So I can personally attest to the fact that if you do not love yourself or what you are, it is impossible to believe that anyone else does.

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In this picture you’ll notice the crook at the top of my left ear. My beard refuses to connect which results in a natural Wolverine/Shaft.
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More Shaft on the right side of the beard. And notice how the bottom lips swells into a bubble. If it were any bigger, you couldn’t find my chin. BUT, the eyelashes and brows are cool 🙂
Notice how the eyes are not completely aligned. The nose is what we refer to as a broad-tipped bell pepper.
Notice how the eyes are not completely aligned. The nose is what we refer to as a broad-tipped bell pepper.
Even when I smile it throws my right eyebrow into an unexplained fit. But I smile nonetheless. I'm me!
Even when I smile it throws my right eyebrow into an unexplained fit. But I smile nonetheless. I’m me!

The point that I’m making is that we all have to learn to be happy with who and what we are. It took me far too long to do learn it, but now that I do, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. We have to be ever so careful to not let the media or others shape how we view ourselves. It gets harder and harder as time progresses, but as long as you have an open Perspective, you will be okay.