Bold is the New Black
I have a bone to pick with the black community. All of them. Young, old, 46% black, whatever.
I am a black girl who grew up in a black community. I went to a black school. All my school mates were black. My whole family – black. Friends -black. Random people on the street – black. Not mixed. Black.
When I was younger, I grew up hearing adults always gushing over light skinned girls. Girls. Not boys. Girls. All the adults around me always treated the lighter skinned black girls as if they needed extra care and attention, always checking to see if they were fine. Always doing their best to make sure all their needs were met.
The teachers in class would constantly check on them, “Linda, are you ok love?”
This would be right in the middle of a lesson. “Do you perhaps need to step out and get some air? Your cheeks are so pink! Look at you!”
The pink cheeks or any other part of the skin was valued! It made them somehow special! Even they knew and would constantly make comments about it.
“When I’m mad, my cheeks get pink!”
“Oh, my skin is just so white that even the smallest things make it go all red!” Then there’d be that ‘Oh I’m so adorable with my light skin’ laugh.
They’d then make jokes about the darker skinned people an how you couldn’t even see them blush because their dark skin ate up all the pink.
Trevor Noah once made a joke about how sometimes his grandmother wouldn’t hit him because he was scared his skin would get all pink. We laugh about it, but that’s the reality. It was slightly easier to get away with things for the lighter skinned kids because it was mostly brushed off as adorable. Or because they bruised, I don’t know.
Now, as a darker skinned girl I never noticed this at the time. This is because it’s something I grew up hearing. Ok, I did notice it, but even then it’s something I brushed off as being a part of life. I knew that even though I wasn’t of a lighter shade, my teachers still liked me because I got good grades. I just always told myself that as long as I worked hard, I’d always matter.
There we always comments being made in passing that always stuck to me.
We’d see a dark skinned girl who was bold enough to experiment with bright colours in her hair. Immediately people would talk about how dark skinned people should just stick to darker colours, preferably black, because the clash between the bright colour and their skin was ugly.
The comments would be the same when it came to clothing too. A dark skinned girl wearing a yellow outfit in public would be the topic of many gossip sessions.
“Did you see her? What’s she trying to do? You know, when you’re black(dark; we’re called black for emphasis on our skin tone) you should stick to things that suit you. She thinks she’s pretty, hey.”
Thing is, it would be someone close to me who’d say this. Sometimes it would be a dark skinned cousin who’d grown up with those comments drilled into her that she’d accepted and was now part of the people that taught other dark skinned girls how to “know their place.” Sometimes it would be a light skinned cousin who made these comments and laughed about it, then tried advising you, her dark skinned cousin, to never embarass yourself in public like that. Despite who said it, they all thought they had your best interests at heart.
For a while, I was the dark skinned aunt. I didn’t comment, but when someone laughed, I’d laugh too because how dare a dark skinned girl be that bold and confident and go against society?
I remember seeing a dark skinned girl in high school who’d dyed her hair blonde. I had those negative thoughts. Why would she choose such a bright colour? Why not dye her hair maroon or a very dark brown? She was dark skinned, she should’ve just stuck to black.
A few weeks later, I remember being in awe. She was so confident and the hair looked so good.
I would finally gain that level of confidence a few years later, thank The Lord.
It took me a while to be that confident though, because it took me a while to actually like my skin. I always felt cursed. I prayed every night for lighter skin.
When my confidence started growing, I came across a lot of black people that didn’t seem to understand why I was confident. I met dark skinned women that were still living by those standards who didn’t understand why I was wearing crop tops. Not just because they were revealing, but because they were revealing more of my dark skin that I wasn’t supposed to be proud of.
I also came across some light skinned people that didn’t seem to understand why I thought I was pretty. And they also didn’t understand why I didn’t suck up to them.
A few months ago, I met a girl. She asked me what kind of guys I like and my response was, “Well, I like everything cause I don’t have a type really, but I do like dark skinned guys. Like, dark dark.”
She responded,”Girl, no. You’re dark skinned. You can’t date another dark skin. You have to think about your kids, you don’t want dark skinned kids running around, do you?”
Actually, I do.
She was actually dark skinned as well. Slightly darker than me. Her boyfriend was light skinned and she had a light skinned baby. Every time someone commented on her baby’s beautiful light skin, you could literally see the glow in her face and her eyes would sparkle. You’d sometimes find her holding her baby and just saying, “My beautiful yellow bone(light skinned person).”
We always see these cheesy “dark skin is beautiful” quotes on social media, yet when people actually see a confident dark skinned woman in real life, they immediately feel uncomfortable. It’s as if dark skinned women are only beautiful when they’re on a screen. Not right in front of you.
My point is, what is the point of you posting a quote about how beautiful all skin tones are on Instagram, when you constantly make comments in front of your dark skinned niece about how she should stick to certain color’s because of her skin tone? When you teach your light skinned baby sister that she’s better than the darker skinned girl because she’s lighter?
Social media can only do so much. It’s our communities that need to change.
Lupita Nyong’o being dark skinned and famous won’t make people stop calling kids “Blackie”.
Instead, the other kids in school will diss you by saying, “You’re just as black and ugly as that Lupita of yours.”(I say this because I was called just as dark and ugly as Alek Wek. LOL.)
Anyway, I just needed to vent. I have nothing against people of lighter shades. I have a problem with the people that raised them. More so with those that raised some of them to think they were the “better black girl”. I also have a problem with the people that helped raise us darker skinned peoplge and taught us to feel bad for thinking we were beautiful.
I’ll leave you guys with this picture of mine where I had blonde-ish white-ish hair and wearing bright colours. I’m wearing yellow these days too. And orange.