50 Shades of Melanin

By: Aleaka Cooper

There are about 50 different shades of melanin (is that reaching?). Well, there may not be 50 different shades, but there is a wide variety. With that being said: why must I feel inferior to my sisters of lighter or darker skin? People make it seem as though if you aren’t a darkskin girl or a lightskin girl you aren’t as beautiful. What about my sisters in the middle or the ones lighter than lightskin? Matter of fact, why am we even in a competition at all?

I am in LOVE with the hashtag “MelaninMondays”, but I believe people are not using it to its full potential. My melanin should be loved regardless of how much more or less I have from my sisters around me. We are all beautiful, strong, independent black woman that don’t need no man (I had to do it!). Honestly though, we are.

Society places us in competition against each other and like fools we entertain it. We, as a united people, have just started to give credit to dark chocolate sisters. While that is all sweet, the phrase “lightskin girls are played out” is used more and more. Nobody has to be played out or “out of/in style”.

We are not clothing, shoes or a video game that’s been played far too long, but women with marvelous melanin. Nobody should or could be “out of style” when our melanin is forever and not changing by the season (except for summer and winter, but still).

I can’t even begin to describe how irritating it is to see people once give credit to our lighter sisters and then snatch it away, treat them like they don’t exist, and give all power to our dark sisters. Why must one be forgotten? Why must one be more powerful!? There are too many different shades to only give honor to two or to only have two categories to classify our skin colors in.

Come to think of it, there can’t even be three categories because no woman’s skin is exactly like the next. Yeah, you might be a bit lighter or darker (and yes, I do mean a bit as in barely), but no color is exactly like the other, and because of that there are no groups because everybody represents their own shade of melanin.

This day and age us black woman are finally being loved and appreciated for our radiant skin, so why not just leave it at a melanin classification and take away the lightskin and darkskin barrier? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said it best, “we raise girls to see each other as competitors” which is not only sad, but very true. Look at yourselves, comparing each other’s skin to the next girl.

How dare you say “she’d be prettier if she was darker/lighter”. How about we start loving each other as a unit and take pride in our 50 shades of melanin? Somebody has to be the first one to take this step though. Will it be you?

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2 Comments on "50 Shades of Melanin"

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5 years 5 months ago

Excellent piece! There is way too much division in our world as is and the last thing we need is to have sisters dividing themselves by comparing their many unique shades of color.

5 years 5 months ago

Wow great insight..big eye opener..good thing Aleaka!! Love the “Melanin Mondays”