My Black Complexion Matters

By: Aqueilla C. Terry

“You’re half white”, “I love your hair”, if it was like yours I would go natural”, “light skinned girls are prettier,” “Don’t stay outside to long or you’ll get dark”

The year is 1954, the case is Brown vs. The Board of Education and Leola and Oliver Brown are about to watch their daughter testify about the mistreatment she has been receiving from the white children at her new school. Linda Brown is an elementary school child who has to attend school five miles away due to segregation. However, Topeka, Kansas is changing and they are pushing to desegregate the schools in the south and she would be a part of the movement. But it is Linda Brown’s testimony that is unique to the conversation you and I are about to have.

That day in court she would be handed two dolls, one white, one black and asked to two questions. The first one “Which doll looks like you?” so she points to the black doll and says “this one because its ugly like me”; the next question “Which doll is prettier?” she points to the white doll and says “this one because it’s not dirty”.

Fast forward to the 21st century and this doll has changed from white to “light” because black people deem lighter complexion blacks superior. This comes from the early days of Jim Crow post-Civil Rights movement in which Greek organizations and HBCU’s, like PWI’s abided by the “Brown Paper Bag Test”. The ideology is Colorism and it has literally turned black people against each other whether we want to admit it or not.

How? Well first you have to understand that also during the Civil Rights Movement blacks would use lighter complexion blacks to stand on the platform for equality, knowing that they could pass for white or that whites stood a better chance of listening to them then they would somebody darker. It’s the same concept so many people realized with the election of President Barack Obama.

So where am I going with this you asked? Like I stated earlier its 2015 and colorism has changed from the representation of characters on television with the help of Kelsey Grammar to a debate on social media. As if a problem didn’t already exist within mainstream media with various characters betraying how “color specific” individuals behave. You know how many times I hear “that’s some light skinned people stuff”. Honestly, there is no reason for this debate to be more popular than other issues we need to address.

Thousands of meme’s of “how light skinned n*** do”, “how dark still n****do when”; I mean the Jim Crow show has now moved to social media. To the extent of companies could add a “Light Skinned” and “Dark Skinned” box to job applications just to distinguish what color black person they want to hire. And to be honest we would have our own selves to blame if they did.

Why do I say that? Because we distinguish the significant differences between each other based on the color of our skin so it would only seem fair to the same in the corporate world. Think about it should a company want to hire a dark or light complexion person based off what we say is the difference between the two.

Now, here is the point I really wanted to bring up. As a mulatto; light complexion sister (whatever); when a little black girl comes up to me and deems me prettier than her, or says to me “your hair is pretty, I wish I looked like you instead of being dark” that can hurt. Honestly, imagine getting these things all the time even from older women who say “you light-skinned so you got that good hair” or “if my hair was like yours I would go natural”.

REALLY?! I get it all the time as if I am if my darker sisters are unattractive which is far from the truth. Now mind you,I have no problem with people complimenting me but it’s the principal of the matter. We have become the “Board of Education” where instead of a little black girl wanting to be white, she wants to look like ME because she deems me prettier.

It’s shocking to know that these little girls are still picking up the Barbie and Bratz Dolls that are my complexion instead of the ones that looks like them. But hey that’s what they are being taught; which raises the questions “Are we really teaching our black princesses to truly love their skin no matter what complexion they are?” “Are we truly teaching that we should love each other regardless the complexion of our skin.

Its 2015 how long are we going to let this divide us and debate this topic instead of simply fixing it? Let me know.

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