Growing up I remember I was so eager to meet, date and begin relationships with light-skinned girls. I don't know how it started or really why, but six of my seven closest friends all agreed with me. In terms of relationships it was all we talked about. Whenever one of us met a new girl, the first question we would ask was "Is she light skin?" If she was then we would show approval but if she wasn't the next question would be, "oh dang, but is she at least pretty." If she was light skin we never asked if she was pretty because it was pretty much assumed. Why did we think that way? Where did that thinking come from? Why was it the norm and surely 30-plus years later kids today wouldn't think that way now, would they?
Looking back all these years later I feel so foolish that this was my thinking. It was embarrassing that I judged all the girls that I was interested in primarily on their skin color. The bigger question however, was why? Especially since I was born in the '70s with all the black power and black is beautiful movements. You would think that we would embrace our blackness and darker women from growing up in this era. However, when my interest in girls really peaked we had entered the '80s. The '80s was more of the rap, videos and hip hop era.
Now we all know the history of light skin vs dark skin as slavery was concerned. The lighter blacks were preferred to live and work in the house and the darker blacks worked and lived in the field. That was a big part of the initial separation. There is also the belief that white is more attractive and overall better, so the closer your complexion is to white the better off you are. So for the majority of years blacks have been in America this has been the thinking. Yes, in the '60s and '70s there was a rebellion of that but that lost a lot of steam. It came to the point where people would not even want to identify as black, but when asked their race they would answer "I am brown skin," or "I am light skin." That would be their identity. And when you saw a gorgeous darker skinned lady you would say "oh wow, she is pretty for being DARK-skinned girl." Like that is rare and unusual. I can imagine the mental pressure this would put on young girls. The struggle to look as light as possible or if you didn't, believing that you weren't attractive. The name-calling that would come, darky, blacky, dirty, ugly, monkey, night, you so black, your momma is so black, oil, midnight, etc. Day after day, night after night. This added to the self-hate and forced even more separation of each other.
Now as the media era (video and print) took over it was crucial for companies to project the image that they felt would sell. So they pumped lighter skinned images constantly to appeal to a larger audience and to concretize a certain picture in black people minds. So now as the younger generation grows up on this it will continue to feed the mindset that lighter is better, more attractive and to be desired. Even to the point where some artists have said they exclusively want light-skin ladies in their videos. What does that say to our young beautiful darker sisters? Do everything you can to be lighter. Even parents hoping their children are lighter at birth, or not wanting their children to date darker people because they are concerned on how the children will look. This was and is some mind job done on blacks. Thank God however that we do see the tide shifting a little bit the other way now. With images like Lupita Nyongo and Viola Davis, which will help so many young girls embrace their color instead of reject it and feel inferior because of it. However we have to piggy back on that and teach our young people how much of a blessing their complexion is, how beautiful they are and how proud they should be because of it. That would be a nice start but it must be continued and sustained if we want to impact this generation and the next. Remember Black is Beautiful!!!