August 25, 2013

Dark Girls.

Photo credit: madamenoire.com
I watched a documentary on OWN recently that focused on a particular human prejudice; one I've been oblivious to; to think of it even now, is absurd.  The documentary focused on the notion that there's not just racial prejudice, but one against different shades of brown skin color.  The fact that light skinned ethnic girls are preferred over their darker counterparts has been perpetrated for a long time.  At first I thought, as a dark skinned woman, not only do I have to worry about the lack of responsible, good looking Black guys out there, but now I have to worry that I might have missed out on potential good ones because they preferred a lighter skinned girl over me?

Totally absurd this notion is, however, this is indeed the truth.  I can remember growing up in my hometown, Nigeria as a little girl and observing young women my age now, using bleaching cream.  The result is what I coined as "color rioting" of the skin tone, eventually there's an ombre; the skin on the face and neck is white chocolate, while the rest of the body remains dark chocolate as ever.  Eventually, when they stop? Yikes!  Skin so thinned out and stripped of it's natural barrier (melanin), blotching caused by first and second degree burns from the sun rays, white chocolate becomes shriveled prune.  It's any wonder then why those women did it; I have never given it much political thought till now.  I observed enough to not even dream of thinking about bleaching my skin.

Back in those days, for some reason, light skin seemed beautiful, when those women bleached, their skin appeared to be fair and smooth.  They pranced around like the cocker spaniel, they seemed to be the "hot chicks," commanding attention.  Light skin seemed to be the right of passage for a young woman.  It's any wonder how a young woman in a developing economy with an average income of two dollars per day could afford a jar of bleaching cream.  Most women who followed the trend and couldn't keep it up suffered unfortunate consequences.  I've never really given this any deep thought till now; a woman then must have thought bleaching their skin made them more attractive, but then, the so called "husband snatchers" where often of lighter skin color (not by nature).  Dark skin equaled to ugly and dirt.  Dark skin equalled to suffering and telling of the perils of a third world nation.  We respected the white folks that emigrated to the country, we gave them the executive jobs, they became the heads of our multi-million dollar enterprises, we just loved the "half casts" or biracial folks.  As young as I was then, I didn't give any of this notion any deep thought.
Light skin have long been associated with an elevated status in life, folks in impoverished societies 
go through great lengths to attain it.
Years past and far from my developing years and my country, bleaching cream manufacturing still remains a forty-billion dollar enterprise.  It's not just women in Africa, it's in Asia, India, the West Indies.  Folks go through every length to obtain the health hazard in a jar.  Unhealthy amounts of inorganic mercury in these products is enough to make you sick just from smelling it; yet women (and men) use it, regularly. (Anyone remember baseball slugger Sammy Sosa?)  You find this stuff available with unauthorized dealers and shop keepers.  Most folks use it with ignorance, they don't take the time to read the label.  Manufacturers fail to disclose the unsafe contents of their products and their potential hazards.

Why the madness?  One theory is what I'm currently awakened to.  Dark girls don't stand a chance against their fair skinned counterparts, supposedly.  According to this documentary, men (including dark skinned men) are attracted to the light skinned women.  My very dark skinned, attractive (think Tyson Beckford) cousin certainly enjoyed his Indian hip hop up there in San Diego, CA. He certainly had his share of scorns from people when he's around town with his girl of a different race, somehow, he's attracted only to them.   Light skin equals to intelligent, calm, responsible, well-mannered, good-natured, beautiful, attractive.  Dark skinned girls have gotten the bad rap for being loud, irresponsible, repressed and ugly.  The soul must be dark if the skin is dark; dark girls must be ignorant too.   I remember eons ago, another dark skinned sister and I went to audition for a hip hop music video back in New York city.  We stood in line for 2 hours, a Latina with long hair and big booty got pulled out of the line from behind us.  By the time they did that for a second and third time, we got the hint.  Remember the music video for "Jukpa" by J. Martins and Fally Ipupua?  African movies of late feature more biracial actors than ever; Hollywood? I can write a whole other post on that one.

It's any wonder why folks in under developed countries want to appear more "attractive," "sophisticated," "beautiful."  They want to be accepted.  The fair skin has always been in.  Black slaves formed relationships with White folks to attain freedom; to be associated with sophistication and wealth, become a class of their own.  Fairness is the closest thing to becoming White—a conglomeration of sophistication, intelligence and wealth.  This is funny, especially when considering the great lengths White folks go to darken their skin tone.  There are saloons set up everywhere just for this purpose.  To them a darker skin tone makes the fair skinned attractive, a sign that they enjoy life a little bit much (able to afford to sit on the beach for extended periods of time, surfing the waves and sipping island Margaritas).

Like already written, as much as this notion is perpetrated, it is indeed absurd.  How do we manage to continue to brainwash our offspring with this notion?  A 3 year-old sits up and points to the "White child" as the (good)-looking child; points to the "Black" child as bad and ugly.  Where do we get off damaging children's minds in this manner?  The morale of the dark girl is low by the time she's aware of her identity; she washes her skin with chlorine bleach, hoping to wash away some of her blackness.  How do we continue to enslave ourselves?  Will the downward spiral ever stop?  A young black man grows up believing that something is wrong with dark-skinned girls.  Out of the mouth of a black woman shoots forth: "I want my son to only date White women."  Successful Black men are stereotyped to date only white women.  It took the documentary to really pay attention to this issue.

The key is Acceptance.  Knowing who you are, accepting it.  Why do we appreciate colors? The rainbow?  Imagine a world of only one race; what type of world would that be?  Why is the grass greener on the other side?  Why do we always want something other than what we have?  Another key is education; apparently there's not enough of it if our children are already sold into this notion.  Only education can break the cycle.

Thanks for reading.
I appreciate you.
Love,
Msada.

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