Yasssssssssss Beyonce out here giving all of black girls so much life with her new song. Although, to be fair Nina Simone, Maya Angelou and countless other woman have BEEN going hard for black girls of all colors, and with the announcement of Lashana Lynch as the new 007, and Hailey Bailey as the new face of The Little Mermaid, it is safe to say that WE are finally stepping into the realm of equity as far as representation in the media goes. I want my daughter to see herself in the media as frequently as we see white women, but I also want the same for Asian, Latina, Native and other women of color. I was creepily staring at a young woman on the train the other day because her skin was flawless, and she was deep chocolate and I was mesmerized by her beauty. I have always found that women in all shades of brown to be beautiful and I never really ever considered why other people did not think so UNTIL truly studying the breakdown of phrases like “she’s pretty for a dark skinned girl.” Within my own family we have nicknames like Darkie and Pinky, and because I grew up hearing it, I was unphased. However, now given the state of my thoughts, and the connotation of colorism, it rubs me the wrong way to call someone darkie, even it is prefaced by aunty.
My daughter was checking herself out in the mirror and she said that she did not want to be any darker. We have been frolicking in the sun a considerable amount and we have both gotten a few shades darker than our typical caramel hues, and I say the darker the better, she did not feel that way. I pushed the issue and asked her why she did not want to be darker, and she said that she doesn’t feel like a darker color would look good on her. I simply said, the blacker the berry, and she rolled her eyes. I am not the most light skinned on the spectrum, and I am not very dark, I have been considered “red” by Trinidadian standards and that’s always been praised as a good thing. I have the joy and desire of wanting to be dark, while my darker skinned sistas take steps to stay the color that they are. I have never experienced anyone making fun of me because of my skin color, or overlooking me because of it, so can I really say the darker the better? I can think that, but I have not lived the existence of being a deep chocolate woman being shamed or made fun of for being born with a darker skin tone. I find it interesting when observing who prominent black men date, and it is very seldom a dark skinned woman. Is that by design? Aren’t they allowed to date who they like, and who is compatible with them? However, I do wonder how come they all date women who sort of just look the same. Where are the brown skinned women with real bodies and darker skinned tones? But the other side of this is that rappers, ball players and musicians aren’t the standard for what relationships look like, so what does it matter if they aren’t dating dark skinned black women with real bodies? Why does who they date matter? It actually really does not…not to me anyway.
What does the celebration of brown skinned girls mean to me? First of all, I think that all shades of brown is brown skinned. I don’t care if you’re butter pecan or Hershey brown, brown is brown. There are so many things about light skinned girls being butt hurt that dark brown girls are shining, but I don’t know if that is even true. Who is driving this narrative about the competition? If you grew up in black family, you know there are hella different shades and who cares? We all contend with the fallout of white is right, and colorism, but WHEN do we move past that and just show up lovingly for each other beyond our shades? When does it become okay to celebrate the spectrum of all brown skinned girls? There are ways in which we must support each other as women that outweigh the colorism issue. A deeper individual love, connection and building through honest conversations and checking each other can create a deep sisterly LOVE. The deep hurt that’s been caused by the effects of colorism leaves room for candid conversations to take place. We are raising children who are already better than us, and when we set the tone that it is customary to build bridges with all women, then the micro aggressions can die. Who teaches children how to hate themselves? Is it not the people who raise them? How could a dark skinned girl ever believe she isn’t beautiful if she wasn’t taught that? How do our girls come to hate their broad noses, thick lips and thick thighs if someone isn’t poisoning their thoughts? When you don’t love yourself, then how can you embrace another who looks like you? Teach your brown skinned girls to love themselves and I mean, love inspires more love.
Brown Skinned Girl is for ALL black girls. We as a collective have been hurt, abused, overlooked, put down and shamed at some point, and despite the color pain is pain. We can have a billion debates about who is harmed by colorism but uhhhh what is the fucking point if there is no resolution? Brown skinned girls of all hues need to build bridges with each other so we can rise as a unit. We have to heal as a collective, and make strides towards excellence together. We have to be sensitive to each others’ narratives, assume nothing, and elevate. Unpack, leave the bullshit at the door and create a new beginning. I will pour love into my brown skinned girl, and hopefully you’ll do the same. All I can do is teach my baby how to love the skin she is in, and she will learn how to love others with the same appreciation. I love myself so much so I can teach her how to love herself so much, and in turn love YOU so much too. Period.