Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Guest Post: For Colored Girls...And Boys (Video)

Today's guest post comes from Dr. Bella GBella is a medical doctor from the lone star state of Texas who is finishing her residency in Virginia.  Her topic concerns an upcoming documentary that started to make a little buzz before the Memorial Day weekend when the preview clip below (see video after the jump) started to circulate the internet.  The topic of the documentary: the dark skinned/light skinned color complex within the Black community.  So please engage our guest in the comments below as we explore the Dark Skin/Light Skin debate.

I recently watched a viral video that is a preview for a documentary about “Dark Girls.” With the initial viewing I presumed it would be more of the same: “No one is attracted to dark women,” “my life was harder because I’m dark,” “I was taught to hate myself,” etc. While almost all of the themes I assumed would be mentioned were included, at the conclusion of the Nine minute clip I did have to reflect. Yes, indeed, this is more of the same. But why is this a regular conversation within the Black community? Why do we still hate what is authentically Black? 

As a diaspora, Black people are diverse in features and colors. A combination of slavery and colonization have caused an evolution of what “black” looks like. I, for one, find beauty in all of our variety. But I can’t speak for the rest of the Black world. As an American who is the child of an African immigrant mother and a biracial father, color was often a discussion growing up. There were questions about why I wasn’t lighter since my dad is mixed, or why I wasn’t darker because my mom is African. All stemming from a root of ignorance, but questions that a child may ponder. Questions that a child may also ask if they have been taught that Africans look a certain way and to be called an “African” or worse, “A Black [expletive] African” were some of the worst insults that could be hurled at you.

Whether we are ready to be honest or not, there is still a color bias within the black community. "Light skin, long hair, don't care” is still a description to uplift a lighter skinned woman. And to be clear, this is not to take anything away from beautiful light skinned women or to point the finger at them for being born light skinned and/or beautiful in a society that applauds their attributes.  This is to illuminate (again) the fact that “light” is not the only standard of beauty.

In our assessment of what is considered beautiful, we still give out "light skin passes" all the time and often times a darker woman has to be exceptionally attractive to even be noticed as acceptably attractive. Growing up, one of my closest friends was very light skinned and would be referred to as "yella bone" as a compliment and not simply an adjective. I would hear from darker guys that they don't date brown skinned girls because brown and brown don't go together. Dark skin men are sexy, but dark skin women are "strong black women" and not necessarily attractive. These are obviously deep seated issues that we carry from slavery and that other Blacks carry from colonization. We have to be honest with ourselves about what our beauty preferences are and why. Until we are, we will not be able to get past this issue and I will keep having links to documentaries in my inbox and on my facebook profile page.

I believe there are still plenty of Black men (and women) that buy into the light is right or have a preference for “mixed chics”...and there is nothing wrong with attraction, but if you don't see beauty in anyone darker than Beyonce or Ciara, with the exception of some unobtainable brown skinned celebrities, then you may need to do some introspection. Is your mother brown, dark brown, or have "regular Black girl” looks?  Do you like women that probably looked like her as a young woman? If not, I would say ask yourself why not. Your mother is your first image of a woman and naturally that should be "your type."  If it's not, what are the influences on what you perceive as beautiful?

And though it has been asked many times before, why don’t successful Black men often have brown or dark brown women on their arms? No, really, why not? Why were so many people shocked to see that, for example, a successful basketball player like Ron Artest had such a “regular” wife? And do people feel that he upgraded now that he has a petite, racially ambiguous, fair skinned woman on his arm?

I don’t have all the answers. Actually, I think I do, but I believe in the power of introspection and honesty. We all need to take a look at what is influencing our standards of beauty and do better. It’s 2011 and I heard we’re free…

Dark Girls: Preview from Bradinn French on Vimeo.

What are you thoughts on the color complex?
Why is this a regular conversation within the Black community? 
Why do we still hate what is authentically Black?
Why don’t successful Black men often have brown or dark brown women on their arms?
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