Single Sisters Speak Out

The Modern Life of the Single Sister

A Matter of Color March 15, 2009

Filed under: Community Issues,Self Love — Sunny @ 9:00 pm

Why are there still color issues in the black community in 2009? This is one of the very few issues that irritates me to no end.

A few weeks ago, Panama over at Very Smart Brothas, wrote a post about “The Mirror” which got under the skin of some of the commenters- some of them were upset because his top picks had light skin. I don’t understand why people would pick something like this out to complain about. He!!, I didn’t even notice until someone pointed it out.

I feel pretty good that Panama didn’t specifically pick out light skin girls to make his top 3, they just happened to be his TOP 3; it’s kinda like how I keep trying to incorporate color into my wardrobe, but somehow I always end up buying items in black or gray.

I am on the sunnier side of yellow and have heard jokes about it my entire life. To this day, it still pisses me off. One of my best friends says things in jest, like, “she acts light skin,” or “You know I don’t like light skin girls.” Can someone tell me what the effe that means?

And why is there a double standard? People can refer to me as “high yellow,” “red,” etc., which are all unflattering names, but let me call my darker counterparts something like “black” or “darkie,” and a riot will be sure to break out.

I was listening to the Steve Harvey Morning Show radio date last week and one of the co- hosts asked the male competitor what his best feature was. He answered, “my complexion.” It seemed to me that the co host put a lil’ extra base in his/her voice when asking, “And what complexion is that?” When he replied about having smooth dark skin, it seemed like the tension eased up. He was almost applauded for it. It got me thinking- what if he would have said something about being a light brotha? I don’t think he would have received the same congratulatory remarks!

Secondly, every one has their preferences. I prefer a dark chocolate man. I have heard men say they will only date light skin women. Now, I won’t even date a man who says this- It makes me feel like the only reason I am in the running is because of my color. This comment also bothers me because black women are so beautiful, and we come in so many different shades. How can a person discount a great woman, just because she is not on the lighter side of the spectrum? But on the other hand, am I doing the same thing when I say I prefer darker man?

If it was up to me, I’d have been born a dark brown girl, but God saw fit to make me who I am, and it’s the same for everyone- so why are we still making an issue of it?

I know I put a few questions up in through this post, but what do you think? Is this issue prevalent in the black community still or am I extra sensitive? How do you feel about color preferences? Anything additional to add regarding this?

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45 Responses to “A Matter of Color”

  1. Jaci Says:

    Excellent post…

    Now onto my little comment!

    For those of you who have seen my pic in the “Who We Are” portion you can see that I am a little lighter than Mama Jac…not a problem until I was about 5 and I told my mother that it was depressing she was so dark…now that I think much like Nic I wish I had been born a little darker.

    As for me and dating I started out with Caucasian gentlemen and after that soured I moved on with someone dark and I loved it…so I thought that was what I was always meant to have…looking back on it, I say it doesn’t matter what color the man is as long as he treats me right.

  2. Great Post Nic!

    And as most of you know I am whatever complexion I am… I have a different view on it than the world but it is due to the feeble minded conditioning of some family members out there who told me I was sooooo dark and the only way I fit into the family was my hair…. This whole bull crap really affected me… but as I got older it didnt so much. I dont have a preference when it comes to dating but I will admit that I usually am with a man who is light sometimes almost iridescent (except for the current beau)… but I dont look for them. They find me and sometimes they have usually been ridiculed for being light.

    But as I’ve gotten older I have embraced my skin and am very much happy with it there is one song that I love to hear! Though never through radio play but I do have it on my computer and will definitely make sure its played at least once every other week!! Take a listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaQy1isA0a8

    P.S. I love Mos Def!

  3. @Jac: Did anyone ever comment about the difference in skintone for you and your mama growing up?

    @Holister: On one side of my family, lighter people are the majority. I have a cousin who’s a chocolate girl and I remember someone saying something in jest to her about being the odd one out… That pissed me off, so I know what u mean. I love Mos Def too.

    Thank you ladies!!!

  4. Jaci Says:

    @Nic-No, no one ever commented about it because across the board we are varying different colors, some extremely bright, others not…our ethnic background is fully nuts…so you find a little feature or two in almost each person…it’s not about color….we’re a family.

    @Holly-Having seen you in person a mere two days ago..what about you is dark? Hell you’re barely darker than me and I’m supposed to be bright? I mean where is the dichotomy..exactly where on the color wheel do things change?

  5. @Jac: Got you…

    See, I think my color wheel is completely off. People like Mya and Paula Patton are considered light in my book..

    Brown girls have the hugest category. That is where I put Halle Berry, Megan Goode and Gabriella Union.

    Dark girls would be Foxy Brown and Alek Wek.

  6. @jac- I don’t think I’m dark but when u have aunts who couldve played on Queen always commenting it make u feel a certain way

    @nic- halle would be up in the same realm with mya to me

  7. thecomebackgirl Says:

    I dunno…i have preference, but its only been derived from who i have traditionally dated. Some of my perference come from as young as 16 and thats a shame to me.

    i think you wrote over on vsb that day that you can’t rate pretty…and i can honestly say now that handsome though subjective is hard to rate too…Warrick Brown on CSI to me now is just as fine as the Nigerian dude on Oz. ive never spent my time trying to rate handsome.

  8. @Hol: I’m interested to see how others rate the color spectrum too.

    @Comeback: Exactly! it’s confusing to rate pretty and handsome.. I think either you are or you aren’t.

  9. @nick- yes I think all people have their own spin on it!

  10. peyso Says:

    i think that the problem with this light skin vs dark skin thing is that ppl get angry with the individual for having a preference when that preference is usually instilled in us by hundreds of years of mainstream culture telling us that black is bad. we have to get mad at the system itself not the individuals who are a victim of it.

  11. I agree peyso this is when I refer to the Willie Lynch letter!

  12. peyso Says:

    i just like bad jawns, of all colors. Just so happen that most of em come in a brownish complexion

  13. Peyso can u discuss this word jawn? I find it quite interesting!!

  14. we still on color??? damn homie, I thought all that was deaded.

    With as much bs that goes on from outside, I don’t know why we as a race are still delineating from “light skinded” and “chocolate” It’s hard enough to be black lol.

    Shouldn’t we simply be thankful that we weren’t born disfigured, deformed, or otherwise unhealthy? We really gotta get over this lightskinded/darkskinded/good hair/ bs. Talk about good hair with the person who doesn’t have any.

  15. Jada Says:

    Sunny I feel you lady. Being of the ligher persuasion myself I got called all kinds of white girl’s, light brights, and yellow, and everything else in very negative connotations. Add that fact that I have and have always had long hair….and Lawd ninjas have a freaking field day.

    Now as far as dating I have seen beauty in every shade. Just b/c it’s the majority of what I’ve talked to/dated/been attracted to, I’ll say men my complexion or brown skinned is my preference. But I’m also very open to other complexions (which I’ve dated) (cept white), as long as I’m attracted.

    It’s an issue…it’s always gonna be an issue because we continue to make it an issue. People like to be upset and mad with people for having preferences and never bother trying to figure out WHY they have a particular preference.

    If it’s on some ole self-hate identity crisis then I cannot feel for you. ie: Men and women who date outside of their race b/c they have generalized and all black women….or all blak men…etc.

  16. @Peyso: I know some men do it on purpose, but I find it hard to believe that it is a majority thing… I think some people just make a big deal out of it when it’s not.

    @whyso: He!! no it ain’t deaded. LOL.. U should click on that VSB post and see that.

    “We really gotta get over this lightskinded/darkskinded/good hair/ bs”

    This is so true!!!!

    “People like to be upset and mad with people for having preferences and never bother trying to figure out WHY they have a particular preference.

    If it’s on some ole self-hate identity crisis then I cannot feel for you. ie: Men and women who date outside of their race b/c they have generalized and all black women….or all blak men…etc.”

    AMEN!

    “Add that fact that I have and have always had long hair….and Lawd ninjas have a freaking field day. ”

    Jada: This was one of the things that helped me chop my hair off!!!!

  17. peyso Says:

    @ holly – the willie lynch letter was fake but it does make some great points

    @ holly (again) – “jawn” – when referring to living things, references a female, when referring to inanimate objects, can be anything

  18. @peyso- thanks for the jawn definition!! Also I the letter was fake but it does make a good point of explaining why and how the black subculture got divided.

    @whyso- it is bs but its bs that’s has been and will be carried over from generation to generation. I can’t count how many times I’ve been told I look dominican or how many chicks have told me they hate me cause of my hair… This situation is pretty much parallel to racism and discrimination.

  19. Cheekie Says:

    Great post, Nicki, and lovely topic.

    “And why is there a double standard? People can refer to me as “high yellow,” “red,” etc., which are all unflattering names, but let me call my darker counterparts something like “black” or “darkie,” and a riot will be sure to break out.”

    Since I’m a caramel cutie, I’m in the middle so can take a middle ground here (though uh, I can still be considered light-skindeded depending on who you ask). I think the above mentality is similiar to White folks and Black folks. We can joke about their race ’til the heffas come home, but if they utter one derogatory word regarding us, the Al Sharptons of the world will come out with fists swingin’. And this is mainly because of the oppressor vs oppressed tip. Not to say light skinned folks have “oppressed” dark skinned folks per se, but it’s the same idea. Light skin folks have always been seen as the superior of the Black folk clan and dark skinned the inferior. When the inferior insults or fights the superior it is seen as a retaliation, which is justified when they’ve already been hit, know what I mean.

    THAT SAID.

    At the end of the day…at the end of the year, we’re all still Black. So, though I’ve compared it to strained White/Black relations, it’s still different because light-skinned/dark-skinned is in-fighting. It’s the whole “divide and conquer” tip that has been slowly devouring our race for years. And we need to stop sleeping on it. We’ve exhausted this topic for years and thought it seems tired, it’s really not, know why? Because the discussions have been done in vain. We haven’t truly conquered a damn thing in terms of our progression of true sisterhood/brotherhood.

    And not to put yet another burden on our President’s shoulders, but hopefully his example of Black togetherness (a union of a light/dark with him and Michelle…which, ain’t that uncommon, but still is a huge image) will be a stepping stone to true Black love. Meaning, the love of all Black people as a unit…as a family.

  20. thank you Cheekie!!!! You’re response is so good, it done gave me chills a little bit.

  21. @cheekie- because I don’t enjoy comments on my complexion I don’t make any comments on others… But I def feel what u r saying!

    Good point on the pres too!

  22. CPT Callamity Says:

    Well I get all the light skin guy jokes but I don’t really trip. I look like my darker father who happened to be a handsome dude in his hayday.

    I was tripping how folks were mad off of PJ’s list. I mean, I prefer chocolate complexioned women for some reason but really don’t discriminate. I love all hues of brown as long as the skin is clear, the shape nice and the personality sparkling. Black people seriously need to get over the old paper bag methods of judging people.

    I certainly hope people can learn to ignore trivial matters such as skin tone and get these damned kids reading!

  23. @CPT: thanks for stopping by. “Black people seriously need to get over the old paper bag methods of judging people”

    This is true.

    “I certainly hope people can learn to ignore trivial matters such as skin tone and get these damned kids reading!”

    Agreed!

  24. Cpt Callamity- great points!!

  25. Raquel Says:

    This color thing is really twisted. There are darker black women angry because some black men become successful and see anything less black as an upgrade. Which does happen sometimes, and anger is then directed at said females. Their level of Negroness then becomes a fluid thing that changes depending on what level they are being judged. “Kimora” is black if she’s married to a broke man, but not black enough to be a “true” sista if she’s married to a paid black man.

    In turn light skinned women resent these fluid standards of blackness and the negativity directed towards them. They’re skin is celebrated yet they can’t say something to the effect of “light is beautiful” w/o offending.

    So resentment on one side leads to resentment in response. Splendid. The whole thing is so circular.

  26. @nikkisunshine: Thing is, hue will always matter. No matter what. There is a reason zebras run with zebras and not gazelles. And those this situation is slightly different, it still applies.

    People see, talk about, judge by and pick mates based off of color. Always have, and always will (see: that little war in Israel). That’s why the posters went apenuts on Very Smart Brotha’s post. Because they see it, and think “damn he don’t like darkies.”

    As people, we must rise above the nonsense individually. If you like a dark chocolate man, so be it. Who cares? Just don’t be upset if God send you a “house negro” to love for the rest of your life. Accept him for who he is, dark, light, white or Slumdog.

  27. “They’re skin is celebrated yet they can’t say something to the effect of “light is beautiful” w/o offending.”

    I agree Raquel!!!

  28. @TMCY: “Just don’t be upset if God send you a “house negro” to love for the rest of your life. ”

    LMAO.. But it’s a good point.

  29. Cheekie Says:

    “They’re skin is celebrated yet they can’t say something to the effect of “light is beautiful” w/o offending.”

    Yes! This is such a touchy subject. I get the notion to express how dark is beautiful, because it’s been devauled for so many years (yes, even when 2520s GALORE are fryin’ their arses up trying to get darker) and seeing light-skinned beauties doing the same kinda reminds people of the “white” in them…or the white features in them.

    I’m thinkin’ the only solution to this is to stop the “my shade is beautiful” all around and just say “Black is beautiful” period, which pre-supposes that every shade in between is equally beautiful. Because, again, even though our shades are different and some shades are treated better or worse than others…at the end of the day, 2520s are gonna see us as Black.

    Yes, we’re all different and need to be seen as such (individuals), but for a situation such as this, I think the unity will take us a looooong way.

  30. Cheekie: I agree to all your points. We need to stop categorizing the light skin and the dark skin bc at the end of the day (my Frankie is coming out), if we go into a racist territory, you’ll be treated like a ninja no matter what shad u are.

  31. Junior Says:

    I personally subscribe to the “taste the rainbow” mentality, but I do know of a good deal of people who sadly like either “crispity crunchity” or “light bright”. I used to feel sorry for darker complexioned girls, because I know they were getting NO play from ’94 untl around the time GAbrielle union started becoming a household name. I know most of the readers probably aren’t from the gulf coast area, but there was a song by UNLV called “Bad Ass Yellow Boy”. Now the song was a diss towards Mystikal, but I remember everyone turned the chorus in to “Bad ass yellow girl, oh we want some….” so forth and so on, but basically showing that’s what they want their women to look like.

    The worst part about all of this, in my opinion, is that this is something that Willie Lynch enshrined into our psyche’s without us even realizing it. I read that devil’s letter to plantation owners in the South, and this whole “light, darker, darkest” was intricately plotted out by him, and as you can see, 350+ years later, its a topic and divisive technique that continues to put us at odds against one another.

    So in short, no, you aren’t being sensitive in the least. it’s actually an issue that all black people should be aware of and know about and fully understand that we are still mentally enslaved if we don’t change our thinking and become more progressive in our thoughts.

    That is all.

  32. @Junior: I remember that song… ooooh he want some.

    “it’s actually an issue that all black people should be aware of and know about and fully understand that we are still mentally enslaved if we don’t change our thinking and become more progressive in our thoughts. ”

    Very well said and I agree.

  33. Britt Says:

    Good post. The reason why (some) people feel like it’s ok to make comments about light skin versus dark skin is the same reason (these same people) feel like it’s ok to make comments about white people. Light skin is the preference, the acceptable standard to which other complexions are held. Therefore since it’s the standard it’s ok to talk down on it. Because (most) people view dark skin as something negative, it’s handled with kid gloves.

  34. Thanks Britt!!!

    “Because (most) people view dark skin as something negative, it’s handled with kid gloves.”

    I agree to this, but I wish we’d have some kinda truce about it.. I’m tired of fighting this fight and hearing about it.. It must start with the individual though

  35. My sister would always clown me and tell me that I’m “colorstruck”, because most of the guys I’ve dated were either medium to light skinned guys. At one point in time in my life they were my preference, but not anymore. Now, they are just naturally attracted to me. And you know what’s funny? My oldest son’s father is the same complexion as myself, and my child came out light skinned. My youngest son’s father is lighter than I, and my baby came out the same complexion as myself. Crazy, right?

    Anyway, I just think that people are gonna seek out what they want to seek out. But as far as light vs. dark skinned people, we gotta let it go. For me, once I started dating a dark skinned man, I became more aware that there just as many handsome dark skinned men as there are light, and that’s what made me shed myself from my preference. All black people (of every shade imaginable) are beautiful, and we as a people need to start embracing that, period. Otherwise, our children are gonna grow up with that same stupid mentality and history is doomed to repeat itself all over again, only this time with a new generation.

  36. “All black people (of every shade imaginable) are beautiful, and we as a people need to start embracing that, period”

    I agree. It is up to us to build the self esteen of the younger generation. I’m unsure, but are they still grappling with this like the folks our age and older are?

  37. Britt Says:

    I agree @ truce. I am dark-skinned (most people would say “brown” but I think that is because nobody wants to be called dark) and I am SO over this conversation. Colorism exits, just like racism, sexism, weight-ism (I made that up lol), etc. We shouldn’t pretend it doesn’t exist and we also shouldn’t dwell on it. I don’t judge people before I meet them based on skin tone. I am pretty materialistic so I am more likely to notice your fly LV bag or Tory Burch kicks over your skin tone :-).

    You and I can have our own personal truce Nicki :-).

  38. Britt Says:

    I meant exists! The little darkie can spell, lol!

  39. I am definitely with it Britt. we are on the same page. 🙂

  40. MDUBB Says:

    Alot of girls I’ve dated in the past were light skinned.

    I’m confident in saying that I didn’t choose these girls based on their skin tone, I just chose them cause I liked them….I think.

    After I divorced my “light skinned wife,” I started to think about my dating history in depth, wondering If I had a skin preference I wasn’t fully aware of.

    I can’t honestly say that I’ve figured it out now, but I can say my current lady is a lovely dark chocolate complexion and she is just as beautiful as any other girl I’ve ever dated. So maybe that’s the answer to my question, maybe it’s not. Hopefully we’ll stay together her and never have to figure it out.

  41. Hey MDUBB, thanks for stopping by.

    “Hopefully we’ll stay together her and never have to figure it out.”

    Good luck to you. 🙂

  42. Cuzzo Says:

    Nick Nack

    Without writing a book, my opinion is that we’ve grown to accept those things that were deemed uncool or even “ugly” (big noses, big lips, dark skin, thicknesses) come of late. In that, because they have been put down for so long there’s been a backlash at the things that were cool and pretty.

  43. Bamer15 Says:

    I didn’t really know what to post as a comment but wanted to post that I personally didn’t realize this was an issue. (Ok I am a young white male) But nonetheless this is an interesting topic.

    Thanks for posting this and I read every comment. Very interesting read.

  44. Welcome to the blog, Banner15!!!!

    Thank you and come back anytime.

  45. aestar101 Says:

    I don’t think I fit in either catagory. I’m just light brownish.


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