The conversation about colorism in the Black community is far from over. Bill Duke’s “Dark Girls” is a documentary that addressed colorism–a topic that needed to be addressed in the Black community, and now we’ve got an antithesis to the very popular “Dark Girls” documentary. There’s an upcoming documentary called “Light Girls,” but there are more pressing needs for light-skin women than a slice of life movie.
“Light Girls” is looking at this issue from the other side. As wonderful as that is (and it does look like an interesting film), light-skin women don’t need another documentary about colorism. We also shudder to think about the potential man-on-the-street commentary that may be featured in this piece.
You know what we do need, though…this list:
1. Solidarity with the rest of the community
For some reason, there is a strange dynamic that exists for light-skinned women in the Black community. Although we are generally accepted as part of it, some will try to make us feel like we’re less Black because of our shade. This manifests itself in endless tests of our Blackness. Kym Whitley even says in the trailer that she tried to make up for not being “Black enough” to other people. If racial identity is something measurable, then we need a PSA to assert that we are just as Black as anyone else.
FACT: Black people of all shades need sunscreen. Aside from it just being a good part of your beauty arsenal (Jada Pinkett Smith swears by it, and that woman never ages), it’s an essential, because we can burn. When we do get a sunburn, the lasting tan lines can stick around for months on lighter Black women!
3. To no longer be a fetish
It’s really annoying to meet a guy who wants to date you and he throws in a comment about your complexion as if it is a compliment. When someone says “you’re so nice and light” while trying to kick game, you basically give me no choice but to put you directly in the reject pile. I have had a man tell me, “You have the kind of skin I like.” How creepy is that?!
4. An eject button for anyone that calls them “redbone”
Light-skin women are hit with any number of labels during the course of a day. “High-yellow,” “redbone”…we’ve heard it all! It gets super-old super-fast. Life would be a lot easier if we could just hit an eject button for anyone that uses those terms. It would be incredibly satisfying in a cartoon kind of way.
5. Side-eye for every single dumb comment about skin color they’ve ever heard
Failing an eject button (technology has yet to catch up), having your best side-eye and WTF face ready will have to do. This isn’t just reserved for people in the Black community; this goes for anyone that thinks it’s okay to make a dumb comment about race to us because they think we’re “not that Black.”
6. A readily accessible picture of your family
Many will assume on-sight that light-skinned people are not completely Black because of our skin tone. An African cab driver once asked me, “What breed are you?” To clarify he was asking if I was mixed (in the most offensive way possible) because of my complexion. My reply? “I’m Black and more Black. Now, shut up and drive.”
In other cases, it’s usually at this point that I have to do a mini-genetics lesson to remind folks that Black people come in all shades. I also tell people that both of my parents are, in fact, Black. Next time I’m just going to pull out a pic of my parents to save myself the time. Of course, I shouldn’t even have to give a break down of my ethnic makeup. No one asks dark-skinned girls if they’re mixed, but they are just as likely to be. Naomi Campbell is a great example of this.
7. A support group
After a long day of being faced with intraracial ignorance, sometimes, you just need to sit down with someone who understands exactly where you’re coming from. It seems like “Light Girls” is attempting to do that. It’s a nice reminder that sometimes your shade isn’t the problem, it’s how the Black community has been conditioned to think about it and the division that that can cause. The struggle is real!
8. An end to colorism and an appreciation for all skin tones
Don’t be fooled: there are some light-skinned women that do buy into all the colorism hype. They need a class about why Black women are beautiful in all shades. Let’s not perpetuate the stereotype, people.
9. To no longer be vilified
Prejudice isn’t just something that Black people experience from those of other races, we do it to ourselves all the time. All. The. Time. This can take many forms, but speaking from experience, light-skinned women are often treated harshly based on the assumption that we think we’re better than others because of our skin tone. It’s projection to the extreme, and it needs to stop.
Right up there with the need for sunscreen is the need for toner. We scar easily, and everyone likes to have a face that naturally looks flawless and airbrushed.
11. The right shade of red
Wearing red is always fun and flirty, but finding the right shade is tough! I can’t tell you how many times I have been disappointed by picking up a tube of lipgloss (or bottle of nail polish, or a super-cute dress) that looked perfect in the store only to have it wash me out everywhere else. Hint: look for something that compliments the undertones of your skin.
12. A sense of humor
Sometimes a crack about our complexion is just jokes. While we do get more than our fair share of comparisons to iconic bougie mascots like Hilary Banks and Whitley Gilbert, it’s not the worst thing in the world. They were rich, fly and knew their worth! Of course, they may have taken it to the extreme, but they always had some great shade.