Love the skin you’re in

Junior reflects on racial discrepancies with colorism

Love+the+skin+you%27re+in

Photo by Sara Rogers

It’s called colorism. You can see it plastered all over social media, #TeamLightskin, #TeamBrownskin or #TeamDarkskin. Attached to Tweets, post, and Instagram pics, identifying yourself with one of them, if you’re African American, is overwhelmingly common. Colorism is discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group. Unfortunately in the black community light skin is thought to be prettier or better than darker skin.

I’ve even seen social media posts saying things like “light skin is the right skin” and “there are few pretty dark skinned girls” There are even stereotypes attached to skin color ranges. “light skins don’t text back” because they think they’re too good. or that “Dark skins are mean”. The first time someone told me I was “ pretty for a dark skin” it broke my heart. It was like saying I was smart for a girl. If I am smart, pretty or anything that I am, I would like to be it because I am. It should not be a considered a disadvantage to be dark skinned.

The whole idea that there is a separation, that we are not just one people, started along time ago. The division of skin brightness was originally In our history as African American were originally divided by skin tone. The lighter skin slaves worked in the house and the darker skinned one’s worked the field. The scar left from that has not faded.

Since elementary school it had been pounded into me ‘the brighter the better’. I would have done anything to be a shade lighter. I even tried to buy skin lightening cream, even though it was dangerous.  Even seeing how my very light skinned sister was treated by other people compared to me reinforced the idea that everyone was trying to teach me: No matter how much effort I put in, I would never be as good or special as a light skinned person.

It took years for me to break the spell of colorism, to accept myself and not think of myself as less than, and now I’m proud to be the exact shade that I am. I realized that my skin tone doesn’t make me pretty or ugly, or change how funny I am nor make me a better person. I realized that it was just skin. There was nothing wrong with mine, or anyone else’s.

One of the greatest things about being African American is that you are able to be your own unique color. Black people range from abundance of shades from the lightest tan to a blue-ish black. Every shade is beautiful regardless if you are super dark or a golden mocha like myself. There is no greater value in any skin tone, only diversity. It is just apart of who you are, all you can do is love yourself. No one can decide what is better. That goes past colorism and the African American culture, neither tall nor short is better, not blonde or brunette.

Colorism is now self inflicted and brings unnecessary conflict among ourselves. No one is making us act like this towards ourselves but ourselves. And we are the only one who can heal the wound of colorism. The band aid of apologizing for calling someone burnt or a tar baby will not fix it.  It will not be fixed overnight but there is hope. Everyday we grow better as people maybe one day there could be #TeamHuman.