By Gereneicia Foster
“She’s pretty to be a dark-skinned girl,” a friend said to me one day as we watched a woman enter a store.
I looked at the woman and agreed with my friend wholeheartedly. As I reflect back on it now, I don’t understand why I agreed.
The young lady’s skin color was just a little darker than our own. What did we think was so different?
It wasn’t the first time I had heard that statement. I’ve heard light skinned African-American women say this about darker African-American women often. I’m still struggling to understand it.
If I were lighter, would I automatically be beautiful?
People fail to realize that racism doesn’t just exist between different races. It’s also prevalent within races. It’s called intra-racial racism, and it’s a huge problem in the black community.
I recently watched a modern version of the doll experiment first performed by Kenneth and Mamie Clark in the 1940s. During this test, young black boys and girls were asked to choose between a white and black doll, then asked questions about which doll was pretty or nice. Fifteen of the 21 children interviewed preferred the white doll.
It saddened me to see so many young black girls who felt they weren’t attractive or intelligent and who wanted to be lighter. It also wounded me to see young black boys who believed black girls weren’t as beautiful as white girls.
Popular artists are constantly rapping about how they want a “red bone” or “yellow bone” girl. Lil Wayne is one artist who has been under fire because of his lyrics regarding dark-skinned women. In his song “Ride with the Mack,” he raps, “I tell a dark-skinned chick I’m allergic to chocolate.”
Rarely do Wayne or other rappers say they want a dark-skinned girl.
You rarely see the faces of dark-skinned women on beauty products, and few are seen on the runway.
Hollywood has a multitude of dark-skinned black actresses but their roles are less than favorable. They usually assume stereotypical angry black woman or ghetto roles. We are constantly bombarded by all of these negative images in the media. As a result, dark-skinned women are left feeling unwanted and ugly.
As a child, I yearned to have lighter skin. I remember being picked on because my hair was too nappy and my lips were too big.
Because of this, I had extremely low self-esteem. I hated that I was dark and not considered cute. As I grew up, I recognized that I was beautiful in my own way and that my dark skin didn’t make me hideous.
Today I am secure in my own skin, but I have to encourage one of my younger sisters to embrace hers. She’s in high school now, and she said that black classmates tell her she is ugly simply because she is dark.
I don’t understand it.
It’s time we learn to love ourselves, no matter what we see or hear in the media and no matter what is said to us. We need to instill this in our children as well. The self-hatred needs to stop.
Every shade of black is beautiful. Every skin color is beautiful. Beauty should know no prejudice.