We’ve been bamboozled! Hoodwinked! We didn’t choose European beauty as the standard, it was chosen for us–the entire world.
And we believed it. We’ve accepted the image of white skin as beautiful and heralded it as the epitome of happiness, love, and acceptance. Even if it’s literally killing us women of color.
The “light is right” ideology has been taught upon people of color for centuries. Slavers separated dark skinned Blacks from the lighter ones and assigned workloads based on shade of skin (field slaves vs. house slaves). Then there was the practice of marrying light to either lighten the race or raise one’s status. We’ve learned about the “brown bag” test and today we even witness, for example, Black or dark skinned men parade around “trophies” and “dimes” who are light or white (ex., celebrities and athletes).(Nothing against loving who you love, only when you hate dark skin/brown women based on self-hate and/or stereotypes–another blog.)
Truth is, you can read how this love of whiteness is practiced in India. Advertisements for wives are placed for light skinned women. This brainwashing in not just in the US or India…you’ll find it in Africa, Jamaica, Korea, Japan–everywhere!
I recently read an article regarding colorism in South African. A local musician, Nomasonto “Mshoza” Mnisi, said, “I’ve been black and dark-skinned for many years, I wanted to see the other side. I wanted to see what it would be like to be white and I’m happy.” Does whiteness guarantee happiness? Or, will it make life a heck of a lot easier? Could one perhaps lighten their skin enough to benefit from the privileges?
Probably not. You’ll still be black. Especially in America, even with bleached skin Mnisi will still be forced to adhere to the “one drop rule.” One tiny drop of black blood while make the world regard you as totally Black.
Why does one hate any brownness of color? Why is there so much love for whiteness that folks are willing to bleach their skin, endure cancer, skin burns, and/or reptilian blotchiness?
We can point a finger to advertisements and media. We definitely don’t see the beauty of color celebrated there. In fact, ads use special lighting, filters, and photoshop to Europeanize models.
In fact, we can stay up all night and point fingers to different establishments for forcing this standard upon us. Right?
But after all of that pointing, when will we look to ourselves for our own definitions and standards? It’s a hard thing to do, I know…to stand on a lone island and declare your right to believe what you believe. Very scary. Enough brown women have been beaten down for being too dark or not light enough. “You’re kinda cute to be dark-skinned.” Ugh!
Yet, you can do it. But first, it’s important to understand why we love whiteness so much.
Is it because we’ve learned to hate…blackness.
(“Us” and “you” are not addressing an entire group directly, but generally for simplicity of the blog).
BBC News ran an article, “Africa: Where Black is Not Really Beautiful.” Jackson Marcelle’s, a Congolese hairstylist, self-hate rocked me to my core. “I pray every day and I ask God, ‘God why did you make me black?’ I don’t like being black. I don’t like black skin…I like white people. Black people are seen as dangerous; that’s why I don’t like being black. People treat me better now because I look like I’m white.” (Pumza Fihlani)
The thought of black or brown skin being ugly and dangerous has infiltrated our thoughts on a cellular level. It is utterly important that we find a way to declare and celebrate the skin we’re in. We need to be aware of why we hate our color and start from there.
So I ask you, why do you think there is this contempt for Blackness?
What do you, both POC and non-POC, teach your children to celebrate and acknowledge the colors of others?
How do you combat the negative images and stereotypes?