I recently watched a documentary called, “Dark Girls.” I found it very interesting and prompted a conversation between me and Aaron. We talked about if we had a daughter how we would approach this conversation. This will be about what I learned from the documentary and my thoughts on the subject.
Now most people know about the brown paper bag test but for those that don’t, I will explain. The brown bag is placed on the skin and if your skin was lighter than the bag your gained acceptance, if you were darker, you were denied. Now this went for clubs, fraternities and different society places. To me this is absurd, but it really did happen. My Grandmother, who is very fair-skinned, barely got hassled because of her light complexion, meanwhile her sister who is darker, probably had more problems. Now I bring this up because this is something that black people have dealt with for what seems like forever from white people but the issue between dark and light skinned women is even worse in my eyes and I say it’s worse because the problem is happening within our own race. We are hurting each other.
I personally, have never had an issue with my complexion. My skin tone is between my parents. My Mom is lighter and my Dad is darker, I fall right in the middle. My Mom never had to sit me down and have a conversation about loving my skin. I love being black. I personally, don’t think there’s anything better. But not everyone is taught to feel that way. There was a part in the documentary that almost brought me to tears. There was a little black girl who couldn’t have been any older than 5 sitting at a table. There was a picture with maybe 4 or 5 girls of different shades ranging from white to dark. She was asked who the smart one was and she pointed to the white girl. When asked who was dumb she pointed at the darkest girl. Then she was asked who was beautiful, she pointed to the white girl and when asked who was ugly she pointed at the darkest child. It hurt me. Why did she feel this way and why at such a young age? Who taught her to feel that way? I wanted to hug her and to make her understand her beauty. I’m starting to believe more and more that adults don’t realize that what they feel they intentionally or unintentionally teach younger people they know. The things you don’t like about yourself you can pass on to your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews. I think it’s important to love yourself so you don’t put that pain and burden on future generations. I also feel that children may be taught to feel this way by the way they’re treated by other kids.
There was another part that I found disturbing and it has to do with the issue of men. Now we women have enough issues with ourselves without bringing men into it. Truthfully, a lot of things we feel about ourselves though do come from the reaction we get from men. There were men who said that they preferred light skin women with long hair (haven’t we all heard that before). They believe darker women have more of an attitude problem. Now I look at that to say that they feel lighter women are not as strong or strong-minded as dark women. Then there was a man who said he loved his chocolate women, that there was nothing better and I felt some pride. But then he said that light-skinned women were more high-maintenance and you have to put in more effort to get them. That was disappointing, like dark women aren’t worth the effort. I feel that any woman worth having is worth the effort, but again that’s just my opinion and could take me into a whole different story which may become a future article.
I personally feel that other races give us enough shit about our color, should we really be doing the same? I mean we’ve all made jokes about someone being so dark they could put fingerprints on charcoal or so light that they call you piss-colored and yes it’s all in fun but we honestly shouldn’t be doing it. I mean we all say we love being black and love black people but we don’t really practice that notion. We are teaching it generation after generation. I’ve seen people make a difference in family members because of their color. Why would that not be detrimental to a child? The first people in your life that are supposed to accept you are your family and if that doesn’t happen why would a child expect the world to? Kids are smarter than adults give them credit for. They can tell when they being treated differently from another child and can usually at some point figure out why. They’re color doesn’t dictate they’re behavior nor what kind of person they will become but our children are being taught that they’re less than because they’re darker.
We need to pay attention to this problem. Even if we don’t notice that this may be a problem with your child maybe it is and they haven’t told you about it. Maybe they’ve seen it done to other kids. We must teach our children to love themselves flaws and all and why not do it as early as we feel that they can comprehend what we’re trying to teach. This may help prevent some issues that tend to come up later in childhood.