A friend and I were at an event recently and ran into some old friends. While exchanging pleasantries, we were introduced to some friends of friends and while talking, one of them said to my friend, “Wow, you’re so pretty. For a dark girl? You are so pretty!” My friend gave her best fake laugh and smile, but I could tell she was uncomfortable afterward. It didn’t immediately seem offensive, but when thought about later, it came off as such an ignorant thing to stay. The matter wasn’t brought up again, but it should be.
There has been great discussion about ignorant comments made by white people about black skin, black hair and black culture as a whole, but we hardly talk about the discrimination and prejudice within the black community or about the ignorant comments we make towards ourselves. Some white people could make the excuse of not being a part of black culture and thus not understanding it, but what about the people who are a part of black culture and yet still make these ignorant comments? What about the lady at the party?
Black women are incredible, but we can never expect anyone to respect us if we don’t respect ourselves, particularly on the subject of complexion. Even within the black community, lighter skin is looked at as more desirable, a sign of wealth and the ultimate beauty symbol. Countless music videos feature a fair skinned lady as the ultimate prize, descriptions of beautiful women start with ‘she’s fair..’. We are fond of making jokes and giving disparaging names to darker skinned children. We see gorgeous black women and tell them they’re pretty for ‘ a dark girl’. It’s insulting, it implies that darker skin is less than and that fair skin is beautiful by default (perhaps they haven’t met some dark skinned women who would blow them out of the water). It needs to end.
Let us celebrate our dark skinned sisters. Let us glorify our melanin and not condemn it. Let us not subtly imply that fair skin is the ultimate goal. Let us end colourism among ourselves and the world at large.