The Blacker the Berry

I want to take a moment today to show my dark skinned sisters some love. So often we say “black is beautiful,” but that cliché doesn’t seem to mean much in communities where beauty is still ranked according to shade. It’s so obvious when you look at the videos on MTV and BET; the caramel latte girls get to grind on the rapper, and the dark cocoa honeys are sprinkled into crowd shots for color. The issue of black-on-black racism is something that bothers me so much; it’s hard to express in words how it makes me feel. (This is ironic, since that’s what I do both for a living and for pleasure.)

I spend a lot of time reading comments pages and message boards on popular urban sites. Often, the conversation about certain celebs tends to devolve into racist stereotypes, all variations of that sad cliché, “If you’re light, you’re alright; if you’re black, step back.” I find it absolutely tragic that some of the harshest comments come from our own people, who seem to enjoy lambasting people for looking “too dark,” or “over black,” or even dredging the n-word out. We’ve all heard relatives or friends casually toss about the same discriminatory phrases. Black as the ace of spades. Blacker than Darth Vader’s helmet. Black as midnight. Darkie. Darkness. We need to leave that kind of thinking behind and embrace each other for all shades of beautiful.

Kids can say the darndest things. I went to school with a girl who was darker than mahogany. Her skin was velvet smooth and her features were elfin and beautiful. She was also wonderfully petite, and a very sweet and cheerful person. I don’t remember where the joke began, but someone once said that “she was so black, she was purple.” People started calling her “purps,” and the nickname stuck throughout the time we were together at school. I often wonder about that girl, and how that nickname made her feel. The things we say to each other can be so cruel. The way we see each other can be so heartbreakingly ignorant. I don’t know where my classmate lives now, or what she does. I just know that when I remember those days, I cringe inside at how uninformed and immature we all were. But we got that kind of view somewhere. It’s a belief system passed down from generation to generation, dating back to the days when the shade of your skin determined whether you worked in the house or in the field.

I started thinking a lot about race and shade after reading this excellent, thoughtful interview on Rocka Candy with Broadway and television legend Sheryl Lee Ralph. Regarding Beyonce taking over her role as Deena Jones in the highly anticipated film remake of Dreamgirls, she had this to say:

R.C: How do you feel about Beyonce portraying the role you originally bought to life – Deena Jones?

SLR: It’s interesting, when Tom Eyen who is the creator, had this idea, he said that the Dreams, have to be three obviously black girls. Why? Because America will always go for that light, bright, long haired black girl because they will feel comfortable building her up, since they see themselves in her. But for the obviously black girl, if she makes it, she deserves to be right there. Because they aren’t trying to push her, that’s why the Dreams had to be three obviously black girls. So when they cast Beyonce in the role of Deena Jones. I said, “Wow, this is exactly what Tom Eyen said would happen.” They going to take to that light, bright blackish blonde girl because they feel comfortable with her. That’s the reality.

R.C: Who would you have cast as Deena Jones?

SLR: That’s hard because the industry isn’t pushing her, so you don’t have an obvious one to pick from. The closest one I can think of, that’s an obvious black girl with that glamour thing to her is Lauryn Hill. Heather Headley is kind of close but she’s not Deena. You know Deena is Diana Ross, she’s a drama girl, an out right glamour girl.

Sheryl Lee Ralph is absolutely right, but I’d like to (gasp!) defend Beyonce. I know, I know. She gets shit on a lot for representing that light-skinned, could-pass-for-white girl. But Beyonce can’t help her color any more than any of us can help our own. Beyonce didn’t put herself on the cover of every magazine, or on the top of the music chart, she didn’t cast herself in Dreamgirls. We can’t blame her for being annoyingly ubiquitous when we all helped to contribute to her success. And that’s fine, because she honestly is talented and beautiful. She has obviously worked damn hard to get to where she is. But for every Beyonce, there’s a Syleena Johnson or a Janelle Monae who sings (almost literally) in the shadows, whose record label might not be pushing their material hard enough, and who don’t get enough media exposure.

Darker skinned women have an even harder time finding makeup in their shades. I already made loving mention of I-Iman, and one of my favorite black beauty product lines is Black Opal. For some reason, I’ve found Black Opal products increasingly hard to find on store shelves. I have many of their lip glosses and lipsticks, they’re all excellent. And the range of shades available in their foundation and concealer lines is admirable. Trinidad-based Sacha Cosmetics also caters to women of all skin tones.

Not every model needs to have their own makeup line, but I would love to see women who look like Alek Wek be the official face for more mainstream beauty products. I would also love to see more women like her on the cover of magazines, and (although she’s too classy for it), in music videos. I hope that someday, we get to see equal representation of women of all colors. I can’t honor Sheryl Lee Ralph’s wish to cast a more appropriate Deena. All I can do is share this remarkable video that was sent to me by regular reader Jerseybred. (Thank you!!)

Jennifer Holliday is an undoubted legend, but I’m still psyched to see my girl Jennifer Hudson belt this one out. I’ve been rooting for her since day 1 on Idol.

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Comments

  1. Wow, Alex Wek is amazingly beautiful. My cousin Pamela is the same complexion as Alex and she is stunning. I love their skin tone. I’m envious.
    Funny thing, though she is not attracted to light-skinned black men-only dark-skinned men. She says they “do it for her”.
    Afrobella, thanks for the shoutout. When I saw this I immediately thought of you. I cried when Ms.Jennifer tore it up at the end and wished I could have seen this musical as a child.

  2. I have to say that I agree with you – black is beautiful in all shades. For me it has less to do with how light or dark your skin and more to do with how you carry and present yourself. I know some lightskin folks that are NOT CUTE because of their attitudes and people with the richest, darkest complexion that are stop-in-your-tracks beautiful.

    The fact that we are all so different yet have so much in common is what I LOVE. It’s so wonderful to me that my skin is this color and your skin is that color and her skin is another color. We’re beautiful seperate, but it makes us that more interesting together. Why does being different have to be a negative thing? For me it’s so positive and beautiful…I love being different from people around me. Makes things more interesting. :-)

  3. 70ssoulchild says:

    You’ve stated my feelings more eloquently than I ever have. I grew up with my stepfather feeling the sting of being “too black” as he put it. He always felt less than when it came down to skin-color. He was a beautiful hershey bar brown and I used to tell him this quite often. We do have to stop using such hurtful derogatory terms toward each other. Before I married my handsome husband, I dated all shades of brown like SoulSpin says black IS beautiful in all shades and I can remember being totally sprung for this guy that was the complexion of Alek Wek and my girlfriends thought I had said I wanted to join the KKK! I too wish that I had seen Dreamgirls on Broadway…too bad we can’t buy DVDs of it. Love Jennifer Holliday..I had the pleasure of meeting her years ago in Oakland and she was such a sweetheart.

  4. Shonquayshah says:

    I love the skin i’m in however growing up, i wished i was darker, although I did pick the white baby doll in the little test…(i think that had to do with the images in the media and tv…no black, asian, latino BRECK girls?! WTF??? sister’s got no love on camera in the late 70′s early 80′s)remember our 1st (black) miss america? she had blue/green eyes!!! (vanessa wms) that totally bugged me out! not hating on the high yella heffas (joking!)but some of them do act snooty sometimes and i think that they just relate more to their pink-toed counter parts (white women){not getting the pink-toe reference? they do have pink toes!)anyhoo, thank you Afrobella for putting somethings on our minds! Side note- I tell my sons-”if she can’t use your comb, DON’T bring her home” and I mean that!

  5. Thank you sista. Thank you so much. What a world we live in, huh? How can we scorn the color that gave birth to all of us? Talking about it helps us recognize the pain we inflict and feel. Hopefully we’ll learn to love our own skin – shit if we don’t who will?

  6. Work in Progress says:

    You are healing some deep wounds with this one! I’ve have always been led to believe that I was “sort of pretty for a dark skin girl” or that I would be “so much prettier if I weren’t so dark”. For the life of me, I will never understand how our own people can spew such hate on each other! Through God’s grace, and time I have learned to respect and accept ALL of my striking qualities although they don’t fit into the mainstream, however there is still a sting of pain that occurs when such hurtful words like “blackie” and “charcoal” are mentioned in any shape or form. Why can’t everyone just simply be content with the array of diversity that lies in our gene pool?! Whether your Beyonce or Grace Jones, you are wonderfully made in the image of God therefore it’s ALL beautiful!!!

  7. Afrobella, your commentary never seizes to amaze me. I thought I was the only one who frequently popular Black blogs studying the many terrible things that are stated back and forth about skin color and hair. The Beyonce blogs are surely the worse. I wouldnt say that I am shocked by any of the comments made. The comments just ellude to a strong history of interacial conflict that has not gone away. No matter how naive many would like to be in saying we are living in 2006 people have overcome this, it obviously is still a pressing issue. I think for many Beyonce involkes the common image off the lighter skinned young girl in the family who could never do anything wrong. She was uplifted praised and loved by all while the other children who were of a darker complexion watched this envy in pain. I feel her image resurfaces that pain that was felt by children who learned at a very young age that lighter skin offered a vary unfair priviledge. Beyonce symbolizes that priviledge as stated by you Afrobella, true she is talent but the other talented sisters who sing in her back shadow have the ability to shine bright too. They just aren’t praised and upheld like the most exhalted one. No Beyonce is not at fault for who she is but she is an image that I can not support because she is not playing in a fair game. If the playing field offered a fair advantage too all Black skin shades maybe I would jam to Beyonce here and there when I want to escape shortly from my political mind, but I can’t because to support injustice is to allow it to keep going. Buy the albums of you Janelle Monae’s and Syleena Johnson. To make social change we must all start from within ourselves.

  8. Las Vegas Spark says:

    I’m so glad you wrote about this. I’ve been not only a victim but an instigator in this not so silly game, growing up. We have so many problems in this world, to create another problem that can hurt and even break people’s self-esteem is senseless and so sad. Thank you for writing on topics that we all think, feel and observe.

  9. first i want to say fantastic post. there was a study done on the effects of fashion magazines on women (white women), and there was no surprise, after viewing the magazines the women felt fat, no good enough, not tall enough etc… i believe that music videos are doing the same thing to our women( young and older). it is easy to forget these women have hair pieces, body makeup, and expert lighting. i have to say i grew weary of Beyonce when she was always in the middle of the two other girls. that is a photographers trick, if you put something light in the middle of dark, the light object grabs your attention and the darkness recede. that really made me angry.@ work in progress, girl Grace Jones saved my life.

  10. It’s unfortunate that after all we’ve gone through over the ages that black on black racism still exists. Growing up in Trinidad I always felt that black on black racism was more prevalent. The only difference is that if you were educated and had a good job you could climb the socioeconomic ladder and colour was less important. A recent trip back to the caribbean made it too obvious that skin colour is equivalent to beauty. I travelled with two fairer skinned friends and the men completely ignored me (I’m brown like your background colour). In fact after a few days on the beach a male friend of mine told me I had gotten “too black”. I was appalled that that would come out of his mouth. I’m planning a trip back to Trinidad for Carnival in 2007 and if you look at all of the mas camp catelogues for costumes it is rare to even see a brown face, far less a dark brown face. Are we ever going to start loving ourselves?

  11. Leah Jeffers says:

    Afrobella, I love your site. I love your charming witty personality and I am glad that I happened upon this site. Its saved as a favorite. I felt the need to comment on this subject matter because I am a light skinned black women who is tired of being treated differently by my own race for the very same thing that tore our race up in the first place. We have given into the stereotype of beauty our selves. Its not just caucasians. When we were brought here as cargo and our women were raped in many cases, they produced off spring that was favored by whites. They used this as a tool of division and separtism within our race back then and it is still very prevelent today. I have been on the brunt end of a many of light, bright, darn near white jokes by darker blacks who made me feel uncomfortable regarding my complexion. I did not like it and i was not raised like that. My parents never implied what was better than what. I was told I could do anything that I wanted to and be what I wanted to. With the state of our race to me it seems we need to concentrate on the things that are continuing to keep us down and that aint our complexions…it is our need to stick together as a race of people and love one another and help one another instead of continuing the sad mission that seperated us in the first place. Id like to offer one last point. Every other nationality deals with the light skinned vs. dark skinned thing just like we do so if we concentrate on whats really going on, maybe just maybe we can do better as a race of people and get over this divider.

  12. Thank you ladies so much for your feedback and kind compliments! It sometimes takes me a minute to chime in or add my two cents to an issue, because I really want to think things through before I just put something up here on the internet.

    In high school, I mostly hung out socially with a group of very light skinned, mixed race girls. I was always very conscious of my color, particularly because (as Trini Y points out), the guys weren’t trying to holla at the darkest (or least skinny) girl in the crew. In those years, people aren’t really trying to get to know you based on your wit or intellect. I spent so much time wishing I looked like somebody else, anybody else. Just different from myself. I didn’t really learn to love who I was in my entirety until I was in my twenties. That’s when I finally stopped comparing myself to my friends, my relatives, every woman who walked by me in the street… looked in the mirror and accepted Patrice. It took years, but I am better for it.

    We all need to love ourselves for exactly who and what we are. Comparing ourselves to each other, thinking you “know” what someone is like based on brief exchanges or appearances, and just flat-out not liking someone or thinking you’re better/classier/prettier than another woman based on appearance, skin color, hair type, whatever – needs to STOP. It’s the most ignorant, pathetic kind of thinking IMHO. I’m glad to find that you ladies all feel the same. We ALL have our insecurities, regardless of race or shade.

    It’s a sista love thing, can you feel it? I can! Hugs to you all =)

  13. Revolutution Will Not Be Televised says:

    Even when you look at television, the DARK sisters were portrayed as inferior to their melanin-challenged counterparts.

    Prime Example: Martin (Pam & Gina) Pam was the black chick with the chip on her shoulder and always referred to in a deragatory name (BeeDee Bee) while Gina was given the preferential treatment.

    We’ve allowed our psyche to be warpped for too long!! Like Sam Cooke said “A Change is Gonna Come”.

  14. Unfinished Business says:

    Was it just me or did any of you feel like you had to constantly overcompensate for your “flaw” of being dark? Growing up, I felt like I had prove to everyone, including myself, that I was beautiful and worthy of positive attention by trying be the most talented, the smartest, and DAMN near perfect instead of being simply labeled the “the black one”. As I got older, I finally came to see my exterior as an asset but for the longest it was definitely seen as plague. I’m grateful for you (afroBella) wanting to shed some light [no pun intended] on this topic because many of our own people are still very much in denial about this color complex.

    Just when you thought it was “in” to be dark, here comes the man trying to whitewash us again!

  15. you know i don’t think we can place all the blame on the man. our own people betray us all the time, and they are often doing it on a national level. when you look at female performers now Cassie, Amarie, Ciara etc. it is ridiculous they are even called singers. if these girls were dark complexioned i doubt they would be able to make it as far as the other youg ladies. they(marketers) are playing on our perceived insecurities.

  16. you’re damned if your too light and damned if you’re dark. i don’t get upset with folks about the shade of their skin because that’s retared to hate something no one has control over. for every person who is darker who felt unloved, unworhty etc. a lighter complected person feels the same thing. that’s why i say black unity is an oxymoron. we are the best at tearing each other down. it’s sad.

    i have naturaly long hair and it took me a while to not feel guilty for having it because i would get teased by others who didn’t. i don’t flaunt it, my hair is just there. as is my skin color. i’m a golden bronze chica who has never made any apologies for it nor put anyone else down because they fall elsewhere on the color spectrum. it’s like saying you don’t like people who wear size 6 shoes. it’s insane and very stupid.

    as someone pointed out before this issue is not special to only blacks, because asians, indians, hispanics deal with it too. the only way it’s going to change is when people learn to love and accept themselves first. we can choose to live beholden to the past and all it’s drama or we can live for the tomorrows and not be apart of the baggage that holds us back.

    you can’t change the worlds opinions but you can change your own by being honest with you first. i don’t expect black folks to ever get over this issue but i do hope that people can finally address it with truth of it not being about the man but more about how they see themselves in others.

    hating on the beyonce’s, cassie’s and amerie’s of the world feeds into the very problem folks complain about. none of these women can help their ethnic makeup and shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about it either. people have to learn to love and accept themselves and quit waiting for the validation to come from the world. love you first.

  17. there is an underrepresentation of postive images of dark skinned girls in the mainstream media. there is no hate in the above named artist, there are black people in the industry who continue to promote these artist, and turn their backs on more talented artist on the label. no hate for the artist, dislike for the machine behind them

  18. Thought provoking piece here.I read the Sheryl Lee Ralph interview some weeks ago and shared it with members of my board (cocoalounge.org)and the thread went so bad and it turned into the typical dark girls hate us cause we’re so pretty and all the Black guys want us.

    Also I originally started my blog (Brown Sista) to give attention to some of the dark brown and dark skin Sistas out there, but just a few days ago as I searched for content, I realized I couldn’t think of any brown or dark skin Black women in the media anywhere these days.Not in music or movies or anything.

    It’s actually quite sad and I can’t see it changing anytime soon.I lost a male friend over this recently.He was the typical pro Black all the way down brotha who seemed to only have a festish for light and hispanic women.we fell out over this.

  19. I’m with Coffy on this issue.

    I don’t give a damn if they’re white, black, Latin, Asian, green, or purple. If I have to watch your video on MTV and BET, and listen to you on the radio… if you have a record deal I want you to be able to, oh I don’t know, ACTUALLY SING. I think Cassie is a very pretty girl, but come on. We all saw her performance on 106th and Park. Go to Syleena Johnson’s website, and tell me why she isn’t getting played on mainstream radio. There are so many other artists like her, who get relegated to singing backup for the hot young hoochie.

    I don’t hate the players. I just hate the game.

  20. Leah Jeffers says:

    In regards to talent, I think that has gone on forever as well. Back in the day we did not get all of the fame from our giants such as Phyllis Hyman, Regina Bell, Patrice Russian, etc. In my opinion image whatever the complexion has always over ridden true talent. I dont get that. I love your site Afrobella. I am always excited to take a look at what you are talking about because you bring it Girl! Keep up the good work…..educate us!

  21. You know what kills me? When someone says to me that I shouldn’t procreate with a darkskinned man (which is mostly what I’m attacted to) because our kids would be too dark. Is ther such a thing? I mean is this ’06 or what?

    Both my paternal grandparents were darkskinned and had 6 beautiful children…

    We’ve got a long way to go.

  22. I’m from Haiti and it is the same. It’s digusting!!

  23. Bella,
    I have grown to love and frequent your website daily. I was so happy that someone created a blog that so eloquently expressed my feelings on such issues. Then reading you response to comments on this post I realized that you and I have the same name. How ironic… same views and same name. Keep the intellegent conversations flowing
    Sincerely,
    Patrice

  24. I agree with Coffy. It’s not that we hate those light skinned sistas! I’ts just that there are not enough of the darker ones and that’s unfair! And, NO its not the light skinned ones fault! THANKS for posting this Bella!

  25. First of all, I love your blog. I found it through a comment you left on Atillah’s site. Secondly you hit the nail on the head. I am a dark-complexioned Trini, which in Trinidad is a sin.

    I had to leave C.I.C. to go do A’Levels at Northeastern College in Sangre Grande to find out how horrible my skin colour was; and by other afro-Trinis too! I’ve had other sixth form students say within earshot how “black” I was. And of course there were the mandatory snickers. When I went to school in Missouri a few years later, I had all but forgotten about my dark skin presumably since I was in white America, but lo and behold a trip to black Memphis Tennessee quickly reminded that I was too black.

    While in a Barnes and Noble in Missouri, a Caucasian woman waiting in line behind me told me how much she loved my complexion, how pure it was unlike the other black complexions she was used to seeing. it was so embarrassing because I had never loved it. I had to confess to her than no one had ever told her that before. In fact I’ve had family members give me advice on how to lighten it.

    Why do we hate ourselves and our own blackness? I have no idea, but it seems worldwide.

    By the way, take a gander at all the mas band websites that are up nowadays, and look specifically at the female models. Hardly a one is darker than caramel. Isn’t that interesting?

  26. Well said, Ms Bella!
    The racism and the shadism among black people is really obscene and I’m noticing from my interactions with Indian Trinis that it’s a problem with them too.
    With me, it wasn’t only that i was dark. it was that i also chose to do inappropriate things like tie my head in a piece of kente cloth to go to geography lessons.
    It’s the fear and loathing, yes. on the other hand i met some black women when i was living in zurich and they seemed messed up from being the minority exotics. It’s as if the switch from being the least liked (black, woman, working class) to the most noticeable, just completely skewed their notions of self and they became almost caricatures of themselves. It’s a most confusing situation that I don’t know when we’ll find a solution to…

  27. afrobella this article is amazing! its time for us to shed light on this issue (and so many others) that hav affectd our community for centuries.

    love this site!

  28. Wow well said. I love this and I loved your comments. You remind me so much of myself growing up. And my sister can relate too. I wouldn’t change my dark complexion for the world.

  29. BEING A WOMAN WITH LIGHTER SKIN FOR SOME STRANGE REASON I ALWAYS WANTED DARKER SKIN. I WOULD ACTUALLY PRAY TO GOD PLEASE LET ME WAKE UP AND LOOK LIKE MY COUSINS.THEY ALL HAD THIS BEAUTIFUL DARK SMOOTH SKIN AND HERE I WAS THE SPOT OF SALT IN THE PEPPER SHAKER.NOW THAT I AM OLDER I HAVE GROWN TO LOVE MY SKIN. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH A LITTLE SALT EVERY NOW AND THEN.i BELIEVE PEOPLE OF COLOR HAVE THE MOST AMAZING SKIN TONES.THERE IS NOTHING MORE BEAUTIFUL.

  30. what else can i say first of all alek wek is one of the most beautiful in the world, what i like about her is that she is proud of her skin colour and that give me confidence.

  31. Janessa says:

    WOW i love this sites i was adopted into a white family from haiti my family members never had a problem with my skin color i notice black people do it scareys me to know your own race does not want you.In the name of beyounce and cassie vanessa williams first of all why do you american label them as black in other countries they would be label as mulattos or mulattas thats what i don’t get america at all mix people should not have a voice for my dark skin they should have they voice for mulatto people i am soo sick of mulatto people saying how they are black and they know how i am feeling they not dark skin so how will they ever know and they will never get it period they are mix and they should not call theselves black thats how i see it and it sad to know even my white friends call them mulattos but america is ignorant to see theres different race just because you have one black parents or mulatto parents does not make you black.

  32. TO Jennessa:

    I know you wrote this about a month ago, but I had to speak up. I can’t speak for Cassie, but as for Vanessa and Beyonce they are black women. I hate it when people say that lighter-skinned people are less Black. That’s bullshit. (Excuse me, Bella, but it is.) All African-Americans are mixed. ALL of us. I don’t care how dark you are, you mixed up with something. Lighter skinned people may be more “mixed looking” that doesn’t mean they have less African blood in them than a darker skinned person. Being a mixed race African-American doesn’t make you exceptional, in fact, in makes you quite ordinary.

    This subject always annoys me because my mother is lighter skinned. She even has red hair and light brown eyes, but both her parents are dark skinned. My grandfather was about Alec Wek’s complextion and My Grandmother was only a few shades lighter.
    My own father is very dark skinned, but I’m of caramel complextion. Not really light, but I have people asking me all the time “where are you from?” or “what are you mixed with?” One white guy was like “what are you? you’re not that dark.” I’m like so? I think that these people have never seen black people before. We come in so many shades and colors from cafe au lait to the deepest darkest ebony. And ALL are beautiful and all are BLACK. My great aunt (grandfather’s sister) is lighter than Beyonce, even though they have the same parents. So you are telling me that my grandfather is Black and my aunt is mulatto? I don’t think so.

    Kelly Rowland’s mom is lighter skinned, and so is Kerry Washington’s mother. Both have brown skin, Kerry even played an African woman in last King of Scotland. So are they black or mulatto?

    This kind of thinking is destructive and causes a greater divide within our community. Saying some isn’t “black enough” is just as bad as saying someone is “too black.”

    Yes, Vanessa Williams was born blue eyes, but you could have been also. Doesn’t make her less black just means that the recessive genes came out on her. Did she win miss american b/c of her features? Yes, but somebody has to open the door and she did. Now people like Ericka Dunlap can compete and actually win.

    Is Beyonce as popular as she is because of her looks? Yes, but as she said she gets endorment deals and business oppertunities that most black women don’t get. Yes, that is because of colorism, but most of these companies don’t think that Black women are capable of selling their products. But she proves that wrong and opens the doors for other black women. A few years after her endorsment deal with L’oreal they brought on Kerry Washington and Oluchi Onweagba. Of all the female celebs with their own perfumes how many are black? Just Miss B. How many have their own clothing lines? Ummm… Just her again.

    Light eyed Tyra Banks opened the door for Oluchi, Jessica White, and even Naomi Cambell in those Victoria secret ads. Naomi may have started modeling first, but she didn’t do Victoria’s secret until years after Tyra became the first black angel.

    And when Veronica Webb signed with Revlon, she became the first Black model to have a cosmetic contract period.

    People need to remember that America is one of the most racist places and that is partly because of us. Alec was popular all over the world, except for here. I even remember people questioning why was she even a model. America does not accept dark skinned people because Black people do not accept dark skinned people. We bought into their BS about the house house slave being better than the field slave and interalized the hatred. Never stopping to think that albeit a house or field slave, your life still a didn’t belong to you and you were still inferior.

    Rosa Parks was light-skinned but they still told her to move to the back of that bus.

    Now the music industry is a different story. Those non singing chicks aren’t opening doors for anybody. I mean at least find somebody who can sing.

    Boy, this is a long post.
    Peace y’all

  33. I miss black music videos from the late 80s and 90s. Back then, even though they were mainly light-skinned black women as love interests in black videos, at least they were room for brown and dark skinned black women as love interests. Nowadays, even being light skinned is not enough anymore. White, Asian, and Latina women are taking our place as love interests in black music videos. Back then it was a little more diverse. In the late 80s and 90s, RnB was making money with or without the support of the pop market. Black women has become obsolete. Light-skinned black women in the late 80s and 90s look a little more black whether they’re mixed or not. Ever since RnB and rap have become pop, black women (light and dark) have been cut completely off of the marketing for the urban culture and has replace us with Latina women, Asian women, and white women. Sad, real sad. Back then in the late 80s and 90s, I didn’t care about skin color.

  34. I think men are stupid. All they want are light skinned women. One day, I was looking in a magazine and I asked my boyfriend about this dark skinned model. I said, isn’t she pretty? He said no, she is too black and all dark women are ugly. I slapped him and we broke up. I never saw him again.

  35. Valencia says:

    Hey to all of u and most of all afrobella. i read every single thing that was written above and became increasingly disappointed at your responses. Not only did they sound ignorant but some of them were heated misinterpretations of above responses. i dont have enough time in the day to say what i want to say but all i have to say is that reread this page and think about the interacial responses and remarks that were presented. You want to rage and vent about how black people need to stop being reverse racists and etc but yet u still write hurtfull comments about black people when you’re trying to say how you’ve been wronged or taken notice and that you’re just jokin but i think you aren’t and hostility against whether a person is light or dark and their preferential treatment is definitly revealed.It starts with us and if we dont except people as they especially b/c they cant control their skin tone and color are, then we haven’t changed anymore than our african predecessors with the field slave house slave mentality. To me skin color is nothing its all about your features not color and then when it is your tone its whether its clear and even not light or dark. I dont care what color you are the question is how does your personality shine through and whether your features go together nicely meaning are u handsome too.

  36. hi, i was reading this and thought it was very interesting…I didn’t know about this darker/lighter thing that goes on. anyway, i’m white with almost black hair and dark eyes and as a kid i always wanted to be the blondest blond with blue eyes like my neighbor and like all the dolls, and the brady bunch kids. and i went to an almost all white school and some kids would ask me if i was asian or spanish knowing full well i wasn’t. but i’m struggling to accept myself as i am despite seeing the beauty of others all around me, and trying to incorporate the fact that there is so much beauty in the diversity in this country…there really is. i guess i’ve been envious of others all my life, too, of blond girls and the really black black girls whose skin is just so amazing to see(especially when you grew up around mostly whites) and asian girls with their perfect black straight hair and cool eyes. it can all be beautiful, but the magazines and the videos always try to push one ideal that isn’t helping.

  37. This post was a very interesting read. The comment section was also eye opening, down to the last post by Kim. It seems like every nationality is infected by the “fairest of them all” syndrome. It’s a shame too because variety is what makes like more beautiful and interesting. From the darkest to the lightest, we all have so much more to offer others than our skin color (which is truly something that none of us have control over).

  38. You’re a gem…afrobella. And to all my afrobellas of the world, y’all are gems too. Sisters, we have so much work to do. It is time for us to check our self-esteems and really heal ourselves. We’ve been conditioned to hate our God-given gifts and we’ve been brainwashed into hating each other too. Indeed our brother’s are suffering from LOW self-esteem as well, which in many cases, has caused them to really hate on us. The scars run deep. I’ve been labeled black gal, chocolate,sexy black, dark butt (by the rapper with a lisp :), and I’ve also been called the most beautiful girl in the world. I come from an array of colorful people, and I’m fortunate to be considered the special–and the blackest one. We’ve got to start with the babies. The color complex is not limited to skin tone, it includes hair and facial features. Please elevate your thinking. Black women (of all shades) shine like no other.

  39. Perhaps if we American women of African/European descent would focus more on things that matter we would matter more to everyone. Beauty IS in the eye of the beholder and as long as “Black” is embedded in the collective consciousness worldwide as “evil” we will have colorism. Colorism will also fade if Africans should ever stop dueling and step up to the plate to take their resources back from colonialists of all races these days. Colorism exists as an extension of power; who holds it, who wields it. It’s not an arcane notion, really. Whoever gets to kick your butt gets to define you and everything around us. Think outside of the box. Stop making it matter and it won’t. I’m called “caramel” colored, have “white” features so to speak and I really don’t see color among my people at all. I see the spirit, the aura and I behold how one treats other people. It sounds sort of new-agey but it really is an inside job. I’m reading all of the Western Civilization history that I can get my hands on. It’s a project…..I need to know where the notion of superiority comes from. Again, I think that whoever gets to kick your butt gets to be your king, lol.

  40. I think that ALL women of ALL shades are beautiful. I have a cocoa-brown skin tone and im proud of it. Its ridicious that ppl are discriminating against their own RACE!!!! who cares if light skinned ppl get more attention? It shows that people are hating on their own roots-from where they come from. from where their ancestors come from AFRICA

  41. DoesDreamsComeTrue? says:

    its funny how some black people say “I’M BLACK AND I’M PROUD”…but are u really Proud…because if u were, we wouldn’t have these black on black skin stuff….anyhoo im dark skinned and i get complements on my skin tone all the time at school and outside off school.people always ask me how come i don’t get breakouts? idk the answer.when i’m in the locker room changeing for soccer, some of my friends ask me how come i don’t have stressmarks? i reply ” i guess its b/c of my skin tone”, but not everyone get stressmarks…lol..even tho de light skin girls r in, people always comeup to me and say that im cute and pretty. when walking down the hallways guys be hallaing at me..but i don’t stop, lol…has a 16 year old girl i always tell myself “DO NOT LET NO ONE BRING YOU DOWN”..lol…i guess i don’t really care too much about that light vs dark thing…because people who see between them and care so much about the color, are people who have complextion problems, and issues…lol..^_^

  42. i am a left handed artist that excells in creativty of all kinds..i finall y got to date a girl w/ the most hotest features non sexul i loved to draw her before i even knew her name ..she had the most artistic curves on every line god made her to be ..every angle to every line top lip inside and bottom that just her top lip..my point is that every ware i have a muscle she had two..if she were i guy i would have turned gay..she had percing eyes and skin of gold..she was scotish like me.. but after a month w/ her ……i finally was told by her that she is black..i loved her charm so much i didnt see she was black..it has changed my life for ever now as i am just white trash..i all ways loved girls w/ lazy wide eyes and sharp top lips and real curly hair..but stupid white person i am didnt realize till this girl..her dad is a top lawyer and judge.. her family is evry very attrctive looking and smart and non greedy…i belive its been 5 years now and still miss her every much..i not sure if it is right for a white person to love a black girl..as it dilutes and deminishes the black culture..i think it is the strongest smartest culture in the world and should be the leaders of this world..

  43. .

    Since mention was made of the topic of ‘house
    and ‘field’ slave — I just wanted to note
    that — actually — this false concept
    that so many people have — that the
    lighter-complexioned chattel slaves
    “had it easier” or “thought they were
    better” than the darker-complexioned slaves
    – and / or “relaxed in the big house” while
    the darker-complexioned slaves “suffered in
    the fields” — is very much like the infamous
    ‘Willie Lynch Letter’ Hoax) all VERY MUCH AN
    URBAN MYTH (and is one which, in nearly every
    way that’s possible, completely defies
    the true historical recorded account.

    The historical record shows that
    those enslaved people who were of a
    lighter-complexion (i.e. mulatto-lineage)
    and that were found on the continental
    United States during the antebellum
    (chattel slavery) era were actually treated
    MUCH, MUCH WORSE than were those enslaved
    people who were of a darker-complexion.

    In fact, record shows that most of the White
    people (specially the White women) tended to
    look upon the lighter-complexioned slaves
    as being mere ‘mongrels of miscegenation’
    (resulting largely from the rapes caused
    by overseers); in their disgust at the sight
    of these slaves — insisted that they be
    “banished to the fields”; and also then
    purposefully reserved most of the ‘big
    house’ positions (ex. mammy, cook, driver,
    etc) for the darker-complexioned slaves —
    who most of the White people perceived as
    being “more loyal, docile, less competitive”
    – and, equally important, of a skin tone
    which could never cause them to be mistaken
    for ‘white’ or a possible member of
    the plantation owners’ own family.

    And this maltreatment was generally
    even much more so the case if the
    lighter-complexioned enslaved person
    was ’suspected’ (by a wife, sister or
    daughter — who ran “the big house”,
    while a ‘male’ family member ran “the
    plantation”) of possibly being the
    offspring of a plantation owner
    (or his son, father or brother).

    In addition, the few lighter-complexioned
    enslaved people that were actually permitted
    to do any work within the house were – as
    punishment for having the lowly status of
    “mongrel” and in order to make sure they
    did not become “too uppity” — kept under
    much more severe supervision (by both the
    White women who ran the plantation household
    and also by the darker-complexioned enslaved
    people) and under much more severe work
    detail than were most of the (more trusted)
    darker-complexioned enslaved people.

    Books by Deborah Gray White; Paula Giddings;
    J. California Cooper; bell hooks’, etc.
    expose the truth about the urban-myth and
    show that the lighter slaves received NO
    special treatment and were (as mere “mongrels
    of miscegenation”) usually treated much
    worse than were darker-complexioned slaves.

    Hope this information is helpful
    & that everyone has a great day.

    – AP (soaptalk@hotmail.com)

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MGM-Mixed
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FGM-Mixed

    Related Links:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/3331
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1399
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1570
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1573
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1402
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1400
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1747
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/1691
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Ag4UceOKYaro21HdnN8w.mgjzKIX;_ylv=3?qid=20071103085813AAolWV5
    (see ‘best answer’)
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AtORF66bLNbNEjhIPDWC_6MjzKIX;_ylv=3?qid=20071031122504AArGj8B
    (see ‘best answer’)
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SWIRLinc/message/17634
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SWIRLinc/message/17622

    .

  44. *sigh* what to say what to say lol
    well first off im a very dark skinned girl and im not mixed with anything since both my parents are from Nigeria
    u know i never thought of myself as “too dark” untill about Middle schol when kids would start making comments.. idk its been a struggle its hard not to want to beg God some days to pls pls let me wake up a few tones lighter. and just last night one of my friends made a comment that really broke me we were taking about a guy i had just met and we were on 3 way and she says to my other friend “D you can get any guy you want but Holly is a difficutl case” and i was lke “why?” and shes all “o cause ur a burnt chocolate skinny something” it was like a slap in the face i couldtn even belive that someone who i thought was my friend would say something like that.. idk and its just amazing how black ppl can hate on each other like this its just.. *sigh* lol anyways thanks for the post its good it educate people

  45. lol, Try Kerry. Just try it. With the recent revelations of our climate science and scientists, I believe indictments and testimony probably ought to come first.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] My friend and former co-worker, the witty and wise Rebecca Wakefield, wrote a wonderful article about Afrobella on Category 305. It’s a new online magazine that offers artistic, cultural, and social analysis about this spicy sancoche of a city we have here. In the article, she compares my post The Blacker the Berry with a recent column by Pulitzer Prize winning Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. [...]

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