"Hey Black Girl" Part 1: Growing Up Dark
|Me, Daddy and Sister :)|
Two years ago in one of my very first post for this blog, I wrote about my opinion on the trailer for the documentary "Dark Girls" that had recently hit the net.
You can read that post here Thoughts on the Dark Girls Trailer. I basically wrote what I thought about the 8 min clip having not actually seen the film in its entirety.
Two years later, the documentary had finally finally premier on the OWN network and I'm here to write my reviews and opinions about what I saw as well as including my own experience as a very dark Black women
My foundation color is NW55 at MAC if that means anything do you. I got my coloring from my Nigerian Daddy. He and I were actually the exact same color so as a tot up until probably second grade I really didn't feel one way or another about my complexion (Now my hair was another story, I struggled with that for the first 21 years of my life). But back to being dark, my parents and family always made me feel loved and supported so their was never an issue at home. When I walked into a room my daddy would smile wide and say "Hey Black Girl" it thrilled me. He did that for as long as I can remember. Darkness and Blackness was never a derogatory word in my home. My mom and little sister were more of a toffee color but it was never acknowledged as a difference which is why when I got to about second grade I got my first real taste of colorism from my fellow classmates.
One of the moments that stands out to me the most was when a girl asked me why the inside of my hands were so Black. She said it with disgusts as if I was dirty and didn't wash my hands on a regular basis. I'm not really a timid person but I've always been non-confrontational and I believe that was one of those defining moments where I didn't stick up for myself which became pattern; something I still struggle with. In elementary school I had great friends, and I remember being generally well-liked by everyone. However, the most popular girls in my class were lighter skinned, they were the cool ones that the boys liked, the one's whose parents were less strict and so forth. They could also be mean girls if given half the chance. Overall though, elementary school was relatively painless for me save a few incidents over the years. I was lucky because my school was teeny tiny and we pretty much had all been together since kindergarten.
I was in for a rude awakening when I got to middle school. Now my middle school situation was tragic to say the least. To be honest, I don't remember much. I'm certain I've suppressed some memories because they were traumatizing. After leaving my tiny grammar school, I spent my 7th and 8th grade years at a huge high school with a ton of different types of kids. I was fairly sheltered so this was my first experience in the "real world". Middle school was were I got my street smarts, sex education and the like. I remember being terrorized by one boy in particular who used to call me ugly because I was dark pretty much every day of seventh grade. He finally stopped at the end of the year when I politely hit him in the head with our history text book which sent him flying down the stairs.
Another boy asked me why I wore so much color. He said I was way too dark to be wearing bright colors and that I should stick to neutrals. Once again these were just a few of the defining moments that I can recall, but there were always side comments or little slights from lighter skinned people who I considered to be my friends and confidants. It was as if jabbing at me would somehow improve their self worth. Stupidly, as we all are at thirteen, I refused to discuss these happenings with my mother and instead I internalized everything that was happening around me.
Needless to say I was thrilled to leave behind that environment when I got into a multiracial high school across the city. It was here where I would learn to interact with people of all races and backgrounds. Unfortunately however, by 9th grade my self-esteem was pretty shot.
High school was a much more pleasant experience than middle school. I quickly found friends and activities to be involved in. However, two instances of ignorance still stick out to me. In 9th grade I tried out for the cheer-leading squad and made it. At first, I was really excited about it. I was enthusiastic and looked forward to the practices and the games. However, my coach was a nightmare. She was an overweight woman about my complexion who used to give us all hell. However, when she came for me me it was often to tease me about my name or make some snide comment that led me to believe that she was color-struck. Overall the woman was ignorant and I quit the squad by the second semester.
When I was 16 I got my first boyfriend and all of the drama that came along with that. I remember chatting with a couple of girlfriends at lunch about him. A guy from my class came up to the table and exclaimed "You have a boyfriend?!!! But you're so Black!!" (He was dead ass) My friends were horrified and I brushed the comment off in the moment. But I was really hurt by it. I later told my boyfriend at the time, and he said "Well, I love dark girls" LOL and that was that. In high school myself esteem continued to be on the mend. Still, there were times when I downed my self based on my complexion (ie: He cheated on me because I'm dark...so on and so forth). Luckily with age comes wisdom, growth and understanding.
|Prom :) (I skipped middle school because, Lord I looked a fool)|
Fortunately throughout my college years and into adulthood, I've had very little combative statements that have been said about my color, but their have been a couple. Once a Black guy in undergrad told me I was the prettiest dark skin girl he'd ever seen ;/. I'm not so timid now so I'm sure I politely read him for filth. Once in class a white guy pointed me out and used my darkness and an example in his statement. My prof (a young Black man) ridiculed him as did my fellow classmates so I just got to sit pretty. Attending a predominantly white university really erases the color spectrum on some levels and you're labeled "Black" regardless of complexion
I've never had a problem with attracting men (well maybe the right kind of men LOL) but most of the guys I've dated seem to have a preference for darker skinned women. I've also recently been getting approached by ALOT more white men. When I went to Jamaica last summer, it was like the men were obsessed with dark skin women it was kind of ridiculous.
I think overall, I've been pretty blessed in dealing with my status as a "dark girl", I've definitely embraced it over the years. Once I stopped buying into degrading nonsense about my skin I've found that my life has gone much more smoothly. This is not to say that I don't at times have moments of foolish insecurity.
I suppose the thing that continues to dig at me has to do with some Black men's take on Dark skinned Black women. For one thing, I think that Dark skin Black men are some of the most desired people on this earth which is why it's so peculiar that dark skinned black women are degraded and looked down upon. Let me just say, I could never fault a brotha for his preference. You're attracted to whom you are attracted to (heck,I think both Kevin McCall and John Slatterly are sexy as hell) For me I just enjoy men. What I find disturbing is when Black men start claiming they want a red bone this or a light skin that (Like boy, what does that even men??!?!?!) . Or even more hilarious when you see them in the neighborhood with a non-Black woman and their avoiding eye contact with any Black women they may come across. Negro please!!!
Preference is preference but I think its so disheartening for Black men to degrade dark and/or Black women especially because they came from one, and any daughter that they may have will be one. ASAP Rocky and Lil Wayne's opinions on women are irrelevant to me as a person with an IQ and I wouldn't be caught dead with anyone who values the colorist and sexist remarks that they put forth. Overall, I think the best that anyone of us can do for ourselves it to live a life that we're proud of, one that makes us happy and that's what I strive to do on a daily basis. Everything else is gravy because as my mama use to say, "All I gotta do is stay Black and die" ;)
|Me being exactly who I am with my chocolate ass foundation in my hand :D|
So I'll say to my fellow dark girls and to all women and people who are living in this hetero-normative, white centric society. Embrace yourself and do what makes you happy. Life's way too short for any nonsense and if you don't love yourself I promise you, no one else will.
xoxox Chocolate Girl in the City xoxoxox
PS. Stay tuned for Part II on the documentary itself