Sunday, January 25, 2015

Published 9:30 AM by with 1 comment

Why I don’t need to watch "Light Girls" or "Dark Girls" to tell me about my issues

Editor's note:  This is a guest post by Venessa M. Perry. 

I live with colorism every day

First of all, let me admit that I didn’t watch Light Girls when it aired recently on OWN. Nor did I watch Dark Girls when it aired some time ago. I don’t need to watch another documentary to tell me about my issues or the issues people have with skin color. My reasons are simple; as a brown skinned woman, I live colorism each day. From the men that call me a pretty dark skinned girl, the light skinned men that aren’t attracted to me because I don’t fit the stereotype of their dream girl of long hair, light eyes, light skin or to the family members that don’t want me to keep their kids out in the hot sun because they’ll get “black”.

Each time I hear another story or see another women or child denigrated by their skin color because they are too brown or dark, it makes me angry. It takes me back to my own issues with color. When I was younger, I remember looking on with envy as the lighter hued girls were always chosen first for a team, a class or a competition. I remember how the boys would “snap” on some of the darker girls who weren’t attractive. I look back at some of the girls in college that hooked up with athletes and I wondered why them not me. But I also remember having a crush on a fair skinned guy in college, who at the time I believed didn’t have any interest in me, a brown skinned girl. I found out years later that wasn’t true, but I digress.

My point is, that somehow I had internalized what society said was better. I knew I was smart and pretty, but somehow that didn’t matter, I was still insecure about who I was in my brown skin. As years went by, I stopped being attracted to light skinned men, because in my mind, they weren’t attracted to me so why should I be attracted to them? Most of my friends were brown, because honestly the few light skinned friends that I had, had their own type of crazy that I couldn’t deal with. The type of crazy, light skinned privilege that provides them with perceived access to better jobs, higher incomes, more attractive men and certain organizations. My real light skinned friends, they know they’re black, and don’t use their light skin as a status symbol. They come from the Caribbean, diverse cities and the Deep South where one drop of blood makes you black and everybody knows it.

If I were to recount the various times in my life that I was told a story about not staying out in the sun too long or the story of how my great great grandmother, who was fair skinned told my grandmother not to marry a dark or brown skinned man because she didn’t want any “pickaninny” grandchildren. To my male friends that swear they love a brown skinned woman but each time I see them, the women with whom they become romantically involved get lighter and lighter, this article would go on for pages. Some years ago, I had a complete meltdown with a man I was involved with because of his friendship with a light skinned woman. While I don’t remember all of the particulars, I do remember him telling me that I had nothing to worry about because I was beautiful in my own right. That dialogue brought to the surface all of the past slights that I felt by men in particular, but also some women.

Even as I approach middle age, I can still admit that I have issues with color. Each time the light vs. dark issue comes up, it still stings. Colorism is deep, pervasive and dangerous. It runs counter to the very thing that should bind Black people together, our shared skin color and heritage. But as long as we continue to skim the surface of the issue and not discuss the psychological roots of slavery and institutionalized racism, we’ll continue to be a people divided. United we stand, divided we fall.

I no longer question, why I’m the pretty brown skinned girl, because I know who I am, a pretty brown skinned woman. We all come in different shapes, forms and packages, and we all have our own struggles and pains that relates to those things.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if no one told you today that you’re beautiful, I’m telling you now…YOU. ARE. BEAUTIFUL!

Venessa M Perry is a counselor, coach, author and entrepreneur based in Washington, DC and New York City. Visit her at, her website, or follow her tweets, @vmperry6

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1 comment:

  1. In this world we were all brought into its important to absorb the positive and spirit strengthening energies and to repel the draining negative energies. With that we also have to be sure we don't find ourselves committing the very act we fear, prejudging those that come into our lives.