Shades of Brown

How can you tell what shade of brown a black child will be? Look at their cuticles or the tips of their ears when they are born. At times it's hard enough being black, but we then go on to categorize ourselves in shades. As a young girl, I always knew I was a dark-skinned black girl. I don't know if I had been told or if I read it somewhere, but I just knew. In highschool, I didn't get as much attention from the boys as my light-skinned girlfriends except for that one month every year. During black history month in February, the attention was mine, but then it would fade away quickly in March. I once had a boyfriend tell me that he did not need to do anything for black history month because he was dating a dark-skinned girl. Looking back now, I don't think that was a compliment.

"Black as tar", "dark as night", or "so black their blue", these terms are as uncomfortable and as deregotory as white people's "pale as a ghost". We have become so used to these sayings, we don't see that it does nothing in uplifting each other. The shades of our skin should have absolutely nothing to do with how smart, attentive or attractive we are. A fair coloured girl was described as being passable in terms of her looks, the person had went on to say, "if she was dark, she would be in trouble." I've had conversations with black women where they have described light-skinned women as beautiful but dark-skinned women as "exotic", (like they were some rare animal at a zoo.) Vanilla, chestnut, mohagany, ebony are just a few of the terms we use to label our skin colour. I think it's time we went beyond these surface descriptions and looked at what really matters and what we have to offer. To our families, our friends, society and ourselves.

That dark-skinned girl is now all grown-up with little black girls of her own. It would break my heart if they had to deal with the colour issue from their fellow sisters as I had to.


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