I feel asleep… and I didn’t get a chance to watch OWN’s ‘Dark Girls’ with everyone else, but I did watch it. I had even fathomed actually watching the program, to much apprehension, because I thought that it would only reiterate the ‘Colorism’ that I already knew existed, and a repeat would be annoying. It did in-fact repeat what I already knew, and thankfully it wasn’t annoying — while watching the program I smiled at some of the subject’s commentary professing love of their black skin, and for the other program subject’s commentary — I frowned and was embarrassed at some of their self-hatred.
Majority of the film was an introspection for Sabrina, most documentaries like this are. Fortunately, I’ve never known or heard of a “paper bag” test until an ignorant rapper named Young Berg made this term into a controversy… I never heard of it. I’ve never heard of the One-Drop Rule until Soledad O’Brien’s CNN’s Black In America brought it up (horrible program by the way).
Me, My Mother and My Aunt @ the Stevie Wonder Concert
Was this a testament to the rearing of my mother, and beautiful siblings? — I’d like to think so — my butthead male cousins included, (as a kid they put raisins in my nose, cruel I know…lol). However the people in my family never made me or my sisters feel like were not beautiful.
My mother did somethings growing up; very few, that were attributed to her lack of knowledge. My mother tried to bleach my knees and elbows because they were really dark. Now it maybe, because I was a rough child, who fell and scraped every part of her body, but that was just my skin color, and mom tried to lighten them — not my entire body, but just those dark areas. Again, I have to say my mom never made us feel less than what we were… ‘beautiful’. I always thought my sisters were beautiful, If I never told them, “I’m sorry” and I’m telling them now… “You’ve always been beautiful to me.”
My sister Maria, with her innate ability to interact and engage with people, made her the most popular girl in school — I saw this and was amazed, my sister Tawanda, who was such
Mom & my sister Maria
a pretty chocolate girl; however, I’m not sure she truly ever realized that. I also have another sister Sybal, who didn’t grow up with us, because she was adopted, but re-entered the family. And she is a light-skinned version of my mother, very scary how they are twins. My sister Tawanda had two daughters (my nieces) one brown-skin like me (Taree) and (Jena); whom a troubled society would deem the typical light-skin good-hair child, but I had never saw anything other than my little apple-headed nieces, whom I enjoyed torturing as a kid…lol.
My family never saw the colorism that society projected, and I have my mother, siblings and my father’s family to thank for that.
In elementary school, I was never belittled for my skin color or called ugly, but I was given a nasty name among my classmates, in fact we were all given names, and before I tell you my class name — do know that it’s not for obvious derogatory reasons, because they told me why. It was ‘monkey’ — I poked my mouth out a lot, much like the animal would, hence ‘monkey’. Other classmate names — African-American as well, were given animal names like Cow; unfortunately for the obvious… Beaver, unfortunately for the obvious, and Chipmunk among others ;-P — we were just kids, acting like kids. I never felt any colorism, I did; however, notice the favoritism towards the light-skinned girl(s) in the class from the dark-skin boys, but it never made me feel inferior, I’m not sure why — I’ve always felt secure in my skin.
As I got older entering junior high and then in high-school, and I can’t ever recall a time that I ever felt insecure in my own skin, but as soon as I reached college (HBCU), my self-worth sky rocketed. As soon as I stepped foot on campus, all I heard about myself was beautiful and pretty, this enamored me, because I’ve never heard this from men or women back in Milwaukee. But as soon as I reached the Carolina’s, I’ve never felt so beautiful from my own people. Furthermore, the reason that I have ‘PRITLDY’ on my vehicle license plate(s) WI & NC, is not because I just wanted to be vain, but because, that’s what I was called on campus, that’s what it reminds me of. (Insert Smile)
I don’t know where else my secured behavior cultivated, but I’m happy to know I
Me & Mom leaving Hawai’i
fortunately didn’t have to experience the denigrated hate from my own people about my skin tone. Do I consider myself a dark girl? no; brown girl; yes, African-American Girl — proudly. And at this very moment I can’t help but think of the VH1 Gossip Game episode, where a conversation between JasFly and the K.Foxx had me scratching my head. Admittedly, I initially frowned at the response from Jas, I got the impression she was disassociating herself from Black Women; HOWEVER, I should have known, and I feel like an ass now, to have not known, that this is reality t.v. and editing for a controversial-drama angle is rampant (read her blog and you will understand). Shouts to JasFly… I truly like her character and she represented well.
Family, I just love my black skin…. I truly do, and I do NOT want to trade it. Now… I do loathe some of the baggage that comes with being black in the 21st century (job searching, office politics, media portrayals etc.), but I don’t let it define who Sab [pronounced like ‘cab’, käb with an ‘S’] is. It wasn’t necessarily a journey for me, because I’ve never hated my black, but it was something that grew in self-assurance over time.
Would it be wrong of me to point out that I’ve experienced, and even laughed at others for their envy of “us”? Yes, some of them actually do envy us. Two True Examples.
Example 1) I made a trip home, and I was feeling myself one day…lol (we all have those days) and as I was walking toward and then passed a Caucasian woman who spotted my black beauty — that she had to take a double look (my peripherals saw this, and my eye-rolling reaction was spotted by a gentlemen, who laughed walking toward me) Why the eye roll? I felt like… “What? We can’t be beautiful”? …and you have to make sure that that’s what you really saw?.
Example 2) I was in a store recently…and I was talking to a Caucasian woman that had her daughter with her, and I heard the little girl (age 6-9 years old) say very softly that I was pretty to her; while her mom brushed it over and continued to talk to me, I heard the little girl say it again; however, I unfortunately ignored the little girl and continued to interact with her mother, because I knew it was making the mother uncomfortable to hear.
Soon I may be embarking on a promising potential career opportunity, that will allow me to lend my voice to a movement, which celebrates the beauty of African-American women, and I am ecstatic!!! I hope that I get it, because I want little black girls to feel like I do, I don’t want them to have to grow up, and have to figure out their natural beauty — I want them to know it now!
I’ve always felt like my ‘Black Is Beautiful’ and… it is. I don’t need OWN to tell me that, but what I did love about the program, was there was a CTA (call to action) portion of the film.
When the little girl said “black is not just a color, but it’s an essence of who you are, and who you will become.” I cried of happiness, because I love me, it’s intrinsic… and I’m so incredibly proud to know that she knows this too.
I commend OWN for its efforts of casting yet another light on Colorism, but I think there are still millions of black women who already know that their ‘black is beautiful’.
– Sab [pronounced like ‘cab’, käb with an ‘S’]