Living a life as a dark skinned Black woman is the most unique experience one can have. It's comprised of both hyper-visibility and invisibility that comes with so much discrimination, mistreatment, and abuse. This life is made of a myriad of experiences that forces you to smarten up and pay attention to the world around you, we're forced to mature a little faster for the sake of defending and protecting our humanity and womanhood.
It's important to sit back sometimes and reflect, to collect the lessons that we've learned from the past in order to apply it to our daily lives and pass on the wisdom. And that's what I aim to do today and for the rest of my life because the only people who are here to help dark skinned Black women, are dark skinned Black women.
Representation Is Still Scarce
I've become hyper-aware of colorism now because the lack of dark skinned representation sticks out like a sore thumb, it’s unavoidable to notice. I see it in everything I lay eyes on, whether it be television, film, or advertisements. There's a reason why a lot of the new "Black" actresses we see are always mixed and light skinned. It’s become a reflex now for Black people to accept light skinned Black women as representation for all Black women because apparently that’s better than nothing. But that’s not enough, to simply accept crumbs for the sake of having a seat at the table. There’s plenty of dark skinned girls like myself who have grown up, and are still growing up, without the representation they need in order to develop a healthy sense of self-love and confidence. Lack of dark skinned representation can be detrimental to Black girls’ confidence and self-image in such a Eurocentric society and we need to acknowledge that and combat it in any way we can, if not for ourselves then at least for the younger ones who deserve more.
Put Yourself On A Pedestal
Nowadays I feed off of jealousy from others when it comes to my skin. Why? Because that hate is really a twisted form of passionate love, hidden under a blanket of negativity. It's admiration in disguise. Quiet as kept, a lot of the colorism dark skinned Black women receive from others, especially lighter black women and nonblack women, is really just envy more often than not. Envy because dark skin is now receiving all the love and admiration that was only supposed to be meant for light skin. But because of this, I've really learned not to take what people say seriously and personally. Especially random people from social media that mean absolutely nothing to me. It’s important to not value the thoughts and opinions of those who are meaningless to you in a society where almost everyone hates you for no reason anyway. The only people whose opinions of me that I take seriously are those that I love and respect.
With that being said, we also need to understand that light skinned and nonblack women will probably always have some sort of superiority complex, and it'll reveal itself tenfold in the presence of women like us because they're really just intimidated. So what do we do? It's only fair if we level out the playing field and get a superiority complex too. Because we deserve it. No one else will uplift us and put us above everyone else, so we may as well do it for ourselves and walk the Earth like we’re goddesses. Because we are.
All Skinfolk Ain't Kinfolk
Not everyone who is Black is here for you. A lot of the colorism that’s perpetuated against dark skinned Black women comes from other Black people more than anyone else. We can't keep living in this bubble where we think all Black people are our brothers and sisters and have us in their best interest. I've learned not to romanticize the Black community as one big loving and supporting family because it's far from that. This mentality has caused Black women to defend what cannot and should not be defended, simply because they share the same skin color. This does nothing but keep Black people stagnant and ignorant when it comes to colorism because if you’re too afraid to call out people’s colorist behavior, then nothing is going to change. It’s important to be able to decipher who’s here for you and who isn’t.
Keep Your Options Open
There is still an obscene amount of Black women who miss out on the love they deserve because they strictly believe in saving themselves for Black men and I think that's unhealthy. When you're a dark skinned Black woman, all men are fair game. There's definitely no guarantee that a Black man will treat you better and understand you more simply because he's Black. It's an unhealthy romanticization to partake in and it's important for Black women to not romanticize men period, regardless of race. But also don't limit yourself because you feel like you need to be loyal. The only person you need to be loyal to is yourself, you don’t owe anyone else anything.
Be The Change You Want To See
We can't always look for other people to be willing to give you representation; we have to start being the representation we want to see instead. Society wants to continue to uphold the opposite standard and keep dark skinned Black women in the dark. Because of that, dark skinned women should commit to being more exclusive and selective with who we choose to promote and support. It would be pointless for you as a dark skinned Black woman to participate in the widespread support of lighter skin because it’s almost equivalent to erasing yourself.
The biggest thing I've learned over all is to not let people silence you. Many people will call dark skinned girls bitter and jealous when speaking about colorism and simply sharing their experiences. People don't like to hear the truth so they gaslight and try to flip the script back on us so that they don't have to face the truth about how they've contributed to ongoing colorism. It takes strength and dedication to keep speaking out and educating those on such a pressing topic in this society where ignorance is bliss and most are hellbent on moving backwards. I’m dedicated to not letting that happen and you should be too.
Erin Dyana – “Erin Dyana is a freelance writer with a focus on pop culture, criticisms, and beauty. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, Urban Social TV, Wear Your Voice Magazine, Clementine Zine, and Philadelphia Print Zine. In her free time she likes to create art, watch films, read books, and eat everything in sight."