A few days ago I was scrolling through a popular black-owned online magazine for black women. I was in search of someone who looked like me and even after nearly fifteen minutes of scrolling the website, I failed to find someone who shared my skin tone. All the videos, beauty tips, hair tips and news were centered around and created for biracial women with both black and white ancestry, and occasionally lighter-skinned black women. There was no representation for dark-skinned black woman with 4c hair. I felt like an afterthought on a platform that was supposed to be for me and by me.
Unfortunately, this is a common theme in the black community. Any so-called pro-black website or blog for black women will feature a majority of light-skinned black women, and most surprisingly, biracial women with black and white ancestry. Even if the founder of the publication is a darker-skinned, chocolate-toned black woman, it’s rare to find women darker skinned black women on black platforms. So why is this?
Black Women Feel The Need To Be Inclusive
A reason why the aforementioned publication chooses not to primarily portray dark-skinned black women, is that they are simply following the trends of real life. Black women are all-inclusive, even to our own detriment. Even at the risk of being white-washed and overlooked, we still choose to include biracials in our platforms and spaces.
Some of the erasure that is happening with black women is actually our own fault. When we have the opportunity to represent and portray ourselves exclusively, we often include biracial women and white women. For example, early this February, Kelly Rowland teamed up with Dove to present her song, Crown, which is a hair anthem for girls to wear their hair they have proudly. The phrase “embrace your crown” was created by and for black women and our natural hair, so it only made sense that the video would filled with empowering images of black girls wearing their “crown” despite the systematic oppression we face.
Unfortunately, young black girls were nearly forgotten in this video. The video aimed to “equalize” the struggles of young white girls and biracials with the struggles of black girls. They tried to make it seem like getting expelled (as the video’s only black girl mentions in the video) is the same as being called insults and names because your hair is ginger or short.
This video would’ve been much more powerful if it was actually at its intended audience, the women and girls of African descent who face systematic racism and discrimination due to wearing our natural hair in society. In a video that was supposed to be for us, we were not present. As one commenter mentioned, black women’s harassment and exclusion “is unique and should not be watered down”.
Why do we feel the need to be all-inclusive?
Well, black women have been told that we don’t have a right to claim blackness and black womanhood as our own. Everyone with a drop of black can join the club of black womanhood. And from LGBTQ+ rights to feminism, every important movement and issue in society has been allowed to override and supercede the issues of black women.
We Live Vicariously Through Mixed/Biracial Women
Another reason why black women see the need to be inclusive is because we don’t feel worthy of being exclusive. There’s a serious self-hate problem in the black community. Black women have a habit of supporting women who don’t look like us and living vicariously through biracial women whom we actually wish we looked like. Take the natural hair movement, for example. Who were the women who benefitted most from this movement and got the majority of sponsorship videos and mainstream media attention? Biracial women. We can blame racist white media for this, but the truth is that many of the biracial women with black and white ancestry were elevated to so high a status thanks to black women.
We can’t continue to let our self-hate fester and work against us like this, placing us at the bottom of the totem pole while allowing everyone else to thrive above us. Let’s start exclusively supporting women who look like us, not the women society prefers or the women society tells us we should be.
Ask yourself, who are your favorite Youtubers and celebrities? Are they black and brown people who share your skin tone, or do they favor lighter skin or biracial ethnicities?
Society Subscribes To The One Drop Rule
The one-drop rule only benefits whiteness, it does not protect Blackness. It erases unambiguously Black women and invites everyone who isn’t white, into the space of Blackness. Red and blue don’t equal blue, they create purple. In the same way, Blackness + whiteness (or any other ethnicity) creates something other than Blackness. Biracial is biracial and as a society, we need to be okay with that, especially as a means of overcoming the internalized self-hatred in the black community.
"Grace is a freelance writer and blogger from Canada. Her work has been featured on HerCampus, 21Ninety, Read Unwritten. She is a voracious reader, a dog-lover and a self-professed pop culture junkie. Her other hobbies include watching sappy romantic comedies, consuming too many strawberry-filled doughnuts and people-watching. Grace currently attends university, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law."