Colorism, Racism and other Undesirables
Sometime during the weekend of Thanksgiving, while sick at home because of an LA Flu that seems to be going around, I saw a tweet from a young lady that I find to be very entertaining. She is adorable and a total lady, from what I see of her.The tweet I noticed was about Colorism (I’ve never heard that word, and I will unlearn it at the completion of this blog.) Colorism is when Black folks are prejudice against other Black folks for their lighter or darker complexions. While engaging in a conversation with a few of the women in her Twitter thread, I pissed them off with my casual dismissal of the whole topic calling one of them sensitive and saying this behavior might be specific to where she lived. She said I was trying to pretend that it doesn’t exist which I had to exam. Not only did I examine it, but I also chatted with the women I know who are dark skinned, beautiful and confident. I wanted to know their views, so I started with my mother.
My mother is tall, thin, with a gorgeous smile and she always reminded me of the Supermodel Roshumda Williams. Everyone, of every race anytime she is out in public, complements her beauty. My mom is very confident, and I wanted to know where it came from, what’s the source.
It turns out my grandmother never made her feel different because of her coffee bean complexion. She only discussed racism with her, the same as she did with her other 12 children. It’s the best thing my granny could have done. In return, my mom never mentioned color to any of her three children. I am the darkest of the three. I have experienced racism before, and just dickey people who dislike everyone, in general. From being a Playmate, I also understand that people have different preferences for what they consider beautiful and that’s okay.
Next, I talked to my girlfriend Roni who has this amazing gift of seeing the world through different perspectives. She looks like the Black Barbie dolls my mom would buy me as a kid. I wanted to know two things, did her mom have the “dark skinned” talk with her, and did she have it with her son who is the same gorgeous complexion. Roni said her mother had the standard racism talk, and that she did the same with her son. Her son is a fabulous teen; she has done an amazing job.
She wanted to mention a story about her dating life. In Los Angeles, there is “Hollywood” and then there is “Black Hollywood.” I was part of the “Hollywood” scene, Roni was in both. She usually went to some of the “Black Hollywood” parties with a good friend who is Asian, and she was amazed at how much attention her Asian friend received from the Black Hollywood crowd. She and her friend are both still single, so all the phone numbers her friend exchanged with stars didn’t lead to any love connections. Roni also realized that the men at these types of parties didn’t really give her the attention that she wanted. She wanted me to mention that at a certain point as a single woman if you are going to places where you aren’t the “desired” type, it’s in your best interest to stop going to those places.
My other friend Angela, the model in the photo I used for the article, is engaged to a friend of mine who is from Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago. Angela’s mother is very fair skinned, and her grandmother is often assumed to be white because of her very light complexion. She said her mother also never had a talk with her about the challenges of being darker. The only thing Angela concerned herself with was making friends and being well liked because although she didn’t consider herself a “pretty” girl, she knew that her chances of being disliked where higher because of the way she looked, so she over compensated with humor. Being dark has actually helped Angela, especially as a Raider Cheerleader and in the modeling world because her skin tone is so unique. I was curious about men since her future husband is Latin. She quickly told me that no one ever told her she was pretty for a dark girl, and said maybe it’s because she’s from the Bay area. (I’m from the Midwest and Roni is from Connecticut.) Angela has dated all races, same as the rest of us, and is marrying the guy who treats her best.
Angela is also considered a Plus Size model, she varies from an 8 to 10. She works out everyday and wanted me to share this because her curves work for her career as well. In addition to modeling Angela and her fiancé have a company that books models. I know them from the business world, not entertainment. Angela, Roni and all my girlfriends are so nice and I’m thankful that they shared their stories with me. I have other very similar stories and they all share the common thread of their mothers not bringing attention to their skin tone.
I have seen one situation that stands out in my memory that I’d like to tell you about: one of the most noted beautiful Playmates in history is Nicole Narain, a West Indian, with a small frame about 5’4 and gorgeous face. I have personally witnessed her phone being blown up by Pro tennis stars to super models and she has dated every race of man. Once, when we were in Miami together for Superbowl, while at the pool she said she didn’t want to get back in the water. When I asked why, she responded “Girl, I don’t wanna get any blacker than I already am.” I thought that was so interesting and it makes me wonder what conversations she had with her mother. FYI: Nicole would look good in any shade, including purple and green.
Like Roni said, colorism does exist, racism exists, misogyny exists anti-semitism exists, hatred of fat folks exists along with homophobia. It all exists, and so what. Your life is what you make of it. If you are in place where people don’t seem to appreciate you in the manner you’d prefer, go to a different place; hang out with different people or move.
Last, I spoke to a Jewish friend of mine and asked him how his family prepared him for the world and it’s issues. He said his father told him that everyone has prejudice, but to take each person at face value and always work hard.
I like that advice.
How much time do you think the Obama household spends discussing racism or how the girls will be treated because they aren’t fair skinned?
How much time have Angela, Roni and I spent discussing Colorism? Has it stopped us from achieving our dreams?
What I understand about the human condition is that we all have prejudices. In one breath, we are asking everyone to give us a break while we slander another group in the next sentence. If we were all the same, we would still find things to separate and segregate. Now you can argue and say how hurt you were by others actions towards you and I will try to understand, but if holding on to this negativity isn’t helping you get in the career, relationship, or life you want, you might want to consider letting it go.
For one day, I want to you to pretend as if everyone likes you; each and every person you meet has been excited by the opportunity to speak with you or just say a casual hello. But being the humble star that you are, you won’t let it get to your head, you appreciate them as well. Try that attitude on for size and let me know how it goes.