If you grew up in a white community, you quickly discovered that, if your skin was not white then you were known as the black person.
Racism was prevalent but not as much as you would think when I was growing up. I encountered a lot more stares and questions out of curiosity within my time in this environment in comparison to racism.
I was questioned about my skin, my hair, my features and my culture. Why isn’t the palm of your hands brown like your skin? What colour is your blood? And why does your skin go white when you scratch it? are some of the ignorant questions I had to deal with but, I was happy to educate when and where I could and most white people where attentive. Being called a “black girl” was okay with me because that it is what I am.
When I started university in a much more diverse area, it became apparent to me that, there were different shades of black and being a “black girl” was just a general statement. Within this diverse community, I discovered there are light skinned black people and dark skinned black people.
Up to date, I don’t understand why our own people, our own race oppress and segregate ourselves. Why does it matter if you are light skinned or dark skinned when to other ethnic groups and to white people you are just a black person. Within the black community, dark skinned people are often seen as the ugly ones and light skinned people are seen as attractive and offered betters opportunities (look at media for example). In segregating our own race, we are causing low self-esteem amongst ourselves, causing anger amongst ourselves, dysfunction and conflict within our community.
It is funny because, the people we are trying to present the dark skin/light skin hype to, do not care because if you are not one of them then you are just a black person. So why can’t we accept being just black. Why can’t you be just black, why cant i be just black. This issue is affecting us more than we like to admit to.
My little sister came up to me the other day saying I am lighter than you. She was consumed with joy and a sense of pride as the words came out of her mouth. Unfortunately, we have thought her that being light skinned makes her pretty and being dark skin makes her ugly. Innocently, the fact that she was lighter than me increased her self-confidence and self-worth.
My concerns is, how will she feel when she meets someone lighter than her, how will this affect her self-esteem?
I didn’t know I was “a dark skinned black girl” until I began integrating with black people. In my view, being dark skin is beautiful and a privilege. However my race, my community and my people need to stop pointing out my “dark skin” as a flaw.
Pamela, Basingstoke UK