The last line of my first blog post reads ‘Black people need to do better.’ Now, eight posts later and I’m opening with this same belief in mind. Let’s talk about colourism in the black community.
As a black girl, it is the norm for me to hear comments from black boys saying that they would never be in a relationship with a black girl; a sentiment which has not changed from my parents’ generation. Of course, I openly welcome and appreciate interracial relationships, but this isn’t the problem I’m addressing. The issue becomes apparent when we uncover the reasons why black girls are seemingly so unappealing. Black women are often portrayed as aggressive, angry and are said to be full of attitude and so, a relationship understandably seems hard work. The recent Marvel ‘Black Panther’ production, featured a majority black cast and I was pleased to see that all these women were depicted as strong and influential queens. But alongside this, a lot of these women were shown to be brutal and hostile. As much as I adore Marvel’s efforts in evoking a racially diverse cast, it remains sad to see the visualisation of such negative traits as inseparable from the representation of the black female body. Strength doesn’t require an aggressive coupling and I feel that Marvel needed to try and find a balance in their depiction of black women. These traits are not the epitome of black females and shouldn’t be a label for us, as all women have the capacity to act in such ways, regardless of racial background.
This doesn’t just apply to guys as I’ve heard black girls make similar remarks about our men. Black men are so underappreciated in society and frequently, judgement is passed based on their exterior, before anyone seeks to engage with the interior. Really, we need to progress to become less accepting of these shallow views, as ultimately, they exist to control us. They exist to dominate us and if we don’t challenge the stereotypes ourselves, then all that will remain to be seen by anyone else, is the stereotype.
The historical feud between African’s and Caribbean’s also shows the divide in the black community. For those unaware of the general ideals, many African’s tend to believe that Caribbean’s are ‘diluted’ and that they believe themselves to be ‘purer’, whilst many West-Indians tend to reject their traceable African history. Our history and skin remain the same regardless of our geographical rooting. Franz Fanon quite rightly argued that ‘the enemy of the Negro is often not the white man but a man of his own colour’.
My attention was recently drawn to a page on Instagram which is being used as a platform to degrade darker skinned black women and showcase the idea that light skinned women are supposedly superior. The dark skin vs light skin battle has been going on long before I was born and has been seen throughout history. Take for instance, the brown paper bag test. A test which allegedly was used to determine whether people should be accepted and included. Lighter than the bag? Free to pass. Darker than the bag? Left on the doorstep. This was used to validate entry to social events and even churches. Another reason for this rivalry, is that in times of slavery, it tended to be the darker skinned slaves, who were made to work in the fields, whilst light skinned slaves, could work in the house and were considered to be more aesthetically pleasing. A few years ago, it almost became ‘fashionable’ to be light skin. A ‘trend’ to be dating a light skin. To be living in a society where the colour of your skin, plays a large part in determining the value others place on you, popularity and your worth within relationships, is so upsetting, particularly when this is based on the proximity to whiteness. Black women are sadly disadvantaged, regularly facing sexist and racist comments. Colourism from our own race, when we should be uplifting and supporting each other, is sickening. I saw a comment underneath one of the posts on the page, which alike the rest, was praising light skinned women and attacking darker skinned ladies. It read, ‘If you don’t stand for all women, you stand for no women’.
I’ll let that sink in.
These stereotypes for both black men and women, which upsettingly remain, have hindered our cultural growth. If we can’t unite and accept one another, then how can we demand respect and acceptance from others? You can’t chant, ‘Black Lives Matter’, if you’re not willing to accept that every Black Life Matters.