My hatred of this subject cannot be emphasised enough, yet the topic is inescapable because much like a deadly virus and despite our apparent advancement, it permeates through every age group, every socio-economic group and every generation.
Avoiding the subject altogether is preferable to me because in the discussions that surround it all reason is renounced in favour of raw emotion and past injustices which makes intelligent debate impossible. Debate? Wrong word. There’s nothing to debate. Acceptance. That’s it, we need to accept that this isn’t our issue. It wasn’t our creation but rather a tool used to create divisions in the past and diversions in the present.
This isn’t to belittle the hurt and pain experienced by people on both sides. I know that pain and just the mere mention of it conjures memories of walking with my head down to avoid people’s gaze and the inevitable insults that would follow, memories of the hurtful things that people have said at one time or another, the looks of confusion, intrigue and disgust in equal measure… I know it. I’ve felt it. I’ve shed tears over it. Too many tears.
So, when I hear the so-called and self-appointed ‘conscious’ people of my own race exclaim that people like me are somehow inferior and less desirable because of decreased levels of melanin, a biological substance, a substance that we mere mortals have no control over, a substance that, although important biologically and, according to some, spiritually, says nothing of a person’s character, my heart hurts. If I didn’t know better I’d think my heart was literally breaking.
When these people speak about the need to ‘love ourselves’ and ‘embrace our Afrikan heritage’ yet whisper with forked tongues that they would never date a light-skinned person and that light-skinned people should always be overlooked personally and professionally in favour of people of a darker hue, (yep, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing either) I can’t help but wonder what the difference is between these people and the people they condemn. So quick are they to talk about ‘Uncle Toms’ and ‘self-hate’ but tell me, what’s more self-hating than discriminating against people of your own race based on their melanin levels?
One of the many absurd arguments I have heard in defence of this strange behaviour is that it is necessary to raise people of a darker hue above their lighter brothers and sisters to make up for the years of hatred towards dark skinned people. They’ve been through so much discrimination and disrespect that they need to be shown extra appreciation.
Not only is this one of the most insulting, condescending and damn right foolish arguments I’ve ever heard but, by this logic it’s perfectly acceptable for me and others with albinism to discriminate against everyone who isn’t an albino to balance out the bullying, discrimination and murder of people like us.
Colourism is real and, in my personal opinion, there is no question that both historically and in the present day darker skinned people have borne, and continue to bear the brunt of society’s blatant disdain of all people (but I’d say particularly women) who aren’t light and/or don’t possess Caucasian features, however, are we really saying that the best way to even the playing field as it were, is to punish people of a lighter shade? With all of our apparent intelligence this is the best we can come up with?
And what of the ‘melanin impaired’ if you will, and all the issues that some people of this group face? I guess we should exalt ourselves above darker people right, because of all the pain we’ve endured? We’ll just keep going round and round in circles until this bitterness and self-hate completely devours us.
The promotion of dark skin and natural features is more important than I can express here. For centuries such features have been associated with every negative connotation you can think of and it’s high time people are schooled to understand that Black is beautiful, it always has been and always will be. We really do need to stop thinking that frying our hair and bleaching our skin is anything less than a physical reaction to very real psychological problems. We need to love ourselves – but not at the expense of others. We can embrace ourselves in all our varied forms, without putting others down.
Those of us who are unable to do this should seek help because the fact remains that if you have to put others down in order to love yourself something within you isn’t right and you should seek therapy. This isn’t an insult or a facetious comment but genuine advice. Being the focus of so much hatred and ignorance takes its toll on a person psychologically. One can only be abused for so long before it leaves scars. Anyone, light or dark who has experienced such mistreatment can attest to this and seeking help for the pain inflicted upon you is nothing to be ashamed of. If someone physically abused you to the point where you had broken bones you’d seek medical attention, when people psychologically and emotionally abuse you, you should seek the help of a therapist because pain that runs so deep will, if left unattended, eat you up inside and the consequences can be severe.
My personal opinion is that the people justifying colourism have demons of their own to contend with but are not yet in the right place mentally or emotionally to seek help.
“Well today I get a lot of people telling me how beautiful I am and it is very strange going from the only person who ever believed that, to hearing that on a constant basis. And I feel like it’s not a weird or cockiness thing, but because I had to train myself to believe it, and I really do believe it, but I had to work at it. So it’s hard for me to say ‘thank you’ in a lot of ways because I always thought of it as a secret that only I knew; ‘only I know I’m beautiful, you don’t know what you’re talking about’. It’s very strange and I have to accept it”. – Gabourey Sidibe
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences”. -Audre Lorde
“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.” – Zora Neale HurstonFollow @KariceQ