Mighty Life List
Sep 7 2011

Our Skin

I’ve been following the comments on my link to the Dark Girls documentary over the last few days, and it has been an education for me. Excerpts from a few comments that I thought deserved more attention.

“…When I came to college, I was able to learn more about the history of Africa and learn about where my family comes from. I didn’t meet black guys who were interested in me which I thought came from me not being involved in a black sorority or in the Black Student Union. When I started to interact with other black students through work and volunteering, I still felt very separated from the “traditionally black” groups. Save for black girls with real (meaning really close) roots in Africa or the Caribbean (a girl whose parents are from Senegal and another whose roots are Native American and Haitian have been two friends I’ve made in the past four years) I’m dismissed by other black girls, too.

I feel guilty saying that it’s because of my dark skin color, because that discounts the fact that maybe I’m an awful person (and maybe I am!) or maybe our personalities don’t sync up. But, I’ve seen girls and boys who have ignored me in African American and African Studies classes excitedly interact with groups of friends I have who run the gambit in personalities but who represent the whitest end of the color spectrum. So, in four years, I’ve learned to draw conclusions.

It’s complicated and it’s a big deal, as evidenced by the little girl in the video who sees race as an indicator of intelligence and beauty, so it’s really hard for me to draw conclusions outside of the ones that I’ve made for myself.

It sounds so trite and Dove campaign-y but I love my skin. In my skin I see my grandmother, a woman I’ve only known in pictures; I see the skin of my ancestors, whom I’ve never seen but who I know looked like me. I see history and I am so lucky to be able to carry that around with me.” –Beatrice

“[On my camera,] I use the ‘lighter skin tone’ setting and flash, sickened by my preference for a lighter me…

The girl I babysit, a sweet, Caucasian girl of age seven, asked the other day, “Do you like having brown skin?”

I stuttered and said something along the lines of, “I guess,” ashamed that I was ashamed of something so natural and uncontrollable as the color of my skin, hating myself for hating myself.” From “Let us be colorful, darling” a post by Lamisa

“…I am Indian. My mother was light/fair skinned and my father was dark skinned. I inherited my father’s darker tones. My mother would scold me constantly for being in the sun and hated when I looked dark. She had stupid creams on me when I was little that would blister and burn my skin.” -Calypso

“You know what’s crazy? That a lot of white girls spend a ton of time and money trying to make their skin darker… Understand: I am in no way trying to say that it’s the same thing as the experience of dark-skinned women… But it just struck me, why are we all programmed to want to be different from how we are?” -Amy

“Wow…unfortunately, this brings back sad memories for me. As a dark skinned African American woman I too heard these comments throughout my life. My saving grace was my beloved grandfather who told me every day that I was beautiful and special and a gift from God. Because of his counter attack on all the negative comments, I grew to love my brown skin. Just goes to show that love can wipe away a multitude of sins.” -Dar