To be Black and Proud | Teen Ink

To be Black and Proud

May 26, 2009
By Imani Carter BRONZE, Baltimore, Maryland
Imani Carter BRONZE, Baltimore, Maryland
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

I was inspired to write this essay from a clip of the "Tyra Show" that I found off of www. Tyra, the host, brought light to the suppressed question that she found in an article in a magazine Ado light skinned women have it easier? At first, I did not know how to answer the question, but I thought intently about my past experiences and emotions and came to the conclusion that yes lighter skinned women do have it easier.

During the “Tyra Show”, the host, Tyra Banks stated that in the past, during times of heavy racism and bigotry, Black people would have to pass a brown paper bag test to enter places or events. One could only pass this test if their skin was lighter than the brown paper bag. If one=s skin complexion was darker than the brown paper bag, they would not be allowed to enter. My main concern is how can someone judge another by their skin color being darker than a brown paper bag? Brown is brown. I immediately thought back to middle school when my teacher who was fairly light skinned would tell us stories about how she once was introduced to the brown paper bag test. She passed the test. Being young and quickly intrigued, all of the students inquired if they too would pass the test. Frowning faces returned back to their seats when they realized that they failed. Bragging and bright faces also returned to their seats, after passing the brown paper bag test. Immediately students became self conscious about their beautiful complexions. I too became self conscious. This was my first encounter with feeling less superior to a lighter skinned person.

My second encounter was when I was about twelve years old. I was sitting in my school's library with a few peers. My best friend had a big crush on a kid who was a year older than us. When one of my other friends told him that our friend liked him, his face frowned and he replied "No. I only like light skinned girls". I thought to myself, this is the most ignorant thing I have ever heard in my life. I thought maybe because he was light skinned, he only preferred light skinned girls, but that still did not make good enough sense. I also realized that he was not the only one who thought this way.

After I graduated from middle school, I went to high school to be amongst the many Amature thinkers”. Unfortunately, I found myself caught up in a whirlpool of ignorance once again. I was in the twelfth grade -the grade where we were the oldest and considered the wisest. However, we were all not wise. For example, one day somewhere between March and April, the entire school stood outside on the windiest day of the year because of a fire drill evacuation. I spotted my two closest male friends and decided to stand with them. To them I was just another boy; their "brother" or "home girl". In other words, they did not care what they said around me. With that being said, I witnessed the normal conversation of two boys, "Mmm look at her! She has a big butt". I was slightly disgusted that boys actually talked like this about girls as if we were household pets. But I considered the fact that they were young with rushing hormones. Later in the conversation, one of my friends had asked the other if he thought that the girl in front of us was cute. He answered, " She's okay but I don't really like dark skinned girls". What ultimately surprised me, after hearing this was not just that my friend actually said this in front of me; a Adark@ skinned girl, but that he too was dark skinned. Was he embarrassed by his own complexion? Did he feel that a lighter skinned girl on his arm would make him look more superior?

The media has also made a huge impact on this subject. Today=s music videos tend to display lighter skinned women. I am not saying that dark skinned women do not appear in videos. However, they do not receive as much spotlight. Lighter skinned women have been made to be seen as the "diamond girl"that everyone wants to have or be. While listening to a radio interview, a popular hip hop artist by the name of Yung Berg stated "It's rare that I do dark butts- that's what I call dark skinned women... I don't date women darker than me". The young rapper also went on to say A I love the pool test. If you can jump in the pool exactly like you are and you don't come out looking better than you looked before going in to the pool- then that=s not a good look. Any woman that uses brown gel to set down her baby hair is not poppin’." It is a shame that Yung Berg feels this way because not only is he ignorant but he is teaching other children to think the exact way.

Also in teen appealing movies such as "ATL,” starring rapper T.I. and the beautiful Lauren London, and "Love Don’t Cost a Thing," starring actor/comedian Nick Cannon and entertainer Christina Millian, the boys are attracted to the lighter skinned girl. In ATL, Rashad, played by T.I. wanted to pursue ANew- New@, played by Lauren London. "New- New" was the leading woman in the movie as well as the lightest. I found it interesting how the girl who played Rashad's desperate ex girlfriend was darker skinned while the "better" girl he dated was light skinned. In the movie Love Don't Cost a Thing, Alvin, played by Nick Cannon was a nerdy kid who only wanted to be noticed in his high school as a cool kid and not the geek. He turned to Paris Morgan, played by Christina Millian to change his appearance and lifestyle for him. Paris Morgan was seen as the most popular and prettiest girl in school. Paris was also light skinned. In this movie, subliminally the light skinned girl was able to change the nerdy student to a cool kid just by hanging out with him. I am a huge fan of both movies, yet the reoccurrences of the "light skinned girl" stuck to my head as I watched both movies.

Lastly, this summer I had spent five weeks in Virginia to complete a " pre college" program. There, I was surprised to see that such a great amount of these women were light skinned. They had long hair that made the darker girls envious. What also made the darker girls envious was that the males on campus were more attracted to the light skinned girls and if they were denied they would later move on to a darker skinned girl. Why did the light skinned girl come first? What is the problem with dark skin? I did not think it was diseased. Is it?

Because I am not like most girls, I do not take it to heart completely when someone picks a light skinned person over me because I know that my skin is beautiful despite what others might think and that is all that matters. I do not think that there will ever be a day when black people will just accept each other for who we are. We all claim that we are past the ‘slave mentality’ but we have been instilled to believe that the lighter person is the better person. This is not true. I know that a lighter woman is not any better than me and can not do anything that I can not. I also know that I am not any better than a woman who is darker than me. I know this because we are all human and what one human can do so can another. So please black people try to respect yourselves by respecting others. We are all the same, therefore let us become unified and confident as we quote "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud".

The author's comments:
I was inspired to write this essay because I have noticed that there is a huge disconnection in the black race between lighter skinned and darker skinned people. I think that this problem is being overlooked and consciously ignored. Therefore, I wanted to shed light to this devestation. I hope all readers of every race gain something from this essay.

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