Lightskinned Privilege Is Just Another Fucking Line Of Separation That We Just Don’t Need

Lightskinned or darkskinned

“Lightskinned privilege” and “lightskinned tears” are terms which are floating around these days in Twitterverse and Facebook. I have seen many folks, who claim that they are here to help our community, throw it around with fervor and people are taking the bait.

This post has been a long time coming and is based on an interaction with a darkskinned woman about our other counterparts. This took place in January of this year. I was ready to clean go the fuck off on her in typical “Negra With Tumbao” fashion because I, respectfully, questioned her sentiment behind her post and with each interaction her responses became increasingly more snide and aggressive.

Even after, I mentioned my own lightskinned daughter’s experience with darkskinned girls excluding her from pictures (middle school) and her having to beat the brakes off of some girl (elementary school) who bucked up on her because she heard, “You’re ugly.” from my daughter saying, “My mami works in a salon and she can do your hair.” (The girl complimented my daughter’s hair and so my daughter offered my services).

She ended up calling me out of my name. And THEN… oh, baby! That’s all she fucking wrote. At the point, she, no longer, deserved my respect or the opportunity for me to understand her pain. Fuck her! I still feel that way today but that’s besides the point. I inboxed her as well because people began to send me screenshots of a conversation that she proceeded to have about me on her personal page. She saw it but didn’t respond. Cool. I see you. She, in turn, blocked me from being able to respond to her petty ass rebuttals but the pandering from lightskinned women was what really saddened me.  They “admitted’ to said privilege which quite frankly was probably one of the most stupid things that I had ever read. Even worse was the “silencing” of other lighter women who tried to explain that privilege wasn’t/ isn’t appropriate in this case.

lightskinned privilege
Colorism does not equal lightskinned privilege.

I began to write this yesterday but wanted to talk to a sister friend of mine who had been silenced by this group and because she understood their pain and yet had her own feelings, I asked her to call me so that I could request her permission to share her story as well. Keep in mind, I’m still pissy about that interaction because it’s becoming a common theme on this person’s page.

Let’s call this friend “Quiera”. She is a black African woman. Cape Verdean to be exact. Lightskinned with long hair with 2 black parents. Her husband is black. Her daughter is black. We discussed the aforementioned incident and she was thankful that I wanted to start a dialogue about it. However, she knows how I am so she asked if I would “dim the fire” in order to really express the detrimental path this way of thinking is for ALL OF US. “Quiera” wanted a thought-provoking, civil and comprehensive approach to a very sensitive subject for many of our sisters. She acknowledged the pain of our darkskinned sisters but also has experienced her own difficulties with respect to colorism. Frankly speaking, we should be able to speak about both without invoking a nonexistent privilege claim for one side or the other.

This is for you, hermana!

My baby sister and our girls. Lightskinned and darkskinned black women an girls.. Both beautiful!
My baby sister and our girls. Lightskinned and darkskinned black women and girls. Both beautiful!

Listen, colorism exists for damn sure. It has since the colonization of Africans and her diasporans by White Europeans. It’s not going anywhere.. anytime soon. We are navigating through damn near 500 years of purposeful division and programming.

I will be honest. This situation isn’t anything that my sister and I have EVER experienced within our own families or even growing up. Then again, our parents were quite vocal in terms of affirming how dope we were/are so maybe we were just oblivious to outside fuckery. The difference of our complexions NEVER came up. I made sure to call and ask her before I posted because I didn’t want to speak on her behalf. By the way, my sister is absolutely stunning. She’s prettier than I could ever be and I’m a pretty mfer. That’s her in the feature photo. No makeup. Her real hair with tremendous beauty, intelligence  and confidence. Otra Negra With Tumbao!

I digress.

My dad, always, told us how pretty we were. He even gave us names nicknames which have stuck with us to this day. I’m “Tantalizing Tan” and she’s “Fast Black”. God, I still envy that name after all these years. Lol. It just oozes strength and beauty.

Fam, we have some serious shit to unpack here. Black women, complexion be damned have been subject to abuse, rape by black and white men and even murder. I’m not here to slight either side. There’s no privilege to be had whether it’s “bestowed” upon us by white people or black men. Professing privilege and mocking real pain and likening it to “lightskinned tears” is hurtful and oppressive.

To my darkskinned sisters, I am not here to minimize what has happened to you. It’s fucked up and for many reasons. Darkskinned women aren’t always given affirmations. Those affirmations start at home with our parents. Ask yourself. Did you receive them? Let’s do it with our own daughter, nieces, sisters, friends and cousins. Were you told how beautiful you are and not “for a darkskinned girl”? This is where we first need to start. Read your history. Queens in Africa looked just like you. Warriors looked just like you. We need these affirmations from our fathers, brothers, uncles, grandpas, etc. and let’s hold them accountable. It’s imperative and here’s why:

When you are instilled with self-esteem, NOTHING on the outside can compromise that confidence.

People are fucking stupid. They are parrots. They mimic what they hear. Anyone who has called you ugly because you are dark doesn’t have self-love. That’s a fact. Please stop internalizing that. YOU are fucking dope. Call out their stupidity and teach them the root of it. Your enemy isn’t a woman who doesn’t share your skin color. Stop projecting your anger unto her. She can’t change her complexion.  STOP and read that again.

Words like-, “Blackie”, “Tar Baby”, “Jiggaboo”… eat that shit for lunch and wash it down with a glass of “Kiss my NATURAL black ass!’

Being called “black” isn’t an insult. It’s a fucking gift. Shiiiiiiiit, tell that mfer, “Thank you, kindly!”

Projecting your frustrations onto other black women is oppressive. You are becoming the very person who hurt you. Allow us to listen to your pain, heal and love you through the hurt. We are here for you. It’s ok to be angry. You have every right to be. Let’s direct that anger to the real giver of said privilege and not said  “recipient”. What you perceive to be privilege- isn’t.

Hotep niggas give darker sisters “privilege’ by calling you “pure”. I hate to break it to you. ANY diasporan born here isn’t pure at all. Not even his hotepping ass. Blackness can’t be dictated by skin color, sis. We need to bring awareness without isolating or silencing each other. Right now. That’s not happening.

Lightskinned/Darkskinned Tyra Banks
Lightskinned/Darkskinned Tyra Banks

To my lightskinned sisters, your pain isn’t identical to your darker complexioned sister’s pain but I know that you have been hurt as well. It has to be a horrible feeling to not be accepted by us because you aren’t black enough only to be fetishized by men who think you are closer to whiteness which in their fucked up world makes you better. Your complexion hasn’t stopped you from being gunned down by the police. It didn’t stop your children from being lynched either. Even white-passing sisters would be murdered upon the discovery of being black.

Where does this end for us? We are all we fucking have! If we don’t fight for each other and together, we ain’t gon’ make it. That much I can promise. My sister and I are raising two beautiful black girls who are united and ready to kick this world in its ass. We need you. You need us.

We have been hurting on both sides for far too long. Healing begins with us. I love you.

Will you do YOUR part?

K.

 

 

 

K. Araújo, a native Detroiter, is a cross between Claire Huxtable, Rosie Pérez and Millie Jackson. Widow, professional dragger of filth and Mami to the dopest Ethiopian EVER, she is the Editor in Chief of "Negra With Tumbao" and a Staff Writer for "The Urban Twist". Keka has been known to shake what her mama gave her, is the hell and high water, an expert salsera and cussologist with a penchant for the finer things in life and is and forever shall be- unapologetically black.