Tag Archives: colorism

Throwback Thursday: “You’re Pretty for a Dark-Skinned girl!”

Today, I am revisiting the first blog I wrote for the collective in 2010.  I can’t remember why I wrote about colorism, but it feels as fitting and relevant today as it did two years ago when I first found the words.  I wrote about how “You’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl” is a backwards pseudo-compliment that leaves dark-skinned girls caught up in a conundrum and half-smile, wondering if the two things she is being called (the two things she is) are oxymoronic, canceling each other out—does being pretty make up for being dark-skinned, does being dark-skinned cancel out being pretty?  …Read more »

Battle of the What?: A Brief Reflection on the Battle of the Complexions Controversy

                                            I am sick and tired of the cultural story line that insists only one version (complexion) of black women can be “in style” (beautiful, popular, desirable) at any given time.  There seems to be a not-so-invisible scale that insinuates that black beauty is either light or dark, always one or the other, never both/and.  Binary thinking is always problematic and especially in this instance because these evaluations are inextricably linked to issues of self-esteem and self-worth.  In a …Read more »

Sex, Scripts, & Single Ladies

I’ll admit it.  When VH1’s scripted dramedy Single Ladies premiered a few weeks ago I had very low expectations–so low, in fact, that I forgot it was even coming on that night. It wasn’t  until I logged on to my Facebook and saw a bunch of statements like, “OMG!” “He said what?” “Stacey Dash is how old?” “Why does LisaRaye always play herself?” that I realized the show was on. So, I flipped the channel to VH1 to see what all the buzz was about. To tell the truth, it took me a minute to even find VH1 because a channel …Read more »

Ode to Dark (Skinned) Girls

My melanin proficiency has often led to color complex(ion) issues brought on by my country (rural) upbringing in a community (and country) fascinated (via the hegemonic influences of beauty) with my yellow-skinned sister with looooooooooooooooooooong hair and generally ambivalent with me (and my dark skin and short/er hair).  They (the adults and other children in my life) always knew my sister was beautiful but for me it took time, years, deep long looks and depth of consideration to finally determine that I was cute, ish, beautiful even for a dark-skinned girl.  I have often pondered the implications of those terms of my …Read more »

More Musings on Melanin (or lack there of)

“Depending on the context, an individual may be an oppressor, a member of an oppressed group, or simultaneously oppressor and oppressed.” -Patricia Hill Collins “The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations which we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us.” -Audre Lorde *Mic check*  Is this thing on?  *Dodges balled up brown paper bags* Hello, all.  First, we’re really grateful for the lively discussion our little polemic has engendered.  We’ve been monitoring the discussion both in the comments section and in Twittropolis, but wanted to …Read more »

Huey Newton Complexes

Whatever does one mean by the phrase, “Huey Newton Complex(es)”?  So glad you asked.  A Huey Newton Complex is a rather snarky, yet awesomely witty way of describing a light skinned person crunk about (their) blackness in ways that, perhaps, obscure other realities that may indeed inflect (their) blackness–like gender identification, sexuality, economic class, or skin color. The one drop rule notwithstanding, Huey Newton Complexes goad light skinned Negroes into stringently proving and deploying their blackness just in case one raises an eyebrow around the melanin content of their skin; hence, The Black Panther Party and Shazza Zulu (aka Freddie …Read more »

“You are pretty for a dark-skinned girl”

I have heard this statement many times in my life from well-meaning black women, surprised black boys and peers, family members and perfect strangers who usually make the statement in response or reply to not having seen me in a while or in genuine wonder and fascination.  The words come as somewhat of a shock in the moment, somewhat of a criticism, somewhat of an offense.  I don’t know if I should be flattered or insulted… The words, which come to me softly, sometimes hard, but mostly behind smiling eyes and perfectly thick lips, insinuate that one is either pretty …Read more »

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