We’ve been having these conversations about colorism for too long, too many times, and quite frankly, I’m tired. So, I would like to take this time to shame anyone who uses bleaching and lightening products to change the appearance of their natural skin tone.The fact that we’re still having this conversation is honestly embarrassing and sad.
As a darker-skinned woman, my offense is almost obsolete at this point and it has been for years. I grew up surrounded by every shade of black you could have imagined and all of it was celebrated. It wasn’t something that we ever focused on. Names like “redbone” or “yella” or “brown skin”hell, even referring to someone as “black ass” had no specific skin tone attached. It was never said with intent to single out anyone or divide us. The fact always remained: we are all still black.
Now, it comes to no surprise that colorism has had a damaging and a lasting impact on black people globally for centuries. Dark-skinned people, in general, have been ridiculed because of their melanin. Believed to think we are linked to the total opposition of the traditional standard of beauty. African-Americans, in particular, can attest to certain methods created to cause division.
Insulting standards like the “brown paper bag test” and separating societies like “the blue veins”were concepts that further perpetuated the idea that lighter skin was better, prettier, and more desirable. Unfortunately, it’s a condition that too many black people still have managed to not leave behind.
The pushed perception that there is a power behind fair and lighter skin has left a stain on society as a whole but more so for us. So, how long do we take these type of actions with a grain of salt or show more sympathy for self-victimization rather than rebuking it? Constantly reiterating how terrible bleaching is or fighting for the self -love of people who don’t even have it for themselves is getting exhausting.
I’m empathetic to anyone that struggles with self-love and acceptance. It’s a grueling marathon and I haven’t always been as self-assured as I am now, trust me. Although, I’ve never had a real battle with my own brown skin (thanks to my mama and as I got older) doesn’t mean I haven’t been “stung” directly by certain commentary about my skin tone. I was darker as a child, so saying things like, “Don’t stay in the sun too long” was considered a piece of advice that we normalized in pretty much every black family. Just another one of the conditionings that we as a race have subconsciously adopted, one so silly yet so significant.
I guess my frustration stems from the things we should already know: oppression was set up from the beginning. We know that the oppressors’ plan was to make us hate ourselves, so at what point do we stop preserving patience for the shit that we can change if we really wanted to?
I know it’s easier said than done, hoping that one day all of us will all be on one accord. The day when we don’t hear about new products to lighten our complexion or stories of discrimination based on skin tone within our own community. Maintaining a space where, if anything, we’re supposed to feel validated and celebrated shouldn’t be a daunting task. One part of me feels like these conversations should be continuously discussed in order to push progression. The other part of me is annoyed with the repetitiveness of it all. Hopefully one day this particular conversation will no longer be needed and not because nothing has changed but instead to educate.
Witnessing black people succumbed to this slavery-rooted pressure to alter something that’s the most instrumental part of our being is tired and very telling but not in a good way. 8.2 million results should not pop up when searching “bleaching cream for black people”. Period. Furthermore, spreading the identical ideologies of our oppressors causes nothing short of self-regression and a bubble of oblivion in the black community.
Celebrities with large platforms like Blac Chyna, for example, are walking embarrassments. A black woman with black kids altering her skin and then profiting off it is something that just adds more to this persistent pattern of self-hate. It pisses me off, to be honest. There are children out there dying and being bullied because of their black skin.
Stories of Mckenzie Adams, the 9-year-old little girl from Alabama who took her own life for being teased about her dark skin at school. The video that went viral of Georgia mom, Briana Hampton, serenades to her son with a love song who had been being bullied because of his dark skin. This shit is bigger than just wanting a new look or selfishly catering to your own insecurities. This display of personal insecurities and self-acceptance issues are literally costing the lives of our children and continuing to push a destructive, fucked up agenda.
My sympathy and softened heart for this degree of self-hate have turned into an unceasing annoyance and intolerance. Sometimes I feel disappointed in hoping that the most painful things that were placed upon us, we as people don’t relieve ourselves from it. One day, we’ll get there though to that place of 100% self-acceptance and self-love that will be unmoved.Until then, I would much rather us stop pacifying and coddling bullshit. There is a thin line between forced oppression and chosen victimization. “Keep hope alive” is a blanket statement that will forever be relevant and applicable to all freedoms we haven’t obtained just yet.
Janelle Parrish is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. Using her voice to share her struggles, stories, and journey, she only hopes to be a progressive tool for other young black women like herself.