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June 6, 2015

Light Skin vs. Dark Skin: The Black “Man’s” Burden

by James R. Yarbrough

Black Women of Different Skin Tones 1-9-15

RESPONSE TO A NATIONAL PUBLICATION ON COLORISM

The author speaks of colorism among Black folks in this country; well I have news for her. It is no different where ever there are Blacks and people that are not of the same race and ethnicity. Let us make short work of this. You will look up to and want to imitate in any way possible the real or perceived attributes of those who are in power. And dark skin people are not. Until not too long ago, most if not all of the countries in Africa were colonies of White countries. First, they lost control of the continent then started to lose their identity. Now the women, and I am sure some men, are bleaching their skin, straightening their hair and wearing weaves and wigs.

For us, the Blacks in America, what are the features and attributes that would be enough to classify us—a group of people—as a race. Yes, I said group. And at what point or dividing line would this change our classification. We as Black folks do not have our own name; we did not all come from the same place in Africa and we do not know our ancestral roots. Many of us are the offspring of miscegenation and are of different shades and hues. We grew up in different worlds. Black folks are light skin, dark skin and everything in between. There are just as many who do not share a common worldview, so I ask; how can we be expected to think or act as a group consistently over time. That is just asking too much, it is not going to happen. Color difference, skin tone, and yes, hair texture, are used to classify and judge the world over. It is what it is. And we as descendants of slaves whose bodies were the property of others became divided as the result of the sexual desire of the master.

A Story My Mother Told Me

The train ride home, in many ways would signal some of what was to come from an unexpected source. As my mother tells it, she was cradling me in her arms. Just as you would expect a new mother would. And easing up to her side, in this segregated train, a nice White woman could not let her need to know hold her back. I guess looking was not quit enough for her. She had to know why my mother had a White baby in her arms. I must have been a tad lighter then, or it could have been my skin next to my mother’s much darker complexion that gave this appearance. Maybe this is what gave me such a White look.

My father and mother are Black just as I am. We have a past where the female of our race was not allowed to say no. For this reason, some Black folks are more black than others are. It is the same with the way we think. We run the color wheel from cold black to almost white. For me, as it is with many Blacks, one parent—my mother—was dark skinned, and the other—my father— is light. Hard feelings and just plain old hate as the result of this kind of setup is guaranteed. This certainly was part of the plan. And of course, the complete control over the Black female by the White master allowed him to use our women, and many instances our men as they willed. When you see this, you will see dissension. The shade of a Black person’s skin made a difference then and as so stated in this article, it makes a difference in the Black community to this day. It is an issue. It is a type of tension that kind of simmers and will often boil to the top. I have had to fend off a number of attacks from my own people. Needless to say and with regret, they were darker skinned. Now that is a hell of a thing.

There are times when a truce and an uneasy alliance is all you can get. This is the old light skin vs. dark skin, with the light skin as the winner, in most cases. That is what is thought by those who are not thinking. But who is counting. We are on the run. It is what the mind can be made to believe. You never know which way to turn. So, you turn on the one closest to you. That would be your Self.

One thing that has always been as far as we know is free will. We like what we like and should have the right to do so. And as it relates to mates, the love for the yellow bone has not changed. They were a prize from the time the first one was created by the White man and Black woman just as they are today. Right or wrong, it is a matter of choice, why not when you have one. I see not a thing wrong with this. It is what it is and it was handed to us. This was all born in slavery and lives on in us. All there is comes from what was. It is called history. We can deny it, but we will not change it. There is one big difference with the Black male. Over the years, there has been a going back and forward with the choice of the dark-skinned and light-skinned Black male.

If you are mad at me for what I have written, it only means you do not understand what I wrote. If you want me to explain, just ask.

The legacy of slavery is real.

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