The true act of self-love doesn’t happen overnight, just like hate, self-love has to be taught too. You can never truly love another until you learn how to love yourself. This concept is especially true within the black community, especially as it pertains to colorism. How you may ask? I’ll be happy to explain.
Let me start by giving a little history lesson. Some of you may already know this, and some of you may not. Back in the year 1712, Willie Lynch (also where the term “lynching” originated from) wrote an infamous letter to his fellow slave masters with some “advice” on how to control the slaves they owned. He deemed it as a “foolproof plan that would control the slaves for at least 300 years.” Long story short, Lynch gave a detailed plan to separate the slaves by skin tone; light vs. dark, both male and female; he literally designed a plan to pit our ancestors against each other.
Unfortunately, his plan worked well enough that it still transpires within the black community today. The “Light skin vs. Dark skin debate” has been deeply embedded within our community, and only now has it really started to spark a true discussion. Lynch designed this tactic to brainwash the slaves into not only being jealous of one another, but to mistrust and even hate one another. This concept has significantly shaped the way how those within the black community treat and interact with one another. Look closely at the “heroes and villains” in movies starring mainly black people, and the “video vixens” in music videos. For years, the preference for lighter-skinned individuals has impacted our community, especially within the entertainment industry.
For example, Amara La Negra, a beautiful Afro-Latina who wholeheartedly embraces her Afrocentric features, was told by a producer on Love and Hip Hop, that she needed to be more “Beyonce and less Macy Gray.” This was obviously in reference to her dark skin and the Afro hairstyle she proudly sports. Lupita Nyong’o was clowned by former NBA basketball player Gilbert Arenas, on two occasions, over her dark skin. Kodak Black made comments that dark-skinned black women are “difficult to deal with,” and that he liked light skinned women because they were “more sensitive.” Lil Kim, yet another example, is one of the saddest cases of how colorism affects our community. During her time in the music industry, you can track how she gradually changed her appearance from a dark-skinned black woman to one with the appearance of lighter skin.
Black women and men have dealt with colorism, however, it is hurtful when one has to deal with it from those within their own community. There have been a plethora of examples of dark skin men having a preference for women of lighter skin tones, biracial, black, or women outside their own race. Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with having a preference. There IS something wrong when you use that preference to degrade, disrespect and ultimately perpetuate dangerous stereotypes against darker skinned women/men.
This is where the learning of self-love comes in. It is important for the black community to take a deep, introspective look within itself to address the root of this problem. As I said before, our community was severely impacted by the tactics that Willie Lynch implemented, but now that we have this knowledge, it is our responsibility to use it to better ourselves as individuals and as a community as a whole. Our black men, not all but the ones who can identify with the things I stated above, will never be able to properly love black women of ALL shades, until they address why and where their preference for lighter skinned women comes from. This is what being woke really means. We must take action to realize how our community has been brainwashed, and to continue the pursuit of knowledge and self-love.
We have to remember that for so long, European beauty standards were the goals of what “acceptable beauty” looked like. When one compares and tries to filter Afrocentric features to that standard, instead of those features being appreciated for what they are as a stand-alone, they are deemed as “too different,” “too foreign,” or even just plain “ugly.”
The black community is in some serious need of self-love. And don’t get me wrong, we have been making progress with the Black Girl Magic and Natural Hair Movements, young, beautiful and innovative dark skinned girls taking social media by storm and promoting love and appreciation for dark skin beauties; and we won BIG this year with Black Panther, having amazingly talented black people at the forefront on the big screen! We have come a long way, but we still got a ways to go. Speak up, educate yourself, and spread self-love to help continue making progress in our community!
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