Should I begin to describe the grayness of my “complexion complex” with my mother’s first visual reaction to her offspring? She knew when she married my father that she’d have chocolate babies. But to her dismay, she had to settle for the two high-yellows that are my brother and I.
You’d probably see it in “black and white” if I were to describe the harshness in her voice when she critiques music videos.
She caws, “They got all these light-skinned girls. How come they couldn’t get a sister?”
I love my mother dearly, and she knows it, but what should these experiences leave me with other than a state of utter confusion?
She is the same color- if not lighter -than me. I am constantly faced with the question of why she feels this way about herself and how her views have impeded a positive self-image for me.
Many facets of my life have been measured to the yardstick by what I refer to as African Inadequacies.
I’m seldom sure of racist insinuations from regarding skin color. I didn’t know whether to take a white modeling scout’s reference to me as “exotic” as a complement or not.
I can testify that skin color alone, within the black community, will profit you nothing.
Black men are not attracted to me by some aromatic potion that my honey-brown skin secretes.
I have been in no way rewarded for my genetic code’s interpretation of Negroid features.
Rather I’ve been overlooked for the lack thereof.
My European ancestors have left me to fend for my own in black America with small thighs and a rear end that wouldn’t clap if I had hands surgically attached to it.
A big butt and a full-lipped smile will get a brother much easier than a fair hue.
But from countless forums and debates on the perils of the ebony-skinned.
I feel as though I should be ashamed of the way I look, and that anybody who favors me physically is suffering from a case of ignorance in its highest form.
As far as the media acting as a psychological danger, I totally agree.
However, we must understand that an influence only stimulates to the degree to which you will allow.
The subliminal or flagrant images dominating the mainstream, be it television and/or magazine covers, are aided by our African-American contributions.
By purchasing within the areas that they control, we support the ideals that we claim to be against and should more closely examine the definition of hypocrisy.
For that matter, does anybody remember what a boycott is?
A careful survey of the practices implemented by the plantation owners would show that they knew creating dissension among the slaves would prohibit them from coming together, thus thwarting any attempts of a revolt. Remember, those mixed breeds were still slaves.
In essence, it seems that this is a battle over who belongs with and is accepted by whites. I doubt anyone would take pride in fighting that kind of war.
If someone finally thinks I’m cute, it’s just because I’m “red with good hair.”
And if I one day look in the mirror and decide to find pleasure with it’s reflection, I think I’m the ‘ish’ because I’m “red with good hair.”
Personally, I don’t believe you need anyone to designate who should be attractive to you.
And you shouldn’t feel any less or more of a person if you are drawn to lighter or darker skin respectively.
LeiLani Neal is a sophomore magazine production student from Fort Lauderdale.