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The Light Skin Complex

Anybody who knows me well, or well enough for that matter, knows I was going to write about this at some point...smh...
Why do Dark Skinned Black people hating on Light Skinned Black people? Without Frederick Douglass, we would probably still be slaves. Without Jesse Jackson, helping out MLK jr,, White people would probably ignored him. Without Thurgood Marshall, Clarence Thomas wouldn't be Judge now. Now we got Obama as President... and you know eventually we will have a dark skinned African American President. Bush looked at Colin Powell, made him Secretary of State, then gave Condi Rice a chance. See... Dark Skinned Black people should be grateful that we Light Skinned Black people are making their life easier...Agree?” - Yahoo Answers Poster

I have grown to accept that many African-Americans don't have a genuine desire to learn or embrace their history and heritage. I have become accustom to one's “Blackness” in America being more so defined by their clothes and vernacular and taste and music- this is the new Black Pride, at least among younger people.

What I still find increasingly difficult to accept however, is what I refer to among my friends and associates as “Light Skin Complex”. Like most things in life, there are multiple dimensions to this phenomenon- you have the light skin blacks who perceive light skin as a default certification of beauty, you have the light skin blacks who think that all darker skinned people are out to get them and envious, and you even have light skin blacks who believe, as the Yahoo Answers passage above illustrates, that light skin people have somehow carried the weight of Blackness on their backs. It's not all light skin Blacks, obviously...but with the advent of social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, the Light Skin Complex is not only more visible, it's openly glorified.

"#tbt" refers to "Throw Back Thursdays"; on Thursday many Instagram/Twitter Users 
post old photos from childhood. How shallow must you be to remind us that you're light skin?

The younger generation is so oblivious, so ignorant of what it means to be Black, that we now have terms like, “team light skin” or “team mixed”. (you can find 'team dark skin' or 'team caramel' on social media as well but the prevalence is drastically lower and often the context is far less narcissistic). There are even entire Instagram and Tumblr accounts dedicated solely to the proliferation of light skin beauty. What significance is their in reaffirming your skin color in a photograph when the photograph makes it obvious? I have to assume stupidity unless you're a child.

I refuse to get preachy about this issue- anyone of any race who has studied American History knows how sad and disgusting this is. But I do think we need to be less dismissive. When people post things like “#teamlightskin” on my Twitter timeline I tend to unf-ollow them instantly but maybe I should use moments like this an opportunity for constructive debate (I use the word 'debate' very loosely) and education. Some people are going to crucify me for saying this but I didn't write history- the dark skin experience and the light skin experience for blacks, among others, are largely different. It doesn't matter if we're talking about field slaves and house slaves or the representation of color among music video vixens, light skin blacks, like white people will NEVER understand what it feels like to live day to day with dark skin. You can disagree if you want but that statement isn't just about Black people- it's about Dravidians, it's about Aborigines, it's about darker skinned people across the world and throughout history. That withstanding, it still doesn't negate the fact that light or dark- you are still Black to the world.

I forgive children caught up in the Light Skin Complex but if you're a young adult or older, chances are you just unknowingly self-hating and stupid. As far Blacks in the United States go, I hope more of us come to realize that there's a lot of dark(and light) skin people dead and gone and forgotten who sacrificed themselves for us all because of what it meant to be Black, not just dark skinned.

Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coupe...” -Kanye West

For what it's worth, I honestly don't care what color a person is. And I've never found a legitimate reason to arbitrarily reaffirm and broadcast mine, especially when it's obvious.

-P. Maestro

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  1. Oddly enough (or maybe not so), I find that African-Americans in the South tend to be more "color-struck"" than those elsewhere!

    1. I can believe it...seems like a lot of the less endearing qualities about African-Americans are only intensified in the South..

  2. well why don't you all just bleach your skin.

  3. I think I understand what the OP is saying, but I have to respectfully disagree

    with this article. The same things that are said about light skin women can be

    said about dark skin women. Just as it was pointed out that some light skin

    blacks think all dark skin blacks are out to get them and are envious, there are

    dark skin blacks, especially women, who mistreat light skin women due to the

    assumption that they will have some sort of superiority complex. I have what

    most would consider light skin and I can't count the number of times I have been

    in the presence of darker women who would roll their eyes and try their best to

    make me feel completely invisible. I have been the target of many passive

    aggressive comments and have even had these women try and test or assert my

    blackness. One woman actually said, "...You know, because no one is going to

    approach a sista like me, with dreds and all with some BS." What was that

    supposed to mean? Was she somehow blacker than a black women without dreds, and

    was this supposed to be universally accepted?

    I have never known a light skin person to claim to have carried the weight of

    the struggle alone. That statement is preposterous and insulting at best.

    The OP says, "...light skin blacks, like white people will NEVER understand what

    it feels like to live day to day with dark skin," but then reminds us "

    still doesn't negate the fact that light or dark- you are still Black to the

    world." It can't be both ways. Either black people have or have not been

    discriminated against. And it is an impervious fact that ALL black people have

    experienced some form of discrimination and has been or still is a victim of

    some institution of racism.

    Maybe the OP feels that light and dark skin people have not been discriminated

    against equally, that is, at every opportunity, or in the same manner or by the

    same method. Maybe in different environments under different circumstances.

    But still, we have ALL felt it and despise it.

    I don't see the big deal with someone liking their light skin. So what! No one

    says a thing when darker people refer to themselves as chocolate, mocha, or brown suga. I guess it's ok for darker people to embrace their

    complexion but pretty arrogant of lighter people to do so. It seems to me on

    average that darker skin yields more even skin tone, is less prone to acne,

    looks richer, smoother, and is more age-defying. So, if after all this dark

    skin people are still focused on light skin people's reaction to their own skin,

    then by far you are your very worst enemy.

    1. check your light privelege

  4. All black societies that are mixed race are self-organizing into mulatto privilege. Jamaica is one example, in both government and business.. Eric Holder is a perfect representation. Colin Powell is also Jamaican.

    Haiti is purely black run only because during their revolution they not only killed all the whites, but the far more numerous mulatto. That is why Haiti is a black paradise to this day. And then there is Detroit.

    1. Actually Haiti is about 5% Mulatto and "other" this group runs the country with little concern for the Black masses, predictably.

  5. Africa is a continent and is ignorant to call yo self african american. Most blackies don't even know where they be from. You be black not african american, you stupid ass niggers.... You know what I be saying, awwright.

  6. I am greatly conflicted. I am a light skin black women, as a child grew up in predominately poor minority neighborhoods in NY. My older sister has a dark complexion, all of our lives I felt she was beautiful body wise and complexion. Others would balk at the idea we were related because our physical appearances were opposite. Me slender, her curvy. Me pale, her dark. All the while growing up I was made fun of for being "yellow" and "skinny" all the way up to graduating highschool. Long story short to this day I have no self esteem, am weery of socializing and untrusting. Heres the conflict, now that Im well in to adulthood I now understand a great deal. With the black lives movement I am a passionate supporter. I love my people and it hurts me when any of us are misrepresented or mistreated. I come to various blogs and articles to see how we are responding to various topics and issues. Naturally the topic of colorism comes up and I read the comments and I come away deeply hurt, confused and hopeless. Why am I as a light skin black women not "enough"? We are supposed to stand in solidarity but my personal experiences count for nothing because of systemic racism that has placed lighter skin on a pedestal? Yes I have light skin privilege. What now? At the end of the day I am black and yes I have been treated so. I want to support my people but I feel like my people arent supporting me because of a color I didnt choose. I feel like colorism is a secondary issue. We need to get our foot into politics, into the legal system, into the banking system, into medical fields one black person at a time regardless of who is what shade of black and return what weve secured to our people and stop putting it back into the "white" mans hands. Stop believing everything "they" say and do our own research. Anyway, I am mess when it comes to organizing my thoughts any yes this is all coming from an emotional view point. Im sure someone will pick this apart and insult me instead of enlighten me.

  7. You know what I don't understand
    While there's articles like this stating the problem of "the light skin complex" or the argument we're all black
    People have to realize the argument is never ending because some blacks don't consider biracials or anyone lighter then the paper bag black.
    Should I say dark skin black people or just black people....Stupid question right.

    There's a video on YouTube
    Black man talking about the mulatto is the enemy. It's never ending. While there are blacks saying we're all black there blacks that doesn't consider lightskins black.
    It's never ending.
    Kendrick Lamar wasn't pro black anymore because of his gf...
    It's never ending.
    Colorism smh
    W.e the argument is, you are human first. You are human before your nationality ethnicity and skin color

    1. What is black anyway right?..


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