Dear Black Men in our families,
Y'all. Gotta. Chill. With. The. Colorism. It's not cool, and a lot of times, I don't even think you realize how it makes us as black women feel.
To give a little back story, my family was sitting around the dinner table one Sunday conducting our weekly cultural ritual of soul food after church. Somehow, the conversation turned to the fine chocolate specimen that is Kofi Siriboe (let's have a moment of silence for the handcrafted work of the Lord Most High). My cousin asked me if I was crushing on him like so many other women at this point in time. Let it be known, I am a #Siribae. All day. *slurp*
After discussing who I find attractive, I posed the same types of questions to my cousin. He proceeded to name several women, all of whom, have pretty much the same look: on the fairer side of brown, long/curly hair, hazel eyes, etc. You get the point. Let me start by saying: EVERYONE HAS PREFERENCES AND THAT IS OKAY. You like who you like. You're attracted to whomever you're attracted to. The issue comes when you think that "your type" is superior, and no other "type" is truly beautiful.
I said to him, "Ah, yes. You did always love a racially ambiguous woman with long hair. What do you call them? 'Exotic'?" He responds, "Yes. Yes I definitely like my women racially ambiguous. Mixed. Alllllat." Again, it's fine to have preferences, but I could feel my blood pressure rising because I knew there was impending bullsh*t ahead. My uncle then chimes in with his penny (cause the nonsense he spewed wasn't even worth two cents): "Like father, like son! That's my son! He likes the same women his daddy likes. I like 'em light, bright and damn near white! Ayeeee! That's the only type I"m getting with." And the two proceed to fall into a raucous laughter.
Sitting around the table are myself (not light, bright, or damn near white), my mother (also not light, bright, or damn near white), and my grandmother (a smidge light, kiiiiinda bright, but certainly nowhere near white), and we're all just looking at each other with disgust. I almost felt embarrassed, I'd say. But not for my brown-skinned, dark eyes, afro-haired self. I felt embarrassed for the literal ignorance in front of me. I was mortified that in their loud, abrasive laughter, the ignorant pair had no awareness of who was in the room and how it could make us feel, no consciousness, and no conviction. You exist every day in the real world with that lack of perception? God bless.
Black men, it is more than fine for you to like whatever type of woman you want. But, it is not fine for you to define beauty through a narrow-minded, insensitive, uncouthness that blatantly disregards the feelings of your black female loved ones. Right in front of our faces. By saying things like "That's the only type I'm getting with," you've backhandedly told me that you wouldn't pursue a relationship with a woman who looks more like me than Alicia Keys or Eva Mendes. The old saying, "Charity begins at home," rings so true here because if our fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins, don't affirm us and build us up at home, we have to work even harder to build our confidence and assert our Black Girl Magic in the world.
Bottom line, do better. Cause we outchea riding for y'all. Reciprocity is required.