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As I watched Charlamagne Tha God's interview with the cast of Girlfriends, I became inspired by the words of Jill Marie Jones and Golden Brooks. They expressed their gratitude of seeing the iconic Diana Ross on television as a brown skin woman with grace, sophistication and sexiness. Golden Brooks relayed how important it was to see a brown skin woman on television, especially since her mother was of lighter complexion. I, too, saw the importance of this growing up as a brown skin girl and decided to pen a letter to my future brown skin daughter. 


Dear Pretty Brown Daughter,

Initially, I was ashamed of my brown skin. I didn’t want to be ashamed, but I honestly didn’t know how to feel about my brown skin. The first woman in my life was light skin, a beautiful woman with a fairer lighter complexion than me. So to me, that was beauty. Then I met my aunts, two of which were caramel complexion. Still, they were not as dark as myself, so again, I felt different.

My Aunt Linda crossed my world and she was different, too. She was brown. But I didn’t appreciate her brown. My mom and Aunt Linda would get mistaken as twins, but I didn’t see it. I saw a brown woman and a light skin woman. Where’s the resemblance? I was told that aunt Linda’s brown skin was a show-stopper for men everywhere. But I didn’t appreciate her brown skin.

Baby girl, don’t get it twisted, I was never teased in my family about my brown skin. I was treated like a goddess. However, I didn’t see enough brown skin around me to appreciate the beauty of my brown skin — until my sister was born. She was brown. For the first time, someone looked like me. The brown in her skin was magical. It radiated in sun risings and sunsets. Her big eyes said words that I never heard before. They said we are here to shine through storms and break barriers. For the first time, I felt less different.

Swimming became part of my childhood summers and I noticed my skin tone turn darker the more breast strokes I did. But it didn’t matter, the water was more important. I became unrecognizable to myself as my complexion would darken like a raisin in the sun. Just as I started to accept my skin tone, cold winter nights lightened my complexion. I became milk chocolate instead dark chocolate. Who am I? Light spots would hit my skin and I could never fathom what complexion I was. I’m not as light as my mother, but I am not as dark as my father. Confusion settled in.

My cousin who babysat me was also light skin. She would grab all men's attention, although she was just 16. It was mesmerizing to me. All of the boys and men in the neighborhood wanted to be around her. They wished they had one chance; she commanded their attention with her beauty, but also with her realness. I wanted to be like her, but I couldn’t. I was brown skin.

She introduced me (unintentionally) to hip-hop and music videos. She listened to artists such as Lil Kim, Erykah Badu and Foxy Brown. It was the day I saw Foxy Brown that I started to admire my own beauty in a way. Foxy Brown was raw but also brown. She was the first female rapper I remember who was proud to be a brown girl. There was no lightening her skin or making her appear light. She was brown and beautiful. She commanded attention and she became my inspiration. The visual of Foxy Brown on television was necessary for myself, but also for the culture of hip-hop, a culture who seemed to put lighter women at the forefront of music videos.

Time moved on and I began to notice again how brown my skin was. I had a crush on a light skin boy who stood about six feet tall. Surrounded by light skin girls, I was his last thought. I was too dark for him. See, the light skin girl who was the “it” girl in the neighborhood captured his attention. She was pretty. She resembled all the video girls on BET, although we were only 13. Beyond that, the words actually came out his mouth: “I only like light skin girls.”

That statement stung me harder than a Scorpio searching for revenge. It wasn’t that I wasn’t pretty, it was that a light skin girl was his first choice.

Times have changed and I appreciate the different hues of melanin that are now recognized besides light-skin and dark-skin. And although the light skin/dark skin debate has subsided somewhat, scars still remain. As a brown skin woman, who is neither light skin or dark skin, I stand in my skin. I can go from light to dark and be proud of it. But I do not forget the moments where I was chosen second because of my skin tone. I felt rejected by black boys because my skin was too dark, because society said only light skin women are pretty. I never want you to feel like that, baby girl. I want your brown skin to shine and glow so bright, people can only see the sun when they look at you. I want you to look at me and see you. I want you to see your brown skin. I want you to see the image of me as a beautiful representation of who you will become. I want you to be proud of your brown skin the moment you recognize your hue of melanin.

Love your now proud brown mother,

Sara Allie