Black Women Don't Want to Befriend Me

by Kim Lute, Huffington Post

My French Creole features speak to a long history of miscegenation: green eyes, skin the color of a white peach and a sharp Puritan nose to match my thinly drawn Vermillion lips. Still, my blackness is always in question because of my lightness, especially among my darker sisters. Imagine if you will, having an appearance that, if we're honest, harkens an antebellum era in which black women were viewed as a cross between farm equipment and an outlet for other's deviant sexual desires. A time when light and dark black women were separated and pitted against one another in the hopes of forever severing what should have been an unbreakable bond -- creating envy, disdain, self-loathing and unnecessary competition.

Welcome to the plight of the light African American woman navigating the "darker the berry the sweeter the juice" cosmos, where mere physical differences (fine hair to thicker locks and thin lips to billowy pouts) serve as the basis for generational division. Sadly, I recently learned that these divisive lines, created generations ago, remain frustratingly in place.
Weeks ago I wrote an essay critiquing a popular entertainer (who happens to be light, though she's darker than me) who I believed had wrongly received an honor partly because of America's preference for lighter blacks over darker ones. In the time that it takes to write a hateful tweet, I was labeled a self-hater and, humorously, a "tragic mulatto" who was secretly ashamed of my "obvious European heritage." For the record, both of my parents are black. As are both sets of my grandparents. Of course these vital facts mattered none. As the piece went viral, I found myself pitted against both those who looked like me (I'd apparently broken code and dared critique another light sister) and those who didn't (I had not only caused "unnecessary division," but I had the audacity to talk colorism when I certainly hadn't experienced the same depth of racism so many others had.)

In all fairness, this "mulatto" (which technically I am not) has led a far easier life simply because I lack darkness. The unwritten rule is that the darkest women are the most burdened while lighter black women are, I suppose, damned to "house Negro problems" that equate to mere hiccups in days that are perpetually long with happiness, job promotions and our pick of viable suitors. Dark or light, black women are long overdue to finally own up to our deep-rooted resentment toward one another. No, I may not have lost out on a promotion, but when I walk into a room I am still deemed an "other." It's not clear to most to what extent I am unlike the majority, but it's enough to ensure my piece of the American pie is unfairly smaller than non-blacks.

Allow me to join an already uncomfortable conversation. I'm going out of my cotton-picking mind trying to convince my darker sisters that I'm not their competitor, and that loving who I am, and what I look like, isn't a condemnation of darker women. If I've made great strides in my career it is because I've faltered, failed and tried again,ad nauseam. But is also because society finds me less threatening. I do not believe I'm prettier than any other woman, and know that my finest qualities have nothing to do with my "funny-colored eyes" or "fine hair." I'm saddened that we have imposed a self-defeating value system based mainly on our exterior differences. And contrary to certain beliefs, I too have experienced the most blatant racists insults, perhaps more so than others because I'm a writer who targets her subjects indiscriminately. Don't let this "light, damn near white" complexion fool you.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.