My mother likes to use the phrase “Black ass motherfucker” a lot. I didn’t notice it until one day I said it in regards to a woman at a store who was pretty dark skin and had on bright red lipstick. My girl said, “bay!” scolding me for making such an ignorant comment. While I harbor no negative feelings towards our darker brothers and sisters, the fact of the matter is most Black people often say ignorant shit just like that. Hell my cousin is as dark as Celie from The Color Purple and he spent his child hood insulting people his own complexion by saying “your black ass!”

 

What is it about complexion that makes people get up in arms? Why is it that Black people are so concerned with Light skin not coming back in style but at the same time ready to crack an Akon joke at the drop of a dime? Is medium brown the only shade that makes a person exempt from jokes?

 

My homie Will from Bmore had a girlfriend when we were teenagers, I can’t really remember how she looked, but I remember thinking she was attractive when I first met her. Their relationship seemed to be going okay, and then the jokes started. Oh, did I forget to mention that this girl was “Black as hell” as my mother would say? Will’s cousin and a few other homies from the block wasted little time in cracking jokes when she would leave. “MY GIRLFRIEND BLACKER THAN THE DARKEST NIGHTfrom the Tupac song was a constant source of comedy. Will couldn’t say anything to diffuse it, he just had to sit and take it, I mean yeah she was dark, but so what? But when they started to sing it around here, that’s where the friction began. Obviously no stranger to those kinds of jokes she knew what they were talking about and it became a problem. Not a month later Will left the dark skin cutey for this brown skin chick. I’ve never asked him if her complexion was the reason they broke up, but I’m sure it attributed to it, not because he cared, but because to a teenage boy, what your homies think about your girlfriend is important.

 

Growing up I didn’t much care, a pretty girl is a pretty girl, regardless if she’s “high yella” or “burple”. Hell I use to choose Foxy Brown over Lil Kim in the legendary “which would you fuck” debate. Which brings me to my first love, who was just as black as my boy Will’s chick. Luckily for me I didn’t have a gang of niggas hanging at my house and cracking jokes and truthfully her complexion wasn’t an issue until… my brother made an offhand joke. I was with this chick for about a year when my Brother called her “Wesley Snipes” now my brother was young at the time and like most kids you don’t say things to hurt someone, you say it because it’s funny to you. My mother laughed it off, and said, don’t say that. But the key is… she laughed at his Wesley Snipes joke.

 

Man, did I get the blues a few weeks down the line. Like most girls she held that incident in and didn’t say anything. But I knew something was bothering her, and finally she admitted that she was upset with me because of what my brother said. Like a typical guy I said, “I didn’t say it”. But it didn’t matter. And my mother laughing at it was the icing on the cake. She told me about growing up around all white people and being teased because she was different. Her best friend was this yellow bone and she saw how guys treated her differently (which then explained why she didn’t trust me in the same room with the girl EVER) just because of her complexion. I apologized on behalf of my family and we put it behind us, but I know to this day that shit cut her deep. After our relationship had ended my home girl told me she was happy because she was afraid I would have a baby with a girl that dark… how fucked up is that?

I’ve messed with a lot of dark skin girls, one in particular I still say is one of the baddest chicks in the world, and it never crossed my mind not to holla at a girl because she’s not “light enough”. But I’ve seen it a lot. Shit I was at the gym last month and this guy was telling a story about hooking up in Vegas with this girl, and the adjective he used was “Man, Shorty was bad, she was tall and light skin” the response from his personal trainer was “Word!” I shit you not! When did the words “tall and light skin” equate to dime? I can see if he added, had a phat ass or had pretty eyes. The fact of the matter there are just as many ugly light skin girls as there are dark skin ones, but if you’re from the hood (or listen to Rap Music) it’s automatically assumed that if ya boy says, “she was light skin” that means she was bad. I’ve never once heard someone say man this girl was dark skin and petite. Instead they’ll say, shorty was small and mad pretty, totally bypassing color because it’s never used in a positive way. Anyone else see the problem with this?

 

On the other side of the fence, females are the exact opposite. For some reason the majority of Black women put little stock in complexion. Sure they’ll bust on a person for being too light or too dark just like we all do, but when it comes to dating, females use the term dark skin in a positive light, hence the term “chocolate brother”. I have seen numerous girls say “I don’t like light skin boys” I’ve never seen a guy say “I don’t like light skin girls”. Shit is weird. I have no explanation for any of this; shit my head hurts just trying to decipher the deeper meaning of Black on Black racism.

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