Dark skin v. light skin… still an issue?

After my Cocoa Chick cohort DeeDee blogged about the ex Mrs. Usher Raymond, it made me think of a moving but sad article she wrote about what she has probably experienced all her life but more publicly when she married Usher.

I was a big supporter of this couple and disgusted by the things I was hearing about her. “She’s old, she’s ugly, she’s a has been, she has kids, she’s been around the industry” blah, blah, blah.  The thing that’s funny is that NO ONE said anything remotely the same about Usher and Chili.  Why?  Chili and Tameka’s situation is the EXACT same: Chili was MUCH older, Chili had kids, Chili’s son is from a industry man, you can say Chili is a “has been” (who still brushes their baby hairs on their forehead?).  When I brought these comparison’s up to people who talked so badly about Tameka, no one had anything to say.  So I ask why such a contrast in acceptance of this relationship vs. Usher and Chili?

I know what it was and so did Tameka.  People who are afraid to speak truth or admit  their ignorance, will not say what it is, but I will because a) I’m not afraid and b) I can admit the truth.  Before I found this article below, written so beautifully by Tameka, I debated with many people about this couple.  MOST of you that had issues with this couple was out of ignorance.  You will not admit it because who’s proud of being ignorant?  But I’m calling all of you out.  You didn’t like Tameka for Usher because of her complexion.  PERIOD.  And if I’m wrong then explain my Chili comparison.  You argued that Tameka was too old, did you say the same about Chili?  You argued that she had children, did you say the same about Chili?  You argued that she was out for money, did you say that about Chili?  Right now you’re probably saying the money issue can’t fall under Chili because she was a member of TLC.  Please remember TLC’s biggest issue was the LACK of money the members were getting.  The late Left Eye called everybody on it, remember?  “How can the biggest female group EVER be broke?”  So again, you argued that Tameka was out for his money, did you say the same about Chili?  All your answers are “no”.

But I don’t put ALL the blame on your ignorance.  This has been an issue for GENERATIONS.  You’re just a victim of the brainwashing.  All of our lives we’ve been told what beauty is and it does not look like Tameka.  I know for a fact if Tameka looked like Chili, was Asian, was half black and Philipino, was Latina or any variation of complexions OTHER than what she is, you would not have had any issues with her marriage to Usher.

Break the cycle of ignorance people.  Although society still plays a roll in defining black beauty, that doesn’t mean you have to follow that roll.  Demand change.  Demand that the magazines, tv shows, movie execs, marketing execs display all of the hues of women of color.  The ultimate betrayal is self-hate.

Tameka, thank you for writing this wonderful article…

Tameka Foster- Raymond wrote an interesting article for the Huffington Post looking at the light vs. dark-skinned issue in the Black community.

“She’s Pretty for a Dark-Skinned Girl…”

I am a dark-skinned African American woman with features that reflect my ancestry. Debates regarding Light vs. Dark and other biases have plagued our race for years and continues to impact millions of Black women. The deeply rooted intra-racial contempt that lies beneath this inane “compliment” is the reason I’ve chosen to spark dialogue surrounding the topic of self-hatred in our culture. It saturates every aspect of our lives, dominating the perspectives of our generation as a whole. We culturally are so influential, at times inadvertently, that we affect all with the words we utter and the images we portray. It lends to the theory of systemic racism. I’m authoring this piece because I’m miffed by this reality and would like to share my views on these subjects.

It is a fact that many African-Americans are often mixed with an array of other ethnicities (as am I), which allows for the spectrum of our features to be as distinctive and special as we are diverse. Why is it felt that the more diluted our traditionally African features become the more aesthetically acceptable we are considered? It was said in the 1960s and the sentiment seems to be forgotten, “Black is Beautiful.” Wow, nearly 50 years later and is that now only meant for a specific shade? Nonetheless, I believe the beauty of our people and splendor of every individual is reflected in our varying features and hues.

Often dark-skinned women are considered mean, domineering and standoffish and it was these very labels she hasthat followed Michelle Obama during the campaign for her husband’s presidency and which had to work tirelessly to combat. I was appalled when I heard a Black woman refer to Michelle Obama as unattractive. trans Tameka Foster Raymond... Shes Pretty For A Dark Skinned GirlThe conversation turned into why President Obama picked her as his mate. No one in the witch-hunt made reference to the possibility that Michelle Obama was smart, funny, caring, a good person, highly accomplished or brilliant. Nor did they mention that she previously was President Obama’s supervisor. If she were fair skinned, petite with long straight or wavy hair, would the same opinions be linked to her? I seriously doubt it. It is believed that for the dark skinned, dreams are less obtainable.

One of my favorite quotes comes from the great poet Khalil Gibran who once wrote, “Beauty is not the face; beauty is a light in the heart.”

In fact, I have read similar comments about myself that I am “dark, aggressive, bossy and bitchy.” It has been stated that my husband should have been with a “younger, more beautiful” woman. Astoundingly, the majority of the remarks come from African-American women and are mimicked by others. Sadly enough, I don’t know nor have I met 99% of those making these assertions. Funny, how we can judge another without having personally seen, interacted with or experienced a person’s character.

As I began to delve into further research on this topic, and the more I read, I concluded that many of our people do not like what they see in the mirror. Seeing ones own reflection in another person and then to dissect it in an effort to destroy can only be the product of self-loathing. Why don’t we congratulate as opposed to hate?

There is an adage “hurt people, hurt people”. If this is true then we must examine the root of negative words and judgments that are passed on people. Unfortunately, we have internal stereotypes based off of skin color and facial features that stem from years of programming, dating back to the “Willie Lynch” method for creating a slave. In this infamous formula, one of the main factors in separating and creating division was placing the lighter skinned blacks in a higher position in the house, while those with darker skin were made to stay in the fields and deemed “less desirable”. Much like the Caste System in India. No matter what strides we make as a people, these issues continue to plague and rot our souls, causing significant decay to a portion of our population and truly hindering our progress. Perhaps we show progress in our wallets and lifestyles but not in our mind set.

Reading magazines, social media sites, watching our music videos, and television shows feed our appetites for all things ‘beauty”. Rarely, however do I see depictions of grace and elegance in the form of dark complexioned women. I Googled one of the more ethnic models, Alek Wek and I was saddened by the tone of what the bloggers wrote in reference to her complexion, features and hair texture. Ms. Wek’s escape from Sudan, her journey, philanthropy, and groundbreaking success as a supermodel in America is not only beautiful, but it displays her tenacity and character. African-Americans seemed to have lost their eye for character. These comments are evidence of the confusion that lies within many black people. It’s the cruelty and prejudice that has spilled into the fabric of our everyday lives. It makes me wonder what have we collectively lost as a people? Our Minds.

I too have fallen prey, while on vacation in Brazil I decided to undergo tummy lipo-surgery. After having an allergic reaction to the anesthesia, I went into cardiac arrest before the procedure ever began. I nearly lost my life over something as superficial as having a flatter mid-section and trying to adapt to society’s traditional definition of beauty. As I nursed my psychological wounds, I began to realize that trying to live up to the prototypes of external beauty paled in comparison to the fact that I have undergone labor, subsequently being blessed to raise five handsome, smart, healthy, intuitive, and happy children. I emerged from my ordeal realizing that my body is an amazing vessel that has given birth to life and that being healthy is what’s important and nothing more.

It is my hope that our First Lady and others who share in this effort will continue to be the beacon to shine a light for those who toil on America’s beauty totem pole. Now don’t get me wrong or take my words out of context. I truly believe that everyone has a right to delineate what they deem is attractive, but we must not confuse perceived “attractiveness” with authentic “beauty.” It is important for African Americans, especially, to realize that true beauty is a spiritual element that lies deep within an individual’s spirit. It can neither be seen nor is it tangible. People tend to forget that beauty is not about looks and looks is not about beauty.

We need to realize we are beautiful no matter where we fall in the color spectrum!!!


11 comments on “Dark skin v. light skin… still an issue?

  1. Chili could be deaf, dumb and bald and she would still be attractive. You see, it comes from the inside and emanates out. Tameka is ugly inside and that emanates out. Chili is and was not all up in everyone’s face about any little stupid thing: She didn’t go on the Wendy Williams show before she hooked up with Usher and try to sell him out, she didn’t leave her husband & her 3 kids for a man, she didn’t steal clothing from designers, she didn’t do jail time for welfare freud, she didn’t cause havic with his family (mom), she didn’t have a trapanigga baby to try to keep him, but Tameka did PERIOD. This article incenuates that the public is stupid, that we don’t see what we see. Tameka (and you) can dream up all kinds of reasons why people might not like her, but the proof is in the pudding. BTW – Chili is “dark skinned” also (in case you’re overlooking that fact). Yall need to get a life.

    • We need to get a life? But yet you are basing your “feelings” about Tameka from what the media told you? lol! And I need to get a life? All the things you listed about Tameka, where did you learn it from? You sit here and regurgitate statements you read off E! and The View as if they are facts. You sit here and defend Chili as if you know her background personally and as if you know Tameka’s background personally. Obviously anyone in the general public who is that consumed in the life of Tameka and “knows all these things about her” is the one that needs to get a life.

      Before any of these ‘facts’ that you claim came out about Tameka, people didn’t like her from jump. When he was just dating her before anyone knew any background, people dogged her.
      I’m not sure what city you live in but your comment about Tameka going on tv talking about Usher, I live here in Atlanta and Chili was on almost every radio station doing the same exact thing that you said Tameka did on Wendy Williams. As for the ‘baby trapping’ did you say that about Chili having a baby by Dallas Austin? Dallas was HUGE then.

      She left her man and kids – you were there? The husband told you that? You witnessed that? Or are you going by what Mediaouttake.com told you?

      She caused family issues – you were there? You witnessed it or are you going by what TMZ told you?

      “If Chili was deaf, dumb and bald she would still be attractive because beauty comes from the inside…” oh so you know Chili’s inside personally, huh?

      Please! The issue with Tameka had nothing to do with all these ‘things’ you mentioned. They are good scapegoats to use instead of telling the truth of the matter. It does sound better to say ‘she did this this and that so THAT’S why we don’t like her”. CHILD PLEASE! Because like I said above, before ANY of these ‘FACTS’ that you state, people were dogging her from the very beginning before they got to ‘KNOW’ her. Stop living through TMZ and stop acting like you know these stars personally. None of us do.
      People accepted Chili with Usher because of how she looked, period. Lighter skin, long wavy hair and smaller body size and if Tameka looked the same, she wouldn’t have been attacked the way she was.
      Chili and Tameka’s story is the exact same…

    • and Chili is dark? What planet are you on? Like I said in earlier comments just because she’ snot as light as Mariah Carey her complexion is still lighter than Tameka’s and the blog is not about Chili’s complexion its about Tameka’s who is much darker than Chili.
      Tameka got backlash for being old and having kids and taking advantage of Usher. Chili was praised for doing the same thing. When actually she should have been getting more slack because at the time of them dating he was 20 or 21? Being that age in dating a older women there should be concern about the young man being taken advantage of.. but not at 30 or 31 when he is MUCH more mature than he was 10 years prior.

      If Tameka had long wavy hair, a size 2 and looked ‘mixed’ the public would have loved her..

  2. I know this is a late post but I have to jump in on this one because it is and always will be a hot-button issue in Black America. I don’t think there will ever be a time when we will discontinue the self-hating, backward ideology of dark vs light. I am originally from Tennessee and having traveled all over the country and having lived in the metro Atlanta area for almost 10 years, I have come to find that people are still holding onto the mindset “the lighter the better”. I am so embarassed when I hear grown women still saying “I hope my baby has pretty hair…” or “I hope my baby will be red like her daddy” or “I hope my baby’s nose is pointy like mine…” and so forth and so on. Are you serious? Really now? I have even heard many stories about daycare providers that cater to lighter-skinned children. Do you know how incredibly outraged I would be if I found out that my child was being discriminated against at all for starters but to find that black people were treating my child unfairly due to his or her complexion?! What has to happen or who has to speak up for black people to fall in love with themselves in every way? Dark, light, medium, small lips, big lips, wide nose, pointy nose, course hair, fine hair… it’s all collectively considered black therefore it should be embraced as beauty. It’s so interesting too how every time I hear someone refer to someone as being “light” or “red”, what one considers to be light another considers it light brown. What some consider brown another considers “dark”. I consider myself to be “brown” but I have had people tell me I’m “red”. Am I “red” because I’m not dark-complected or am I just the right shade of brown that passed the infamous “paper bag test”? Like I am so insulted when people say things like “You have a white person’s nose” or “You’re light like me”. No… I have a black person’s nose because I am black and I am BLACK like you… nothing else needs to be said. Black on black discrimination and prejudice is just as sensitive of a topic as race, religion, politics and sexual orientation. When I am engaged in a conversation with someone who speaks this ignorance, rather than address the matter head on, I simply do not acknowledge the comment and I completely jump the topic. If I am asked a direct, open-ended question relevant to something foolish like this, I offer a tactful but very firm answer allowing the person to understand that I do not subscribe to ignorant ideals about appearance. Our race is one of the most beautiful, varied of all… with people dark as a clear night sky to people fair as white chocolate. This is what makes us so distinctive yet so enchanting. It has to start at home and it must begin with our children – teaching them to love themselves and to find one another beautiful in every way. We have to be careful as adults about how we speak around impressionable minds and we must be careful how we conduct ourselves. Young minds are like mini processors – retaining every peace of data that they behold. We are as we are because we are supposed to be and there are no mistakes. Our natural hair texture, our features, our complexion – these are all designs from the master plan and who can question our Creator? Enough said.

    • Also Joanna, people will have different tastes.. not everyone will see beauty in the same people but no one can tell me when they look at Tameka they don’t see beauty. That lady is so pretty. So when people who have debated me about this topic use the argument ‘well everyone has different taste’ I don’t buy that. It’s one thing if someone is walking around looking like E.T., that’s the obvious.. but there is absolutely nothing wrong with Tameka. So I can only come up with one issue..and that’s her complexion and that’s the disgusting thing about it all! It’s really really sad.

  3. Pingback: terrelltaxandplanning.com Blog » Cocoa Chicks Critiques – Mrs. Raymond Speaks…

  4. Shenika..has anyone ever said “wow.. you’re pretty for a woman that’s light?” If they have, you should be just as hurt, saddened and upset that it was said.
    I’m also curious to know why your complexion needed to be stated with your comment. Are you sick of dark women complaining about it?

  5. I’m more sick that it’s still an issue. It just shows how truly damaged the mindset is. Women are complaining because it’s a hurtful topic. I have light skin friends who are hurt when men call them ‘red bone’, they are hurt to hear people make comments like ‘they’re not REAL sisters because they’re light skin”. It’s also hurts to told ‘you’re pretty for a dark skin woman’ as if being dark is not synonomous with beauty. As if I’m getting a ‘pass’. It’s hurtful that I”m hearing stories of 7 year old girls coming home crying for being teased for being dark in 2010 and the mother having to constantly reassure that she’s beautiful regardless of her skin.
    ‘Unfortunately, until the mindset is changed this will always be a topic that needs to be discussed until we get over it.
    Men have made that comment.
    “you’re pretty for a dark skin girl”, to me THIS YEAR. 2010..and I’m still hearing that comment. It’s and unfortunate sad truth.

    As for Chili just because she’s not as light as Alicia Keys doesn’t mean the issues never occured. She is still ligther than Usher’s ex. The point is there story is EXACTLY the same.. down to the wire. I couldn’t figure out why there was so much hatred for Usher dating a ‘old woman with kids’ when there was so much love for Usher dating a old woman with kids 10 years ago.

  6. I’m tired of hearing about this topic. I have a light complexion and I really sick of hearing women complain about this. I think that if we all judged people on their character, which most people do….eventually, then the world would be a better place for all people, both light and dark.

    Last time I checked, Chili isn’t light either.

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