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. The 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!!!