Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Confessions of a Light Skinned Black Woman

I am a light skinned black woman.  I am a light skinned black woman with naturally curly hair.  I grew up in Illinois.  Not not Chicago, I am talking about the country (shout out to Galesburg).  While Galesburg is not without a black population, overall there weren't too many black people.  In my neighborhood, I was one of maybe a handful.  Needless to say, in my classes I was sometimes maybe the only black kid in my class.

Back then I didn't think about that too much.  Wait, let me take that back, occasionally I would think about it.  People would ask me if I was mixed, I would say no, and they would question me again.  It almost made me doubt myself.  My parents are both black.  Of course my mother is extremely light, my dad was just a brown skin man.  Now obviously, my mother and maybe my father's family was mixed with something down the road.  I tried to do a family tree at some point in my life but I have never been able to get too far with the information.  So I have kind of felt like a mutt of sorts because I have never really known exactly why I look the way I do.  Don't get me wrong I love the way I look, but I feel like other people have a problem with it, especially my fellow black brothers and sisters.

When I went to college some of the black kids questioned my "blackness."  But why?  Because of the way I talked?  Or maybe it is because I had white friends?  By the time I went to law school, one friend told me I was the blackest black person she knew.  Meaning, that I definitely wore my "blackness."  My classmates thought I was some urban city girl who probably had never seen white people before.  Little did they know that I was a country girl at heart.

Then I moved back to Maryland.  Not a week went by when someone wouldn't point out I am light skinned, and usually it came from other black people.  Now all of a sudden because of my skin color I had certain assumed personality traits.  You know the stereotypes, I am uppity, I think I am better than everyone, I am a snob...  All of this because of the way I look?  Anyone who really knows me,  knows that I am far from those things.

Dating now has raised red flags.  I was talking to a friend about this the other day.  Now I wonder if someone wants to date me solely based on my skin color and my curly hair.  In the back of my mind I wonder if some guys think that I am the next best thing to having their taboo white woman.  If maybe I have that exotic look that they have always wanted because no one can really tell what I am.  I don't want to be the second runner up to someone's would be jungle fantasy!

I just want to be me, light skinned, curly hair and all.  I want to eat fried chicken (with hot sauce) and watermelon at work and not worry about the implications.  I want to listen to classical musical in the car and not be judged.  Sometimes I feel like saying ain't,  and sometimes I feel like saying like.  I want to date someone who likes me for who I am inside and out, and not because I have "good hair."  I want to be able to just worry about myself and not how my character has to be an example to all other races of how all black people will not rob them by gunpoint.  I just want to be who I am and not worry that you are judging me and trying to assess my blackness because I can do that for myself.

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