Color – Race – Is Their a Difference?

When I lived in Jersey, whenever a conversation about a new girl broke out the question was always asked, “What does she look like”. I got sick and tired of the first words always being, “she light skinned, she got pretty eyes………….” If I was interested, that description changed my mind immediately. My boy M got me to meet this chick whom he described as light skinned, but never said much else about her. Well there wasn’t much else to say. She was light skinned with no face, no body, and a personality to match. I was (am) light skinned, and I was color struck to the other extreme. I was drawn to chocolate. Any female lighter than me wouldn’t get a second look in Jersey because I HATED my color, although I LOVE my race. I had no brothers but plenty of male cousins that I felt looked better than I because of their color. I felt like the odd one in the bunch. I think this inferiority contributed to my shyness throughout grade school and high school.
When I ventured south to Richmond, Virginia my perspective changed but not for the better. One tradition here is when a baby is born they look at the baby’s ear color to see if the kid will be light skinned. Foolishness like that made me detest my color even more.
The rumor at that time was that the new University President was voted in due to a groundswell of support from women who thought he had pretty hair.
On campus, there were fellas called pretty boys. One female mistakenly called be a pretty boy and I mistakenly called her a………….. Ok any way. I apologized profusely, explaining to her that I didn’t fit that stereotype. Ironically the same way she typecast me, is the way I typecast light skinned girls on campus. If they were light, I assumed they were stuck up and would never look their way, not even for the time of day. I ended up dating one of the choclatiest girls I could find, and surely I missed out on some great friendships due to my own issues. In hindsight I realize the people I met were not as predictable as I assumed. Just like stupidity, stuck uppity came in all shades of black, not just pale, and I reacted to what I considered shallow thinking with more of the same. I didn’t believe in reincarnation but I always said I would come back as Big Daddy Kane or Kool Moe Dee. Anyway, my prejudices did nothing to bring unity to our campus and did nothing to change my skin, my complex (ion), or my internal conflicts which went way beyond skin color.
It took God delivering me from a number of things to change my perspective of me. Of course the biggest task was getting delivered from my own inferiority complex. Then it took me getting delivered from people and their hang-ups. So what if the kids in Paterson, NJ called me Howdy Doody? Who cares if they called me Ritchie Cunningham? And yes, when my wife asked my then 5 year old daughter, “What color is the new girl in her class”, my daughter replied, “She’s white like daddy”. You can laugh but I aint think it was funny. Fortunately I got over it and she should be off punishment by her 9th birthday. It took me until my early twenties, but I’m finally cool with my color (or lack thereof). Now if I could only do something about the freckles.


Well first off to be logical me color and race are different. In this world you are either Caucasian, Asian, or black. Or some mix of that. *lol*

That is why they always asking Hispanics to state if they are of African decent or not. Anyway...enough brainiac smack

I grew up in Texas and was blessed enough to come from a family that looks like a rainbow coalition so black has always been black to me. My mother and brother are a beautiful and chocolate skinned my dad's mom looks like a native American and her mother even more so. Yes I remember my great grandmother and great grandfather. I have folks light enough to pass in my family and folks dark enough to be in the back row of the cotton field. So I just never had the issues. Although I do have a thing for men with dark hair and fair skin (bumble bees) but I don't like 'em pretty. And I am equal opportunity I LOVES me some caramel and chocolate and all that is in between.

Anyway color is so complex everywhere and WE (all races) deal with it. Asians do the same thing we do. And well white folks do the opposite the better you can hold a tan... anyway.

Me I think of myself as right smack dab in the middle. Although some people have called me light skinned I can't pass NO paper bag test. I never really worried about my color one way or another. But I do remember having friends in high school who would NOT go out in the sun for fear of darkening up.

I remember I gave a friend a heart attack once because I was outside with my two roommates getting sun. I personally LOVE the way I look when darkened by the sun, she was about to SLAP me.

I wish I had some sun now. Its cold here in Boston. *lol*

Thanks for sharing

SLC said…
You'll have your (Texas)sun soon enough. Assuming that's your childhood picture you actually look like my sister only pretty. (she's gonna beat me) As far as the paper bag test, I couldn't get past the hair test. As far as my cousins go, being the only fatherless one probably made me ultra sensitive to other differences. I wouldn't mind the sun if it didn't multiply freckles. Glad to say I don't think my family noticed my issues.
Thanks for visit, wisdom, and laugh.
ZACK said…
Oh My God! (No blasphemy intended)

I'm the younger version of YOU! No wonder you like my blog so much.

However, this is the FIRST TIME that I have ever read about a light skinned man who didn't like his complexion. The grass is truly greener on the other side, or in your case, the skin is better in the other shade.

You have dark brothas who would do anything to be light, but not many of the converse. Light brothas usually would consider it a curse to be dark skinned.

But that's all negativity that has been engrained in our culture due to "outside influences".

This was a spectacular post. Please keep them coming!
Strongblkwmn said…
Like Zack, this is the first time I have ever heard a lightskinned man say he didn't like his complexion.

I'm somewhere in the middle on the complexion scale. I married a darkskinned man and have darkskinned children. They often joke that I would have been in the house if we were slaves and probably would not have met my husband. My son asked why they were all black and mommy was white when he was 3 or 4.

My husband's family genes are crazy. They all look just alike and have the prettiest, smoothest, dark skin. It's beautiful.

When my daughter was in kintergarden almost the entire class teased her about her complexion. She came home crying and wishing she was lighter. I took out one of our black history books and showed her pictures of all the powerful, darkskinned black people who have done wonderful things. I also sat her in front of the mirror and we went through every beautiful part of her face. She hasn't looked back since.

What bothers me more than anything is the problems we have amongst ourselves when it comes to color. Slavery really did a job on our people.
LMAO @ the you look like my sister but pretty. YOU WRONG. Only a brother can say that.

Yes sir that is me in my picture.

Man you are the first I heard, hell my uncle use to wash his hair with Tide so he go get Afrolicious or something like that.

I guess light skinned men were all the hype in the 90s back with El Debarge, Chris Williams, and Al B Sure. I'm surprised that others haven't heard of light skin folks who are so enamoured with it. It happens.

I don't appear often on my blog but in my blog Triplicate It has some pics of me family in our many shades of black.

Fitts said…
Wow, great thought provoking post! Keep them coming.

Kofi Bofah said…
Just floating through the blogosphere. I am about to read through and see what you got...
Kofi Bofah said…
Don't judge a book by its cover.

Must have been a culture shock coming from Jersey to Richmond.

They still haven't forgotten the Civil War in those parts.
SLC said…
OG my sister doesn't read the comments (At least I hope not).
Very nice photos on triplicate, and I stand by my previous comments regarding my sister. You look gooder

Hey Fitts. Guess I had to work of a different type of weight.

Culture shock is putting it mildly. We may be relocating to Georgia next year so the cultural learning curve will definitely increase.
Tarheel Born? Hmmmmmmmmmmm

Strong you are so right. School Daze was just a hint of the issues.
I love this post. It's funny, I'm not a redbone but I always wished I was darker. My mom's dad is chinese and I'm the darkest in the family. I would and still do lay in the sun all day to get a tan up until the last days of summer and then some. I use to secretly wish I could go to the tanning Salon to see what it would be like. My son is your complexion and I use to make him lay in the sun with me. I don't know where I got the shame so to speak of being lighter than... I like you have been delieverd by GOD of this and many other issues like my bodyshape and various other stereo types we've endured throughout our lives.

Love, peace & blessings!
Shanita Waters said…
Nice post... I must say this is the first time I've heard someone wish that they were darker. I'm brown skin and most of my siblings are either light-skinned or brown-skinned but I have one brother that's a lot darker than the rest of us.

I'll never forget when he was around 5 or 6 years old. He told me that he thought staying in the tub longer would make him clean and "white" like my light-skinned brother. Me being 8 years older than him, I explained to him that he is beautiful and God made him exactly how he wanted him to be dark and all.

SLC, God made you exactly how he wanted you to be too. I'm gald that He has delivered you from this complex.

This just goes to show, what we say truly does affect others.

Thanks, for sharing.
Fitts said…
I feel you bro, I went through some issues like what you mentioned, when I was growing up.

I actually had a complex about being light. Now I'm happy with being what God created me to be.
Dwane T. said…
You sound like every extremely light-skinned person I know (my wife, cousins, friends), they all wish they were darker, and I neve could understand why. Growing up in the late 70's / early 90's, when Prince, El Debarge, and all the other light-skinned straight/curly haired brothers were running things, I had a problem with my complexion, and I took it out on light-skinned women. I treated them like people who thought they were better than me, which really did make them too good for me... not because of their light skin, but because of my low self-esteem. Once I realized that I was a victim of my own prejudice, and not theirs, I opened the door up for sisters like my wife to walk through (but she still wishes she was darker).

Great Post!
Attorneymom said…
Sam, I have freckles on my nose. So we are in the same boat. LOL.

This is such a great post. Keep up the good work. Miss you on Character Corner. I have not been inspired to post lately. But I did find a story of a dying boy's last wish that really touched my soul.
Lanette said…
hey SLC it's your sister here,,, i see you have been talkin 'bout me on your blog!! wait until i see you!
anyway, i laughed out loud at the notion of my niece refering to you as "white". I guess she must have thought i was "white"to being that she has asked me 2x if you and i were twins..!
Keith said…
I've always considered myself to be a "Mocha" Brother..and I'm color struck too..All of my girlfriends were darker than me..
My wife is a dark skinned woman.
So We have that in common.
Hey there!

As a black and Puerto Rican woman, I am always annoyed when people think that Hispanic people have a racial category all to themselves!!

Black, White, Hispanic.



When I tell people that Puerto Ricans are an ethnic group and not a race, they do not comprehend that!!


I think it sounds sooo ignorant to hear black people describing themselves according to the DEGREE of brown in their skin...."my cousin TrayFanquanisha is medium-brown", they will say.

{shaking my head}
Gua said…
Very interesting post. Like others, I have never heard anyone voice "I wish I was a darker" before. I am amazed as to how "color" still confounds our race in 2008.
Strongblkwmn said…
Hello my blog friend. I miss your posts.

You've been tagged. The details are on my diary blog.