Dark Girls in Trauma: An Open Letter to Rashida Marie Strober

Hi Sister,

I pray you’re doing well in your 15 minutes of digital limelight. Like everyone, I read your Facebook post prominently featured on Bossip. I take serious issue with that barely-there “article.” With no context, nuance, or consideration, they allowed your violent language to stand alone.

Oh Sis, don’t get me twisted or confused. I disagree with you wholeheartedly. Your language was more than offensive or hurtful … it was counterproductive, misdirected, and violent. Your words were little more than a socio-political impediment — words that not only cripple the fragile Movement for Black Liberation, but work in stark refutation to it.

But your words come from a place of pain. I call that pain Dark Girl Trauma; the unique anguish that comes with being blessed with dark, unequivocal skin. The Trauma is a piercing result of constantly being told that our skin is ugly, unacceptable, and subordinate. From schoolyard taunts to a lack of cultural representation in media, fashion, business, and other suffocating institutions smeared in white supremacy, Dark Girl Trauma is the claustrophobic result of an omnipresent white supremacist system festering in racial and patriarchal inequity.

I’ve suffered from it too. Being called “burnt” and “ugly” by classmates took its toll on my self esteem. In college, I thought the anti-darkgirl ignorance was behind me; as kids we say and do stupid things, but then we learn, grow, and come to accept people for who they are despite what they look like. I was proven wrong when a drunken white frat boy told me I was “beautiful, but black as hell.” My Trauma kicked in and had me cowering in anxiety while white onlookers stared in awkward disbelief. In that moment, in spite of myself, I reverted back to my childhood, when I wished for passable toffee-colored skin.

I don’t know you, but I’m sure you’ve had experiences quite similar. And I’m sure these experiences made you the self-proclaimed “Dark Skin Activist” you claim to be.

But Sister-to-Sister, Dark Girl-to-Dark Girl, you’re not breaking down barriers, you’re only reinforcing them. Your apparent hate for light skin Black women is a principle act in reaffirming white supremacy. Divide and conquer tactics is not uncommon nor unfamiliar; from the division of house and field slaves, white supremacy forced us to believe that the shade of our Black skin is a credible difference.

But it isn’t — we’re all Black. And I implore you to celebrate the magical diversity of Blackness. Blackness is stronger than one shade. Blackness is a testament to our genetic strength; taking many adaptive forms, Blackness lives in multiple shades of skin as a mark of cultural survival and social endurance.

I’m not gonna pretend that I didn’t once hold prejudice against light skin Black women at one point in time. In those moment, my Dark Girl Trauma made me weak and vulnerable to the woes of white supremacy. But when I divulged myself in racial justice work, and saw the passion of Blackness illuminating through skin both lighter and darker than mine, I compelled myself to denounce the mis-teachings of white supremacy, and unlearn its cruelty.

I think you’d do better to do the same.

The burden of hate is a heavy one to hold. Hate white supremacy as a network of socioeconomic institutions dead set on destroying Black communities. Hate racism and how it’s so embedded in abstract subconsciousness. Hate patriarchy and how it enables gender based violence, rape culture, and the mongrelization of Black bodies with relative ease.

But never hate Black people.

Your anger is misdirected. Your horizontal hostility is a time-wasting distraction. But I know where it comes from. I hear you. I see you. And I love you enough to tell you that your Dark Girl Trauma is valid, but that actions you take in an attempt to heal it, are wrong.

In Black Love,

Arielle

*Feature Image Credit: www.bossip.com.

photo 1Arielle Newton, Founder/Editor-in-Chief. Get at me @arielle_newton. Get at us @BlkMillennials.

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97 responses to “Dark Girls in Trauma: An Open Letter to Rashida Marie Strober

  1. Thats what i was trying to tell her. I however Did not have the patience to neatly organize it, and type it in a form of a letter to her. So i simply pointed out the division/conquering that the supremacy Created in order to substantiate the indoor (socially accepted) slave or the field worker away from the self proclaimed alpha specimens. Comparing her to the full of hatred field worker, whom despises the light skinned girls working indoors, probably slept in beds unlike the field workers. Anyways i may have been a lil rough on oh girl i did not consider her childhood abuse, oh well.

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    • Black is beautiful in all colors , light skinned, dark skin, blue black, purple it don’t matter.We are still BLACK!!!!! We have more important things to worry about like these White cops killing our BLACK BROTHAS !!!!!!!!

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  2. The letter was well written. The pics are too light. I’m a photographer so I understand how natural light can make you appear lighter and have a nice glow. I get that. It happens to me as well. I still manage to take pictures of my true complexion as well. I’m not saying that you deliberately take pictures in the sun to appear lighter, I’m just saying post pics that show your true complexion as well.

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  3. Both women have good points but at the end of the day this is trivial and gets us no where spiritually. If we focus more on the soul journey, meditating, yoga and practtce looking everyone in the eyes and see ourselves we’d get so much further.

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    • Colourism really isn’t trivial to those at the receiving end of it all, that being dark skinned women. All you have to do is go to her Facebook or YouTube, and you’ll see a bunch of black men, delusional Kendrick Lamar fans, and light skinned women throwing colourist abuse at her, further fuelling her anger and resentment.

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  4. I’m a dark girl, not dark enough for specified name-calling but, enough to be over looked & looked down uponby those who are what is known as color struck & even that didn’t bother me much for very long as one day I quickly came to the realization when I thought about the true attractiveness of a lighter girl for which I’d been passed over for & decided to myself that that the back of my ass was prettier than her face & it was something that I had no control over & therefor had to let go or consign myself to misery for the rest of my life which I was not willing to do & that there were plenty others who found my looks attractive & that black men weren’t the only game in town so, screw ’em if they were too blind & I haven’t looked back not once, onward & upward & no regrets

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  5. @Arielle the words you spoke were good and great. But you said nothing that had not been said before. What needed to be said was why brothers, seem to have bought into the same beliefs system that white people have about brown or dark skin ladies. Even though their mothers look like us. They are not attracted to brown or dark skin ladies. That is what is hurting and needed to be addressed. We could care less what white people think of us. It is our own brothers that are hurting us and letting us down. Despite we have always been in the struggle together. Now who is left to hold us down. It seems the brothers have thrown us away as well…..

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  6. I have read the letters with interest and compassion. I think back, on my childhood. I was born, reared, and educated, in Houston, Texas. I am a child, of the thirties. I am looking forward, to my 83rd birthday, in May. My parents were of two different skin tones. My father was dark and my mother was fair. I fell in between the two, color wise. My memories of “difference” concern my experiences at church. I was reared Roman Catholic. I attended a Catholic church. The priests were all white. The children in attendance, ranked in skin tone, from dark, to white, but were all Black. The “white” Black girls, who sat next to me, at children’s mass, were so racist, that when our summer dresses accidentally touched, they would “flinch” and draw back, in fear. When we, as young children, would walk up to “father” (the priest) for hugs, he would gently push those of us (me) of color, aside and hug all of the “white” Black children, over and over. When we were taking catechism lessons, for First Communion and Confirmation, we had to give answers verbatim, to the questions. I memorized the catechism booklet, from beginning to end, while studying, for First Communion. When I began lessons for Confirmation, I already knew the answers. The priest would give the “white” Black children, every opportunity, to answer the questions. Those of us, of color, would get just one chance. Strange to say, The darker ones (me) were the smartest. We always knew the answers. My mother always attended catechism classes, with me. She saw what was going on and she did not like it, one bit. She would speak up and out, for all of the children, whom the priest tried to treat, unfairly. They tried to ban her, from attendance, but she would not allow, for that. All of the darker children (me) appreciated her being there. In my formative years, I chose my friends, without realizing it, by skin tones. All of my friends were either my skin tone, or darker. Once I realized what I was doing, I embraced people of many skin tones. Now, my friends are like a small “United Nations.” They are of many skin tones and ethnicities. I never forgot those childhood experiences, but I NEVER allowed them to control, or ruin my life. I have the kind of personality, that people gravitate to me. I have a sense of humor and a quick smile. I LOVE PEOPLE! I left my past, in the past. I have never forgotten, but I did not allow those things to blacken my spirit. To all of you who bear that hurt, I say, look beyond! Blessings!

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  7. All pain hurts the same.
    All life began on the African continent, thus we are are all sisters and all shades of brown.
    God Bless Us All, Everone!

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  8. Its very hurtful to read these article. I am light skinned. I have always felt not all the way accepted by my people. I do understand the dark girl trauma. I don’t think a lot of people understand light skinned trauma. Not fitting and in anywhere. Wishing my skin was darker so my blackness is not questioned. I love all blackness. I wish all sisters could get along. Who cares ur color ur hair type. We all have to love each other.

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  9. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, it’s a tad bit ignorant.of anyone to speculate on Kendrick ‘ motives or intentions behind marrying the woman he loves. We are so quick to want to label all men would marry light skin women as misguided or “anti” dark skinned women and to do that, perpetuates the same ignorance and consciousness that created this whole mess. While I am completely aware perceptions of color that plague our race and the stereotypes associated with them, I believe we must be careful when asserting our opinions on the masses as though they are facts. I read the article this woman wrote about Kendrick Lamar and under the psuedo veil of activism, she spewed hate, ignorance and pain – all under the guise of the plight of the dark skinned woman. Personally, I found her words to be appalling and disrespectful to say the least and as a so-called educated and enlightened woman, she should have allowed wisdom and enlightenment to reflect in her words, yet she chose the opposite. Kendrick has nothing to prove and owes us nothing.

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  10. As a dark skin black woman I have always loved my skin color. I always thought it to be unique. Once I realize how white women was trying to get their skin like ours that really confirm my uniqueness. I always thought that black people were a rainbow of beige to all colors of brown. Then when I would look at the older dark skin women their skin was beautiful and did not wrinkle like white skin. I love my color even more. I knew then and now that I am older no wrinkles.

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  11. Perfect. So absolutely perfect.I wish there were more like you. I’m trying to get our people to read the Willie Lynch letter. He’s winning. His system is still working like he swore it would. Been awake since I read it. I digress, you handled this situation so amazingly well. Thank you.

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  12. If Rashida Strober is an “Angry Black Women” that’s filled with hate then every last one of those Black protesters in Ferguson, MO is a hate filled militant. Black America’s true anti-black colors are showing.

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  13. Stupid Black Americans! Abandon this one drop rule!!

    I knew what his fiancée looked like for a while now. Kendrick has addressed his hypocritical ways in the song “the blacker the berry”, and that takes a lot of courage. I do feel that there are varying degrees of the levels of commitment to this movement.
    Although she isn’t black, she is mixed…now granted, she is privileged but not the most privileged …still, she holds a higher status among black women and has been at the top of the ‘food chain’ among blacks for some time.

    Many light skinned women are very rude, arrogant and act as if their superior. The very same blacks who say “we’re all black” treat light skinned like Gods. Y’all are a bunch of color obsessed, color struck liars and hypocrites. All this praising of them is what is maintaining white supremacy!!!

    Now, kendrick knew this women( his soul mate) before the celebrity status, big career and wealth. But I must wonder if he wishes he liked black women more than he does. He knows she( the fiancée) fits into the accepted range of standards of beauty in America and the music industry. Sometimes so called pro black men also date outside their race*rolls eyes …some date a light skinned/mixed women as a cover up and a cop-out, all the while, hoping that others won’t point it out because the woman isn’t white but mixed. And well, to some “mixed” is “black”. Others like myself can admit the startling differences between the two. Everybody can clearly see it( unless they’re liars or truly colored blind), but not all will address the implications of light skin privilege. I must wonder how much he truly desires dark skinned women.

    I still support kendrick and his happiness. But the woman had some valid points!

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  14. Arielle – I’m glad you took the time to so articulately make this point, in a way that Ms. Rashida Marie Strober can (hopefully) understand. I read her “article” on this subject quite a long time ago, and was immediately turned off by her message, if it can even be called a message. Her basic premise is that because his fiancée isn’t “black enough,” that the Black Pride and powerful rhetoric he delivers to is is somehow disingenuous, and he has therefore sold out. Clearly the choice of who he wishes to marry is solely his own, and does not in any way affect his blackness or his endeavor to empower and inspire us all. This does, however, reveal Ms. Strober’s own insecurities and self-loathing with regard to her skin tone. Just because she is not comfortable with her level of blackness does not mean we should all hear her rallying cry to erroneously label one of our most important advocates a hypocrite, and gratuitously place them into categories of people we don’t like, nor support . In her eyes then, I’m the epitome of a sellout: a light-skin black man that is not engaged or married to a dark-skin woman. Perhaps worse still, she might crucify me for being married to a Puerto Rican woman. If the ethnicity of our partners or the skin tone of the people we choose to have relationships with determined our degree of cultural identity, a lot of black people have become Benedict Arnolds, if we let her tell it. I think her premise is faulty, and her justifications are even more dangerous. Thanks for bringing that to her attention in the most respectful and eloquent way possible.

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