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,
*Feature Image Credit: www.bossip.com.