An Open Letter to Kim Lute, A Light Skin Black Woman with a Personal Problem

Hi Sister,

I write this letter in unapologetic Black Love. Like many, I read your article published on both For Harriet and Huffington Post. Given that you chose to publish on these notable outlets, it’s clear you had an ambitious desire to publicly promote your truth.

As a fellow writer, I completely understand that desire. As a Black woman in the blogosphere, I, too, feel that yearning to stand out and appear strong in an extremely saturated digital niche. We have to ensure that our work is engaging, emotional, and polarizing. Within these tight confines of expressing our voice in ways that attract an audience while holding true to our racial and social identity, mistakes are made.

The pro-Black worldview is already controversial because it’s an uncompromising refutation of the white supremacist status quo. We must be responsible in our written labor; paying sensitive attention to detail, performing thorough scholarship of racial nuances, and ultimately being intentional — every sentence needs to stick to the pro-Black narrative.

This labor is not easy. Especially under the predatory purview of white gaze — a parasitic phenomenon that hungers for our missteps and oversights as a means to dismiss the entire pro-Black framework. This added layer of white gaze demands emotional barriers and intellectual fluency. It’s an unfair burden — surely — but it’s one we choose to undertake in this work.

This in mind, I get what you were trying to do. You tried to deliver a pro-Black narrative wrapped around your personal experiences. You tried to humanize dark skin women. You tried to analyze colorism as an accusation of white supremacy and racial hierarchies.

Except you failed.

For one, your titles (on both platforms) reaffirm white supremacist stereotypes of Black women as jealous and socially problematic. On For Harriet, you lead with “Black Women Don’t Want to Befriend Me.” On HuffPost, “The Problem With Black Women.” Neither of these titles suggest personal responsibility for your perceived contention with dark skinned Black women. Instead, you make a sweeping generalization that’s easily refutable, and extremely offensive.

But I understand clickbait. Those headlines are hard to miss.

 

The real issues are found in the limbs of your article. You describe your peach white skin and green eyes in florid tone which, in of itself, is fine. But your description stands in stark juxtaposition to the eye-rollin’, finger-snappin’ dark skin Black girls who suck their teeth at you in envy.

This is how you characterized us — us dark skinned Black girls who you pushed to a corner and vilified.

Your offensiveness was further exacerbated when you highlighted the relative ease with which you form friendships with white women. You implied that they’re nicer than us, and are most ideal in fostering bonds because there’s no competition, pushiness, or talk back.

“Since moving to Atlanta in the millennia, I’ve befriended mostly white women. Why? The unvarnished truth lies somewhere between my own emotional hang-ups and the fact that most of the darker black women I’ve met are competitive, strident, pushy and critical of my decisions. As such, it’s been easier to socialize with those women who value my friendship without stipulations and constant backtalk.”

In these words, you sound like that cohort of Black men who exclusively date white women who are supposedly less mouthy, less bitter, and more passive than (dark skin) Black women. It’s in these words that harm truly lies because you venerate white women at the expense of chastising and mongrelizing dark skinned Black women; a direct avouchment for and indicator of white supremacy.

And there’s your romanticization of dark skin Black girls. In a tone hinging on white gaze, you stare at us dark skinned girls at a distance, picking apart our looks and friendships with an aroused curiosity that intimidates you into inaction.

“I’ve been jealous of those with richer, darker skin, those with almond eyes and wavy, fuller hair. In fact, every time I see a gaggle of darker black girlfriends I can’t help but long for their camaraderie, their sincere compatibility.”

Colorism is painful. I’m dark skinned and have dealt with Dark Girl Trauma. I also recognize that the experiences of light skin Black women are valid. That there’s a particular hardship that light skinned Black girls face with racial identity.

At the heart of your article, that’s what (I think) you’re speaking from. Light Girl Trauma. And it’s okay to speak from your pain. But you didn’t address your Trauma from a point of privilege or with any analysis of Dark Girl Trauma. Instead, you spoke from your proximity to whiteness — using the same tools and tropes that white supremacist systems use to keep dark girls locked at the very bottom of the Black underclass.

It’s never the fault of the oppressed to fix their oppression. But you put the onus on us dark girls to be more receptive to you. And quite honestly, I understand why some in your life refused to take on that responsibility. It’s a heavy burden to heal another’s traumas and insecurities while going through your own.

“We can only lay blame at the feet of a bigoted and divisive American for so long before our oppressions become self-inflicted.”

I echo your call for open dialogue within the Black community. I also agree that some of our treatment towards one another is, in some ways, a self-fulfilling prophecy. But I’ll forever blame white supremacy for the supposed self-infliction. When stabbed and raped repeatedly, the wounds will bleed.

So forgive me as I swerve my hips. I do so for myself, not as a slight towards you. Forgive me if I’m distant. I need to protect myself from your prejudices. But I love you. Because in my radical Black Love, I work through the pain of racism and patriarchy with the ultimate end of ensuring Black spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical survival.

I see your Light Girl Trauma, and in some ways, I understand it. But do you see my Dark Girl Trauma? Do you hear it? Feel it? Take responsibility for activating some parts of it?

You’re right. These conversations are difficult, and we need to take agency, hold space, and work. But we shouldn’t rely on white supremacist paradigms to guide our conversations. We shouldn’t validate white supremacist functions as a means of survival.

So let’s start over.

Your Dark Skinned, Hip-Swervin’ Sister,

Arielle

*Featured Image Credit: www.pinterest.com

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

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18 responses to “An Open Letter to Kim Lute, A Light Skin Black Woman with a Personal Problem

      • My favorite passage. You really nailed it!
        “Colorism is painful. I’m dark skinned and have dealt with Dark Girl Trauma. I also recognize that the experiences of light skin Black women are valid. That there’s a particular hardship that light skinned Black girls face with racial identity.

        At the heart of your article, that’s what (I think) you’re speaking from. Light Girl Trauma. And it’s okay to speak from your pain. But you didn’t address your Trauma from a point of privilege or with any analysis of Dark Girl Trauma. Instead, you spoke from your proximity to whiteness — using the same tools and tropes that white supremacist systems use to keep dark girls locked at the very bottom of the Black underclass.”

        Like

  1. I am decades older than the Millennials generation, so having access to the impressions of younger people through subscribing to this blog has been very exciting for me. I am appreciative of the opportunity. However, it seems that there remains a focus on hair and skin color that hasn’t changed since my young adulthood, or my mother’s or my grandmother’s, or my great-grandmother’s. All your intelligence and education, and access and yet here we are mired in retrogressive attitudes. I know you must have more on your minds than this. If not, I despair.

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    • You are so right… they ways we cut off our eyes from our brains and insist we still can see. We insist that it is the other person with their eyes cut out who is the blind one.

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    • Noreen, Im also a few decades older than the Millenials and I agree with you. As a dark skinned woman I want to state that I have found my whole life through that there will we some who love the way I look and others who don’t. I know for a fact that what you think about the way you look will be mirrored back to you in other peoples behaviour. For as long as Black Girl Trauma is a valued topic of discussion and constantly on people’s minds they will keep experiencing it. How about looking for some Black Girl Love. Ask Robert De Niro, David Bowie or Barack Obama about loving some dark skinned girls. Im just saying that there is another side to every story, keep it balanced.

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  2. I am an Afro-Latina, so I’m considered a dark girl in one community and a light girl in another, so I’ve experienced both sides. I’ve read both of your pieces and hers and everyone has valid points (even if hers were clumsily made). My question is-and I ask because I do believe there is a misappropriated anger there sometimes- why do you believe the onus of changing the dialogue is on the “privileged” light folk?
    I ask this because while lot of our issues are in-house (beauty standards, dating/mate selection, etc) and can be dealt with, no matter how light light folks are-they are still BLACK, which means we don’t control much outside, and are still subjected to discrimination, even in environments where we may be allowed in where our darker brothers and sisters are not. Lighter skinned Black people are TOLERATED more at best, not welcomed, and get reminded of their “place” often. It was an important point she made that got really lost in the hyperbole. We can speak up, but we’re still black. Light skinned people may get hired more-but they’re still Black, they don’t influence hiring decisions because they aren’t exactly letting us in that door because BLACK. We aren’t even considered a beauty standard if you REALLY look at what the “white” magazines are saying, it’s literally more, “ok you’ll do because you’re a bit more familiar.”
    You noted that “here’s a particular hardship that light skinned Black girls face with racial identity.”…but there is still a particular hardship light girls face because BLACK. What would you have us do when there’s little we can change because in the end, we are not white, not even close?

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    • I agree. We arent seen as black enough by our own people and we damn sure aint white enough for the other side. For the most part i completely agreed with the the post (not the light skin girl’s article) up until the “take part in activating some of it”. The white man activated this. Its unfair to place any of the blame on ppl born into the situation

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  3. Well I think she is brave for bringing to light experiences that light skinned black women have to deal with. She does not need to bring up privalage or dark skinned women’s trauma when talking about negative experiences of light skinned black women. This article was to let other black women who experience this treatment that they are not alone.

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  4. This was a very great read! I loved the feedback also. I too agree that even in her failure to sensitively communicate her experiences to us, I applaud her courageous attempt. Unfortunately, not everyone is knowledgeable enough or eloquent enough to express themselves in a way that addresses the problem without reinforcing it. I’m guilty of that myself. However, I don’t know her to make excuses for her – only myself and others that I know lol.

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  5. Feeling apprehensive typing a response to you because I am a white girl. My first instinct was to quietly take your account to heart without comment. I’m nearly paralyzed with fear that my presence or words might cause you or your readers more pain.

    Then I called bullshit on myself.

    I shouldn’t let my fear of rejection keep me from humbly thanking you for offering a window into yourself. I ache for your pain and suffering so eloquently shared. You matter. You deserve to be safe and healthy; fulfilled and happy.

    With greatest sincerity, I hope a few words of support and kindness make your load lighter in this treacherous country. Even if only for a moment.

    Last, I’d like to unapologetically tell you I believe you are absolutely stunning.

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  6. “So forgive me as I swerve my hips. I do so for myself, not as a slight towards you. Forgive me if I’m distant. I need to protect myself from your prejudices. But I love you. Because in my radical Black Love, I work through the pain of racism and patriarchy with the ultimate end of ensuring Black spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical survival.” (This summed-it-up for me, quite frankly, in a nutshell. I can appreciate everyone’s personal struggles but I respect and concur with Miss Ariel’s statement. BRAVO!!

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  7. This is an addendum to my last comment:

    My father game me something to push against. He gave me the opportunity to strengthen my resolve to Love Myself, and honor my own vision for my Life. The experience made me who I am today, and can honestly say that I continue to fall more and more in love with that person every day.

    My greatest trauma has also become my greatest gift. That is something k can be grateful for.

    Like

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