Are you color struck? Do you find yourself saying things like, “She is so pretty to be so dark!?” or telling someone, “You better keep her out of the sun, you don’t want her to get to dark.” or my favorite when looking at someone’s newborn child you say, “Oh don’t worry she wont get too much darker.”
To be “color struck” as defined by UrbanDictionary.com is: To have an aversion to someone’s skin color, usually used in the African-American community.
I’d say that was an accurate description because these are all things that have been said to me in reference to my daughter by some of the matriarchs in my family. Did they mean to hurt me? No, I don’t think so, but what exactly do these comments mean or imply? I am the mother of a dark skinned daughter. I can’t believe I have to say this, but I am concerned about what all of these comments may eventually do to her self esteem.
I am a strong advocate of self love. I’ve celebrated diversity my entire adult life. In fact, I’ve dedicated my life to it. I am active in my neighborhood. I have planned community health fairs, raised awareness for the importance of mammograms, created cultural celebrations on my job, and now advocating natural hair health style and maintenance. So OF COURSE I get offended when I hear these ignorant comments. But what do you say to an old lady that was born in the 50’s (or earlier) and raised in the 60’s (or earlier) when they say stuff like this? You can’t change people so I never try. But I find myself explaining and excusing people’s ignorance to my child by saying “…she’s just color struck”. I ran into an old friend recently and I had my “Little Chick” with me. She was so happy to see me and I was happy to see her and introduce my daughter. First thing she says is, “Oh my she is so dark! but so pretty!” How am I supposed to react to that?
The other thing we get a lot of is older dark skinned women who clutch my child when they see her as if to let go of all of the pain that THEY went through having once been that dark skinned girl themselves. They say to her, “Don’t you EVER let anyone tell you that you are not beautiful.” Then often through tear filled eyes they say, “You ARE beautiful.” You can tell that they wished that someone had told them that when they were younger. Don’t get me wrong we appreciate these touching moments but it can get exhausting after awhile because my child does not know why this keeps happening and it happens ALL the time!
To add even more to this “definition of beauty” madness…since i have learned how to properly take care of my child’s natural hair it is long, thick, shiny and flowing. It reaches down to her mid-back. Apparently this is another anomaly. Since 2009 I’ve been posting her hair care regimen to YouTube and since 2009 we get questions about her heritage. “Why is your daughter’s hair like that? Is she mixed race?” “Are ya’ll Indian or something?” “Are your parents white? How does she have that hair and she is that dark!?” And the comments go on.
My daughter’s gorgeous hair is a result of me taking care of her hair and has nothing to do with her heritage. I don’t like to blame slavery for everything, and I don’t want to, but where does all of this come from? Nobody wants to be told that they hate themselves or that they have internal hatred for their own race. All of these comments come to me from other black women, so this must be our issue. Right? Regardless of what the source or the root of this problem is I need you to not bring it to me and my child.
Before you open your mouth, please consider how your words may affect a child forever. Here are some of the things you need to think about the next time you see a dark-skinned black child, or ANY unique child for that matter.
Think about what you are going to say. Your words could affect this child for the rest of their life.
Telling a little girl that she is “pretty to be so dark” is NOT a compliment!! I repeat. Telling a little girl that she is “pretty to be so dark” is NOT a compliment! (My other favorite is telling a big person that they have a “pretty face” but that’s for another post)
Remember that just because you experienced pain regarding your skin tone does not mean that all kids are going through what you went through.
Please do not cry every time you see a dark brown child. I know you mean well, but projecting your past pain onto a child who is happy and not yet aware that her own people will reject her is not fair. Her self esteem may have been just fine until she met you!
Realize that not everyone hates dark skin.
Some find it to be beautiful. I’m sorry that you have been taught to believe otherwise.
Stop asking people what their race is based on their hair texture or type.
I think its rude to inquire about a person’s race anyway. Black people CAN grow long and thick hair that is gorgeous. Its about proper maintenance. Not race. I am not even going to go into the “Good” hair, “Bad” hair thing. I don’t have the time.
Sometimes we do things because we don’t know any better or maybe because we don’t realize the impact that our actions and words may have. Now you know.
In your opinion where do these attitudes come from? Have you or your child experienced these types of comments? How do we begin to address this without being disrespectful to people that may not realize they are actually insulting you?
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