“All of the stars, you make them shine like they were ours…Ain’t nobody in the world but you and I…You and I…Ain’t nobody in the world but you and I…- You & I (Nobody In The World), John Legend
This song doesn’t go with this post. At all. It’s been a very tough go recently (writing and awesome friends have helped) and this song is quite meaningful to me and for a person who’s world was shattered a couple of weeks ago. Love you. Always.
A friend of mine recently posted an article on Facebook that sparked some interesting discussion amongst her FB friends AND made me reflect on my experiences. The article is called “The Question Light-Skinned Black Women Say They’re Always Asked” and here’s the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/16/light-girls-what-are-you_n_6490038.html.
If you don’t have time to read it or watch the video (yikes), I’ll summarize it (a bit) for you. The piece features several light-skinned women who “share the common experience of being questioned about their race.” Apparently, this is a preview of a new documentary called “Light Girls” (http://www.oprah.com/app/light-girls.html).
Now. I’m not light-skinned. I’m brown-skinned. My daughter, though, has light skin and light eyes. Until the age of 5, her eyes were blue. They’re greenish/grayish now.
So she’s clearly lighter than me, and from the time she was born, people have asked me if she’s biracial. Or mixed. Or my kid (gasp!). Or something. And now that she can answer for herself, they ask her directly…”What are you?”.
When she’s answers that she’s black, the next question is often about the race of her father (I’m generally with her or they may have met me so they see that I’m a brown-skinned lady…I was gonna type a brown skinned cutie but I don’t want y’all to think I’m completely full of myself…But I digress…).
“You must be mixed.” “Is your dad white?”
So why do we do this? Actress Tatyana Ali had this to say, “There’s a safety in being able to categorize you or categorize a person. ”You can assign all of your preconceived ideas about who this person is: the type of person they are, what kind of behavior you can expect from them — only if they know what you are.”
Is this the reason? Are people more comfortable with folks who they can categorize? And if you’re black and you’re skin is lighter does that somehow help you? Does it matter? Does it somehow help to know whether or not my daughter’s father is white? I don’t know.
From the article, “Soledad O’Brien, an award-winning journalist and news anchor, says she was shopping for a new coat when the sales person behind the register asked her: “What are you?” When O’Brien responded that she is black, she says the sales person refused to believe her. “She said, ‘No, no, you’re not black. Because black people are thieves. So, what are you?’”
Ummm. WOW. Advantage #teamlightskinned?
Skin color has definitely always been a “thing” (ever heard of the brown paper bag test?). Is it generally the first thing people focus on when they meet light skinned women (or men)? No one asks me where I’m from before they get to know me…
Help me out world. What’s the deal? And be honest!
All of the stars, they don’t shine brighter than you are…Ain’t nobody in the world but you and I…You and I…You and I…
Nobody in the world tonight…Ain’t nobody in the world but you and I…