The blacker the berry….

African human skin mask opposite
African human skin mask opposite (Photo credit: LaggedOnUser)


There is an old saying, the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice. That saying came to mind when I viewed a picture of one of my Facebook friends. The woman, her mother and her daughter are lovely and dark brown. The color of your favorite chocolate. So I thought of complimenting her about this but since I don’t know her all that well I was not certain how she would respond.


My mother is also a wonderful dark-complexioned woman Skin color can be a touchy subject in our community. I noticed that one of the supervisors at work has tanned a little and it looks good on her. For every person who has grown to accept his or her skin color there are others who wish that their color and the features that came with it were very different.


I saw a Marlon Riggs documentary about skin color in the African-American community and found it very enlightening. This despite the fact I was not a very young man when I saw it. I had read about the black and white dolls experiment that uncovered a preference for white dolls among the children subjected to racist inferior education. This experiment was referenced in the famous Brown  decision leading to school desegregation.


The black atheist Facebook groups I belong to regularly feature discussions about whether black women who use weaves in their hair have low self-esteem. This is not to mention those who add red, yellow or other colors to their hair. By going against the way our parents made us, we are somehow becoming self-haters. Even First Lady Michele Obama is not immune from these accusations. When she spoke recently at an important public meeting, a lot of people took to twitter to comment about her bangs. In 2013, a woman is being judged not by the content of her character, but by the content of her hair.


How can we truly demonstrate to others how much we value or ancestry? Is it through buying exclusively from African-American stores? Is it through dating people of our skin color? Is it through wearing African clothing and referring to ourselves as Africans? Notice that I have not referred to athletes and entertainers whose wealth exempts them from many of the rules that govern the rest of black America. I am talking about the accountant at your agency. The teacher at your school. And the woman who bags your groceries. These women and men you may encounter for brief moments while silently judging them. Do you feel that they are black enough for you and on what basis do you decide this? How will we know what black is and what black aint, to reference Marlon Riggs once more.





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