Skin We In

I am reposting this because Jaimie has an interesting post on how girls treat one another and specifically how she was treated by other girls while in high school. It seems as though people assumed that she had an issue with dark-skinned black girls when in fact that was not the case. So, it seems that the light skin/dark skin debate rages on.

Observation: While Reading "Blacker the Berry" I thought about an essay I wrote seversal years ago. What is sad is that I wrote this essay almost 70 years after "Blacker the Berry" was written - have we advanced that little over the decades?

Skin We In
Somehow, I thought we were past this. For some strange reason, I was feeling optimistic about the plight of my Black people in our dealing with the complexities of complexion. I was overjoyed with the thought of Black people converting color-conscience conversations into livid love-talk of luscious Blackness, in all its likeness. ‘Twas that all a lie?

I am now descending into an abyss of self-hating slogans of “I got good hair” and “light-skin ain’t in.” My television reeks of music videos carefully coloring my sub-conscience with unsheathed creamy colored women disguised as the representation of Black beauty. Perfectly manicured figures frolic across my screen as Black men raise them to the epitome of lust with paraplegic lyrics disguised as love songs. When will the shades of my people find its way from the shadows of self-hatred? Where is the future of Blackness in a society that is increasingly becoming a collage of black, brown and white skin? Are we going to continue the plight of perms versus naturally wavy hair while still trying to figure out the definition of Black?


Black is bad. Black is the bad guy on the silver screen. Bad guys wear black to hide their riding into town with nothing but rape and pillage on their minds. They shoot folks in the back while scratching their black beards. From their black hats to their black boots, their attire matches the indulgence for the impurities that reside in their inherently cursed souls. But put black on the skin of a woman and she will symbolize the essence of strength, courage and dignity. Color a woman black and she will lead slaves to freedom and spark a revolution of inclusion with a defiant “I shall not be moved”. Then Black becomes beautiful.

Black is Evil. Black represents the dark side of man. That side that allows him to pillage a village, enslave entire cultures and commit genocide in the name of progress. Black is the bloodsucking nature of man as he strives to be his own deity and clone his likeness and then call it science. But put black on the skin of a man and he will march from Memphis to Selma in the name of righteousness. Color a man black and he will speak to a subdued people and lift them with words of his dreams. He will tell you to “keep hope alive” and request a million Black men to seek atonement, and they will answer. Then Black becomes beautiful.

Black is still beautiful because Black is the only thing I see when I look in the mirror. That symbolic mirror is the mirror I see when someone hands me a child. That mirror is that nod of acknowledgement that brothers give to each other as we pass one another on the street. That mirror is the attained dreams of every Black person that came before us and left instruction on how to get to the promise land.

Black is beautiful because Black love is still alive. No matter how they paint us in the movies, Black love is still alive. No matter how many television shows they create to depict our comedy as buffoonery, Black love will continue. Black love will always rise if we remember that it is God who made us, man who shaded us and common experience that unifies us. Sisters and brothers, paint your nails, weave your hair, curl your do but eliminate the notion that one shade is better than the other. Because the only thing that counts, that you can look in that mirror and be proud of the skin that you are in? If you can, then your Black is beautiful.


9 Responses to Skin We In

  1. privatedancer01 Says:
    Very good...
  2. Black Ambition Says:
    Wow, that was excellent. It was so personal and yet I think so many black people, especially black women can relate to your words. Loved it.
  3. Malik Says:
  4. Rell Says:
    it was good stuff, i agree with malik...
  5. Cynthia Says:
    James: Now you know - I was the only one that raised the question based on what Jamie said: (I am biracial, which equates to: long curly hair, light skin, straight nose (ok-in other words: as close to a pretty white girl while still being black without officially being white).

    As I said to Jamie, if this wasn't the case, surely you can see why anyone can come to that conclusion. If she was talking about other kids who were mixed, they were all in the same boat and this statement wouldn't have applied. F

    All in all, this is a great post and your post to me is totally different than what Jamie was talking about. When I read Jamie's post, I even let someone else read it before I made a comment. They came to the same conclusion that I did. This is why her post disturbed me. Also, DCS came back with my daughter is lighter skin than me, and she is having a problem. So, that was another reason for my statement.

    If my statement was incorrect, then it is incorrect. In the future, I will leave those kinds of comments alone. I guess this is an annoying habit of mines. I should have said what everyone else said. My apologies to you and Jamie.
  6. James Manning Says:
    Cynt, now you've been on this blog for a while so you know i speak my mind and don't give a damn who i offend - and i'm not easily offended. i've been banned from enough conservative blogs to let me know that some folks just get ticked. i didn't read her blog the way you did - but you don't have to apoligize to me - that conversation is the two of you to debate.

    i just posted this because i thought that it was interesting that this is still a topic. actually, i think we should go ahead and blog about and get it out there...

    again, i piss enough folks off with my comments to know not to get fired up about things like this. you cool me... keep blogging.
  7. Deb S. Says:
    I echo the sentiment of others. Beautiful post.
  8. Jo Says:
    *sigh* Why do I always feel like I need to take smart pills when I read your blog? Your writing, as always, was great, but I'm afraid I don't get it. I think I'm going to re-read everything, try to get smarter, and actually try to write an intelligent blog entry for a change. You've inspired me!!
  9. James Manning Says:
    Appreciate everyone's comments. This is one of my favorite essays. Jo, I just try to bring the real, but if you really want to read some smart folks try Mahndisa, Malik, Dell and Rashid's blogs. They really put it when it comes to intelligent writing.