Thursday, May 26, 2011

She's Pretty ... being #BlackInTheCity

I have heard it time and time again, "You talk white."  And each time I never have a response.

What does it mean, to talk white?

Until a good friend of mine created the perfect comeback after an Arab man in a gas station repeated the phrase to me, her reply, "It's because she's educated."  She mixed in the proper amount of sass with an informative motherly gaze, and later told me that her sons (5 and 4) have been dealing with the same accusation of sounding white as well.

Most people don't understand differences in sound, color and size amongst the divides of race, the conversation gets deeper when these divides are within a racial construct.  Me sounding white is an oxymoron, because I am noticeably a darkskin black girl, and then there's the dreads.  Apparently dark skin black girls are supposed to be loud, obnoxious and ghetto, with speech patterns that mimic rap lyrics.  Not the case in my situation, or that of my close colleagues.

*Most recently while chatting with @LovePublicity I mentioned that I was "conversing" with other professionals about some event, she interrupted with "Don't you mean 'conversatin'? As we both broke out in hysterical laughter I realized that most people don't really know the later isn't a word.

Now, I have been known to use certain words in jest, but common conversation would never find me peppering speech with grammatical mistakes.  I have been reading books for too long to make minor up-chucks in prose.

But what other issues assist in creating this misconception of black women?

My Family ... Dad an Mom are in front
Of course, the idea of color.  Now my family is not at all mixed ... my father is a handsome darkskin man, and my mom is a little, actually she's quite fair, much like the members of her family who all seem to be a shade or three lighter than my sis and myself.  But I don't ever remember being ridiculed for it or feeling bad until I went to high school.  There I found that "lightskin, long hair" chicks were all the rage.  And at that time, I had a wild and crazy afro, so I really had no chance.

I remember two guys, revealing that they had a crush on me, but both of them had girlfriends that were either mixed or could be mistaken for such.  And another gentlemen who I felt was a nice guy questioned continuously my choice of hairstyle, stating that I'd "never make it in the professional world with an afro".

(Newsflash bro .. check me out)

Pretty for a ...
you bet not finish that sentence!
But no one out right told me that I wasn't pretty because I was dark skin, nevertheless there were girls in my classes that would be endlessly called out for their "darkness", to the point where one decided, mid-sophomore year, to wear blue contacts and a long weave for the remainder of her high school career.  It was confusing how quickly the ridicule stopped.  They accepted her as the pretty woman she was, even though she had to filter herself.

Later on I encountered a friends' father who would constantly refer to me as her "darkskin" friend.  He himself wasn't even that light, and the comments really didn't hurt me, however as a grown man, I wondered how would fall victim to differentiating me by my complexion.  Both myself, and his daughter we black, right?  The classification just didn't seem necessary.

Most recently @BLACMagazine featured a video via twitter of a new documentary focusing on the history of the divide in the definition of beauty in the black community and it really hit a sensitive spot.  I addressed how black people saw dark and light skin women ... and its noticeable ... amongst most communities, the darker a person is, the less pretty, the less smart or the less happy you are.  Despite the amount of talent, the amount of potential your education or experiences have endowed you, this is something millions of people deal with.
(Like, why is Beyonce more popular than Kelly? Seriously, I just jumped a ton of guns...but I'm just saying.)

Peep the video that inspired this post

Well, now at 26-years old, living in Texas, people that I never would think have told me that I was pretty (yes, I am talking about white men).  I don't know if its the exoticism that is talked about, I've never thought that I was exotic by the least, I am American (of African descent as my mom puts it).

Can one American appear exotic to another American?

Its all quite a confusing argument.  I guess for now, I'll just be #BlackInTheCity and see how far that takes me.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.


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