July 29, 2010

Dating and the Dark-Skinned Girl


Often times in the circle of close bloggers, who become friends, we get into debates (albeit friendly ones) but debates nonetheless. I happened to be on my "private" blog site reading a dear friend's blog. I love her to death and she's been like a big sister to me, helping me through my divorce as a shoulder to cry on and listening ear. And although I've never met her in person...I do consider her a friend (that may sound strange to most..but it isnt to bloggers!) She's a gorgeous Black and Mexican woman..living in southern Cal and raising her teenage son amazingly! I was reading her blog...and came across this:

Ok..just a random thought... What is with the expression "LSLH?" Because it's usually used in a negative way, I'm offended by it.It irks me to no end! I mean, does it make us less of a black women because we have lighter skin and long hair? So when I read blogs or websites that use that expression, I think it's sad. So what if I'm mixed, or my skins lighter, or my hair has some length! Society still views me as a BLACK WOMEN! I would never think to use an expression like DSSH! To me, it's offensive..plain and simple. Whenever an athlete or actor dates a "LSLH" women, folks say the meanest things..just so disappointing. Think about it.

I sat there for a minute before I responded. I told her yes..you are indeed a black woman..but light sisters do have an advantage. She,of course, didnt feel that way and  felt that in general as black women we have it hard. Of course I know my light sisters have it tough in the world..and get teased  and sometimes assaulted (sometimes for no reason other than being light)...but..surely she didnt think LSLH was a terrible, negative thing. To me, It was just a descriptor. Like..I'm "brown skinned w/ long locs" or.."slanted eyed with big boobs" (LOL)..whatever. SO before I gave her another answer...I sat and thought about my life.

I was teased for being dark as a kid. In the grand scheme of things on the color spectrum of blackness, I'm not on the SUPER dark scale, but I'm brown. I didnt have long hair, my hair was thin, fragile and weak and nappy.  And I got teased  more for that a whole lot. I never wanted to bleach my skin and I didnt grow up in a house that said things about skin color. But the hair..boy.was that a point of frustration. I'd cry and cry. I wanted long hair badly.  I permed the holy hell out of it. If I had hair like Tatyana Ali Kenya Moore ,  (whom I worshiped as a teenager)  Ananda Lewis/Rachel from BET or Chilli (minus the baby hair slicked down), I'd feel prettier. (If you notice..none of those women are particularly LIGHT..but they had awesome hair! LOL)  When I got old enough, I wore short styles..all kinds of hair styles.. but when I was 16..things changed. I got to wear weave AND I started dating when I was 16 years old (and no..I didnt "sneak" and date before 16 like most girls did...). I always loved ALL shades of brothers..but..I noticed the brown brothers didnt like me that much. Music videos and movies and advertising always had a light sister at the center of it, getting the attention. In high school..the light girls got all the attention, got picked for homecoming courts and dated the cutest, coolest boys in school.  They rolled in a small, elite circle that I surely wasn't a part of. Oh..I had a cute and sweet boyfriend in high school (who was paper sack brown himself..LOL) ...but I still noticed. When I got older in college, I didnt have any difficulties finding a date (there is someone for everyone), but..I still noticed how skin color still was a factor in stuff. Certain sororities on campus still had the image of "long hair, light skin" made them quite elite. And for that historical factor, those were the ones that I avoided...on principal most of all.  Certain commitees were spearheaded by "the gorgeous people". Homecoming queens at neighboring Morehouse College were ALWAYS lightskinned.  Lighter sisters on campus dated some very handsome fellas (of all shades) while many of my super chocolate sisters were left in dorms dateless. I felt like I was living an episode of School Daze but it was quite real.  I'd go out with my light skinned girlfriend, who by most accounts. wasnt the prettiest. I was much flyer...but she always got the attention. Fastforward to post college, I married a brother who, for lack of any better descriptor, was pretty light (lighter than me). I got so tired of hearing the stuff about "Oh you two will have some pretty kids" (I'm sure mostly due to the fact that he was light...). It became so frustrating.

Now that I'm single, I too notice that not much has changed in dating........ I go to the lounges and clubs and VIP is still filled with my light sisters. Actors, entertainers and "ballers" still have light sisters on their arms. On dating websites, light women get more hits than brown ones......... Even now, I heard black men saying they  find natural hair nasty/ugly/unsexy/unprofessional. (yet I've never felt sexier in my life with my locs). Even Steve Harvey joked to a woman just the other day on the radio that she wasnt gonna find a man with her hair nappy/natural.  *sigh* . And let's not count how many dates I've been on with guys who ask me "Sooo..this thing with your hair???" Boy I tell ya, aint nothing changed but the date on the wall.

So I responded to my friend as such:

I think in San Deigo (and much of California).it might be doubly difficult due to the lack of brothers interested in black women in general. (i.e. Reggie Bush..Dhani Jones..BOTH from SD). BUT..let's face facts historically..lighter women have been placed on higher pedestals (I mean we can see that from the issues of slavery, "placage" in the Louisiana creole history, and look at most of our "First black" anythings...they are rather light.. because they put white folks at ease). Eurocentric standards of beauty are just emphasises more (look at our obsessions with perms, weaves, skin lightners, etc) Even white guys interested in black men either go to two extremes: extremely ETHNIC (as in from the mother land) or almost European looking (i.e. Paula Patton). Speaking of which..thats why that whole Just Wright movie was unbelievable to me. (lol) I think dark skin in general is just intimidating to most. Furthermore, with men, the placement has been on a Eurocentric standard of beauty, therefore if you have "those qualities" it makes you more desirable...you dont have the skin color issues, the nappy hair. etc. It's a veritable dating pool for you... Brothers wont admit it but hell..they want "cute, acceptable kids" too and "acceptable" arm candy. A few black woman issues..without the "typical" black woman problems (LOL) In places that are major cities, you def see the athletes, businessmen, and enteratainers with those women because well.......those women know that their skin color can be used to that advantage. It's the ugly truth. Beyonce wouldnt be Beyonce if she didnt look the way she looked. No one would call Halle Berry "beautiful"/ It's just how it is...sadly. I dont think you can call it "discrimnation" moreso than it's just....the dynamics of the color complex. (There is a GOOD book on that..of the same name...). Your history may be a little different. You are black AND Mexican...two very discriminated against groups. HOWEVER..in the black community..you are seen as exotic, desirable, and datable. I've heard men say "I'll take the UGLIEST light skinend girl before I take a pretty black one" OR that "light skinned women are ALWAYS in style". I KNOW I'm prettier than a few of my light friends..but if we go out..I might as well chock it up..sit by the bar and chill. (LOL) cause no one is checking for me..and I could be ON: hair done, nails done, exuding mad confidence. I won't win. It's hard for you to personally identify because well..you've never been dark. I've never been light..but the historic evidence is there. This ISNT to say this gives you the right to hate on light sistas. They cant help who they are (and I surely dont). BUT..many know who they are..and take full advantages of the priviledges that light skin/long hair/european features garners them. The world is their oyster..and they are just sharpening their knives. But even then...there is a certain ELITE type of light woman that can do that. You indeed are still a black women...but a black women with certain advantageous attributes whether you use them to your advantage or not. And many black women..with dark skin, notty hair..cant help how they are and how hurt they feel therefore some take it out on other light sisters unfortunately. It hurts to be called names. EITHER way..I know it used to hurt me (and by all "standards" Im not even that dark!) You may hear mean things about light women..but I can guarantee without playing tit for tat.....that it is NOTHING in comparison to what a brown sista hears.


Sorry I wrote a dissertation (LOL)..but I hope you see a brown (nappy headed ) sista's views :)


She responded to me in kind, saying she understood but she too felt out of black being birracial: not black enough for her black friends and def not mexican. She def wanted a more distinct look either way the pendulum swang. I realized after I wrote my friend that essentially we were walking the same path....as black women. As women who appear "different" from people around us...and even different to those in our "community". Pain is pain.............

...but I can't help but STILL think that my brown,proudly nappy-headed self.....is going to continue to have a hard time dating, mating and all things in-between.

8 comments:

  1. I don't think this is a topic that is ever going to have a resolution that is agreeable to both dark and light skinned people. I think we'll all to agree to disagree.
    I'm pushing up on 32 years old and there has not been a time that I can remember where I have not defended or explained my complexion to someone else. People -- complete strangers -- want to know if my parents are white, if I'm mixed, if that's my real hair, if I'm sure my parents aren't white, why I think I'm so cute and on and on and on. I was SO paranoid being pregnant because I don't want for my kids to have to go through that. And yet I never considered that I'd be mistaken for their nanny. I never imagined if I'd be asked if they had the same father since they have different skin tones and one of them has gray eyes and longer hair. If I hear someone try to divide my girls into the "smart one" and the "pretty one", I will shank first and shank again later. I'm tired of it.

    Since I've been out of the dating loop for a while, I can't really speak to some of the points you raised about getting guys and such. In my own experience, being in a predominantly white environment, the dudes -- black and white -- all gravitated to the white girls first, especially the fairer brothers. When the brothers would come around, they said I looked stuck up (excuse me, this is my face and you're all up in it). The couple of white dudes I dated treated me like cool toy they found -- "look at my girlfriend! Can you believe she's black?" -- imagine what that does to the self-esteem.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that everyone experiences the same situation differently. I could go on and on about it (the sorority angle, the job angle, my natural hair vs. my relaxed hair, my own grandmother and the paper bag test), but I'd rather tell you while I can't walk a mile in your shoes, I am walking miles with you down the same road.

    **stepping off my soapbox**

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  2. Completely agreeing with the Hilary! Very well put..
    Thank you for writing this so well Southern Belle! Bravo!!

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  3. Hilary..that was a BEAUTIFUL response! We are all sistas in the struggle! I remember your post about the strange man coming up to you askign were those your kids..and how that just angered me something FIERCE! Good points! (Perhaps I will share it on FB..I rarely pub blogs)

    @SiSTersLUV..see..it was well written, booger (LOL)

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  4. Tati, thanks for posting this. I have been reading your blog and not commenting any where but in my head. I am going through the same things you are on the dating circuit in ATL and most men would call me LSLH. I just want you to know that the things we are going through with men are not because of who we are but because of who they are.

    Hugs to the sisters in the struggle--the beautiful struggle.

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  5. I think this is a tough conversation to have with someone who is bi-racial. They have more at play than just skin tone -- like she said, "not black enough for black folks, not mexican enough for everyone else..." Makes sense, then, that her outlook would simply be "we're all black with the same black struggle..."

    But it really is different for darker skinned women. That's just true and something we have to acknowledge and handle to the best of our abilities.

    Oh and I totally am feeling you on the anecdotes of just chilling off to the side cause you already know your light skinned friends are gonna get all the play...

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  6. Good stuff, Mocha. Love the reply. So intelligent and heartfelt.

    I have to admit that, like many brothers, I too underwent the infatuation stage with light-skinned sistas and it took me until college to understand that brown-skinned women are just as sexy and beautiful.

    So I believe you made good points concerning how society (outlets mentioned) determines many things involving skin color. Though at the end of the day, it's pretty much all the same.

    I still cannot understand why people trip off sistas w/ natural hair. I don't understand how one judges the character of a woman based solely upon her style of hair? That's strange, if you ask me.

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  7. Being a DSLH chick with a LSSH sister that I love like my own child, we were/are treated very differently. I'm older by 7 years and my sister use to always call me sister and people would say surely that is not your real sister. WTF??? How do you ask a 9 year old that? I was always told you're "pretty to be dark, is that your real hair, is your sister mixed?" I use to be so hurt but it never made me look at my very light skinned sister differently. Funny thing is we do have different fathers but I am the one with the father who has a father that is not black and my sister's father, grand father, great grand father and so on are black. To be totally honest I've had it very hard as far as dating and life and my sister has had it very easy. But I'm glad our skin tone never got in the way of our sisterly bond as I know it has a lot of siblings.

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  8. GREAT post and responses.

    I agree, in the end we'll all have to agree to disagree.... because we're all coming from very different experiences, based on our appearance AND of course environment we grew up in. But I think it's important to be able to discuss these things, in a safe place and amongst like-minded, respectful folks, so I'm glad you put it out there!

    We sure have come a long way (as a people), in terms of being able to talk about this openly and without animosity. That's really a beautiful thing.

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