Conquering colorism

It starts with an innocent glance that lingers just a second too long.

“Hey,” he says. ” Can I talk to you for a minute?”I flash a coy, inviting smile and begin to entertain thoughts of the prospective Mr. McDreamy.

We will exchange the usual small talk: What’s your name? Where are you from? What is your classification? And so on.
Then it happens.

Usually, as the introduction comes to a close, he innocently asks another question.
“Can I tell you something?”

At this point my heart drops. Reality sets in. And all dreams of us living happily-ever-after-in-cookie-cutter suburbia come to an abrupt close because I know what he’s going to say next.

I roll my eyes and sigh.

“What?” I ask.

Then he does it. He drops what my friends and I refer to as “the pretty dark bomb.”
Just as any other woman put in the dark skinned category, there are few statements I despise as much as I do the following sentence:
“You’re pretty for a dark skinned girl.”
If I had a penny for every time I heard those words, I’d be able to pay off all my student loans.

What does that mean? Was I supposed to look like a wildebeest? Or maybe an extra for the “The Hills Have Eyes?”

The more important question is why is my hue a factor? Why does my dark skin somehow negate my beauty?

Why is the major (sometimes sole) criterion to be considered pretty is light skin? The obvious answer lies within our culture.
Can we blame others when they prescribe to this notion? It is constantly shoved down our throats ad nauseam.

One only has to examine the lyrics of any given rap song that glorifies the highly sought after “red-bone” or read about Sammy Sosa’s latest skin bleaching antics, to affirm the contention that light is right.

Four hundred years later we are still perpetuating a disheartening heritage of self-hatred.

It’s a sad day when a beautiful onyx colored little girl opens up a fashion magazine, supposedly geared toward African American women, but has to ask her mother if she is pretty because none of the women in the magazine share her dark skin or coarse hair.

It’s an even sadder day when the fair skinned teenage girl watches BET and starts to think that she can only be lauded for her creamy thighs and red-bone hips instead of her intellect. Society tells her she’s just a prize.

I know we will never live in a world where color doesn’t matter. And people will always have their personal preferences, but we have to question that preference.

Do we say that we don’t like dark skin, because secretly it is ugly?

And do we believe that it’s ugly because it’s a blatant opposition to what we were “taught” is beautiful?