Dark Girls- To All My Queer Minded Allies


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Ever pass those “nude” colored stockings meant for alabaster complexions, watch the ever-so-typical Black rappers with their music videos in which they only include fairer-skinned Black women as their “dime pieces” (while offensive in many other ways, still a low blow to dark-skinned women), put on one of those damned “skin-toned” band aids that forever clash against dark brown, paper-cut ridden fingers, and think “Being white is awesome?” Well, I can tell you there are about a bah-trillion young, black girls that probably obsessed on that very thought. Dark Girls, a documentary that recently aired on Own, introduces this phenomenon of desired whiteness to a nation that overwhelmingly,  didn’t even realize this was a thing. In case you’re still wondering though…Yep, it’s a thing.

 

   I used to be one of those dark girls. As a preteen I remember searching online for ways to lighten my skin. I saved up my well-earned allowance to buy skin lightening creams meant for dark, under-eye circles or minor discolorations. I would wish and dream and hope for the day I could be just a few shades lighter, because lighter, to me then, equaled beauty. Whiter was better. Now a proud Black, out, queer, I’m faced with a new element of dark-girl-hating. What’s that you ask? Well, apparently, Black women are scientifically the ugliest women ever in the world. Wonderful. In 2011, evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa conducted a study that found Black women to be the least attractive of all races. There was immediate backlash from a number of media outlets claiming Kanazawa’s study had a racially biased undertone, forcing him to remove his article from Psychology Today. 


However, let’s move to the far less high-brow study from OKCupid’s blog to show that Kanazawa’s study may have been more of a reflection of America’s ideas of attraction that we like to let on. OkCupid has been a miniature savior for the queer community with it’s fresh and new ways of pairing up mates, with a clientele of supposedly progressive, well-educated young folks. But their study posted recently on how race affects the frequency OkCupid users get messaged shows clearly Black women don’t get too much love on the interwebs. It also showed that Black women respond almost two times more than the average, exemplifying Black women as far less selective than their non-Black female counterparts. In the predictable, non-twist of the century, the study also showed that white women and white men overwhelming showed interest in each other, while Asian and Latino people also preferred white OkCupiders.

 

And you wonder why little Black girls think whiter is better?

 

That, my friends is white privilege.  I recently spoke with a close friend about being told that I “acted white,”  and not being quite sure what “acting white” meant. To that she responded that she didn’t even see me as Black. Wait, what now? I was baffled by the implications of her statement. To say that you do not see my Blackness in a positive sense is to imply that Blackness is negative and therefore best left unnoticeable. 


Being color blind in a symbolic sense does not make you racially conscious, but does just the opposite. Unless you are actually color blind (which only .4% of women are, by the way) then you see color, and you see Blackness. We do exist. Consciousness is the barrier between non-minority women and women of color that often goes unnoticed. Women of color forever look through a tinted lense where quite frankly, anything can be made to be seen from a racial standpoint. Dating as a Black queer means that you must unapologetically flaunt your minority flag.This means that you don’t have the privilege of forgetting what skin you’re in because whether you like it or not, Black skin comes with a little thing I like to call stereotypes.  I mean, when you have to school a beautiful woman on why you feel weird eating watermelons, it tends to be a wee- bit of a damper on your lady-lovin’ parade.

 

  I have encountered many women whom I found very attractive that after my advances, quickly express how they’re “ not into Black girls,” or as my witty, queer pal Nichelle puts it “not down with the brown.” I hate to use race here, because — let’s be real — sometimes a girl is just not that into me. It happens to the best of us. But as a Black queer, a woman’s openness to dating brown (race) is always a factor for me. My goal is not to only date other Black women or queers, as many would argue should be my plan of action anyway to avoid discrimination (though some Black women don’t even like dating other Black women). I look for other conscious queers of any race; queers who recognize their white privilege, or their ability to blend in white privilege (meaning minority women who blend effortlessly into whiteness though they may not be white-identified)  and have made the active decision to see through an all-inclusive lense.



 

The question arises as to whether being unconscious to Blackness makes you racist. Mhmm, let me take a second on that. Yes…yes it does. In this modern day, progressing 2013 society, no queer (who are also minorities in our heteronormative society!) should be ignorant or forgetful of any other minorities within their community. The excuse of being raised conservatively is no longer acceptable. This idea parallels closely to the feminist fight in the United States, prevailing so strongly in the 1970s, in which women expressed the need for men to also claim feminism as it was a community effort, not just women’s war against our patriarchal society. Males are needed in the feminist fight if for nothing else, simply for their consciousness of women’s oppressions in the U.S. because if they are unconscious, as the majority, they would weaken women’s progression. For example, men that actively recognize women’s issues as significant would never argue against women’s birth control. In the LGBTQ community, white queers conscious of Black and minority queers, especially queers within lower income communities, would recognize the fact the Black queers living in poverty are probably not positively affected by the grand news of DOMA’s downfall, because they’re dealing with other classist or racial discriminations beyond DOMA. For example, imagine a young black queer living in the conservative south with low income and few queer-minded allies that has just come out to those close to them. Say that black queer is shunned by their family and forced to live on their own in the streets.The last thing on their mind will be the fact that they may one day be able to marry legally. This isn’t just a thought, it’s a real phenomenon for so many young minorities of the LGBT community. 



  Non- black queers conscious of black issues are able to work as advocates in queer discussions, and allies amongst the black queer community. They are able to speak on minority issues with a level of knowledge that may break that awkward line we cross when discussing race. Race relations are often avoided in discussions, even by the most liberal of queers,  because of fear of offending or saying something inaccurate about a community you aren’t a part of. The crazy irony is our fear of offending only leads to more offense, because we wallow in ignorance in hopes of “playing it safe.” So next time you have a question for your queer, black friend, lover or otherwise about why their hair is so kinky, or where that stereotype came from that black people love chicken (Fun fact; I was raised vegan) , or even what Dark Girls and this whole dark-skinned/light-skinned thing is about, don’t be afraid to ask. No matter how offensive you think it might be, go for it. Because as queer weirdos in this hetero-normative world,  we’re all in this together.

Dark Girls- The Ugly Ones





   I was eight years old and my two sisters and I where “helping” my mom do her weekly grocery shopping. You know, how eight year old’s “help” by sneaking biased- candy-based-food products into the cart and hoping mom doesn’t notice until the cashier swipes it at check-out. Well we were in the isle with all the cereal and such, and we passed by a lovely dark skinned woman that seemed quite excited to see us. She stopped my mom and her eyes brightened as she gleamed,


“You have such beautiful little girls!”

My sisters and I puffed up until the woman continued,


“Are you all mixed with something? Especially the young one she is very light.So pretty.”


  Stop right there. It was as if the woman implied that my light-skinned sister was the prettiest because she was lighter than my sister and me. It was as if she only complimented us in the first place because we might have been mixed with something other than black.As if the non-black part of ourselves was what made us so pretty. Light-skinned, a term thrown around the black community quite often with usually positive undertones. It is the sad, sad light-skinned/dark-skinned dichotomy that the new film “Dark Girls” builds itself.


  Dark Girls originally premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and after great reviews and grapevine chatter, made it’s way to OWN. The dark-skinned/ light skinned dichotomy is an issue that stems all the way back to the slavery, where the light-skinned slaves where deemed “good enough” to work in the house while the dark-skinned slaves were left to tend the fields. Over four hundred years later, the black community is still dealing with the backlash of this value system, and Dark Girls takes on the the difficult job of introducing this struggle to a nation that doesn’t seem to notice this is even a thing.We live in a society where black skin is scientifically the most unattractive of all the races, a society where an all American girl is quickly presumed to be blonde and blue. Of course it’s not surprising young girls of the darker persuasion feel like outsiders.


   I was one of those girls. As a preteen I remember searching online for ways to lighten my skin. I saved up my well-earned allowance to buy skin lightening creams meant for dark, under eye circles or minor discolorations. I would wish and dream and hope for the day I could be just a few shades lighter. I wasn’t bullied because of my skin color and it wasn’t even mentioned or discussed. No, it was the subliminal messages of our society, those little tiny signs in our everyday lives that tell us that white is better. The “nude” colored stockings meant for alabaster complexions, black rappers with their music videos in which they only include fairer-skinned black women as their “dime pieces” (while offensive in many other ways, still a low blow to dark-skinned women), those damned “skin tone” band aids that forever clash against my dark brown, paper-cut ridden fingers. Our society is white-centric, and as Dark Girls mentioned,  this is not just a black issue. There are far too many non-white societies of our world that face this desire to be more and more pale.


 The United States are the monarch of media for all of the world and as such, we have a responsibility to stop with the Euro-centric representations of beauty. Yes, it’s too ambitious to assume that the U.S. has the power to completely alter the world’s ideas of beauty. Many of our concepts of beauty are biological and therefore innate. However, let’s be mindful of the power of media. Subliminal messaging is a real thing. Dark skinned,young black girls that don’t even know the term “subliminal messaging” know to pick the white doll over the black one. That, my friends, is not innate, that is learned.


So call me greedy but I found myself wanting more of this. Dark Girls began a conversation our nation should have started a while ago and we should use it as a catalyst for more discussion. I do feel the black community is quite aware of shade preferences, and I’m extremely thankful for this film for bringing it to the attention of non-black people that may have been in the dark, so to speak. I must say, I am proud of my skin now. I’m beyond the wish of being white because I feel special and different in this skin now, rather than an unattractive outsider. But there are many young girls out there that are nowhere near as comfortable. We’ve gotta help them out. I wonder, were you aware of the dark-skinned dilemma before learning about this film? I’d love to know your thoughts!