Friday, October 26, 2007

The Matter of Skin Color


If your email was hopping like mine over the past week, you probably heard about the ridiculous “light skinned women in for free” party that was supposed to be held in Detroit recently.

The news of this event swept through listservs and chat rooms with such fury, that CNN actually picked up the story, providing their own analytical spin with the obligatory experts in Sociology and African American Studies. Needless to say, the outcry was loud enough that the event promoters cancelled the party.

But it was also clear that this party opened up old wounds for some regarding issues of attractiveness and desirability in Black America.

I actually fielded enough questions as to whether or not I believe that skin color is still a factor within The Black Social Elite that I decided scribe this post.

It is no secret that Black America still wrestles with issues of color and class. Some Black Americans are highly annoyed that there is social schism within our own race and point back to the plantation (and the proverbial white man) as the culprit.

The unfortunate truth is that class and color are historically intertwined. We all know that lighter skin Blacks typically received greater financial and social privilege versus those who were darker skinned.

And, according to a recent study, skin color of Black Americans is still a major factor for employability. The so-called “color caste system” has polarized families and friends for generations in our community – and it appears that there is no end in sight.

Many would argue that skin color is still a determinant among The Black Social Elite as well. And quite frankly in certain corridors of the country, this may be true. Several of the organizations listed in the sidebar of this blog have been accused (rightfully or wrongfully) of colorism.

But, I am highly doubtful that colorism is the norm among today’s Black Socialites.

As demonstrated on this blog – the beautiful spectrum of our people is displayed for your viewing and reading pleasure.

Whenever I attend functions of Alpha Kappa Alpha, The Links, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Pi Phi, or Jack and Jill – I see all of our folks representing proud and tall.

I can’t say that this was always the case. But, if you poll older members (those who are 60+) of any of these organizations, they will tell you that things have changed for the better within The Black Social Elite.

So good people, there isn’t much we can do to change the historic wrong of colorism in Black America. It is ugly and hurtful business.

And, it is what it is.

However, you can elect to not play perpetrator, participant, or victim in this nonsense with our people.

OK…I’ll make it plainer.

Your skin color alone should not deter or encourage you to achieve Socialite aspirations.

If you are lighter skinned, you will not automatically receive the keys to the Black Socialite kingdom merely because you are light. If you are darker skinned, the doors will not be slammed in your face solely because of your hue.

As Dr. Phil says, you train people how to treat you.

Carry yourself with elegance, grace, style, poise, and confidence at all times and trust me…the world will be at your feet. There is nothing more striking and attractive that a proud and elegant Black person.

Now, I need to be clear about something…

I am not trying to devalue the real pain and scar tissue from color discrimination. All of us in Black America have encountered it. And, I know that it cuts more deeply when it comes from our folks.

But, we can only control ourselves and our actions – after all, the most powerful form of change begins at home. We have to guard our spirits against haters - of all races and stand firm to the truth of how beautiful we all are.