I’ve never liked that “Ebony and Ivory” stuff.
Many Black people describe each other as “dark-skinned”. As a child, I never really thought about it but when I was confronted with white people who call all people of color who aren’t pale “dark-skinned”, I began to think.
Maybe I really will be a teacher or professor one day in an “official” capacity and that’s why I’m thinking about this on this level. Maybe I just think too much, one of my overwrought idiosyncrasies.
Whatever the reason, I have adopted a policy of not categorizing brown people as “dark-skinned” based on some theory of relativity when comparing oneself to milk and white chalk. Unless there’s a point, I will not write stories comparing Black people to consumable or exotified things like chocolate, caramel, leopards, cheetahs, lions (no big cats from jungle or plain in general), animals in general, darkness, overdone comparisons and conflation with nature like trees, wood, plants, flowers, and soil.
I will question when people call myself or others “black-skinned”—as in the color, not the socio-political identity (‘B’lack)—in my presence.
I will find other ways to describe brown skin.
There is an entire spectrum of brownness. Unless it’s painted or treated somehow, I don’t even think ebony wood is actually ‘black’. Even coffee isn’t black; anybody who’s ever looked at coffee before (or spilled it) can tell you that coffee is brown—even espresso. All my life I’ve had this threshold in my mind that stops me from thinking of ‘B’lack people as literally ‘black’, even the most beloved brownest of us.
We need to change the way we think about our skin tones, complexions, hues, color-coding, and what have you. I believe that mitigating racism and other forms of oppression means being active about changing the way we think about our bodies on emotional and psychological level. It means breaking down our pathologies about our skin and the overvaluation of “white” skin.
We have to start asking ourselves “What do I/they mean when I/they use the phrase “dark-skinned”.
I love the color black. At one point, most of my wardrobe was black in high school—I was really emo[tive]/empathic in those days. However, even though we may identify politically as ‘B’lack, not literally, the color is perceived in many negative ways and has many negative connotations such as lowness, hypersexuality, darkness, evil, and disease, when it is mapped onto our skin literally. White folks have spent centuries coming up with and solidifying new ways of turning us ‘black’ because we are not white.
Maybe this is just a long way of saying we need to start re-teaching people their primary colors and how to discern nuances.