Conceited. Pretty. Entitled. Ignored. Ugly. Marginalized. The Wannabes versus The Jigaboos is a psychosocial battle of the Light-skinned versus the Dark-skinned. Cafe au lait, high yella, and red boned on one side. Chocolate, ebon, and tar baby on the other.
It’s so crazy illogical to me that in 2010, even with a happily married and madly inspiring wannabe President and jigaboo First Lady, we still don’t see that Black is Black is Black. No matter how light or how dark, Black folks are still subjugated, exoticized, shot, raped and imprisoned more than white folk. And because of these reasons and so many more we each have, regardless of shade, our own issues, our own insecurities, hang-ups and struggles.
To this end we usually (and stereotypically) hear how females are affected by colorism– especially dark-skinned sisters who are bombarded by glamorous images of women like Halle Berry in movies, Michael Michele on TV, Liya Kebede in magazines and Beyonce in music videos. No doubt colonization, slavery and racism linger in our brain cells and bloodstream far longer than they do in history. And so the saga continues: Light is right and we desire to look more like our oppressors than our ancestors. We all have to be re-educated in order to respond differently, intelligently, proudly. And this education has to happen at home. Looking at Anderson Cooper’s feature on CNN on Monday night about skin color, I was reminded of how easy it is for self-hatred to take hold of our young brown babies if they aren’t taught to love themselves. Self-esteem has to be instilled y’all.
But dark-skinned girls are not alone in the struggle to be understood. My fairer toned sisters have their own complexes, issues and beefs. In light of Lena Horne’s transition last week I watched many of her interviews and was emboldened by her dignity to act supremely despite knowing her scenes would later be removed for Southern consumption. Hearing her tell Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes that she wouldn’t dare try to pass filled my spirit with unspeakable job: “It never occurred to me to be anything than what I was.”
Last week I also interviewed Sanaa Hamri, the music video/ film director who just helmed “Just Wright.” Sanaa, who is fair in complexion, struggles to find balance between Hollyweird’s obsession for images of Black buffoonery and with hiphop’s obsession for girls that look like Cassie: “When I used to do music videos I fought long and hard about the female leads I would use. I’m mixed and so I think I’m more sensitive to showing the richness of our many skin tones. You know the fascination with light-skinned girls that have that look is not a problem exclusive to NBA players.”
All of these realizations swooned and swirled in my head and reminded me of Jessica care Moore’s poem, “Even The Light Skinned Girls Are Sick of The Light Skinned Girls.” Less indictment and more insurrection, this poem is a cathartic revolutionary release of Wannabe/Jiggaboo anguish, aggravation and angst. Some salve for our beautiful Black messed-up selves.