I saw a feature today on Afropunk that really pissed me off.
In the feature named "Self-hate, beauty standards: how do we stop the madness?," they posted the cover of Drum Magazine that features South African artist Mshoza. The cover boasts a before and after picture of Mshoza who is opening up to the magazine about life after bleaching her skin. In a genuine and hella heartfelt style that you can only expect from sites like Afropunk, Lou C-D writes:
Hey guys, although many don't go as far as South African artist Mshoza (pictured below), a lot of people still hurt themselves emotionally when they let unhealthy beauty standards (hair, skin color, etc.) become their own.
Just wanted to get the conversation going. Everyone is somehow affected. How do we make sure that women, men, boys and girls get out of this vicious circle? - Lou C-D
People. Were. Pissed.
It is amazing to think that in this day and age skin color is still a relevant issue. Remember what happened when Lil Wayne's song “Right Above” dropped in 2011? Drama, bro. I'll never forget the reaction when people heard his line that said “beautiful black woman, I bet that bitch look better red.”
People. Were. Pissed.
But why? Lil Wayne was just saying what a lot of people think. It's evident in everything from the faces we see in magazines to the actors we see on television that many folks are convinced that lighter skin is better. And if you're thinking that it's just a black issue, think again homegirls and boys. According to all-knowing and super wise Wikipedia, colorism (which is the act of discriminating or having prejudice against a homey based on the stereotypes that are attached to skin color) is not only prevalent in the USA but also in Latin America, Asia, the Arab World, and Africa. You can't even get no love for being dark skinned in Africa? SMH like a mofo.
So... why is light skin better than dark skin?
Well, we could say that the history of slavery in these places are what led to the views we have about skin color. We could get all heavy and say that not only has the history of colonization and oppression around the world led to a systemic negative perception of dark skin, but the media encourages the prolongation of these groundless beliefs by repeatedly presenting and upholding one ideal standard of beauty. Yup. OR we can cut through all that bullshit and get to the real reason why light skin is "better" than dark skin.
Here is comes... are you ready for it?
The reason why light skin is better than dark skin is because people are fundamentally stupid.
In spite of our ability to use reason and rationalization, the human brain is wired to categorize information. And because we're easily influenced, the natural process of categorizing can easily become bias when we let outside factors alter our thinking. I mean, COME ON y'all. Even if your parents were total bigots, if you're old enough to UNDERSTAND-THE-WORDS-I-AM-TYPING-RIGHT-NOW, then you're old enough to correct your stank thinking when you realize you're showing prejudice. The belief that dark skin is better than light IS NOT JUST A MATTER OF OPINION. Why? Because when you say "Light skinned guys are better" (keyword being better) your
stupid misguided ass is saying that you support the ideolgy behind the belief that all light guys are superior to darker skinned guys. To counter that argument, all I have to say is:
Checkmate. I win.
Assigning a meaning to a person's skin color is dumb as hell. And people believe dumb shit all the time. I know it's tempting to just go along with it. We experience fucked up stereotypes everyday.
"Blondes are dumb."
"Black girls are hood rats."
"Asian girls are quiet and submissive."
"White folks don't have rhythm, they can't dance."
When Afropunk posted the magazine cover with the woman boasting about bleaching her skin, they were trying to start an important conversation. Afropunk wanted to get people to not only think about the negative affects of skin color bias that can lead to self-hate, but by opening the post up for dialogue Afropunk invited us to think about the biases that we hold ourselves. When Lou asked "How do we make sure that women, men, boys and girls get out of this vicious circle" maybe what he really wanted us to do is evaluate the role we play by accepting it as if it's ok. It's not ok. Let's not take our biased bullshit into 2013.