Stop Invalidating the Experiences of Light-Skinned Black Women

From Tinashe to Amber Rose, it's time for society to stop perpetuating a narrative that light-skinned women can't possibly experience colorism.

Colorism is among the most divisive factors within the black community. In fact, it's probably the most divisive because of the rise of social media. For those who don't know, colorism is basically discrimination based on your skin tone. Because there are many shades of blackness, colorism is a huge issue that black people unfortunately face. Furthermore, it primarily takes its toll on black women and the way we are treated. From relationships to job opportunities, colorism has significantly affected us and our livelihood.

Social media, specifically Black Twitter, does a great job of calling out colorism (and anything else that oppresses black people) where they see fit. There are many black feminists who will unapologetically drag A-list celebrities, popular films, and black men who have been obliviously (and purposefully) contributing to the painful narrative that dark-skinned black women aren't beautiful.

So when Kodak Black reminded everyone that he's irrelevant (and simply ain't shit) by once again professing his disdain for dark-skinned black women, Twitter arguments erupted and colorism was a trending topic among Black Twitter.

However, during the virtual conversation of colorism, the experiences of light-skinned women pertaining to the subject were deemed nonexistent. Amber Rose was dragged on Twitter because of simply telling her experience with colorism while demonizing institutions and black men like Kodak Black who bash dark-skinned women. People claim that she was contributing to the pain felt by dark-skinned women in her post by choosing to explain how being a light-skinned girl has impacted her life. However, in my opinion, all that she was doing was describing how her entire life and career couldn't escape the perils of colorism and how all women should be considered beautiful. 

The slander that Amber Rose received on Twitter simply because she shared how colorism affected her made me realize that light-skinned women get erased from the conversation of colorism. It's as if their experiences don't matter because they don't compare to the experiences of dark-skinned women. Light-skinned women experience colorism, too. And although it's not as prevalent as the discrimination of dark-skinned women, that shouldn't make it less significant. In fact, there have even been claims of "reverse colorism" when light-skinned women explain their discrimination from darker-skinned women as if it somehow compares to reverse racism.

Tinashe is another celebrity who came under attack for her comments on colorism. In an interview with The Guardian, she said the following about her experiences of being of mixed-raced heritage: "There's colorism involved in the black community, which is very apparent. It's about trying to find a balance where I'm a mixed woman, and sometimes I don't feel like I fully fit into the black community; they don't fully accept me, even though I see myself as a black woman. That disconnect is confusing sometimes. I am what I am". According to the article, those comments were used to describe her rough time and obvious disconnect from being in school. However, people attacked her because they saw her comments as yet another example of "light-skinned women not knowing how colorism works".

So, does colorism only work when it's used against dark-skinned women? Is it "reverse colorism" when light-skinned women honestly share their experiences when dealing with colorism?

"Reverse colorism" shouldn't even be comparable to reverse racism because LIGHT-SKINNED WOMEN DO EXPERIENCE COLORISM FROM THE BLACK COMMUNITY! I don't understand why it is so hard to comprehend that notion. I knew this at a young age, growing up as a light-skinned black girl. In fact, I didn't even consider myself light-skinned until someone told me (I basically considered myself as brown-skinned). But, I was disrespectfully reminded that my features weren't enough for me to be considered "truly black" by girls who were darker than me. If I, someone who isn't considered light-skinned enough to be white-passing or noticeably mixed, has experienced such things within the black community because of my skin tone, imagine what those white-passing, noticeably mixed women go through on a regular basis.

Obviously, colorism is embedded in the notion of whiteness. The closer to white you are, the more you are deemed acceptable and beautiful. Because of that, it has created this understandable hatred of light-skinned women by dark-skinned women. What isn't understandable, though, is the hatred and oppression building into the belief that colorism doesn't impact light-skinned women and the notion that they aren't "black enough". In fact, invalidating the true experiences of light-skinned women is an example of colorism at work.

People often forget that light-skinned girls face a double burden that creates an identity crisis-----being not "black enough"to fit in with their own community but being reminded by those outside of their race that their blackness will never be hidden. Thus, invalidating those experiences that light-skinned women share only perpetuates that identity crisis.