Editor’s Note: Welcome to the first installment for #ShareItSundays, a guest posting opportunity for those that have a story to tell. Submissions can be submitted either publicly or anonymously to firstname.lastname@example.org
With that being said, welcome to #StayWoke, anonymously submitted by one of my readers. This post has been lightly edited for grammar.
I hope you enjoy!
One thing about me is I’m very protective over my friends, I mean very protective. My dumb ass has even physically fought for my friends even though it wasn’t even my fight to begin with. This particular day in the summer of 2014 when I was a junior in college, one of my friend’s sister got into it with her friend, who at the time was her roommate. I didn’t know the entire situation, but I remember driving over to her apartment and she was crying. I felt this protective motherly instinct to keep her safe, although I didn’t know the entire situation. I asked her roommate to explain what happened and she told me she didn’t have to explain anything to me…That’s true, she didn’t but I felt like I had to stick up for my friend. After she said that I got really bold and said “No, you’re GOING to explain whatever I need explained”.
After that, it was on and poppin’ …of course, she responded with resistance throwing a spiel of verbal attacks my way, which was expected. One thing she kept saying was how “ugly and black” I was. This girl was a lighter skin girl but black nonetheless…her insulting my darkskin was like ammunition to her. “Girl, you black as hell, with your ugly ass”.
Not to toot my own horn but I’m pretty sure the general consensus would never consider me anywhere near a societal standard of “ugly” but her associating my dark skin with ugly meant that there was a greater underlying issue here, colorism. What made this encounter even more bothersome was the fact that my three light skin friends said nothing as she attacked my smooth melanin. Did they secretly think this?
After the situation, I found myself thinking about colorism even more. I started wondering if my light skin friends secretly thought they looked better than me, all from this one encounter. It subconsciously, (or maybe consciously) made me want to distance myself from that particular friend group and hang with girls that were “woke”. Midwestern black people have southern roots and colorism is more relevant in conversation, social media, even music than any other region in my opinion and experience. I’ve since moved out of state and realized it’s deep rooted in the Midwest and south. A year after I moved I made a light skin joke with a man I was dating and he responded with “Yeah, I can tell you’re from Chicago…y’all always talk about color out there” I was a bit shook. I didn’t want him to think I was any less woke than he was. I mean I understand colorism is all over the world, but I think some regions just have this issue worst than others.
The light skin girl went on to become a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc, and she’s very active and popular on social media. Sometimes by chance, I’ll see her in the comments of one of our mutual dark skinned SIU friends calling them “beautiful” or “gorgeous” and I always side eye it because of our little run-in. Like the iconic “New York from flavor of Love says “If you’re black and standing in it, stand in it in ALL shades”