Black People : Black Folks Who Miscategorize Their Color?

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by kde, Sep 24, 2011.

  1. kde

    kde Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I did not know how else to title this thread, but I am hoping it communicates the spirit of what I am about to attempt to explain.

    Have you ever encountered some black folks who seem to have a skewed idea or perception of what their color, hue or complexion is? Clearly, we come in all shades (in fact, years ago I believe it was determined their were more than 60 shades among African-Americans). That being the case, it is not unusual for us to mention our skin color when we describe ourselves or hear others mention it when describing us. For example, imagine the following exchange:

    Person 1: "You know John?"
    Person 2: "Which one? There are two Johns in my class."
    Person 1: "Aw, that's right. The dark-skinned John, ya know, the one with the cornrows and gap in his teeth?"
    Person 2: "Oh, okay. Yeah, I know who you're talking about."

    So I believe that describing our skin color is not necessarily a pre-occupation for most of us, but it is something that we tend to include when we're describing how another black person looks.

    That said, do you know of any black people who have the wrong idea of what their color is? Typically, I have noticed this with medium-brown people (I'd say in the color range of someone like Toni Braxton or Oprah Winfrey) who will describe themselves as being light-skinned. As a matter of comparison, I have seldom - extremely rarely - known of black people who are lighter and perceive themselves as darker-skinned. However, for some of our medium-brown brothers and sisters, they seem to have a desire to be lighter, if not see and perceive themselves as lighter than they are. This, I think, is a sign a color complex.

    Just this week, I was reminded of this phenomenon when an individual I know swore they were lighter than me. "You're darker than me, aren't you?" they said. I started to say, "No, you're darker than me." But instead I just left it at, "Well, maybe we're close." This person is in the same shade family as the sister from the group Kindred the Family Soul. I am along the lines of Sophie Okenedo or Corinne Bailey Rae, so there was a clear difference in my opinion.

    This latest incident just screamed color complex/I-have-a-negative-connotation-of-dark-skin to me. And this is not the first time I've encountered it.

    Have any of you observed anything similar?
     
  2. Shikamaru

    Shikamaru Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    There has been a constant indoctrination throughout history in these United States and in Europe of white as good and black as evil.

    Even the term 'black' etymologically and definition-wise have all sorts of negative meanings and significations.

    This is now probably subconsciously thought by both Caucasians and African-Americans.
     
  3. Proverbs31Woman

    Proverbs31Woman Be kinder than necessary! MEMBER

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    This is a large problem for Blacks. I being dark-skinned am sensitive to the comments I hear and it's sad really. The question is how dark does one have to be to be considered dark-skinned. And the issue many Blacks have is that they do not want to be on the "darker" side. I hear comments all of the time, "she's not "that" dark" as if to be of a darker hue is a disease. I have had other dark-skinned sisters firmly deny they are dark and they would use a comparison of someone of a purple hue to defend their position, smh.

    So from my personal observations, it appears that for the darker skinned Blacks, they consider extreme darkness to be dark-skinned and for the lighter skinned Blacks, they consider a hint of darkness to be dark-skinned.

    I have only noticed lighter toned Blacks claim to be dark when they have been the darkest of the family and moreso with mixed families. For this person, she felt like the "dark" one. Again, sad that dark skin is frowned upon, but I do understand where it comes from.

    I don't believe there will ever be a defined standard of what is dark and what is light. There is too much pain beneath it all; too many different experiences that results with diverse perceptions. It is quite perlexing to witness how we embrace or deny our own.

    *A quick observation with the words themselves...'dark' sounds heavy and 'light' sounds airy. When you pay attention to how the words are pronounced, it is very telling..you can hear the negative tone associated with the word 'dark' and the opposite with the word 'light'...very interesting to me.

    edited: Added last observation
     
  4. MsInterpret

    MsInterpret Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Yes I have noticed this before. I'm medium brown, like Kelly Rowland, and I've always said I was dark-skinned. But then when people see my daughter they say she's light skinned, and she's like Ciara's skin tone, but to me she's brown-skinned, a few shades lighter than me. Her grandmother is light bright da-n near white. Hell, I dunno. I think the whole complexion identity crisis, or paper brown bag mentality is silly. I'm black, my daughter's black...whateva.:rolleyes:
     
  5. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

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    I don't care if you Chocolate/brown/tan/caramel/butter scotch/high yellow/bright
    coco/black blue whatever shade you still one thing that's an Afro african american
    black whatever one calls self we from the same TREE AFRICAN CENTRIC
    we are african centered people so why care what shade/tone skin is , it's beautiful
    that we can display the many shades that others can't
    If complexion is key to anyone mental thinking then yes they having identity crisis
    trying to find themselve , I know who i am and what i am now i seek my purpose
    for existence and the mission to fulfill and it's not in colors .........
     
  6. Proverbs31Woman

    Proverbs31Woman Be kinder than necessary! MEMBER

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    IMO, this color identity problem is heavy with the Black sisters and I wonder why that is.
     
  7. blackeyes

    blackeyes Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I know this medium tone girl who call herself 'sexy red' or something. I noticed that most of her family members are really really dark so compared to them she probably sees herself as light skin. It's kinda funny :confused: sometimes...
     
  8. kde

    kde Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I am enjoying the feedback here on this topic.

    Proverbs31Woman, you raise some good points, particularly about how views on color can be nuanced by one's upbringing. As in the case of someone who is on the light side but perceives oneself as dark in comparison to other even lighter relatives. Or the inverse - someone who is pretty dark but sees oneself as rather light compared to even darker-skinned family members. Like I said before, I have seen it manifest repeatedly in the latter context but never really in the former.

    There have been times when I have heard people say I am light or describe me as "yellow," and I recall recoiling in extreme questioning. I have said before to some of those closest to me that I do not "feel" lighter-skinned, so when I am described in those terms, there is a sense of disconnection and unfamiliarity to me. My hesitation to claim it, when I have felt that way, I believe is rooted in the unearned privilege that such a station has historically been granted and the favor with which it is perceived socially. Moreover, I am very rooted in my heritage and culture, and I already know that when it comes to my aesthetic preferences (especially in men), I trend toward darkness. My husband is what I consider a dark-skinned man, but he's probably brown-skinned if compared to, say, the typical Sudanese you see in the media. Our older daughter is almost precisely my color and our younger one is darker than us but lighter than him.

    People who feel like they need to assert their light-skindedness (LOL) have a problem, one with which I really don't want to be associated. It reminds me of light-skinned black folks - or even those who are not - who claim people always think they're biracial or multi-racial, as if their look is racially ambiguous, when in reality most people think they're regular ole black folks.
     
  9. rapunzal24

    rapunzal24 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    When I was younger, I knew a girl that all the guys called red bone, but I never thought she was that. She was of a medium complexion, in my opinion, only maybe a shade lighter than me. Her complexion is similar to Sanaa Lathan. But....all the men desired her, I don't know why, she would play these dudes left and right! I mean she had her pimping down to a science! She was tall and petite, a very pretty woman, but her self value was sooooo low, or maybe it was too high(lol)! At that point I began to pay more attention to complexions, and how we perceive them.
     
  10. Proverbs31Woman

    Proverbs31Woman Be kinder than necessary! MEMBER

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    That is part of it, exactly. All of this speaks loudly to what I am saying. The flip side is that many women don't necessarily have self esteem issues, but they do put a lot of stock into shades of color and put a status on it. However, I don't see brothas conversating about it as much. It's pretty sad to hear a black woman defend why she isn't "that" dark or hear two women describing another sista and for nearly 30 minutes get caught up in the 'what shade she is' argument. Yet the darkest brotha in the room won't even defend his shade and keep it moving, or if you hear two brothas talking about another brotha, they will make an easy description of his skin tone and that be end of story. It's just a sad situation that rears its ugly head so much that babies are now having these conversations in the sandbox, smh.
     
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