Why Having Darker Skin Always Demands Erasure From Every Narrative, Including Our Own
Thanks for nothing #FamilyFeud
So, prolific filmmaker Ava DuVernay was recruited by the two most influential hitmakers in the world to exercise her brand of genius for an ambitious project that required only the most robust minds to collide.
The result has just been unleashed and as expected the epic video titled #FamilyFeud has everyone talking. We’ve now reached the stage of analysis — where just like Queen Bey’s historic Lemonade — writers and thinkers are tripping over themselves to settle the query of symbolic references.
Refinery29 did a pretty good job of seamless dissection — and I have to say that I do feel left out in many ways — because I was absolutely present in the literal sense when Lemonade hit me with cascading authority and forced me to recognize the spiritual beauty of sisterhood.
Now, we are here again to welcome another birth of gorgeous reckoning that seems to be sprouting from Jay-Z’s need to publicly worship his already adulated partner-in-crime. He did her wrong and now it’s his turn to confess and pay the price for his well-choreographed sins.
The final showdown is a masterpiece and there’s no way to disguise the epic levels of a short film that showcases heavy themes against the backdrop of astounding visuals — that are enhanced by the presence of a jaw-dropping cast members.
The esteemed assembly are mostly women — plucked from independent means — who are recognizable for their stellar talent as well as the power of varied ancestry.
The images filtering in reveal a top-notch gang of names that prove how much attention to detail was paid for the reward of the “wow factor.”
Rashida Jones, Thandie Newton, Susan Kelechi Watson (she plays the adult version of Blue Ivy Carter), Mindy Kaling, Jessica Chastain, Rosario Dawson, America Ferrera, and Brie Larson are the dazzling highlights worth mentioning.
There’s also the refreshing take on the presidency of the future that features reinforcement and an update that we desperately wish we could be embodying right now.
There’s pretty much nothing to be upset about if you’re not a dark-skinned woman. The truth is that when all the accolades started pouring in — the excitement was so infectious that I completely reverted back to those times when the erasure of darker-skinned women was an accepted form of currency.
But after examining the images and waiting to see if anything else would arrive to assuage my disappointment — it became glaringly clear that I was once again saddled with the burden of pettiness and anger at the notion that women who look like me (Aisha Hinds is featured but not in a prominent way so it doesn’t count) — somehow end up being excluded from a culturally profound moment.
I tweeted this in response:
And hours later I saw a tweet from a fellow writer and personal superhero who never fails to deliver the truth in all it’s potent glory.
His thoughts are worth the time and they echo my erratic feelings as I reconcile the damaging insult of being rejected by my community. I realize that Jay-Z — like most rappers prefers his women to fit the “Beyonce prototype” and quite frankly — I’m more than okay with it. I have a younger brother who only dates light-skinned Nigerian women — even the ones that obviously bleach their skin.
It’s the residue from slavery — and the sickness that has bequeathed our European oppressors — billions of dollars in revenue — from the sales of skin bleaching creams.
It’s also what turned Lil’ Kim from this:
However, I’m quite pissed at Beyonce — especially after she gifted us with a catalog of love songs that were aimed at uplifting Black women of all hues imaginable. I bought the Lemonade — and truly felt united in the bond of discovery. Was it all a lie? Was it formulated to ensure the added wealth of a dynasty that has earned every penny — even if righteous manipulation was at play?
And Ava DuVernay is my absolute love when it comes to her brilliant mind and astute execution, but was she unable to speak up about matters of utter importance?
Either way — it’s beyond tragic that there are more White women than women of color in this gem of a video that I still haven’t seen. Or maybe the number is slightly lower or almost equal.
I don’t know and I don’t give a fuck.
What I would like to express is my right to be petty and intolerable of the fact that having darker skin seems to consistently demand erasure from every narrative. Even our own people manage to forget to include us, and yet we move on as if it’s “just one of those things.”
I know you’re probably shaking your head with disbelief at my stubbornness, but to be honest — I’ve spent enough years looking the other way and downplaying my value. I have darker skin and I’ve never wished to be lighter or daydreamed about having the kind of hair that you can sleek back when you emerge from the thrashing waves.
I love being dark and I will admit that mostly White men have complimented my skin tone and hair texture. The ones I dated never over-emphasized my features, but their remarks swelled a healthy respect for my womanhood.
That being said — I still prefer to be with Black men — but that’s neither here nor there. Why should I even have to discuss the worth of dark-skinned women? Why is it necessary to exhaustively prove all the reasons why we also deserve a Seat at The Table? Why are White and ambiguously-inclined women always the preferred default?
I know why.
It’s because we’ve been programmed to see it that way. There’s nothing wrong with me or women like me. There’s a lot wrong with the biases that most of you embrace with relentless favor. It’s terrifically bad when this is erected from people who should know better or at least try to pretend they do.
I’m not psyched about the debut of #FamilyFeud and I won’t watch the video or immerse myself in the initiated movement.
My only contribution is the reminder of how much work I need to do to ensure that my young nieces won’t have to endure the stigma of their beautiful templates.
In the meantime — thanks for nothing.