Reading my Twitter feed, I noticed a tweet to Eric Benet regarding a song on his new album entitled “The One”. The name of the track is “Redbone Girl”, and this woman basically asked, “Why it got to be about the Redbone Girls”; signing off using the hashtag (used to trend a topic) #team dark skin. Ok…contradiction or what?! You see in some ways I can empathize with her; I am a darker brown-skinned woman. In some factions of the African-American community, particularly with some men I may not get noticed as readily. Now, I always had looong hair (a whole ‘notha dissertation, LOL!!) yet I began to observe that the more popular the guy was in high school, college and career, the lighter his girl was. There was a clear message that a lighter skinned girl was prettier, smarter, and for all intents in purposes, better! Men could be safe in knowing that if they took their lighter skinned lady and/or wife to social events that he, along with his 6 or 7 income position, graduate education, luxury home and car would get him IN quicker than if his partner was darker skinned (unless she had “white features” and was less obviously “Black” aka Gabrielle Union – no hate, just an illustration).
However, during my college years things changed. Never really believing I was as attractive as many of the other girls in high school or college, a single comment from a man surprised me when he said, “Look at you with your pretty, chocolate self”! At first I thought he was kidding or being funny. Yet, stunned, I took the compliment; I was 19. Interestingly I began to hear the chocolate compliment more and more, and directed toward darker skinned women (a la Viola Davis, India Irie, etc.). So though I can empathize with this woman I believe she needs to check herself. Why?! How many other songs have we heard focusing on a specific type of woman (American Woman, Southern Girl, Sister Big Boned, etc.). All I can say is that the light skinned African American woman has been the standard of beauty perpetuated by slavery, society, and in this case Black folk. It has hurt. But loving yourself is the first step. To put all your focus on an artist and holding him accountable…is unhealthy.