“This society measures the progress for the Negro by how fast he can turn white.” – James Baldwin

After much pressure from my oldest daughter, I decided to give this online dating a shot. I created my profile and started the daunting task of reading through profiles and swiping left or right with the app. I seemingly created the illusion that I was in control of making the magic happen. After several swipes right I made a couple of connections, but there was one guy I was interested in, we started to converse, but I quickly realized that this was not for me so as I started to end our communication, he said to me “You ugly black b…” and yes, he was a black man.

This encounter took me down a rabbit hole of the racism predominately against dark-skinned black women which dates back to slavery. Compared to dark skin women preferential treatment was given to the lighter skinned counterparts who were the illegitimate offsprings of the slave masters and this continued even after slavery. In the book “Don’t Play in the Sun: One Woman’s Journey Through the Color Complex.” By Marita Golden, where she talks about her own accounts of her life and her mother’s obsession with color. One of the things that she addresses in the book is the brown paper bag test, in which a bag is held to the skin and if the skin was darker than the paper bag, one would not be admitted to the upper-class black society. This test was being done in the upper-class black society as a method to not taint the bloodline in hopes of avoiding the creation of darker skinned children.

It reminds me of how much I hated my own skin! Growing up in a house with a mother who would have received preferential treatment, while I would have been working in the fields. Even though my mother gave me unconditional love and never treated me any different, there were still times in elementary school that I was made to feel less than and even had been asked “why do you not look like your mother”. I can remember one particular time that I liked a boy and I thought he liked me too, but he didn’t, he liked my cousin and even mentioned that “I was too dark for him”. After that I remember sometimes not wanting to go out with my cousin because I felt that all the guys would focus on her and not talk to me.

Even though I’ve gotten older things are still the same, we do see a few dark-skinned black women who are the faces of success and beauty but that is still far and few in between. The “Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities” published a study called “Disparities by Skin Color Among Young African American Women” and their conclusion points to the fact that darker skinned black women face disadvantages in socioeconomic, health, and psychosocial domains more than our lighter skinned black women. Black women in the US already marry less than other races, but for darker skinned black women the numbers are even lower.

Dating as a darker skinned black woman gives me some anxiety, it’s as if I must seek validation when in an intimate relationship and no one should have to feel that way. It’s given lower your standards and be glad that you were chosen. I have even had a male friend that I have known for years say to me that “I am asking for too much and maybe I needed to reevaluate somethings”. 

Meanwhile, black men are walking around just fine with fair skinned women and having success in the dating pool; while us dark-skinned black women are being told that we are asking for to much. This kind of talk and rhetoric is some of the issues that has pushed dark-skinned black women to believe that they are not worthy of certain relationships while being seen as fetishes by some men and unwanted by others.

But, even with all of the negative feelings and feeling like my choices are limited I am not willing to settle in the dating arena and I don’t feel anyone should have to do so. I want let a man’s prejudice against me be labeled as a preference just to undermine the fact that some of our black men have serious issues with darker skinned black women. We all deserve love and being a dark-skinned black woman is not something to shy away from or be embarrassed about, it is something that we should embrace and be proud of because it’s WHO WE ARE!