I had a lively discussion recently on black women and our intimate affair with hair, which eventually led to men and their preferences. Weave or no weave? Short or long? Color and natural versus the “processed” hair woman? Those are the questions.
This conversation led to another issue correlated with hair textures: Skin color and the many shades of dark, pale, brown, white, caramel, coffee, cream and anything in between.
One brother said he preferred the natural woman, a “sista” whose hair he could “run his fingers through” and not feel tracks.
For those who you who do not know, “tracks” are how weaves are put in. Just to debunk one hair myth, weaves are not just a black woman thing. Whites, Hispanics, and in fact all ethnicities wear hair extensions as part of today’s fashion trend.
It is just perceived that these other women all have long, luxurious hair naturally grown, whereas black women have to buy all of their own.
But back to the brotha who said he loved the natural sista. Do black men truly love a “natural sista” as they claim, or are many of them hypocritical about what constitutes natural in their eyes?
For the same man who said he liked natural does not date dark-skinned black women. He chalks it up to simply a “preference” but is it just a matter of preference or is there more to black men like him omitting dark-skinned woman from their dating pool?
I have noticed what I like to call the “Kimdarshian effect”– where most celebrities and mere male mortals date or marry only very light-skinned black women or women of ambiguous ethnicity.
Then there are those who go straight for what the rest are comparing us all to—white women.
I have tried my best to come up with some high profile men with dark sistas they loved enough to “put a ring on it” and I could only think of President Barack Obama and actorDenzel Washington. comedian JB Smoove of “The Real Husbands of Hollywood” also has a gorgeous dark beauty as his wife, the multi-talented artists/writer/musician Shahidah Omar.
On the other hand, star and creator of that same show, funny man Kevin Hart, is legendary for cracking derogatory jokes at dark-skinned women. The newly divorced comedian is now dating one of those “ethnically ambiguous” women of the lighter variety.
Most Hip-Hop and R&B/Rap videos also feature light-skinned beauties 99 percent of the time yet love to sing that they “keep it real.”
Don’t get me wrong, people can love who they love but like the gentleman who said he preferred “natural” hair on his woman but in the same breath profess a “preference” for light-skinned women with long hair, there is something askew in that logic.
Riding shotgun alongside the hair drama is the shades of color phenomenon. Just as soft, long hair is associated with beauty, dark skin is not. In fact skin bleaching is a booming global business, for lighter is considered better.
It is no secret that there is a long-standing, rarely spoke of cultural crisis of color within the black community. How we got here is down a painfully long, winding road of, criticism, marginalization, objectification, psychological and physical bondage stretching more than three centuries from the bowels of Africa to the shores of North South and Central America and the Caribbean.
And the deep lingering issue of “cast” remains. Light skin is still seen as more beautiful because it is closer to the established white European standard of beauty that has long been the barometer we are measured by.
But I say it is time to break the mental shackles and see ourselves in all our shades of splendor—dark, light, brown, latte, coffee, cocoa, caramel, cinnamon, tawny, ebony, berry or blue black—they are all connected with one origin and one destination.
Let’s stop devaluing each other based on age-old destructive stereotypes and instead appreciate our “rainbow” diversity.
So the question is “Do black mean ignore dark skinned women”? What do you think?