How does the conversation of racial discrimination begin between parents and children? In our home it began when I heard my oldest daughter say the phase “Team Dark Skin.”
I have 4 beautiful daughters — all of which are smart, loving, caring and different shades of brown skin. And in that moment I realized in a house full of black people you can still experience racial discrimination and divide.
I say to my brown-skinned child, “So, what does team dark skin mean?”
She replies, “…well, you know we have to stick together”
“Who?! Black people?”
And with conviction she says, “No dark skins because you know y’all light skins think y’all are better than us.”
I had to pause because I was truly in disbelief that the teenage daughter I have raised to believe she is a beautiful little Black queen is uttering these ignorant words. Upon further questioning, I realized it was a conversation within her friend group and other kids at school. She explained that the dark skin Black kids had to go out of their way to let the light skin Black kids know they too were attractive — or even on the same social level.
Once I gathered myself I began a conversation we had never had. Truthfully I never thought about having a conversation about loving yourself within your own race. I also ways wanted them to be able to walk into a room full of non-Blacks and feel worthy and comfortable.
So I ask her, “Do I make you feel like I am better than you?”
With confusion, she replies, “No.”
I proceed, “Do you feel like you are beneath your sister?”
Still very confused, she replies, “No.”
“So you have pledged your life to a team you don’t believe in?”
If real light bulbs appeared above your head, that’s when she would have gotten hers. She realized she didn’t believe that at all but had allowed the insecurities of other to sway her actions.
I took that opportunity to remind her and her sisters that we as Black people are one team. It has definitely made my husband and I more aware of how we compliment the girls. We also listen a bit more closely to how they speak to each other and their friends. I have even found myself correcting the things their friends say just to ensure colorism isn’t the basis of conversation.
We struggle and rise together. The only way we as a people will continue progress is to eliminate division from within. I know many people want to combat racism from outside of the community, but I think it’s more important we establish self love first. In no way can we require others to respect and love us if we don’t first.