Archuleta A. Chisolm
A Way With Color
My relationship with my chocolate skin began at the age of eleven. I was obsessed with becoming a supermodel, despite knowing that I’d probably never be taller than five feet. Every month, I convinced my mother to purchase every beauty magazine at the grocery store — Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and Mademoiselle. Those magazines added up, once we got to the register. But she always came through for me.
I would carefully tear out photos of models and tape them to my wall. What started as a collage on one wall morphed into magazine wallpaper that covered every inch of the four walls in my bedroom.
One day, I walked into my room and began the scan each picture. I realized that I had either white models or light-skinned Black models. I felt confused. Where were the models who looked like me? I pulled out all of my magazines desperate to find a model who looked like me. Although few in number, I found them. I had passed them by. Why didn’t I notice them before? I started to tear out those pages to cover the others I had on the wall. I shifted my own perspective, but it would take years to value my own dark skin.
Recently, a Texas prosecutor that practices law by day and is a social media chef at night, came under fire for colorist tweets that he made several years ago. He compares dark-skinned Black women to trash, saying they are “too Black,” and crops them out of photos to make it more appealing in his eyes; he claimed dark-skinned girls are always complaining; he says that dark-skinned girls are coal and coal doesn’t shine.
This dude deliberately targeted Black women, in the vilest way, in order to increase his social media following.
In the year of our Lord, 2023, there are still Black men out here just hating Black women. And dark-skinned Black women in particular.
The truth is, dark-skinned Black women face colorism like no other. ‘‘You're just jealous of light-skinned women" and ‘‘You're just insecure'', are two examples of what we hear. Keeping that in mind, we can think of our skin being turned into a weapon, one that is used against us in our own community. You’d be surprised of the things I have encountered, simply because I am chocolate girl. Let’s just say the ignorance is real, and it’s a very hurtful thing to be on the receiving end of.
The hateful nature of colorism has been embedded in us since slavery; to divide our own race and establish a menacing hierarchy that achieves nothing but even more division.
I am not sure how we get free from the trap of colorism, but as with most things in life, I know it begins with being able to talk about it openly. But I think the time has come to be more explicit in our strategies, to have the difficult conversations, to acknowledge when they make us uncomfortable, or remind us of our own individual pain. To have your life dictated by something you are not even allowed to name is a special kind of cruelty. The way to begin to combat it is to speak about it, confront it, change, and have accountability.