“Look at her ears. What color are her ears?”
Melanin in America has always been and continues to be an issue in America. Skin Color too often assesses value, accessibility and class.
Skin Color in my community has always been and continues to be an issue. In my day, when a newborn was born, the first thing inspected by the good sisters in the community was not the number of toes or fingers. It was the color of that newborn’s ears that was the litmus test. The color of a newborn’s ears was the rule of thumb for where he or she would rank on the melanin scale of beauty and acceptance.
My newborn ears were dark.
“Is that your baby?”
My mother was very fair skinned. My father was very dark skinned.
I, of course, do not remember any of this, but my mother would tell me that often, when she went out with me in her arms, people would ask, “Is that your baby?”
A friend, who is also fair skinned and is married to a man who is dark skinned, told me of comments people made to her after her daughters were born: “I’ll bet you are happy they took their skin color after you.”
“Girls like you don’t usually have hair like that!”
My guy-friend meant it as a compliment and I suppose I accepted it as one even as I thought about the double consciousness in his statement.
Hair Texture and Length of Hair (short hair can be forgiven if it is wavy or curly) is the other point of contention in my community. Once ears are inspected and ranked, hair texture is watched closely as the baby hair relinquishes its newborn state to the natural forever texture.
Heaven help the dark skinned child whose hair dated back to its African ancestry.
It has taken me a minute to get over the rules of being dark skinned, of not liking a light skinned boy, aka color-struck, or wearing colors that are too bright, especially red.
I married a dark skinned man, I like to think because I loved him (I did), but there are times when I also wonder if it was, subconsciously, because he was “safe.”
My wardrobe is a lot of black, a little white and some muted color usually covered by a jacket or a coat. I used to think that this was my color style. Now I wonder if, subconsciously, I am still in bondage to that “no color” rule of yesterday.
In spite of the color/hair journey, in this season of life, I am very comfortable with my dark skin and my natural roots.
What others think is on them!