Black v Brown

As I am told, I was much lighter in skin complexion as a baby than I am now. Most of that is to be expected. Apparently, I was much lighter than my mom and so people thought she was my nanny or babysitter. My mom is a mahogany wood brown  and my dad is more of a chicken tender brown. I use to think that my many summers outside at the pool for hours sped up my crisping process. I tan almost instantly. I use to think that I was darkening so much that some of it couldn’t recover over the course of the winter and spring. Notice how I said recover? I never liked my tanned face. Only the outside or perimeter of my face would tan a lot. The area around my eyes, nose, and mouth remained lighter than the rest. I really hated the blotchy, dark inconsistent color of my skin if my face tanned too much. It was then that I developed a deep interest in exfoliation. I had read and understood the science of skin cells. I got obsessed with keeping clear, even, light brown skin.

In high school I started to say that I was Brown, not Black. This wasn't really related to any kind of self hatred. I seriously couldn’t understand why African Americans were called Black. Our skin, MY skin is Brown. Identifying as "Black" meant feeding the narrative of white v black, light v darkness, pure v tainted, good v evil...

What does it even mean to be "Black"? There's no fixed or finite definition. It means so much and so little. It's complicated...

I don't want my skin to be darker. I don't want to be referred to as lightskinned. Brown/Black is a poor job at describing the type(?) of human I am or what my particular ancestry is.

Still, colorism sucks in all its manifestations.


Mr. 4.0