Coloring In The Lines

**WARNING** It is not my intent to offend, discriminate, or condemn the African American race, or any race for that matter. Because of the vastness and depth of this topic, I will follow up with an online discussion via periscope and Facebook live (Follow me @ Coach Jaleesa) and a part two discussion next week. Happy Reading! – Coach Jaleesa

“You know my great great grandma was full Cherokee so I have Indian in my blood”

“Wowwww! Your hair is beautiful! What are you mixed with?”

“You’re pretty for a dark skinned girl”

“The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice”

“Why do you talk like you’re white?”

            You’ve probably heard one of the above phrases once or twice in your lifetime or maybe you’ve said it. It kinda comes with the territory. Let me start with this: I love being black! I love how we have overcome so much, how we defy odds! I love our sun-kissed skin, our curls and coils, full figures and curves, big lips, and hips. There is a pride that I have about my race. It was passed on from Madea, Big Mama, Gramma, or whoever you called the matriarch of your family. Soul food was not a dietary concern it was a way of life if you grew up in the country like I did. Watermelon was the way to my heart but you could keep those pig feet *yuck*!

Everybody in my family had “two names”: Barbara Ann, Robert Earl, Brenda Sue…I could go on for days. Don’t get me started on black TV! Good Times, 227, The Jefferson’s, What’s Happening? ,The Cosby Show and the shows that I watched in the 90s: Family Matters, Fresh Prince, Martin, A Different World (in which my name comes from, we’ll talk about that later) …and so many more.

            My point is, once upon a time we took pride in our blackness. That is not to say that we didn’t have issues but our inward issues did not trump our outward fight against those who “tried us”. Since I already know this will be a two-part blog here’s a rundown of what we’re talking about today! 1) Steph Curry, Obama, and all the winning light skins. 2) The history of colorism 3) My personal thoughts. Let’s go!

1)      So I was watching ESPN the other day…it’s kinda my new thing now lol. Anybody who knows me, knows of my love for Steph Curry. More than my love of his skills on the court, his life off the court is what makes me a fan. And I mean, that darn Riley is the cutest! So ready for the game tonight…anyway! As I’m watching, I hear the two sports anchors say that people only like Steph because he’s light skinned. I had to rewind my TV just to make sure I heard him correctly. They continued to say that Steph was not black enough and that people felt like they couldn’t identify with him. My issue with this thought process is that these are other black folk who are making these comments. How can we ever expect Black lives to matter, people to take us seriously, or progress as a race if we tear down inwardly.  I know this will be yet another topic where everyone will not agree and I’m fine with that…. let’s just keep it classy lol. To say that people like him or dislike him because of the color of his skin is absurd. What about looking at his skills, looking at the fact that he openly glorifies God, looking at the fact that he is unashamedly married to a “sister”. They continued by saying, making Steph Curry the face of basketball is “safe” because of his light skin. I guess his light skin doesn’t make some people nervous? Maybe I’m a bit sensitive and biased because I like him but if he were the complexion of Wesley Snipes I would feel the same way. *shrugs*

I’ve heard this same argument surrounding Obama. Saying he is not our first Black President because he is not “fully” black. If I saw Obama walking down the street and he wasn’t the President just a regular dude, I would not question his race. Here we are again, another fair skinned African American looked at as less than a black man because his skin is of a lighter complexion.

So that brings about the attitude that the lights skins are winning. We’ve heard people joke around and say “dark skins are making a comeback” or we’ll even tell people to “stop acting light skin”. It’s the idea that light skinned people are more attractive, are safe, are privileged, and are without struggle. Where does this come from? I’ll tell you!

2) colorism



prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.

This attitude has nothing to do with the Shamar Moore or Morris Chestnut comparison, nor does it come from who likes Steph and who doesn't; it stems all the way back to slavery. A house slave was one who worked in the house of the slave-owner. Their duties ranged from child care to cooking and cleaning. Our culture arguably assumes that house slaves were of fairer skin because of the mating of the slaves and their owners. Field slaves were of darker complexion because they worked in the sun and bred among themselves. House slaves usually lived better lives than those who were in the field. I guess what I’m trying to say is whether a house slave or a field slave, light or dark, the fact of the matter is YOU WERE STILL A SLAVE. Comparing the two is not only idiotic but a distraction to what was/is important. No matter house or field, one thing that could be agreed on, was that freedom was the desired end result.

 The sad reality is this attitude was carried on into the 20th Century.

The Brown Paper Bag Test was a type of racial discrimination in the US. A brown paper bag was used as a way to determine whether or not an individual could have certain privileges: only individuals with a skin color that is the same color or lighter than a brown paper bag were allowed. - Wikipedia (I don’t usually site wiki but this was a pretty accurate description).

The crazy part about this test is that depending on where you fell on the “scale” there was a possibility that you could not be a part of certain social groups including our beloved sororities and fraternities that we rep to this day. 

2)      My thoughts: Embrace who you are! Light skinned or dark skinned. Natural hair or relaxed hair. The reality is colorism and this inward battle is not going anywhere. I have friends who said as a child they asked their mother to put bleach in the water to make them lighter. I have seen little light skinned girls get their hair pulled because it was pretty. I’ve also seen fair skinned women act as if they were better because of the same features that make them beautiful. I have heard of mother’s pinching their biracial child’s nose to keep it small. Society has told us that light is right and if you’re black get back. But I say let’s unite to form a beautiful tapestry of melanin. Dark does not mean struggle, just as light is not privilege. We will never see the change we desire as a race if we continue to fight each other over something we cannot change or control such as our skin tone. The truth of the matter is we look silly and the outward forces don’t have to work as hard to divide us because we are responsible for the division. Now that this foundation has been laid, next week we will tie in how this issue affects our success…or does it?

Part two: The stigmas that come along with “ethnic” names, media and the black woman, and The Natural Hair Nazi.

Share your thoughts below, on Facebook, or via email at Use Subject: Coloring in The Lines Pt.1

See you next week,

Coach Jaleesa