“My mom pulled me out of a school where I was one of only a few black students (I was being bullied because of my race) and switched me to a predominantly black school. Problem solved? Not exactly. Suddenly, I was being mocked and harrassed not because I was a minority, but because of my darker skin tone. That’s when I realized what colorism truly was: being belittled based on the specific shade of your skin. I was called names like ‘burnt biscuit’ and told that I’ve ‘been in the oven too long’ by classmates who were lighter than me. Those were hurtful ways of saying that I was too dark and therefore not as ‘pretty’ as a light-skinned black girl or an actual white girl. Because, I learned even black people have been historically conditioned to idolize white beauty standards. It was especially painful because I thought we were supposed to uplift each other. I thought I was in a safe space with my peers. But I could still feel the sting of racist attacks and taunting bringing me down. My grandmother from Louisiana, so she’s always coming up with fun and clever ways to phrase her feelings. When she first told my sister and me to ‘flex in our complexions,’ I didn’t realize how important her message was. But after being teased for so long, it sunk and it has been a part of me ever since.
You’ll find colorism in unfair treatment in the school system (dark-skinned girls are three times more likely to be suspended from school than our lighter-skinned peers). It pains me to see so many young black queens and kings trying to dim their own light because they feel pressure to conform to what the world has told them is beautiful. But I see that changing, and I’m going to be part of that change. I hope you’ll join me. I want you to know that if you feel different, or anything less than proud of your complexion, you need now, more than ever to find your allies and stand by each other’s side.” – GL