Tuesday, October 19, 2010


....the lights are dim.  The quaint little restaurant is ablaze with candlelight swaying tantalizingly from our table.....  
 He gazes tauntingly into my eyes, as if daring me to say something.  Finally he says,  "so..tell me about yourself"

 "There's not much to tell I'm a pretty shy girl"

"Come on, at least tell me what kind of guys you like...tall, dark, light..?"

"I don't really have any preferences"

"Well, I can be honest and tell you that I don't really like dark skinned girls."

WAIT!!! did he just say that???

The topic of complexion in the black community has been debated more times than T.I. has been in prison.  It is such a heated --and at times exhausting-- debate,  that I told myself not to even bother posting on it.  Little did I know this topic would actually have some kind of relevance in my personal life.  As a female who falls on the lighter side of the complexion spectrum, I've never had the direct experience of being rejected because I was a darker shade than was desired, nor have I ever knowingly dated someone who felt that way.  However, it always bothered me to hear many of my black male friends express this same exact sentiment, over and over.

I'll never forget one time in college, I was watching a music video with two of my boys and somehow we got to talking about how there are rarely any dark skinned girls in hip hop videos.  One of my boys said "well, there aren't that many pretty dark skinned girls", in a matter-of-fact tone of voice.  Of course, I lambasted my friend for being ignorant and went on a long spiel about why he was wrong for thinking that.  In the middle of my rant two dark skinned girls walked in, listened for a minute, and with a look of disgust on their faces said "you're not even dark skinned so why does it even matter?"

Fast foward to the present...

This phrase was brought up again when I told my friend about the guy I dated who told me he doesn't like dark skinned girls.  My friend said "why be offended, you're not dark skinned, so obviously you're his type...it shouldn't matter.  Besides, its just a preference."

There are many reasons why this bothered me (I'll explain in a new post).. but one  of the most obvious was that this "preference" spoke to a mentality that dominates the black community.  Why is it that this particular preference has a high frequency amongst black males? It is also represented in our videos, song lyrics, and movies.  Is this merely just a preference or is it guided by a more sinister theme of self-hate?

Now, I am of the school of thought that preferences do not simply exist of their own accord, but are guided by things that we may be unaware of.  I also do not just view myself as a black individual, but many times as part of a whole entire group of black females.  Therefore, is a person wrong for weighing in on a topic, if they don't really represent what they are defending?  Do you believe preferences merely exist, or are guided by something else?


  1. What is the definition of "preference" - the act of preferring or choice. Everyone has their own mind and they can make choices for what is best for them. When we are children growing up we are taught that we can make choices. If you go to buy a car and your preference is to get a dark color car because society has made you to believe that it will not show dirt as easily as a lighter color car - does that mean you are discrimintating against lighter color cars - no that is your preference. For instance, if a guy tells you that he only dates light skinned women he's being honest and not trying to play games. If his reasons for not dating darker skinned women is because he feels that they have more attitude that is his opinion (which everyone is entitiled to). Why would I need to check him on his opinion? Do we not live in a country where we are suppose to have freedom of speech? If we attacked everyone that does not think the same way we do then we would be arguing all day everyday. That is how we are so different from one another because we are individuals and we all think differently. If we were able to change the way individuals think so that everyone thought the same way - life would be boring. I don't believe that this self-hate..it's just preference for that individual.

    What is your preference?

  2. I would have to agree with Anonymous who is to say that we can not use our freedom of speech to express how we feel about a preference. From A guys point of view I feel it is the same as when I hear other women say I don't like him because he is light skin, short, not buff, can't dress and I can go on forever baby. But the subject at hand is a women and a men has the CHOICE to decide what is best for them. Who are you to get mad if a guy doesn't like a dark skin or light skin women? What you have to understand is that its not just a black thing its universal that some people don't talk to people in the race for their own personal reasons. I know you and anyone else will not just date anyone and the answer is because of what YOUR PREFERENCE!

    So can you allow people to pick their preference now?

  3. I think JoJo is aware that everyone has their own preference; I think she is moreso trying to decipher why there is such an imbalance as far as those who prefer light skinned to dark skinned. Everyone is aware that light skinned is preferred MUCH more frequently than dark skinned in the general public. The question is why? What's wrong with dark skin? Self hate may be a bit of a reach, but I do think it is ingrained from young ages that dark colors tend to have negative connotation. Why are weddings white and funerals black?

  4. @ Yerp...ding ding ding!!! that's exactly where I was going with it. You have a point when you take the dark vs. light out of the African American context, dark colors usually, if not 100% of the time represent something bad. Night time is viewed as scary vs. day and rightfully so because people tend to do more sinister things under cover of the night (anonymity)... and things that are dirty are blackened, etc, etc.

    does the preference for dark vs. light in the black community have more to do with the more general context than it does self hate? interesting point....

  5. Oh so you are going to only respond to Yerp because this person is agreeing with you. So why you discrimintating against me because I don't think that there is a dark vs. light conspiracy. I feel like you are only siding with people that agree with you. How are you going to have a discussion that is one sided?

  6. I don't disagree with you, Anonymous, I agree with you but What I was trying to get at was a different concept than you are presenting. Yerp got to the heart of what I was trying to say. Everyone does have their preference, and I'm not gonna argue a guy down, as an individual, to get him to change his mind.

    However, taking myself outside of the context of the individual, and looking at the issue from a broader perspective, it is easy to see that there is a higher frequency, as Yerp said, of a preference for lighter skin. This frequency implicates that there is a outside source guiding this shift to one side, rather than having a balanced outcome. What exactly this outside source is..? that's what I'm trying to figure out

  7. also, @ anonymous, I don't have a skin color preference, but the one issue I do have is short guys. After much self examination i realized that my preference for Tall men comes from the notion that men are protectors, so the taller they are the more protected I feel, and the more they feel like men to me because they fit the standard. Also, I'm short and short people in our society are not really looked highly upon. Therefore, when I am dating a taller man, I feel like he validates me in some way.. as if i were saying "look, even though I'm short, I can still pull the highly desired tall man, so I;m not that bad after all"..That's the reality so I know my preference is not just random choice. The more I understand this the better I can try to prevent my discrimination against a short guy that may just be great for me.

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  9. DLSmith said...
    Damn JoJo that makes me SICK, because I'm a short man and I HATE when short girls go with tall guys because they make them feel validated. LOL thats like the number 1 reason I hate. What if he treat you like ish, meanwhile the short dude is being overlooked? Don't get me started though thats another topic. Um @anonymous I think she is trying to be unbiased but yall are both looking at two different issues.

  10. lol @ yerp, sorry I wish I wasn't as conditioned to be anti-short as I am. However, I'm not so controlled that I will let a tall guy treat me like ish while there is a short guy available who will treat me right. However, because of the bias I prob won't even take a short guy up on his offer ...if I met him in the street that is lol. Sad, but true...and I'm short as hell too!

    ....taking notes for new blog post**