Hey Raven, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Honestly, I think my opinions (as a dark-skinned woman) are more neutral on this primarily because I didn’t grow up in a “light-skinned is better” household. My light-skinned mother went above and beyond to get me chocolate dolls. As a kid, I didn’t really appreciate it. It took adulthood for me to fully understand what she was doing.

It wasn’t until I started listening to my very color-struck friends who only liked light-skinned boys with light eyes that I paid attention to how people are trained to just decide who is worth looking at and who’s not. I remember my childhood best friend telling me on multiple occasions that she thought someone I had a crush on was “cute for a dark-skinned boy, and you know I don’t like them.”

I felt a way about that. (She was medium-complexioned, somewhere around Taraji Henson.) By the time I got to college, there were a couple of other guys I was interested in. And once again, I had a college frenemy (not a friend, figured that out later) who told me I was “too dark to be dating that man.” She just could not wrap her mind around how a couple of random guys I liked and who liked me back could possibly like someone my complexion. This time around, the frenemy was a couple of shades darker than me.

It was weird as hell to go from a household that brought me up to embrace my complexion to be around friends who were damn near obsessed with colorism. As a kid, I was super duper in love with a boy who was Morris Chestnut brown but randomly dated a handful of Michael Ealys. It’s just strange to me to go from befriending someone who seemed amazed that I could “pull” a light-skinned dude versus the one who was just about disgusted by me dating the tall, dark and handsomes. I genuinely don’t understand what the logic in it is. Sure, it can help us hate each other (and ourselves), but then what? The jokes have never been funny to me. Every time somebody tells a colorism joke, all I see is hidden hurt (or jealousy) underneath.

P.S. I’m not perfect. When I wrote my first book (age 20–21), I remember describing a girl as “black as a laptop” or “dark as a laptop.” At the time, I was visualizing a lady I really did know who had beautiful dark skin and created her as a character in the book. But when I read that book now, that line makes me cringe. Gawd, I wish I could burn that page out of every single book purchased or write it differently. It’s too late now, but I say that to admit I’ve f**ked up, too.

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Check out her five Medium publications: Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

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