A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece on the situation surrounding Dani Leigh and the snippet of an unreleased track called “Yellow Bone”. I was very angry while writing my original piece. But as time passed, I realized my anger has very little to do with Dani and her song. Rather, I was and remain triggered by “Yellow Bone” because of my lived experience as a dark skinned Black woman.
One night I was on the phone with my best friend Monica. We were just shooting the sh*ts, catching up on our latest target runs — you know, just popping off at the mouth. Everyone was in a tizzy over DaniLeigh’s song so naturally, that became the focal point of our chat. After we both read her down to filth, I knew that our conversation would be a safe space for me to be vulnerable.
I shared with Monica that when I was in high school, I’d have a plethora of n*ggas…but it would almost always be a sneaky, hush-hush link-up. The boys that “liked me” would call me all night after school, take me out on dates on the weekends, and comment on all of my pictures on Facebook and Bebo (aunty vibes). But during school hours or events like football games? I’d only get a “hey”, or maybe even a church hug.
I noticed that the boys that “liked me” would be openly affectionate to the girls that were wayyy lighter than me. They’d show them off to their friends, let them meet their moms — the whole she-bang y’all! But meanwhile they would be sneaking and geeking with me on the side. In attempts to make myself feel better, I’d always make statements like “well, if she doing her job, why he talking to me?”
In high school, I was a mess chile (lol). Deep down inside I knew what was going on, because my momma warned me about it: people have a love/hate relationship with dark skin.
Yeah, we were all young and dumb in high school — but it was still hurtful to see the boy you liked walking down the hall with a girl that was the complete opposite of you. I’ve always had confidence in my looks, and you couldn’t (and still can’t) tell me I’m not fine. But I was a junior or senior in high school when Lil Wayne advised us that he loved “a long haired, thick redbone). Now, it wasn’t just the boys I liked rejecting me. My favorite rapper was too.
Which was like: well, damn.
When Dani released her song, I realized just how deep this sh*t has actually affected me. It hurts because I graduated high school in 2009, and surely by now, colorism would be an outdated concept. I realized how deep this shit has really affected me.
It hurts even more because I have a beautiful chocolate-skinned baby girl. I don’t want her to experience the same things I did as a child — or hell, the things I’m still experiencing now. Colorism has had a large effect on my love life, and it’s even spilled over into my professional life. I’ve gone on countless group interviews where the light-skinned girls received most of the attention from hiring managers, regardless of whether they were qualified for the position or not. I’ve worked retail in college and have had customers perpetually surprised that I was a part of the management team. And please don’t even get me started on the “oh my God, you’re so well-spoken!” bullsh*t.
Colorism is dangerous for so many different reasons. Lots of melanated women were told (directly or indirectly) that our dark skin was not valuable. The assumption is that we are unintelligent, lazy, or overly promiscuous. Simply because we are a couple of shades darker than our light/brown-skinned sisters. This leads many dark-skinned women down the road of self-hatred.
There are dark-skinned women that refuse to date dark-skinned men, or that shun women that are of a darker shade than they are, or even start to use beauty products that lighten their skin tone. The color of your skin has very little to do with who you are on the inside. But colorism plays with your psyche, and if it’s not checked, it can open up a whole other can of worms that includes “texturism” and “featurism”. All three of those things together can have even the most confident woman second-guessing everything.
DaniLeigh’s “Yellow Bone” has triggered me so deeply because I do not want to have another generation of chocolate-skinned mamas question their beauty, or have to fight for a seat at the table. Dani reminded me of all the times I was cast aside for something that I have absolutely no control over. Dani also reminded me of how ignorant the world still is. And how important my existence truly is.
It’s my duty to show little dark-skinned girls that we are the sh*t, and that our skin tone is our greatest asset. We cannot be complicit in allowing colorism to win any longer. Maybe things won’t get better, but hopefully one day they will. And in the meantime, to my dark-skinned loves: Stay beautiful baby! Being unabashedly honest, the haters simply cannot take all of this melanin! Not our problem though, all that matters is that we keep shining. And that’s on Mary had a little lamb!