Mother singles out darker skinned daughter from her siblings
Her mother separated her from the rest of her siblings because of her darker skin. She warned her other daughters against eating from the same spoon she used or drinking from the same cup she used. Her mother made her eat in the kitchen while her lighter-skinned siblings ate in the dining room. "I couldn't go in the refrigerator. It was like I was poison," says Sonsyrea Tate Montgomery’s aunt.
She went to the extent of adding Breath-o-Pine or bleach to her bathwater, in the hopes that it was gonna "cleanse her enough for her mother’s approval."
The color complex! This is something that makes other people feel like monsters when in the midst of lighter skinned individuals. I have two black friends who are married to white men. One of them has kids who look more white than mixed race and usually says the other friend's kids "backfired" just because their skin complexion is much darker. These are not things she says in her face but, I can only imagine the hatred it would stir if she ever found out her friend thinks her sons "backfired". On the other hand, the friend with darker mixed race kids always makes comments like "your kids are sooo white". For some reason, she is bothered by the fact that she married white but her mixed kids look more like her than her husband. She isn’t the only one.
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Marita Golden, the author of "Don’t Play in the Sun: One Woman’s Journey Through the Color Complex" spoke to some African American women about color over dinner and one of them said how shocked she was when she found out the day after her grandson was born, her daughter had been, as she said "praying that he’d come out light, like his father, not dark like me." Marita also recalls her mother calling her indoors when she was playing in the sun one summer warning: "Come on inside out of that sun — you’re already gonna have to get a light-skinned husband for the sake of your children."Basically, it seems some people look for lighter spouses in order to get lighter children, believing their lives will be better if they have a lighter shade. Its like they are working so hard for their kids not to have darker complexion or kinkier hair.
I look at all the fuss over complexion and it’s sometimes disheartening. How can a mother single out her own child for being darker. Imagine the kind of emotional impact this experience had on her while growing up. Well, to address this, Marita hosted a workshop dubbed "Sisters Under the Skin: Healing the Wounds of the Color Complex" and here, women read out letters they wrote to their relatives who always made them feel lesser because they were darker or their hair wasn’t straight enough, even those who taught them to love their skin.
The thing is: we all have had experiences that were influenced by the color of our skin. Some of us have egos the size of the world because society has made us think we are better because we are lighter. Some of us take that light skin to be a nuisance because we always have had to defend ourselves for it. People feel lighter individuals have it easy and some cant help wondering whether we rightfully earned those great jobs or we landed them because we are the "right" color. Others have suffered massive emotional wounds for being darker.
Well here is Marita’s advice on dealing with this: "If we don’t talk about it, it festers. If you keep a lie, it festers. Once you let it out, it can’t hurt you. It lessens the burden." So feel free to share how your color has influenced or affected who you are today… positively or negatively.
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